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What is the Best Temperature to Prevent Organic Growth?

When it comes to organic growth, things get complicated pretty quickly. Organic growth on blue cheese is great, but organic growth in a bag of Cheddar cheese means it has to be thrown out. Mushrooms on a pizza can be a welcome addition, and mushroom risotto is a wonderful side dish, but nobody wants to see a mushroom pop out from the seal around their bathroom sink. Penicillin is a lifesaving antibiotic but you don’t get any health benefits from eating a slice of moldy bread. And while it might be fascinating to see examples of organic growth thriving in the depths of a forest, nobody wants it sprouting up in their house. So what is the best temperature to prevent organic growth?

Organic growth are the eternal boogeymen of home ownership. It can feel like a constant fight in high-humidity spaces like crawlspaces and bathrooms to keep unwanted pink and black splotches from forming on tile and grout. The even greater fear is the discovery of black organic growth that has been running rampant behind drywall, requiring massive remediation projects that can be costly and stressful. However, home owners have many allies when it comes to the fight against organic growth, and a well functioning HVAC system may be one of the most powerful tools to keep organic growth at bay. It’s important to understand how a home’s temperature acts as a line of defense against the threat of organic growth.


No Room for Mushrooms

No one wants to make organic growth prevention their new hobby in life. Rather than constantly patrolling your home with a spray bottle full of diluted bleach, you can turn to an ally that exists to serve you and never needs to sleep: your home’s HVAC system. When it comes to organic growth, they unfortunately seem to thrive at the same temperatures that most people find comfortable in a house. But how do you know the best temperature to prevent organic growth?

OSHA states that an “increased risk” for mold occurs at temperatures above 70F. Unfortunately, this overlaps greatly with the temperature range most people find comfortable. To make things even worse, mold loves to grow on surfaces like the back of drywall and carpet padding. It just isn’t comfortable to keep your entire house cold enough to slow the growth of organic growth. So what can you do?


Measure the Moisture

The answer to keeping organic growth at bay while keeping your home happy and comfortable lies in one simple concept: relative humidity. Relative humidity is the measure of water vapor in the air relative to the temperature. Typically higher temperatures can “hold” more water vapor while lower temperatures can “hold” less before they reach a total saturation point. Relative humidity has a lot to do with air comfort as anyone who has grown up in a humid climate can tell you. The relative humidity of a room is also an important part of whether or not organic growth will find good conditions to grow and bloom. 


It’s All About Balance

Organic growth prefer a relative humidity of 60% and above. With this knowledge in mind, the solution becomes the art of temperature management. The temperature in your home should be set so that the relative humidity stays in the range of 30%-50%. This range offers enough space for finding what’s comfortable for everyone. Here’s a few ways you can make sure the temperature in your home is the right balance between comfortable and controlling organic growth:

  • Smart Thermostats: Work smarter, not harder when it comes to setting an antifungal temperature in your home! Smart thermostats are a modern helping hand when it comes to humidity control. Many models are able to detect the current relative humidity of a home and can be set to adjust your home’s HVAC system when fluxes in moisture levels happen.
  • Dehumidifiers:  Some rooms in a house may be too humid no matter what temperature the house is set to, like laundry rooms or bathrooms. A portable dehumidifier can help reduce the level of humidity in a small space. Induct dehumidifiers can also be part of an overall HVAC system to provide around-the-clock moisture control in a house.
  • Proper Ventilation and Airflow:  It is important not to neglect single rooms in a house. Even if the room is not currently in use, it needs to have proper ventilation and temperature control to help fight against unwanted mold and fungi growth. Don’t shut the air vents of rooms because, even though it seems like it might save energy, it actually makes an HVAC system less effective overall.
  • Leave the AC On:  There are times when a house may be unoccupied for a long time, be it for travel, selling the house, or perhaps it is a house that’s only used for part of the year. While it seems like the obvious, energy-conscious choice to totally shut off the power to the house and pause the HVAC system, this can work against your wishes. Without necessary ventilation, humidity and temperature control, and air cycling throughout a home, interior spaces can become the perfect habitat for organic growth to thrive. 


Fight the Fungi

Choosing the right temperature for your home isn’t just for comfort. Pick a temperature that is best to prevent organic growth. Consider a relative humidity of 30%-50% to help keep mold and fungi at bay. A smart thermostat can easily help meet these parameters, as well as any humidity control devices built into your HVAC system. If you ever need to leave your home unoccupied for an extended period of time, run the AC to keep growth at bay. If you have concerns about organic growth control, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your local, licensed HVAC service provider. Together, you can make a plan to set the right temperature to fight back any worries about any unwanted organic growth in your home. 

SEE ALSO: Mild Fall Weather bring HVAC challenges 
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