Homeowners who keep their attics warm during winter months in an effort to create a barrier to repel cold, outside air could actually be contributing to mold growth in these areas.
During winter months, especially in regions of the country that experience the coldest winters, hot air rises in homes, collecting at the highest regions. The underside of the roof, which directly abuts this hot air, is generally cold, so in the right conditions, hot air can condense and form moisture on attic ceilings. This is especially true among poorly constructed homes in which ice accumulates on the roof, further reducing its temperature.
Water dripping down from the ceiling can collect in the attic, stimulating mold growth. This is especially likely in attics that contain items in storage, as water can infiltrate boxes and even pool around and underneath items, out of the sight of even the most vigilant homeowners.
To prevent this from occurring, homeowners should regularly check their attics for mold growth, which gives off a distinct smell. They should also ensure their attics are properly ventilated using a specially designed attic fan. This device will channel cool air from outside into the room, repelling rising warm air.
Homeowners who purchase these products may also be eligible for a federal tax credit. If homeowners choose not to purchase such a device, they should at least monitor the temperature of their attics and try to keep them as cool as possible during the winter.
Testing for mold can be conducted in an attic to determine whether mold is proliferating. Simple mold cleanup can be performed by a homeowner, but an experienced home inspector will be able to determine whether professional cleanup services are required. A certified home inspection can also detect leaks in a home's roof that could be allowing moisture to infiltrate into the attic from the outside.