Find mold in your home? Then there’s no time to mess around.
Mold propagates quickly—once you see mold on a surface in your home, there’s likely a colony that you can’t see.
One study estimates that 21% of asthma cases in the US are attributable to dampness and mold exposure.
Besides damaging your health, mold can also damage your home.
Once a mold colony gets embedded in your walls, it’s costly to repair it.
In this article, I’ll show you some of the best air filters that you can use to remove mold.
I’ll also go over the steps required to remove mold from your home’s air, and how to address the causes of mold in your home.
List of the best air filters for mold removal
How to get rid of airborne mold
There are a few different steps you need to take to get rid of airborne mold.
The first thing that you need to do is to find and remove the source of the mold. If you don’t remove the source of the mold spores, then they will keep coming back.
The source of the mold spores could be something as simple as a wet spot in your basement. In more drastic situations, mold can get embedded into your walls and carpet. So it’s best to stop mold in its tracks before it grows to be a huge problem.
In most cases, mold growth is caused by excess moisture in your home’s air. High humidity is the most common problem.
Removing mold with your central HVAC system
After you’ve addressed the source of the mold spores, then it’s time to start treating your home’s air.
If your home has a central HVAC system (such as a furnace or central AC), then you may be able to simply swap out its filter for a filter with a higher MERV rating.
For example, upgrading your furnace’s air filter from a MERV 6 to a MERV 11 will filter out 83% more E3 particles (E3 is the particle size that includes most mold particles).
Sometimes, it’s not enough to just filter out mold spores. It’s also important to neutralize them using UV light.
UV light is basically the only thing that you can use to kill mold spores. If you don’t kill mold spores, you run the risk of a mold colony starting all over again.
This UV light installs in the ductwork of your furnace or central AC system. Its light has a wavelength of 253.7 nm, which is the correct wavelength to kill mold spores so they don't reproduce.
Removing mold with an air purifier
If your home doesn’t have a central air system, then you can use an air purifier to remove mold spores from your home’s air.
In fact, an air purifier is actually a more preferred method of removing mold from your home’s air for the following reasons:
- Most air purifiers nowadays have HEPA filters that remove at least 99.97% of E3 particles—much more effective than the standard MERV 6, 8, or 11 that’s in most central air systems.
- Portable air purifiers allow you to “spot-treat” problem areas. For example, if you’re having mold issues in your basement, then you can place your air purifier down there to treat that area.
- Some air purifier models are specialized for removing mold. These models have UV lights inside them to kill the mold spores so they don’t propagate.
- Using an air purifier keeps your maintenance costs down. If you have really bad mold, you’ll only have to worry about keeping your air purifier clean, instead of cleaning your entire HVAC system.
Causes of mold growth in home
Getting rid of mold in your home’s air is only one piece of the puzzle.
To get rid of mold for good, then you’ll need to address the cause of mold growth in your home.
Mold grows wherever there is excess moisture—be it in the air or on a surface.
If mold is growing on a hard surface (such as tile), then you’re in luck. You can remove the mold by scrubbing it off with a mild bleach solution (1 part bleach to 20 parts water).
Once mold starts growing inside a material, the only way to get rid of it is through removal and replacement.
Below I’ll go over a few different factors that you should address if you want to stop mold in its tracks.
If your home’s air has high humidity, mold growth may become a problem.
Mold growth from high humidity usually shows up on walls, ceilings, and in dark areas in your home.
Humid air in your home can be caused by a multitude of factors, such as water leaks or poor ventilation (I’ll discuss both of these below).
Using a dehumidifier is an effective way to keep humidity levels in check.
If you need help figuring out what a good humidity level is for your home, check out my home humidity guide:
Some homes have a lack of ventilation that causes mold issues.
Picture this: You just finished taking a shower and all that steam gets trapped inside your home. Where does it go?
The fastest way to get rid of excess moisture in your home’s air is to ventilate it outside.
Be sure that you have good ventilation in the rooms where moisture may build up:
- Utility room
I recommend using an exhaust fan in the bathroom to vent moist air outside while you’re taking a shower.
The same goes for your kitchen. The exhaust hood over your stove isn’t only for smoke—it can be used for steam as well.
For your utility room, make sure there are no leaky pipes or excess water buildup anywhere. Also, remember to vent your clothes dryer outside.
Water leaks in your home usually come from one of two things:
- Roof leak
- Pipe leak
A leak in your roof is a ticking timebomb that can go unnoticed for some time.
Water slowly gets into your attic, then moves on down to your ceiling and walls. Before you know it, mold is growing everywhere.
My best piece of advice is to look in your attic after a big rainstorm to check for potential leaks. That way you can stop the water before it becomes a serious problem.
Pipe leaks can also go unnoticed for some amount of time—until you see a mold spot growing on your wall.
If you see mold forming in a random spot on your ceiling or wall, then it may be due to a leaky pipe.
If you suspect that your home has a leaky pipe, I recommend calling a local plumber to check it out. Repairing a leaky pipe can be a complicated process so it’s best to let the pros do the work.
Condensation buildup on the surfaces of your home is another common cause of mold growth.
This usually happens during the wintertime, when your home’s warm air comes into contact with cold surfaces.
Here are a few different surfaces that you’ll need to keep an eye on for condensation buildup:
- Floor tiles
- Metal pipes
If you notice condensation buildup on any of the above surfaces, then the easiest thing to do is to remove the moisture from your home’s air by venting it outside or using a dehumidifier.
What is the size of mold spores?
Mold spore sizes range from about 2 to 100 microns (μm).
Mold spores have a wide range of sizes. The largest mold spores are in the range of about 100 microns (μm), while the smallest ones go down to about 2 microns.
For comparison, an average human hair is about 50-70 microns thick.