Some scientists estimate that one to five million species of fungi exist worldwide. Others put the number closer to 2.2 to 3.8 million. Either way, molds are some of the most common subsets of these organisms.
According to some experts, molds alone come in at least 100,000 different species. Mildew is a specific type of mold usually characterized by a flat growth habit.
In any case, molds and mildew are among the chief culprits behind poor St. Louis indoor air quality (IAQ). After all, the city can be quite muggy, with its relative humidity ranging from over 63% to more than 75%. Molds thrive in such conditions, so it’s easy for them to infiltrate homes in The Gateway to the West.
The good news is that there are ways to mitigate mold and mildew to improve your St. Louis home’s IAQ. We’ll tell you all about these strategies below, so be sure to read on.
Address All Types of Water Leaks
According to previous studies, one in two US homes has dampness or mold problems. Leaking plumbing pipes and roof leaks are some of the most common causes of such issues. Mold and mildew are likely to keep growing in your home unless you get these leaks addressed.
Humidity levels of more than 65%, coupled with a temperature of 32 to 122 °F, are enough for molds to grow. This is why you’d want to keep your home’s indoor humidity levels below that range, or if possible, no more than 50%. After all, your home is already full of oxygen and organic materials; two other things molds need to grow.
Do note that faulty air conditioners can also be a leak source, usually when their coils form ice. This often results from poor airflow and dirty coils, which, in turn, can be due to a lack of HVAC maintenance. Low refrigerant levels or refrigerant leaks can also cause ice build-up in ACs.
So, that’s another reason to invest in routine air conditioner tune-ups. Regularly replace your AC filter, too, as this helps cut back filth build-up in your cooling system. By trapping indoor air pollutants, your AC filter also helps boost your St. Louis home’s IAQ.
Clean and Seal Your Ductwork
Aside from roof and plumbing leaks, leaky ducts can also introduce humid air into your home. Moreover, these defects allow conditioned air to leak out, which is a complete waste of energy. Ducts can also trap some moisture within, making them a prime breeding spot for mold and mildew.
So, if you haven’t had your ductwork inspected for years, now’s the best time to schedule duct cleaning. This also makes it easier for a St. Louis HVAC expert to determine if you have leaky ducts and how severe the issue is. If caught early, you may only need duct sealing instead of a complete duct replacement.
Eliminate Mold Spores With an Air Purifier
Air purifiers are devices that reduce the number of harmful airborne organisms. Aside from molds, they can also eliminate other air allergens, pollutants, and toxins.
The Sterionizer is a perfect example of an air purification system that works. It has a 99.99% effectiveness against pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and molds. What’s more, it doesn’t emit ozone, and it even boasts a self-cleaning technology.
Since the Sterionizer destroys mold spores, molds would have fewer ways to reproduce. However, you also need to get rid of existing mold growths at home, as these would keep producing spores. After the mold treatment, the air purifier would then help prevent future mold growth.
Keep Those Vents Clean and Clear
An HVAC system provides mechanical ventilation using ducts and fans. These components draw in outdoor air and then pass it through the HVAC filter. From there, fresh air gets dispersed via vents and throughout your indoor space.
Mechanical ventilation also helps exhaust air from damp-prone areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
The thing is, St. Louis, MO is one of the top 25 cities most polluted by year-round particle pollution. Particle pollutants include biological contaminants, such as mold spores and pollen.
As if that’s not bad enough, St. Louis also sees many high-ozone level days. Ozone and particle pollutants can make their way into your home through your HVAC system.
It’s in the same way that your HVAC unit, including its vents, can be quick to build up residue. Over time, filth build-up can cause a significant impairment of airflow and ventilation.
Now, keep in mind that your air conditioner helps dehumidify the air in your home. However, it won’t be able to do this job properly if it’s clogged with residue. Dirty vents can also harbor mold spores, which can then spread to and contaminate your indoor air.
This is why a well-maintained HVAC system is a key to having good indoor air quality. HVAC maintenance helps keep not only molds but also particle pollution at bay.
Invest in Professional Insulation Installation
Insulation helps prevent mold growth as it cuts back moisture penetration from outside. Humid outdoor air is one example of such moisture sources.
Insulation also reduces condensation, which happens when humid air touches cool surfaces. This can occur within or on walls and areas around HVAC systems.
All in all, properly-installed insulation supports dry, temperature-controlled environments that discourage mold growth. By contrast, poorly-installed insulation encourages mold growth within and on walls and surfaces.
That said, you do have the option to DIY insulation installation, but it’s best you leave it in the hands of pros. That’s because proper insulation application requires complete coverage. Even small spaces left uninsulated can form condensation, leading to major mold problems.
St. Louis Indoor Air Quality Services Can Help Rid Your Home of Fungi
As you can see, most indoor mold and mildew issues are due to high humidity levels. As such, preventing such problems starts with controlling indoor humidity and condensation. From there, you can supplement indoor mold management with air purification techniques.
If you’re ready to tackle your home’s poor IAQ, our team here at Anton’s Air Conditioning & Heating can help. Ring us up now to learn more about our extensive range of St. Louis indoor air quality services!