Mold and your Cold Cellar
As August winds to a close, our gardens and local farms are beginning to burst at the seams with a bounty of late summer and fall fruit and vegetables. Keeping these homegrown treasures through the dark and lifeless winter months is possible if your home has a cold cellar or cold room. Used since ancient times to preserve food for the winter, many modern homes come with a built-in cold cellar to help us continue the tradition. Maintaining your cold cellar and preventing mold growth either in the space or on your vegetables is a key part of having food stay successfully preserved over time.
When it’s working correctly, a cold cellar should be cool all year round, with a steady humidity level. In the GTA, they’re usually found in the basement under the front or back door steps; some rooms may be brick walled, others may be better insulated, but each type is susceptible to mold growth if it’s not maintained correctly, or if there’s a flaw in its construction.
Cold rooms can grow mold or have a musty odour, and this can affect the indoor air quality of your entire home. Mold forms in a cold room because of condensation: in the winter, this can come from warmer basement air seeping into the cold room if its door is improperly sealed. When the warmer air comes into contact with a cold surface (such as the concrete roof, or improperly insulated walls), it condenses on the roof where it can create the right conditions for mold growth. That mold can spread to your fruit and vegetables or the containers you use to hold them in, and an entire crop can be ruined within a few days.
Many cold cellars often have air vents, which can be a great tool in controlling humidity and mold growth in your cold cellar. They do often require a bit of care however, like closing it on hot summer days to keep the mold causing warm air out. Ventilation will also help prevent mold from growing in your root cellar be keeping fresh air moving through.
Of course, bringing food into your root cellar, even a properly functioning one, can be the source of mold! Monitoring the produce you bring inside and removing any that have mold can help prevent mold from growing on other food or transferring to the structure of your cold cellar.
If you suspect your root cellar is growing mold, it’s important to have the problem looked at by a professional as quickly as possible. Mold can easily spread to other areas of your home and become a bigger problem in a short span of time. If your home has a cold room that you don’t use, and you’d like to convert it to a useable space for your family, insulating it correctly and making sure that it won’t grow mold and cause problems for future users is important too. Because the cold cellar needs a certain level of humidity, you want to ensure that the conditions that cause this are removed when you retrofit it so that mold won’t grow.
A cold room can be a wonderful place to store your produce for the winter months, so give us a call at MoldTech to talk about mold removal and remediation solutions if you have any questions about mold in your cold cellar or home.