What you need to know about mold and windows in your home
What's growing on your windows? If you have wood windows, or even dirty windowsills, the answer could be mold.
"As long as it has an organic food source such as wood, cardboard or paper, mold can grow in any location," said John Stark, marketing manager for Simonton Windows. "The key is the organic food source. When products in the home, such as wood window frames or wood window sills, come in contact with moisture for an extended period of time, then mold can grow."
According to The Mold Services Group, a division of GHH Engineering, Inc., vinyl is not an organic food source, so mold cannot grow on vinyl window frames.
However, if even tiny particles of organic debris are found on or around the surfaces of a vinyl window in a moisture-rich area, homeowners can potentially find mold growth. What makes up this debris? It can be anything from microscopic fragments of pollen to animal dander to insect pieces to normal household dust.
"Routinely cleaning vinyl window sills and surfaces helps eliminate the remote possibility of mold growing on vinyl windows," Stark said. "By removing organic debris, such as dust and dirt, you will help keep your vinyl windows free of mold spores."
Stark reports that, in order to keep areas around windows moisture-free to prevent potential mold growth, homeowners should watch for, and take steps to minimize, condensation.
"People sometimes see their windows "sweat" during the winter or summer months because of varying humidity levels in the home," Stark said. "Without proper ventilation, moisture can accumulate on windows and walls from daily household activities such as hot showers, boiling water and opening dishwashers after a cleaning cycle."
This minor accumulation of moisture or steam generally isn't a cause for concern, and using ventilation fans and dehumidifiers can help reduce humidity in the home.
“Windows are a major component in a home that impact other things around them," Stark said. “They eventually need to be replaced. If windows have major air leaks, don’t close properly, or are failing to act as a solid barrier to the environment, then it’s time to consider replacing them with new energy-efficient vinyl windows.”
Reducing the chance of mold
The Florida Solar Energy Center reports that moisture levels in the home are one of the easiest elements to alter so that mold will not grow in a house. Since people prefer humidity levels that are generally below the critical relative humidity for mold growth to occur, the simple acts of using ceiling fans, reducing the number of house plants in a home and leaving interior room (and closet) doors open can all help reduce moisture levels throughout the home.
Stark advised that homeowners with plantation style blinds or heavy window coverings that are closed all the time should change their habits. Condensation can get "trapped" in between the window treatments and the windows creating a damp environment that may encourage mold growth.
"By routinely opening window coverings to increase ventilation near windows homeowners will help reduce both condensation and potential mold growth," Stark said. "Another smart tip is to make sure that air vent deflectors are placed on floor vents to reroute air into the room rather than straight up against a window.
"Vinyl windows are a smart, durable choice for the home. However homeowners have to do their part too. Keeping the home well ventilated and clean during all seasons of the year makes it easy for vinyl windows to remain the most effortless and reliable windows imaginable in the home."
Read more about indoor air quality.