Spring is officially here! It’s that time of the year for April showers, May flowers, warmer weather, and a layer of pollen everywhere. For many, it’s the dreaded time of the year for allergies, but a welcome relief from those cold winter days. These upcoming months are also an excellent time to focus on home health. What’s one thing that should be on everyone’s home maintenance list? Taking steps to prevent mold in the spring!
Because all of those rainy days and increased humidity provide the perfect opportunity for that fungus among us to scoot right into our homes and start causing problems. With pollen and other allergens already flooding the air, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is an indoor contamination problem on top of all that. Not to mention the cost and effort associated with fixing any contamination situation that pops up.
Taking proactive steps to keep your home safe and healthy can ensure that you’re able to enjoy the warmer months ahead and all of the fun activities that spring brings. With that in mind, here are a few great options to get you started!
9 Steps to Prevent Mold in the Spring
1. Schedule an HVAC Service Appointment
The HVAC is essentially the lungs of a home. As such, it’s important to ensure that it’s operating properly and not bogged down with issues like microbial growth. Condensation can build up within the ducts or the unit itself, which offers the perfect home for things like mold.
If a lucky spore lands in this moisture, it will begin to colonize the space, leaving you with hidden mold growth within the home. This growth will just continue to thrive undisturbed until those warmer or cooler months occur. When you flip the thermostat to the alternate setting (heat or cold), all of those moldy particles will be blown throughout your home. These particles will decrease your indoor air quality and contaminate the surfaces inside.
The change in temperature can also lead to mold growth on other parts of the unit, such as the condensation coil and drip pan.
Routinely scheduling a professional to come in and service the HVAC in the spring, before the warmer weather settles in, can help avoid this contaminant catastrophe. This individual should test for microbial contamination while assessing the unit so that if there’s a problem, it can be resolved before turning on the unit and blowing it throughout the home. They should also clean the coil, make sure the blower, furnace, and cabinets are clean, and ensure that everything is operating correctly. Think of it as a biannual tune-up and cleanup.
A clean and healthy HVAC system will help maintain a clean and healthy home and prevent mold in the spring.
2. Jump Into Spring Cleaning
It’s probably safe to say that very few people enjoy that dreaded spring cleaning. While it’s a great way to declutter a home and get it ready for the warm months ahead, it’s also an essential step in helping keep our homes healthy and prevent mold in the spring. The cleaner they are, the safer they will be.
Springtime is particularly a great time to focus on cleanliness because you have an abundance of allergens floating around outdoors that enter a home and settle in the dust. Then, these particles circulate throughout the indoor space and can enter our bodies through inhalation. Pollen is one of the main examples, but mold is also another.
In the spring, it rains a lot. That results in an abundance of mold particles in the air that will then migrate into our home. These particles will also settle in our dust, begin to circulate throughout the indoor space, and can be inhaled.
Cleaning is key during this time of year because these microscopic particles will continue to build up unless they’re forcefully removed. This will lower indoor air quality and can allow allergy symptoms to develop as more and more particles enter the body.
Building the right cleaning product arsenal is a key piece of the puzzle. You want to make sure that the tools in your toolkit are up to the task of actually removing microscopic particles from surfaces.
A few great options to get you started include:
One tool to get you started is investing in the Homecleanse Kit. The products included are all of the tools we use to deep clean indoor environments and ensure that as many microscopic particles are removed as possible. It also comes with instructions on how to properly clean and use the products, taking the guesswork out of it for you.
From there, it’s all about using the right cleaning methods. For this season, in particular, it’s key to focus on areas that are unfrequented. This includes behind appliances, inside cabinets, and shelving. Basically, whatever gets neglected during your average cleaning extravaganza.
3. Open Doors and Windows for Ventilation
There's very little airflow between indoor and outdoor environments thanks to modern building practices pushing for net-zero energy efficiency. That means that a majority of the particles that make their way inside will remain indoors until action is taken to remove them.
During the winter months, windows and doors were most likely kept tightly closed to keep the indoor air warm, the heating bill as low as possible, and avoid turning into an icicle. As a result, all of those particles were able to build up inside. Deep cleaning and air purification can help to remove them, but working on ventilation is also a great step. When the air is warm enough, turn off the HVAC system and bust open those windows and doors to allow fresh air in. This will help replace the potentially particle-filled indoor air with fresh outdoor air.
After a couple of hours, close everything back up and jump into deep cleaning to remove any spores, bacteria, and mycotoxins hanging around. Make sure to blast your air purifier as well to eliminate any particles kicked up while cleaning and further help to prevent mold in the spring.
This being said, if the pollen count is incredibly high or if it’s raining, keep those windows and doors closed. This will decrease the number of particles coming inside and avoid high humidity indoors.
4. Change the HVAC Filters
Spring is a great time to change the filter. This will ensure the filter is prepped and ready to eliminate as many of those contaminants as possible that entered the home from the particle-filled outdoor air. It will also help to prevent mold in the spring.
Air filters are the first line of defense both for the HVAC system and your indoor air. These barriers help eliminate contaminants so that they don’t continue to circulate throughout the indoor space. It also helps remove them before they reach the HVAC, which can help avoid microbial growth in the unit itself.
That being said, if they’re past their time to be replaced, chances are that they’re packed full of all sorts of particles. This will affect their ability to filter, leading to lower indoor air quality. It can also put a strain on the HVAC system as it works overtime to pull air through the clogged filters. That scenario can lead to you spending money fixing or replacing the unit, which is definitely not something we want in our homes.
