Monitoring Temperature and Humidity to Control Mold
What is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that can cause damage to our health and belongings. Mold requires four things to grow: mold spores, mold food, the right temperature, and moisture. Mold spores are everywhere in the indoor and outdoor environment, and mold can “eat” just about any kind of substance, so it is not practical to eliminate spores or mold food. Therefore, to control mold, we must monitor and control temperature and especially humidity.
Allergies, asthma, and other respiratory disorders can be made worse if a person is exposed to indoor mold. Some people are allergic to mold, but mold can irritate the eyes, skin, and lungs whether or not allergies are present. Medical researchers are still discovering all the possible impacts of mold on health.
Mold can also damage furnishings and other household items, and can “hide” inside walls and under carpets. Attic mold is a common problem that may be caused by inadequate ventilation, roof leaks (past or present), or improper installation of dryer vents or bathroom fans. It’s certainly not unusual for basements to be damp, and controlling basement humidity is essential to preventing basement mold.
What is Humidity?
Knowing how to measure humidity is the first step in preventing mold. Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Relative humidity is the ratio of moisture in the air to the maximum amount of moisture the air can hold, which varies depending on the air temperature. As the temperature rises, the air can hold more moisture.
How Does Temperature Affect Mold?
In general, mold grows well within the same temperature range that makes us feel comfortable – about 60 to 80 degrees. When warm, moist air comes into contact with cold surfaces, it can create condensation, since the cooler air can’t hold as much moisture. This condensation may provide the ideal conditions for mold growth. Because it is almost impossible to control mold through temperature alone, humidity monitoring is critical.
How do You Measure Humidity?
A device to measure humidity is called a hygrometer. AcuRite has a full range of hygrometers, from simple instruments that measure temperature and humidity, to multi-function weather stations that include indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity monitoring along with many other features. If you are concerned about mold, digital hygrometers or weather stations are particularly helpful tools because they provide a current temperature reading in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius, and a current humidity reading on a scale of 1% to 100% relative humidity. They also keep a record of high and low temperature and humidity readings to help you determine whether you are maintaining the proper environmental conditions during all hours of the day or night to control the growth of mold.
If mold is a concern, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an indoor humidity level no higher than 50% humidity. This can be accomplished through the use of a dehumidifier or air conditioner.
3 AcuRite Products to Help You Prevent Mold
- AcuRite Digital Humidity Monitors offer an ideal way to monitor indoor humidity to prevent mold. The monitors include an easy-to-read Humidity Level Icon that lets you know if the humidity in your home is in the optimal range, too high or too low. These devices also display temperature and daily highs and lows for humidity and temperature, so that you can check to be sure that your indoor environment remains at protective levels throughout the day and night. Depending on the model, these compact display consoles can sit on a table top, mount on the wall, or adhere magnetically to your refrigerator or a file cabinet
- AcuRite Weather Stations include indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity readings, and also track many other environmental measurements. Weather station models may include atmospheric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, rain and generate a weather forecast.
- AcuRite Environment Systems help you conveniently monitor potential household trouble areas, such as attic mold and basement mold, with sensors for remote indoor humidity monitoring. To monitor for mold trouble areas remotely, place affordable Temperature and Humidity Sensors (592TXR) wherever you need them in the house. AcuRite® Access™ works with these sensors to transmit information wirelessly so you can track it online or via a free app for your smartphone. You can use up to seven sensors at the same time with AcuRite Access. By placing sensors in different locations in the home, you can monitor temperature and humidity in different rooms. In the My AcuRite software or app, you can name the widgets for each sensor location (basement, attic, garage, greenhouse etc.) to easily track temperature and humidity in different areas inside and outside the house within a 330 foot range. No more climbing up into the attic or down to the basement to check on conditions to prevent mold!
Mold Growth. Florida Solar Energy Center. http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/consumer/buildings/basics/moldgrowth.htm
A Complete Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home. Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html
Molds in the Environment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm#decrease