Insulation is one of the most powerful preventative tools against indoor mold growth because of its ability to manage the buildings temperature and moisture. If installed the right way, insulation will support dry, temperature controlled conditions that inhibit mold growth. If installed the wrong way, it can promote the development of mold growth deep within the buildings walls.
First you need to understand how mold works, no moisture, no mold. Mold needs three conditions to grow: relative humidity is 50% or higher, temperature is above 40 degrees and any biodegradable material is present. Also, if there’s enough dust and other organic materials that have collected on the surface of brick, stone, glass, plastics, or aluminum duct work, mold can grow.
Your first defense against the development of mold in a building is insulation because it will prevent the surrounding air from reaching dew point temperatures. At dew point temperatures, condensation can form causing moisture and moisture means mold. The insulation is important because of its ability to control the temperature and by extension, moisture which means no moisture, no mold. Keep in mind, if you can eliminate the source of moisture, you can greatly reduce the likely-hood of mold growth.
Selecting the best insulation is the first step in creating a dry, properly –functioning indoor environment. There are a multitude of different types of insulation available from fiberglass, cellulose, icynene, from rigid to flexible. Selecting the right insulation material for the environment it’s being used in is essential in preventing mold growth. The NIA, National Insulation Association, www.insulation.org, has a very informative website that can be very helpful when making decisions about insulation.
The debate comes-in on what insulation can mold grow on and which ones will it not. Mold can grow on different materials in varying degrees. Architects, contractors, and the people at the big box stores all have a different take on which type of insulation to use. If there is any doubt as to whether there could be a moisture problem, take these factors into consideration. Fiberglass, a non-biodegradable substance is resistant to mold. With its sharp, ground glass make-up, mold spores puncture before they can attach to it. Mold can grow on the fiberglass insulation backing which is made of paper and is a mold food source. Fiberglass insulation without backing may be the best choice. As for cellulose insulation, it’s constructed of ground paper, an ideal food source for the growth of mold if it becomes wet. Cellulose should only be used when it’s absolutely certain that it will not get wet.
There is insulation around duct work and pipes, rigid foam, foiled and closed-cell insulation. I have found duck feathers stuffed into a wall cavity bringing a new meaning to “duck work”. Selecting the proper insulation is not as simple as it may seem. In short, when selecting new insulation or checking on your current insulation, you need to carefully consider the environment and the circumstances that the insulation will be used in. Insulating attics are completely different than insulating a crawl space as well as insulating the cavity of a wall in your home. If there’s a way that moisture can get between the outside wall and the inside wall and gets the insulation wet, some insulation may take a long time to dry and if there’s a vapor barrier, you can end up removing a lot of your wall and possibly the ceiling and floor due to mold growth.
Bottom-line, avoiding water intrusion is the basic rule of mold prevention. Water is a home owners’ biggest enemy. No moisture, no mold! An inspection of the exterior walls, roof, attic, crawlspace, and basements can help identify potential problems before they start. Mold Solutions is trained to also get to the mold before it gets to you.
This is just a small amount of information from a whole industry that is part of the first line of defense against mold in your home or commercial building. Insulation plays a huge part in prevention from protecting us from our worst enemy, water! Be diligent and informed when it comes to preventing mold and seek out professionals who know how to battle the problem efficiently and most importantly, completely.
For more information regarding mold diagnostics or to schedule a moisture check-up, contact Mold Solutions Chicago or Mold Solutions St. Louis at (866) 952-MOLD (6653)