Are Your Old Windows Hazardous to Your Family’s Health?

old wooden windows can encourage mold growth


Your windows protect your family from the wind, snow, rain, and cold. They help keep your home insulated from winter’s chill and summer’s heat. They can even help keep out the sun’s harmful UV rays! But if your windows are old or poorly maintained, they can help create a dangerous condition that poses a threat to your family’s health: mold.


What Is Mold (and Why Is It on My Windows)?

“Mold” refers to a kind of multicellular fungus that grows in colonies made up of spores and hair-like bodies. When a lot of mold is growing on a surface, it becomes visible as a slightly fuzzy, black, blue, or green stain. A musty smell can indicate there is mold growth even before a colony can be seen with the naked eye. The biggest reason you don’t want mold in your home is that it produces allergens—irritants that can cause allergic reactions and health problems. Mold can cause relatively mild problems like sneezing, red eyes, skin rashes, runny nose, coughing, and wheezing, as well as long-term serious health conditions like lung infections. If you or your children have asthma, exposure to mold can increase the frequency and severity of your attacks.

Mold can enter your home through any opening, including windows, doors, and vents. It can also attach itself to your clothing, shoes, pets, or other things you bring into your home from outdoors. Once inside your home, it grows in areas where moisture is present and the temperature is between 40 degrees and 100 degrees F, feeding on any kind of available organic material (including wood).


Preventing Harmful Mold: Window Replacement and Maintenance

Old, wood-framed windows are one of the places most susceptible to mold growth. Moisture and condensation collect on poorly insulated windows and seep into cracks in the wooden frames (a natural mold food source). Vinyl or aluminum windows are more resistant to mold formation because they are inorganic; however, if you don’t clean your windows regularly, dirt, pollen, pet fur, insects, and other organic debris can build up and encourage mold formation.

Upgrading your home with new, better insulated windows and window wrap can reduce your windows' susceptibility to moisture (as well as improve your home’s energy efficiency). (If you aren't ready for an upgrade, read our tips on how to fix drafty windows.) You can also help prevent condensation on your windows by reducing the moisture levels in your home. Steam from hot showers, boiling water on the stove, and opening your dishwasher after it runs can encourage excess moisture into your home. It’s common for people to want to add some extra humidity to the (often uncomfortably) dry winter air, but try to limit the amount of time you use humidifiers in your home. Turn on ceiling and ventilation fans in the bathrooms, laundry room, and kitchen as much as possible. You may need to have your ducts cleaned or inspected so air can flow optimally throughout your home. According to the EPA, your indoor humidity level should be kept between 30–60%; higher levels make it more likely that mold will grow in your home.


Window Replacement in Huxley, Ankeny, and Ames

If your windows aren't operating efficiently anymore, you could be wasting a lot of money on heating and cooling bills throughout the year as well as creating a hazardous environment for your family. Make sure you have the right components in place to protect your home, including adequate insulation, good ventilation, and a leak-free roof. Contact Hedrick Construction in Ames for a free estimate on window replacement in Huxley, Ankeny, and elsewhere in Story County.