Frustrated because you keep finding mold in your basement or the bathroom? You’ve tried everything to remove it, but it keeps coming back. To properly remove mold and keep it gone, you need to understand the mold life cycle so you can figure out what is happening and why the mold is recurring.
What Is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus. It actually occurs naturally everywhere, but it typically is not a problem inside homes unless the right conditions for mold growth exist.
People typically know about black mold, but it can show up as black, white, orange, green, or even purple. Out in nature, mold breaks down organic matter that needs to decompose like dead leaves, plants, and trees. Mold loves moisture; mold’s miniature, lightweight spores travel through the air looking for moist places to settle and grow.
Mold Life Cycle
In order to disrupt the regrowth of mold in your home, you need to understand the mold life cycle and learn how to disrupt that cycle.
Mold needs the following conditions in order to grow: moisture (relative humidity over 60%), mold-friendly nutrients, and proper temperature. If these conditions exist, the mold spores go through the following four stages of the mold life cycle.
Mold Life Cycle Stage 1: Hyphal Growth
Hyphae are thread-like filamentous cells that release enzymes involved in the degradation and absorption of nutrients during the decomposition process. One the hyphae extract nutrition from the decomposing organic material, the hyphae grow into a fungus you can see.
Mold Life Cycle Stage 2: Spore Formation
Spores form at the ends of the hyphael cells. How quickly and how well the spores form depends on specific conditions: light versus dark, high or low oxygen level, how warm or cold it is, and if those nutrients (organic matter) are available for the mold to feed upon. You can control some but not all of these conditions.
Mold Life Cycle Stage 3: Spore Dispersal
After the spores form, the mold wants to propagate. The spores are released into the air then carried elsewhere to begin the process of germination and repeat the growth cycle.
Mold spores can survive in a dormant stage for a long time, even for years and even in very hot and very arid conditions. They spring back to life once they come in contact with moisture and the right conditions again.
Mold Life Cycle Stage 4: Spore Germination
Once the spore finds nourishing conditions, the spore germinates into a new hyphael cell. Presto! The mold life cycle has begun again.
What Does Mold Need to Grow Inside My House?
You probably think you don’t have the right conditions for mold, but most of us do. The food mold requires is organic matter, which occurs in the tiny amounts needed by mold spores in everyday objects. Dust, pet dander, sloughed dead pet or human cells, tiny bits of organic matter brought in from your shoes or left over from food – all of these things serve as food for mold spores.
The ingredient all mold spores need most is moisture. This is the factor you can control the most easily.
While you can’t rid your home of all mold spores, you can prevent mold growth by limiting the amount of moisture in your home. This is also referred to as the humidity level of your home. You may find that some parts of your home are damper than others; this is because your home ventilation system probably doesn’t service every part of your home equally, and some areas, such as bathrooms and basements, are harder to deal with. The residual moisture from showers, baths and faucets make bathrooms damp; basements are damp by default because of their location.
This is why humidity control is so important. If you control the humidity in your home, you can prevent mold from growing in your home.
Why Should I Care if I Have Recurrent Mold Problems?
Mold spores already exist in your home; the problem arises when the mold spores get the food and moisture needed to grow. Once mold has grown on a surface, the spores can be disturbed and sent afloat in the air, where they become irritants and allergens. The presence of mold often causes health problems.
How to Stop Recurring Mold
First you need to properly remove the mold, without spreading mold spores all over the house. This requires sealing off the affected area and preventing the mold spores from getting disturbed and distributed throughout the room.
After you have removed the mold, you will want to take the following precautions:
- Use a dehumidifier and an air conditioner to keep the humidity levels to healthy levels in your home. It’s best to keep the humidity in your home below 60%.
- Keep your home warm in the winter. Mold grows in both warm and cold moist areas. When the temps drop, the air is unable to hang onto the moisture, which means excess water vapor condenses on cold surfaces, creating perfect environments for mold growth.
- Had a flood or water damage? Dry wet parts of your home within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
- Check your home for evidence that water is entering your home or crawl space from outside. The ground surrounding your home should slope away from your house. You may need to change landscaping or invest in waterproofing, especially if you have a basement.
- If you have a particular room that is susceptible to mold growth, leave the door to that room open so the air circulation improves. Use a fan or dehumidifier in that room.
- Look for evidence of leaks or water damage to ensure you don’t miss hidden pockets of moisture.
- Open a window when showering.
- Avoid leaving damp towels on the floor or in laundry hamper.
Need Help with Mold Prevention?
We no longer provide mold restoration services, but we can refer you to a reputable company that does. Give us a call and we’ll put you in touch with them!
Quick question & answer: What is the mold life cycle?
Home mold life cycle thrives on moisture, mold-friendly nutrients, and proper temperature. In these conditions mold spores start the following four stages:
- Stage 1: Hyphal growth
- Stage 2: Spore formation
- Stage 3: Spore Dispersal
- Stage 4: Spore Germination
After mold is removed, a dehumidifier can help humidity levels down, stopping recurrent mold problems.