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What You Should Know About Mold and Humidity

mold on ceilingA lot of people believe that temperature and mold go hand in hand. They feel that the warmer the temperature is, the more likely there will be mold. If this were the case, why isn’t there mold in saunas? Saunas average around 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason is because saunas consist of dry heat. Mold must have moisture in the equation to grow. The moisture doesn’t have to be in liquid form either. It can be in vapor form, commonly referred to as humidity. Mold can grow when humidity levels exceed 60%. If humidity levels are maintained below 60%, mold simply cannot grow and becomes dormant. It can stay dormant for many years. When another source of moisture is introduced to the dormant mold, it immediately begins to grow again. Mold doesn’t just die on its own. The only way to eliminate it is by either killing it with chemicals such as biocides or antimicrobials or by physically removing it. This is known as remediation.
dehumidiferSo how do you make sure that your home or business isn’t taken over by mold? Remember moisture must be present in order for it to grow. Don’t give it the right conditions and it can’t thrive. Many people turn their thermostats down in hopes to deter mold growth. Does this work? Do a/c units actually deter mold growth? They do but they only dehumidify while they are running. Thermostats are preset to a temperature that is comfortable for the individual.  Once the thermostat reaches that temperature, it shuts off, regardless of indoor humidity levels. Let’s say the thermostat is set for 75 degrees. One day it can be 75 degrees with a humidity level of 80%. The next day it can be 75 degrees with a humidity level of 20%. It is called relative humidity. It is relative to that particular temperature at that particular time it was tested. There are a few options available for maintaining indoor humidity levels.

 

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A dehumidifier can be installed in the interior. A dehumidifier works on moisture only. It doesn’t care what the temperature is. Its only concern is to maintain humidity levels at the pre-set level. Many people believe that they run constantly. They only run when the humidity level exceeds the preset limit. They are also cheaper to operate than an HVAC system. Most dehumidifiers run on 110 volts while most HVAC systems require 220 volts. There are a few downfalls to dehumidifiers. They do emit some heat when they operate. The longer they run the more heat they would emit. Run time will vary by region and weather conditions. They also purge periodically. Most dehumidifiers have the option of adding a drain hose to the unit. When it is time for the unit to purge the excess water that has accumulated, it drains thru the hose into whatever drain system you choose (tub, sink, condensate drain line etc.). If a drain hose in not an option then the reservoir inside the dehumidifier must be dumped manually as needed. There is a float switch that will shut the unit off when the reservoir becomes full. This will keep the unit from purging water onto the floor. This method is not recommended if you will be gone for extended periods of time. Once the dehumidifier shuts off it is no longer able to maintain humidity levels. The water that has collected in the reservoir then begins to evaporate into a vapor form, becoming humidity once again.
Changing the temperature on a digital thermostatThe other option would be to install a dehumidistat in conjunction with the existing thermostat. Let’s say the thermostat is set at 78 degrees and  the dehumidistat is set at 55%. If the interior temperature is 74 degrees the thermostat will not kick on. But if the humidity level reaches 56%, the dehumidistat will over-ride the thermostat and turn the HVAC system on. This uses the HVAC system as the actual dehumidifier. The downfall to this is higher electric bills. Remember that the HVAC system requires 220 volts.
Think of mold like a plant. Plants need water to survive. So does mold. Pladont feed the moldnt a seed in the ground and water it once. It will not grow. Water it on a regular basis and the seed will sprout. If mold is present and you feed it moisture (liquid or vapor), you will have your hands full. No moisture = no mold.

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