After driving through a snowstorm, our top priority is to get inside where it’s warm and dry. Just about the last thing we think of when pulling our snow-topped car into the garage is how that car can lead to mold growth. But it can, especially since the snow melts and puddles on the floor. And where there’s moisture, there can be mold. And where there’s mold, there can be structural problems that can lead to allergies and respiratory ailments like asthma. So, preventing indoor mold should be at the top of your list.
Here’s what Robert Weitz, CMI, the founder of RTK Environmental Group says you need to know about preventing mold growth in your garage:
1. Brush your car off before you drive into the garage, especially around the tire wells where snow tends to pack.
Snow and chunks of ice that are stuck to your car can sometimes take hours to melt, keeping the moisture level high in your garage for an extended period of time. This gives mold a perfect environment in which to grow.
2. Place a dehumidifier in your garage, set to no higher than 50% (away from pooling water).
This will keep the moisture levels in check, which is especially important if your garage is attached to your house. Mold in an attached garage can directly impact the air quality inside your home, potentially causing you and your family to become ill.
3. Make sure boxes and other organic materials are not stored on the garage floor, which may get wet during the winter months.
Mold can grow on these items. Tip: Metal shelves are a better option for storing these types of items and are readily available at office suppliers and other retailers.
4. Check that you have a proper floor slope in the garage along with a good drainage system to channel out melting snow and ice.
This will help keep humidity down.
5. Cold surfaces like overhead garage doors often cause condensation from high humidity, so check them for mold growth.
If you see visible mold, you likely have a humidity problem.
6. Make sure that your garage doors are sealed well.
Garage door weather-stripping rarely rests tightly against the garage frame, which allows water to seep inside. Be sure to shovel snow away from your garage entrance. (Better yet, have your kid do it for you!)
7. A little cost here, but totally worth it: Replace the drywall with a paperless, mold-resistant version.
You can also use steel beams instead of wood.
8. If you suspect that you have a mold problem, have it tested by an independent environmental testing firm like RTK Environmental.
They can determine whether you have a mold problem, how severe it might be, and outline the necessary steps for mold remediation.
So, What Causes Mold Anyway?
Mold is a fungus that does not need a whole lot to take hold — just moisture and a food source like drywall, cardboard boxes, and wood. So when you drive your wet car into the garage, you are setting the stage for a problem. Add a little warmth, and with 24-48 hours, a mold colony will start to grow.