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Mold in the Cold

Mold growth is usually thought of as a warm weather problem when the air is high in humidity, and many homeowners think mold issues disappear when the weather is cold. While temperature does affect the way mold grows, it’s a year-round problem.

Not only can mold be dangerous to your health, mold growing on indoor surfaces can damage your home. It’s important to be aware of how and where mold can grow in your home, even during the chilly winter months.

Can mold grow in cold temperatures?
Yes! Household mold spores don’t only germinate in warm environments, and is a common occurrence during the winter. At any time, three factors can cause mold to spread: (1) adequate moisture, (2) a food source – think building materials, and (3) the proper temperature. There are various types of molds that can flourish in a home under the right conditions, especially in areas where moisture and humidity levels are high and there is little air movement. When outdoor temperatures drop and homes are heated to a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit, this can result in excess indoor moisture and trigger mold and mildew growth.

Does cold weather kill mold spores?
No! Mold spores wait for until conditions are suitable and then begin to colonize. Extreme temperatures do not kill mold, but they can deactivate them. Even when temperatures drop below freezing, mold spores won’t die and will begin to multiply again as soon as temperatures rise. Temperature control alone will not solve a mold problem. Controlling a home’s humidity levels and preventing the buildup of moisture are the keys to avoiding costly remediation and repairs.

What causes mold on windows during winter?
The colder months bring precipitation and dew. The surfaces in our homes that collect moisture, like window panes, are perfect breeding grounds for mold to expand and grow. Moisture collects on and around windows (think bathrooms after a shower) in the winter due to condensation, which happens when warm air hits a cold surface. When outside temperatures are low, the warm air inside the home comes into contact with the cool glass window panes, depositing water vapor and leading to moisture buildup around the windows. That’s why moisture, and sometimes mold, tends to collect around windows and window sills during the colder months.

How do you prevent mold growth in winter?
To help prevent the growth and harmful effects of mold in your home throughout the winter season, try these tips.

1. Maintain indoor humidity levels below 50% RH at all times.
2. Inspect pipes and fix plumbing leaks as soon as possible to prevent water from collecting.
3. Use antimicrobial cleaners in bathrooms and kitchens where moisture collects.
4. Avoid having carpets or rugs near windows, sinks, or other places that often become wet.
5. Inspect your air ducts and change the filters on your furnace regularly.
6. Always use a ventilation fan during showers or baths.
7. Regularly clean gutters to avoid moisture buildup on collected debris.
8. Discard old recycled material, newspapers, and any upholstery or fabric that has been exposed to moisture.

Following these steps may also help manage mold allergy symptoms.

What Do I Do if I Find Winter Mold?
If you see signs of mold in your house, you’ll need to call a professional and knowledgeable mold testing and removal company like United Water Restoration Long Island. When we get a call about mold, no matter the season, we always express the urgency of remediation and mold’s effect on indoor air quality. United’s IICRC-certified technicians will access the problem and use advanced equipment to effectively restore your property.

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