How to Prevent Mold and Improve Air Quality in Rental Properties

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The presence of mold commonly leads to disputes between tenant and landlord, but can be easily averted through good communication and quick action. Air quality can improved through houseplants, good air circulation and the avoidance of chemicals.

Moving In

The first thing you need to do is check your property for signs of mold and report anything you find. It’s worth checking whether your property has double glazing, sufficient heating, extractor fans and insulation. If you feel inadequate heating or poor air circulation will be a problem, it’s worth asking your landlord to address such issues. Any crack or gap where moisture can enter your property should be reported immediately.

Stopping Mold

Mold is produced by fungal spores that thrive in warm damp areas. Unfortunately, mold can’t be removed as harsh climatic conditions will cause spores to go dormant – a state they can survive in for several years. Therefore, when cold damp conditions return, so will mold.

Thus, the best thing you can do is keep your house dry. To do this, it is important to buy thermo-hygrometers for every room in your house. They are available cheaply and you should aim for a humidity below 50%.

Sources Of Mold

The main source mold is humans and their activities. An average human will produce up to 1.25 liters per day through metabolic processes such as respiration and perspiration. Clothes drying, floor washing, cooking on a gas stove, gas refrigeration, cooking, dishwashing, house plants, showering and bathing all contribute moisture.

It’s worth noting that modern appliances allow one to forgo such issues. A dishwasher and washer/dryer combo can both be bought cheaply and will allow tenants to reduce humidity and maintain a cleaner house. Electric stoves are again worth installing, not just to reduce humidity, but for tenant safety and to reduce risk of fire.

If such appliances are unavailable, one should dry clothes outside in the warmer months, and laundromats can be used in the colder months. One should always wipe wet surfaces, drain standing water and ensure excess moisture goes down the drain. As water will evaporate at room temperature such sources will contribute to humidity. Closing doors will prevent moisture spreading to other areas of the house.

Reducing Humidity

It’s worth noting well insulated properties trap moisture. Airing out your property in the day is worthwhile and turning on extractor fans when you are cooking or bathing. Dehumidifiers reduce humidity levels through cooling moist air, causing moisture to condense in the machine. The accumulated water can then be poured away. They are portable and thus can be used in problem areas. Telling your landlord you have one is worthwhile as it shows you are serious about reducing moisture levels.

Improving Air Quality

Once your humidity levels are at a reasonable level, mold will stop spreading. Make sure to buy chemicals when cleaning mold spots and use gloves, masks and goggles. Open windows when cleaning but close doors. Soft furnishings can be put in the wash or thrown out. Check behind furniture, curtains etc for mold.

Using chemicals indoors causes pollution and worsens air quality. Such products include shampoo, hairspray, deodorant, perfume, air fresheners, cleaning sprays, laundry detergent, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers, glue and paint. While this may look like an exhaustive list of every consumer good, it is worth reducing use. Sprays are a particularly egregious pollutant that should be avoided.   

You might also consider looking at the top air purifiers using this list.

Houseplants

Using plants as a means to improve air quality is not controversial. One 2016 study, highlighted how the average reduction of particulate matter near a tree was between 7% and 24%.

NASA’s Clean Air Study looked into whether common indoor plants can provide a natural way of removing many toxic agents from the air. Interestingly, while the presence of plants removed both high and low levels of chemicals in the air, it was not the plants themselves but the various microorganisms found in the soil made active by the present of plants. The authors also noted that these microorganisms have the ability to adapt when continuously exposed to chemicals, increasing their ability to use them as a food source, and thus remove pollutants from the air over time. This makes them perfect to use near any window bordering a road.

It is worth noting that the watering of an average size plant will release about 0.5 liters of water per week, or 0.07 liters per day, but this can be easily offset by following the practices mentioned above.