When humidity levels get out of control, the risk for mold emerges. With its appearance, there are two factors you worry about as it poses a great influence on them – the state of your health and the integrity of the building. But how do you distinguish when there is a reason to worry about the appearance of mold, and when there are just simple spikes in humidity levels indoors? For that matter, why is moisture so common in buildings to begin with? Learn everything you need to know about this pressing matter in the following.
What are the roots of moisture problems?
Problems arise at the moment when excess moisture occurs or when it is trapped inside a part of the building which normally should be dry. Regardless of the type of structure that we are referring to, whether it is new or old, high humidity can still become an issue due to various factors, like faulty construction practices, poor design, even poor maintenance. Some of the decisions related to construction, design, and maintenance which lead to moisture becoming an issue are:
- Poorly designed enclosures and drainage systems;
- Installing of wet materials when constructing the building;
- Inadequate maintenance of materials and various equipment;
- Placement on a site that does not allow drainage to be done properly;
- Using materials that are sensitive to moisture;
- Lack of humidity control devices that could help tame the issue in the first place.
Humidity control measures
Humidity control devices and measures are necessary to incorporate when designing a building as they save you a lot of trouble later. Obviously, they prevent structural damage to the building and ensure a safe habitat for you. The most effective moisture control measures to take are:
- Make sure to set up proper drainage planes when you start constructing the building;
- Dehumidifiers that will tend to lower moisture to proper levels when it rises;
- Effective weatherproofing – be careful with insulation and with the construction of the roof;
- Install proper condensation drainage systems.
Problems which arise alongside high moisture levels
At one point, all buildings, regardless of their position and how well they have been built, will face moisture issues at a certain level of severity. All that you can do is keep a close eye on the signs that humidity levels are rising dangerously and tame them before it is too late and mold settles. As humidity rises, there are inevitable issues which arise alongside it:
- The appearance of mold which inevitably leads to respiratory issues when not dealt with in time. For those who suffer from asthma or allergies, mold spores lingering in the air is even more hazardous than for a normal healthy individual as health implications are more severe.
- Bacteria, mold, insect pests, and other unwanted guests colonize building materials and HVAC systems.
- Construction materials that are water-soluble, like gypsum board, for example, can return to solution.
- Wood materials begin to decay – they start to rot, warp, or swell.
- Roofing and flooring adhesives start to fail.
Signs that a building has mold issues
While mold is sometimes easy to discover as the moisture issues are obvious, this is not the case all the time. Yes, you might be able to track plumbing leaks and sewer backups, and you might even have the needed knowledge to handle these problems, but there are hidden signs you must keep an eye out for. Regardless of their nature, whether it is obvious or hidden to the untrained eye, here is a complete list of signs which might clue you into high humidity levels that have already lead or could lead to the appearance of mold:
- Musty smells – Common mold strains emit a characteristic smell which is hard to ignore. Thus, when you do feel a musty, moldy smell inside the house or only in a specific area, chances are that indeed mold has started making an appearance and you should search for its location to eradicate it.
- Visible mold growth – The most obvious indicator of mold invasion is mold growth. As it can basically grow anywhere there’s water, regularly check spaces like the bathroom and the basement. To sum it up, if there are areas of the building where moisture grows fast and there is no humidity reduction measure set in place there, chances are that mold has already made an appearance.
- Excessive condensation – When condensation appears on surfaces like walls, counters, and appliances, you should start looking for mold as well. Another clear indicator that mold is a guest inside your home is fog or water beading on interior windows.
- Affected building materials – When seasons change and you observe a sudden degradation of certain building materials, it is definitely caused by high moisture. Since mold and mildew go hand in hand with high humidity, as you notice that building materials have been damaged, chances are that you most likely have mold spores lingering in the air as well. The most common materials to be affected and which we recommend you look out for are cracked bricks or cracked concrete.
- Water – If water puddles form, this is usually caused by a leak or another type of structural issue with the building. When it does appear, make sure to dry the area out as soon as possible, preferably during the first 48 hours since its appearance as mold can grow quite fast.
- Health symptoms – Those who suffer from allergies or asthma are the first to notice when mold or mildew appear inside a building as certain symptoms almost instantly appear. These symptoms include coughing, headaches, wheezing, and irritation of the eyes. However, healthy individuals can have these issues as well, so if you find yourself suddenly having headaches when you are at home, headaches which persist only when you are inside that building, it is most likely that mold contamination has occurred.