It’s estimated that around 70% of American households have mold behind their walls. Any parent will agree, that’s a real concern when you’re trying to create a healthy, happy family life. While there are certainly safe, toxin-free ways to clean up mold, the more you can do to avoid it altogether, the better. One key cause of mold is dampness in the home. The good news is that many of the measures you can take to reduce or prevent damp are also good for your family’s health and for the planet. A double win!
How do I know if there’s a damp problem?
Some of the most common signs of damp in the home are flaking paint, curling wallpaper, or discolored patches on the ceiling. You might also spot condensation on your windows, or find that a room smells a little odd or musty. Of course, visible mold is also a strong indicator that your home has a damp issue. Some forms of black mold can cause health symptoms from dry eyes and sore throats to vomiting or even breathing difficulties, so you definitely don’t want it in your home. Cleaning it away is important, but preventing the dampness that may be causing it is even better. As the CDC advises, sometimes the causes of damp may be obvious, but even if that’s not the case, by remaining vigilant you can head off a problem before it arises.
Get out front
One of the best things you can do to prevent damp problems in your family’s home is to stay on top of its external maintenance. Clear drains and gutters regularly (the resulting leaves can go straight to your compost heap), and check the roof on a regular basis for any cracks or holes. If you have a window cleaner, you may find they are willing to check the roof and clear the gutters for you as part of their service. Regular boiler services and plumbing checks can also help to spot any leaky or weakened pipes before they become a problem.
Now for the best news: many of the changes that will help to protect your home from dampness can also help to make it much more efficient and environmentally friendly. Start by installing good insulation; according to one study, 75,000 US homes waste in one year as much energy as there was contained in the biggest oil spill disaster in U.S. history. Next, think about ventilation. It could be as simple as opening your windows more often and drying your laundry outside where possible, but you could also install an extractor fan in your bathroom and kitchen, or look for an eco-friendly dehumidifier. Finally, why not embrace smart tech and use a programmable thermostat to heat your home efficiently, and reduce usage when you’re out of the house?
By staying on top of household maintenance and thinking carefully about ways to reduce moisture within your home, you can give your household the best chance of avoiding damp problems. Dampness can not only spoil the aesthetics of your home, but it can also lead to mold which can, in turn, affect your family’s health. Thankfully, many damp-busting measures are also great for the planet’s health too; so why not make them a priority in the coming months?
Contribution by freelance writer Sally Preston