Meet Mold, Mildew

Know Your Air and Water No 1

Mold and mildew are organisms that come in thousands of varieties belonging to the fungi family. They propagate by giving off little particles called spores that blow around in the air. The spores grow into colonies of what we see as mildew and mold when they land on organic material on which they can feed (such as food, wood, paper, cloth or carpet), and when the temperature is right for them, and where liquid water is present. With the right food and temperature plus liquid water, they thrive and reproduce.

While we can’t eliminate all the spores floating in the air around us, we can remove the mold and mildew we see so it won’t give off more spores (not to mention halting the damage they do). Unfortunately, the right temperature for spores to grow is the very temperature that humans feel comfortable in, so we can’t change that. But we can deny them breeding ground by cleaning up organic materials they feed on and stopping accumulations of liquid water, which is the critical factor most easy for us to control.

The water can come from condensation as well as breaches in weatherproofing systems or undetected leaks around plumbing fixtures. Also water can accumulate in places you don’t see very often if at all (such as drip pans in refrigerators, air conditioners and dehumidifiers).

To prevent water vapor in the air from condensing into liquid, keep indoor relative humidity between 30 and 60%. Use vents and fans as well as dehumidifiers and air conditioners – especially in bathrooms, kitchens, laundries and basements.

A good practice is to allow water to overflow into overflow ports on lavatory is they are available.  

PAMCANI (The Plumbing & Mechanical Contractors Authority of Northern Illinois) is comprised of nearly 400 union contractors and sustaining members who provide and maintain plumbing, heating and cooling systems for institutional, commercial, business and residential applications. This non-profit trade organization invests over $3 million annually in the promotion, advancement, education and training of apprentices, journeymen and contractors, and actively works to raise awareness about water and energy conservation. Headquartered in Downers Grove, PAMCANI covers DuPage, DeKalb, Kane, Kendall, Lake and McHenry Counties.

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