healthy living

7 Home Design Strategies to Prevent Mold

Explore Home Design Strategies That Help You Avoid Mold

Mold is a sneaky troublemaker that often goes unnoticed. It can wreak havoc on your home and your health. Especially in hot and humid places like the Middle East, moisture and mold are common issues. After six years of inspecting homes in the region, we've seen that nearly every home has a mold problem. 

We believe it's a significant issue that should be tackled nationally. Implementing mold removal and prevention measures in architectural codes can guide developers toward better design strategies and materials for construction. In this way, we can stop mold from taking hold.

This article is here to help homeowners and companies create healthier living spaces. We'll explore mold, its health effects, common design mistakes, and seven solutions to keep your home mold-free and healthy.

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Understanding Mold

Mold is a type of fungi, and fungi make up a substantial portion of Earth's living organisms. When conditions are damp indoors, certain types of mold, including ascomycetes, basidiomycetes, and zygomycetes, can start to grow. They thrive when moisture is abundant. Mold spreads by breaking down materials found in your home, such as cellulose, starches, and sugars.

Health Issues Linked to Mold

Mold can produce mycotoxins to protect its food source, which can harm your health. This can lead to a condition called Non-Specific Building Related Illness (NSBRI), where it's challenging to pinpoint the exact source of illness, but mold is often involved. Mold exposure can result in symptoms like:

  • Breathing difficulties in healthy individuals
  • Irritated mucous membranes
  • Respiratory illnesses in otherwise healthy people
  • Skin issues
  • Fatigue

Dr. Al Zarouni, as cited in The National News article in Abu Dhabi, explains that mold allergies can cause watery eyes, chronic coughs, headaches, breathing difficulties, rashes, tiredness, sinus problems, nasal congestion, and frequent sneezing.

Common Design Mistakes and Solutions

  • Ceiling Choice: Using gypsum panels for false ceilings, even in wet areas, can lead to mold formation. The moisture and dust trapped inside the shelters create an ideal environment for mold. The solution is to use waterproof false ceilings without paper.
  • Accessibility and Cleaning: Ensure that all air conditioning ducts and ceilings are easily accessible for cleaning. In hot climates like Dubai, cleaning these elements annually is vital to remove dust and potential mold. Plan for service access during the design phase.
  • Under-Sink Protection: Install aluminum dripping pans under sink pipes to catch water drips. This prevents mold from forming on the wooden cupboard, which often goes unnoticed.
  • Wallpaper Woes: Avoid using wallpaper in wet areas and on walls near bathrooms, kitchens, or external walls. Moisture can get trapped between the wallpaper and the wall, leading to rapid mold growth.
  • Humidity Monitoring: Invest in humidity meters for all rooms. Keep humidity levels between 40-50% to prevent unhealthy conditions and mold growth on curtains and behind artwork.
  • Grout-Free Zones: In bathrooms, avoid using grout in niches or shower nooks, as water collects and stagnates, leading to mold growth. Develop the habit of drying shower floors and walls after use.
  • Cabinet Design: When designing cabinets under bathroom sinks, use ceramic tiles between the cabinet back and the wall. Use E1 waterproof MDF to reduce the risk of mold formation. Suspend the cabinet 20-30 cm above the floor to prevent moisture accumulation.

By following these design strategies, you can keep mold at bay and create a healthier living environment for your family. Mold removal and a focus on indoor air quality are essential aspects of home care and healthy living.

Valentina Cereda is the Founder of Energy & Space, has worked as an Architect for the past 15 years, and designed and delivered spaces for some of the biggest names in corporate, hospitality, and residential developments. The Healthy Home is glad to partner up with her to provide premium EMF services to diagnose the overall health of your home. Elevate to a healthy living environment today!

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