Q: I was recently taking a shower in my bathroom when I looked up and noticed what I think was black fuzz and dots growing on my ceiling! I realized it was actually mold. Why does mold seem to like the bathroom the most and what can I do to prevent it from growing there?
A: You've got a problem there. First off, you should probably get that black stuff looked at and remediated by a professional. You don’t want to start scraping it off yourself. Mold can be linked to a whole host of allergy symptoms, and even if you’re not experiencing any of them, it’s a good idea to get the problem under control.
That being said, let’s talk about what mold is and what makes it grow in the first place. Mold is a form of fungus that is found all around us in the natural environment. However, when there is moisture indoors that isn’t dried immediately — such as when there is leakage or flooding — mold can grow inside, too. In the bathroom, mold can grow readily and easily because of the wet conditions.
The best way to deal with mold is to prevent it from growing in the first place. So how do you do that in the dampest room of the house? Well, the key, according to Dan Harkins, owner of NJ-Mold, is ventilation. Mold can grow only when moisture can’t get out, and if your bathroom doesn’t have a vent, or if your vent isn’t working properly, that’s the first thing you need to fix. If you do have a vent in your bathroom, make sure that you turn on the exhaust fan during and after your shower. The exhaust fan pulls the moisture out (and incidentally, any unpleasant odors as well). It’s also a good idea to leave your bathroom windows or door open after you shower as well (though in the winter, I’ll admit it’s not pleasant coming out of a warm shower into a chilly bathroom).
Secondly, there are commercial mold and mildew cleaners that prevent the growth of mold through the use of bleach and other potentially harmful chemicals. If you’ve got kids in the house, better to use Concrobium or Moldzyme, which are both eco-friendly mold killers that do not contain harsh chemicals.
“Indoor air humidity also has a lot to do with whether or not mold will grow in your house,” Harkins says. “You want to keep the humidity levels in your house between 30-50 percent, not any higher.” To monitor the humidity in your house, you can buy a hygrometer from your local home improvement store.
He also suggests leaving the air conditioning on at 74 or below if you’re going away on vacation in the summer months so that humidity levels don’t skyrocket and you end up with a breeding ground for mold.
It’s also important to check underneath all the sinks in your house once or twice a year and make sure you don’t have any leaks. After all, even a hint of moisture in the wrong place can trigger mold growth.
Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to a mold-free home. It may not seem like a big problem, but mold inside your house is never a good thing. Remediation, and then prevention, can save you a whole lot of trouble later on.