Feature Articles - Housing
Home cures for mold, mildew problems do exist
Although wet weather creates mold problems inside many homes, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to test a home for mold.
“If you can smell mustiness, mold is present. The cure is to eliminate the source of the moisture and improve airflow under the house and in enclosed areas like closets. Generally, a test is not a good idea,” said Bob Schultheis, a natural resource engineering specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
The key is to keep water out — that means checking for plumbing and roof leaks and repairing any leaks that are found.
“Make sure the house has working gutters and downspouts that direct roof runoff away from the foundation. Every inch of rain you divert off the roof of an average-sized house is about 1,000 gallons of water that won’t be trying to get into the house,” said Schultheis.
It is also a good idea to put a 6-mil polyethylene plastic sheet on the dirt floor of the crawlspace and seal the edges and seams. This could prevent as much as 20 gallons of water vapor a day from moving up into the living area of the home. Another option is to keep foundation vents open year-round to allow water vapor to escape, which reduces radon gas buildup. It is also important to make sure the vents from clothes dryers, bathroom fans and range hoods exhaust to the outdoors, not just into the attic or crawlspace.
The best way to check moisture levels in a home is with a digital temperature and humidity gauge, which typically cost around $10. The indoor relative humidity should ideally be in the 30 to 50 percent range.
“Too much humidity will show up as excess moisture on the windows, and favors dust mite and mold growth. Too little humidity can cause static electricity in carpets, and scratchy throats and bloody noses for the occupants,” said Schultheis.
For more information on solving moisture and mildew problems, contact the nearest University of Missouri Extension office and ask for MU Guide GH5001 Improving Indoor Air Quality. You may also contact Bob Schultheis at 417-859-2044 or visit MU Extension online at http://extension.missouri.edu/.
Last update: Monday, April 26, 2010