Moisture, Condensation and Mold, oh my
Moister and condensation and Mold……oooh fun stuff!!! So up here in the north country we just went through 2 weeks with the most consecutive days of oppressive temperatures on record. This is some crazy calculation of heat and high dew point (humidity) that makes it feel hot. What does this have to do with HOUSE?? Well houses are affected by this also. So Monday morning started with two conversations with home owners about just these issues. My pipes are dripping!!! There is mold in my basement and I can breathe!!!!
So first lets explain how this happens. The Dew point is the temperature in which water in the air (vapor) turns into water. So when the Dew point is high (say 60+ degrees) any surface colder then that will collect water on it surface from the air. You have seen it on your toilet bowl or a glass of water on the table. The same thing happens with the cold water pipes in your basement or the concrete walls that are pretty much 50 degrees year round because they are under ground. On concrete it does not drip as much as the concrete is pour us but it is still there.
So how do you fix it, ventilation, air conditioning or a dehumidifier (which essentially makes a cold enough surface for the water in the air to collect on and drip off in all dew points). Now sadly we build our houses really tight, no air coming in, which means no heat escaping in the winter time which you love us for. However, this also means it does not breath and release humidity in the summer and makes this problem worse if you do not run a circulator (furnace on fan only mode) or a dehumidifier. Leave the moisture on a surface long enough and you will get mold (just like the damp bread in our cupboard).
This is important though. If you are having trouble breathing as soon as you see it, it is your brain not the mold. Mold was the second coming of Asbestos and is a huge industry. For years our parents generation removed asbestos from buildings with our bare hands and no respirators. As select few got cancer from certain types of what is known as friable asbestos. With that came huge lawsuits and a world afraid of asbestos because no one can tell the difference between the bad and the good. Today if you have asbestos in a building you could spend millions to have it removed by people in space suits and hauled to a spot where it can be buried because no one wants to get sued. And it may be harmless. Mold became the next version of that after someone suffered severe health issues from prolonged exposure to Black Mold. The good news is this is not the stuff that grows on the corners of your tub and can be wiped off with a rag and some bleach. So if you are having trouble breathing in your tub it is the result of media panic not the mold.
Black mold is a hard spore that feels like a rock and grows in damp environments on fibrous surfaces over a long period of time and it is dangerous to people who have compromised repertory systems. But if it was not there last week, breath deep you will be fine and grab a paper towel it looks ugly.