All filters are different, so check with the manufacturer’s instructions on how often to change them. Set up a reminder to change them at this time, but also routinely look at them to see if they need to be changed ahead of schedule. If you’re not sure whether to change the filter earlier, a few signs to look out for include discoloration of the filter, odd odors, higher electricity bills, a decrease in airflow, or dust around the vents or condenser coils.
Switching to the highest-rated MERV filters possible for the specific HVAC system is also a good idea. The details on what can be used can be found in the HVAC manual. The key thing to keep in mind is that the smaller the particles these filters can eliminate, the better. When you’re dealing with microscopic particles like mold spores and mycotoxins, you want filters with the technology to actually eliminate them from the air. Otherwise, they’ll just circulate straight back into the home.
5. Stay on Top of Indoor Humidity
With humidity slowly starting to increase outdoors, it’s important to keep an eye on the level inside the home.
When considering home health, indoor air quality is typically at the top of the list of concerns. And even then, it’s still not on many people’s radars! One issue even further down the home maintenance task checklist is indoor humidity and the importance of keeping it at just the right level.
The ideal humidity level in a home should be between 35 and 50 percent. Too high or too low humidity indoors can cause wellness issues and problems with the home's health.
When the humidity is too high, it can cause microbial growth, poor indoor air quality, and structural issues in the building. However, you also don’t want it to be too dry indoors! That can lead to adverse health reactions and structural issues like wood separation.
Ideal humidity should be maintained not only for comfort but also to maintain a safe indoor environment that promotes ongoing wellness.
A few steps to safely increase humidity include the following:
- Ensure that doors and windows are sealed properly
- Cook on the stovetop often
- Place dishes of water near heat sources
- Invest in a humidifier that has a humidistat
A few steps to safely decrease humidity include the following:
- Use the air conditioner
- Focus on airflow in high-moisture rooms like the kitchen and bathrooms
- Fix any leaks
- Invest in a dehumidifier
Check out this article for more information on maintaining indoor humidity in your home to prevent mold in the spring (and all year long!)
6. Make Sure the Gutters are Clean
For many homes across the world, spring signals the time for rainy days. While this is great for nature, it can be not-so-great for our homes if they’re not prepped and ready for the oncoming storms. One of the first lines of defense to safeguard our indoor spaces are the gutters.
Clogged and faulty gutters are one of the top problems that lead to moisture intrusion into a home and, as a result, mold growth. Cleaning them regularly during this watery season, ensuring that they’re installed properly, and directing them away from the foundation of the home helps prevent water from intruding inside and causing mayhem. Consider a downspout extension if the spring weather in your local area is often accompanied by heavy rainfall.
Gutters in tip-top shape will help avoid water intrusion in your home and prevent mold in the spring.
7. Clean Window AC Units
For anyone with a window AC unit, chances are that this machine has not been turned on during those chilly winter months. But with warmer weather on the horizon, it’s about to be their time to shine! Before switching them back on, though, make sure that they’re ready to go.
Giving it a thorough deep cleaning can ensure that they’re not about to lower your indoor air quality with all sorts of microscopic particles.
Check out this blog for a guide on how to deep clean your window AC unit and keep it safe for use during the spring season.
8. Check for Any Structural Issues
One of the key components to prevent mold in the spring is avoiding moisture from making its way indoors. The less moisture there is, the fewer opportunities there will be for mold growth. Ensuring the home's exterior is prepped to act as an appropriate barrier is a huge part of this push to avoid water intrusion. It’s particularly important before the spring months, when all of that rain is pounding on the exterior of the home.
Before the ultra-wet months set in, take a close look around your home to determine if there are any cracks, gaps, or other issues that could allow moisture inside.
Places to check include:
- Door frames
If you find any problems, take care of them ASAP so moisture intrusion does not occur. The sooner you can catch and resolve the problem, the better.
9. Eliminate Dust
Regular dusting is also key to helping prevent mold in the spring. Why dust?
Microscopic particles settle where dust settles. So all those door frames, shelves, baseboards, furniture, and other surfaces are covered in dust? Chances are that other particles like mold spores, mycotoxins, and bacteria are hanging out as well.
Regular dusting can help reduce the number of particles that get kicked into the air when the surface is disturbed. HEPA vacuum cleaners and microfiber towels are two tools that should be in your cleaning arsenal to help eliminate these particles from your home. The fewer particles there are on the home's surfaces, the cleaner the air and your indoor space will be.
If you’re concerned about what exactly is in your dust and if it could indicate a problem in your home, consider investing in a tool such as The Dust Test. This revolutionary product can help identify what’s in a home so that you can have peace of mind that your indoor space is supporting your health or validate that your home is causing wellness problems.
Work to Prevent Mold in the Spring BUT Prepare for the Unexpected
Even after taking steps to prevent mold, sometimes growth will still pop up in your home. That fungus among us is seriously persistent! That’s why it’s important to keep an eye out for problems and have plans in place if a contamination situation pops up.
Check out this blog for information on what to look for and who to call.
Prevent Mold in the Spring Enjoy This Beautiful Time of the Year
Collectively, these steps will help ensure your home remains in tip-top shape so that you can focus on fun springtime activities like having picnics in the park and plating flowers. That being said, don’t feel pressured to do everything at once. That mindset can leave you anxious and stressed, which is definitely not what you want to experience after dealing with decontaminating a home and trying to heal.
The goal is to do what you can, when you can. Any step taken to improve your indoor air quality and environment is a leap in the right direction. So remember to breathe, give yourself grace, and celebrate every proactive action you take!