Post-Carbon Mold Control

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Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1988
Post-Carbon Mold Control

In examining our home for vulnerabilities in a post-crash world, you need to think about your climate. If it gets hot and humid where you live, even part of the year, you need to think about dealing with mold (or, as the Brits spell it, mould).

I live in South Carolina, where the heat and humidity are legendary, and before that I lived in costal NY, on Long Island. Very hot and humid summers there, too. I'd thought about ventillation for comfort issues and added attic fans and got the window screens repaired, and we are adding screen doors. But what of the finishes in my home? Even on Long Island that was an issue: in one apartment I had no air conditioning and inadequate light -  and mushrooms literally grew out of the carpet.

I'm a construction safety engineer by trade, and I know the long list of health concerns that mold is associated with. Asthma, allergies, certain types of infections, sick building syndrome, Legionaires Disease. . . let's just not go there by avoiding mold in our homes all together.

Mold and fungi need darkness and dampness to thrive. Deny them those conditions by increasing air and sunlight in your home. Dry out and fix any moisture problems, too. Things to consider:

  • You may already have a mold problem. Black spots on walls, woodwork and fabrics may mean mildew: a potent allergen and bad news for your immune system. Deal with it now before it gets worse.

  • Make sure you can open windows and doors to increase air flow through your home. If you rely on air conditioning to dry things out, remember it may not always be available. Insect screens are a must.

  • Stop any water leaks in your home, and especially repair that leaky roof. Then ventilate and, if needed,  insulate your attic. Batting roll insulation gets stapled to the framing of your roof; it requires an air space between the roof and the batting or condensation will cause moisture, rotting, and mold.

  • Move large objects like couches, beds, dressers a few inches away from the inside of exterior walls to increase air circulation.

  • If you have no windows in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms and are relying on electric vent fans you will have a problem if things get bad enough that electricity is not available or affordable. A venting skylight is a great idea in these areas. Using mold-resistant interior drywall is also helpful. Another simple fix is to use mildew-resistant or anti-microbial paint.

  • Basements are notorius places for mold. What will you do with these areas when an electric dehmidifier is no longer an option? You should ventilate your basement: windows should open and have screens. You can use heavy plastic to cover earthen floors in crawl spaces, too.

  • Clean and air-dry water damaged rugs, clothing, or bedding within 48 hours. Remember: sunshine kills mold.

  • Consider removing and replacing carpeting with sustainable wood, tile or (in a pinch) linoleum floors. In a post-peak oil world will you be able to vacuum carpets? Best to replace them with floors you can sweep and rugs you can beat. You can air rugs out-of-doors. You can't "air" carpets.  NOTE: yes, I know real wood is more expensive than wood laminates, but wood laminates can warp and crack unless your home is air conditioned.

  • Yes, the last two items suggest that you consider getting a good, old-fashioned clothesline.

  • Keep liquids away from upholstered furniture and stuffed toys: these are very hard to dry without getting musty since sunshine and fresh air cannot get into the stuffing. That musty smell ? It' s mold.

  • Vacuum or sweep -  and dust your home regularly to remove mold spores. A feather duster is great for this as it requires no chemicals, is sustainable, and you can shake it out-of doors.

  • Check around your windows for signs of condensation and water droplets. Wipe them up right away so mold can’t start to grow. Make sure new  windows come with "weep holes"  in the bottoms.

  • If you have forced air heating and cooling, iinsulate the ducts not only to save on energy but to keep out moisture. Change the filters to increase energy efficiency and reduce mold spores.

One last thought. FEMA is telling the victims of the recent tornadoes that their damage is "not that bad." You cannot expect the help you've had in the past from disaster agencies. Our American government is broke, Europe's governments are in debt over their heads, and Japan's government is in even worse shape. Buy and store a couple of large tarps in case of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or a tree crashing on your roof. If you cannot keep water out of your home, it will quickly become unlivable.

h2oBoy's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 18 2009
Posts: 52
Post-Carbon Mold Control

 Thanks Safewrite.

Excellent suggestions that go beyond what my extraordinary wife "home maintenance engineer" has been doing, particularily the suggestion of wood flooring for the future.

We have a large, partially finished basement that she keeps small ceiling and floor fans running throughout the humid season.

No mold grows in our home!

mg62's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 12 2011
Posts: 8
Basements are notorius
  • Basements are notorius places for mold. What will you do with these areas when an electric dehmidifier is no longer an option? You should ventilate your basement: windows should open and have screens. You can use heavy plastic to cover earthen floors in crawl spaces, too.

Can not agree more.  We had a house in VT. that was built into a hill.  The foundation was block except for the part where the ledge from the hill etented into the basement area.  This actually was part of the wall; this section of the wall was a poured foundation.  We had constant slight seepage into the basement from the ledge.  With a french drain, the windows open all spring to fall we had not a hint of mold.  It was damp but the constant air flow kept the basement from being a problem.  We tried to help the situation by not having any storage in the basement, just washer/dryer, furnace/oil tank and workshop.


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