Managing Mold-Susceptible Environments through Prevention and Dehumidification
Thanks to the intermingling climate zones of the Great Plains, cities like Manhattan are susceptible to fierce, whiplash bouts of heat and humidity. If you’re a property owner, then you probably know by now that during those warm, sticky days, hotspots like attics, crawl spaces, and basements are particularly susceptible to undesirable mold growth.
As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
Before we get into the importance of dehumidification and subsequent strategies, we believe it is important to highlight the value of testing. While many of us don’t think twice about regularly changing the oil in our car, we tend to neglect regular mold inspections. This happens for plenty of folks (you’re not alone), even though, when compared to the financials of our property, our cars are just a small fraction of the investment! At a minimum, homes should be tested any time there is water damage or standing exposure to water for more than 24 hours.
But more regular inspections can help you stay ahead of the curve. In the event any mold is detected, it is more likely to be prior to the explosive, damaging growth that would necessitate larger-scale drywall or some structural removal.
Dehumidification to Combat Mold Growth
Mold is everywhere. Even in perfectly safe environments, there are mold spores in the air and on surfaces. But these spores exist in a concentration that the EPA has deemed Acceptable Level (or safe). Furthermore, without a consistent water source these spores are non-threatening and unlikely to spread and grow. The water source is the key to mold spread.
While a burst pipe or a flooded basement may present obvious causes for concern, stealthier, less dramatic sources of water can still be tremendously problematic when left unchecked. In this way, the occasionally high humidity of central Kansas is a threat to incite long term mold damage.
Will a Dehumidifier Kill Mold?
Unfortunately, dehumidifiers do not eliminate mold. But they can help prevent mold growth by reducing the amount of available moisture in the air. As you know, mold thrives in moist environments. Dehumidifiers are designed to limit the moisture level by extracting excess water from the air, thereby reducing the relative humidity. Relative humidity is measured as a percentage. Any relative humidity level above 50% tends to be excessive for most spaces.
A well-chosen dehumidifier can help with maintenance of ideal relative humidity levels for your space and aid in limiting swells of mold. Not to mention, dehumidifiers in general improve the air quality of interior spaces.
How to Choose the Right Dehumidifier for Your Space
Dehumidifiers come in a variety of effective sizes and strengths. Without an expensive, whole-house dehumidification infrastructure (often operating as part of your house’s HVAC system), many people rely on store-bought options that serve single rooms or even entire floors. From kitchens and bathrooms to attics and basements, selecting the right dehumidifier for at-risk areas comes down to the chosen device’s effectiveness across a given square footage. Measure your room and compare specs when shopping!
Dehumidifier capacities are scored according to the amount of moisture that should be eliminated in a single day. Common capacities range from anywhere between 30 to 70 (or even 90) pints of water! So a 30-pint capacity dehumidifier, for instance, should remove 30 pints of water over a 24 hour period.
To provide a ballpark, 30-pint dehumidifiers are best for:
- Damp conditions across 500 – 1500 square feet
- Excessively damp conditions across 500 – 1000 square feet
- Wet conditions across 500 square feet
50-pint dehumidifiers are best for:
- Damp conditions across 2000 – 2500 square feet
- Excessively damp conditions across 1500 – 2000 square feet
- Wet conditions across 1000 – 1500 square feet
- Excessively wet conditions across 1000 square feet
70-pint dehumidifiers are best for:
- Excessively damp conditions across 2500 square feet
- Wet conditions across 2000 – 2500 square feet
- Excessively wet conditions across 1500 – 2000 square feet
Breathe Easier and Limit Mold with Quality Ventilation
Ventilation is another major variable in the equation. A well-ventilated room will naturally retain less moisture. Do what you can to increase ventilation in a troublesome room.
Spaces with improved airflow are less prone to moisture buildup and may not require the same intense, around-the-clock dehumidification to compensate. But in more tightly enclosed spaces with less airflow, near-constant operation may be the best option in limiting the spread of mold.
Protect Your Investment
So you have done the research and taken the steps to select a dehumidifier that suits your space. You are running it on a consistent schedule. But as your dehumidifier kicks into gear to protect your air quality, are you kicking into gear to protect your dehumidifier?
As dehumidifiers remove moisture from air, they themselves are more prone to moisture buildup. They become the “magnet,” so to speak, for moisture and mold in your home. With this in mind, it’s essential to maintain a regular cleaning schedule for your dehumidifier. Clean according to manufacturer instructions, and be sure to change air filters on time. The last thing you want is for your new dehumidifier to become the victim of mold growth!
Give us a call today to learn more about our mold services, or use book an appointment to request a free mold service: