Blogs - Rebuilding

Strategies for Preventing Mold Growth

Strategies for Preventing Mold Growth

As a part of our commitment to sustainable building, Make It Right considers the climate and the potential for mold growth in all our construction materials and methods.  While mold can be found indoors and outdoors in almost any environment, mold growth thrives in damp and humid climates like New Orleans’.

There is no cost-effective method for completely eliminating mold growth in residential building; this would require removing all organic building materials like wood, paper drywall, natural textiles and other resources. However, we do employ several aggressive strategies to guard against mold growth in our homes:

-      We frame the homes with Bluwood, a wood-product coated in a water-repellant permeable film that controls moisture absorption in the wood. While building code requires small portions of the home are built with moisture-resistant wood, Make It Right uses Bluwood on all interior/exterior walls, sheathing and structural wood framing.

-      We “wrap” the house in a moisture permeable membrane like Tyvek on the roof and Green Guard around the perimeter. This gives the airborne and embedded moisture a path to leave the home and substantially prevents outside air from drafting into the home.

-      We use gypsum board drywall with added mold resistance.

-      A common saying in the building industry is “There are only two types of windows - those that leak and those that are going to leak.” Make It Right takes extra precautions during window installation and installs sill-dams on all windows, which prevents water from reaching the wall cavity if the window itself fails over the life of the home.

-      We use small duct high velocity heating and cooling systems that remove 30% more moisture from the air than a standard furnace and air conditioning system.

Even with these and other strategies Make It Right uses to make our homes moisture-resistant, mold growth can still occur. Recently, we found mold growth in two homes, caused by water leaks. In both cases the leaks were small, slow leaks, which made them hard to find. When the leaks were discovered, we determined to act quickly to move the families into a hotel and complete the repair work at our cost and return them to their homes as soon as possible.

In addition to repairing affected areas of the two homes, Make It Right staff and an independent, certified LEED inspector are conducting stringent testing on homes currently under construction. These tests include the following areas:

-      Air distribution: Ductwork is tested to ensure that air is correctly distributed through all spaces in the home.

-      Fresh air intake: Ducted fresh air intake is tested to ensure the correct amount of fresh air can flow through the home. In all our homes, fresh air is filtered and dehumidified before entering the ductwork from the outside environment.

-      Exhaust: Kitchen, bathroom and hot water heater exhaust vents are tested to ensure proper function.

Homeowners living in areas with high humidity like New Orleans should take precautions to prevent mold growth in the home. These prevention methods inclu
-      Keeping the house dry. Don’t let water build up anywhere. Ventilate damp rooms and wipe shower walls and doors after use.

-      Don’t leave wet clothes in the washing machine where mold can grow quickly.

-      Wash shower curtains and bathroom tiles with mold-killing products.

-      Don’t have too many indoor plants, especially in the bedroom. Mold can grow in plant soil.

-      Repair any leaks or seepage in the house, indoors and out.

-      Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms when using the room.

-      Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners in areas of the house where mold tends to grow.

-      Clean dehumidifiers and humidifiers often.

-      On concrete floors, remove carpet and use area rugs that can be lifted and washed.

-      Change air filters regularly. Air filters are available to Make It Right homeowners at reduced cost.

Make It Right homeowners can call our Customer Service Representative Willie Murray with questions or concerns about maintaining their homes (504.458.2695). We remain committed to building safe, sustainable and healthy homes for Lower 9th Ward families - and we thank all our homeowners and the community for working with us toward this goal.

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