Jess Allen here (Information and Marketing gal at TermiGuard Services & Fenwick)!
Some of you may or may not know…
I’m currently in Brussels Belgium (I mentioned this on our Facebook page)! My husband is Belgian and we came to visit so his family could meet Liam – our 6 month old son.
Anywho, it hasn’t been all leisure. Of course I’m still hard at work even across the pond!
We’ve been staying with my mother-in-law and she lives just outside the city center. Now, this isn’t my first time staying or being at her house. I’d previously lived in Brussels for close to a year and a half before having Liam. So when I raced upstairs to use the bathroom after getting in from the airport, I wasn’t surprised by the somewhat musty smell or to feel the immediate damp, “heaviness” in the air.
I was thinking of you
Since the topics humidity, moisture control, and mold remediation greatly relate to just some of the many things we handle and take care of at TermiGuard Services & Fenwick, I immediately thought it would make for a great blog post!
I also immediately thought of you all because I don’t want you to end up in the same situation as my mother-in-law! Years and years of poor ventilation, coupled with a few other “thingies” has now landed her some mold…
I know, not exactly the start of a happy story about our visit abroad, but hopefully you’ll get some good takeaways from it.
So here’s the scoop: Mold in the bathroom
The clothes dryer…
The clothes washer and dryer are both located in the bathroom. Space is very limited with city living and it seemed that the bathroom (which is quite large) was the only area where they would be able to fit. Any appliance that requires ventilation, like a clothes dryer, expels a lot of humidity and moisture (although it might not seem like it does in your home, but that’s probably because you have the right ventilation – and plus, I highly doubt your clothes dryer is in your bathroom!).
A drying rack full of damp clothes…
I’m sure we aren’t the only family who lets some of their clothes air dry, right? There are just some things you can’t put in the dryer – plain and simple.
Normally back home, we’ll place the drying rack in the living room where a lot of sunlight comes in and helps the drying process.It’s also a much more open area. But here, with the limited space, the cleaning lady keeps the drying rack full of damp clothes in the bathroom – again this bathroom is rather large, so there’s space for it here.
When those clothes “dry” the moisture releases into the air…but due to poor ventilation, the heavy, moist air can’t move, or get out!
That brings me to the next issue…
The heating system
It’s a whole other story, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll stick to what matters.
It’s not normal to see central heating in these city homes – in fact, now that I’m thinking about it…even in the homes I’ve been to on the outskirts of the city, as well as in the country side have the same heating system as city homes.
Instead of central heating, each room contains a small furnace mounted to the wall, except for hallways, stairways, things like that. So in order to keep each room warm in the winter, every door to every room is kept shut.
Now when I first came over here, it took a lot of getting used to. Our home back in the states has a very open layout and the only doors I ever keep closed are the front door, the back door, the bathroom door when in use, and my bedroom door when I sleep. But I understand, ya gotta preserve the heat somehow or you’d be freezing cold in your own home.
The point is, the bathroom door is ALWAYS closed. Even after someone has finished showering, it’s almost like a habit, the door gets closed right away.
Ugh, the steam, water vapor, humidity, moisture, condensation…they all just stay in there like they’re having one big ‘damp’ party!
There is also a small room just off of the bathroom, used for storage and clothes folding and ironing. The doorway to this room is also always kept shut.
Is it starting to come together yet…hint, hint…the humid air from the bathroom literally has nowhere to go!
And to top it all off…
There is no exhaust fan – let me repeat that. There is NO exhaust fan in the bathroom! The exhaust fan is a good friend of mine back home – use it all the time because it helps get rid of that humidity during my shower (even while cooking, too)!
It’s all the perfect recipe for…
The showering, the clothes dryer with poor ventilation, the drying rack, the closed doors, the lack of an exhaust fan etc. create very high humidity levels.
When this humid moist air has no where to escape, it builds up – everywhere.
There’s water vapor built up all over the place in there. Once it builds up enough it will start to drip onto the floor, and then might even fall, pooling in small puddles. Condensation will begin to creep onto the windows. Any exposed piping (in this case, there’s some on the furnace) will begin to rust. Paint on walls, or ceilings will begin to peel back, and then of course mold will thrive and grow.
There’s mold on areas of the ceiling and on the wood trim of the door frame. It’s also deep in the tile grout.
When the cleaning lady comes she uses bleach to scrub the tile grout – but it is back within a few days – please know this is not an effective way to “clean” or “remediate” mold. It’s a problem that will never be solved unless someone puts a stop to this vicious cycle!
So, after filling my Belgian family in on the news…here are the main takeaways for you need to know!
Exhaust fans – Use them!
Always turn your exhaust fan on before you start your shower and leave it on for 30 minutes after your shower. This will help move that humidity around and out.
If you don’t have an exhaust fan, have one installed. If you can’t afford to do that, crack a bathroom window open during and after your shower. I know, that’s not exactly ideal in the winter, but a slight crack will help move that heavy air!
Humidity – Reduce it!
Condensation building up on windows is a sign the humidity level is high. Ideally, the relative humidity reading for inside our home should stay somewhere between 30-50% – I can bet it’s higher than that over here is this bathroom! Hardwood stores normally sell humidity meters – also known as a ‘humidistat’ – in which you can take the readings yourself – they are fairly inexpensive too.
To also help keep humidity levels down, use a dehumidifier when needed – something worth mentioning about dehumidifiers…box store, low-end, consumer-grade, dehumidifiers are really not all that effective – professionally installed, commercial-grade, built-to-last, dehumidifiers is what you’d want to look into (you can call us for more details on this – 856-753-1401)
Use exhaust fans whenever cooking (yeah those fans, normally located on your stove, aren’t just to help get rid of cooking smells!), running the dishwater etc. Again, if you don’t have an exhaust fan somewhere in your kitchen, crack a window – it will help!
Venting appliances that produce a lot of water vapor will help to decrease your humidity levels as well. So clothes dryers, and combustion appliances like stoves and kerosene heaters, ideally should all be vented outside!
Ventilation – Increase it!
Make sure the air has somewhere to go! Otherwise you’ll run into some of the same problems my mother-in-law is having.
You can do this by either opening windows or doors when practical, and again, utilize your exhaust fan!
Water/Condensation build up – remove it!
If you see condensation, moisture, droplets of water, etc. on windows, walls, shower tiling, or pipes you need to TAKE ACTION QUICK! Drying the wet surfaces can reduce the moisture or water source by 3/4! You should also insulate piping to avoid rust build up.
Bottom line on mold in the bathroom
If you walk into your bathroom (or any other room for that matter), and you notice a musty smell, feel significant dampness, or heavy air, something is not right! Do what I did today – play detective and look for possible signs, or problem areas that could be causing the musty smells, or the damp, heavy air!
And of course, if you just aren’t sure, and don’t want to take any chances, call a professional, and qualified water intrusion and mold expert.
While I may not be on U.S. soil at the moment, our team is there and ready and standing by to take your calls and answer your concerns! Call today – (856).753.1401 or (609).601.9400!