How Do I Know If I Have Mold?
Mold is very good at hiding. You may not always know you have mold in your home. However, there are some common signs you could detect. For example, you might smell a foul odor that does not seem to have a source or smells more potent in one room over another. You might also experience health-related symptoms, especially if you suffer from allergies, including a rash, throat and eye irritation, sneezing, coughing, or a runny nose. Additionally, you might notice cracked drywall, water stains on walls, or warped flooring. If you recently experienced a plumbing or roof leak or other water problems in your home, be extra vigilant in watching for evidence of mold near the leaks or damage. Furthermore, if you live in a humid climate or an area where flooding is common, you are in a breeding ground for mold, as mold thrives on moisture. When you spot mold, it is generally fuzzy in appearance with black or green coloring.
Consulting a Mold Inspector who can thoroughly inspect your home inside and out. An inspector will perform the proper air quality tests, send out for a laboratory analysis of samples, provide remediation protocols, and provide post-remediation verification. Online Mold Help is a state-licensed Mold Inspector with state-of-the-art technology to identify mold problems and propose solutions.
What Are the Symptoms of Mold?
The symptoms of mold can come in the form of health-related symptoms, as well as physical damage to your property.
Health symptoms not related to any other cause or chronic condition that decrease in intensity when you leave your home are likely due to mold. Some common health symptoms include coughing, sneezing, dizziness, fatigue, rashes, irritated throat and eyes, joint pain, headaches, and asthmatic episodes (especially for those already diagnosed with asthma). Individuals with allergies are likely to experience an increase in their usual symptoms.
The physical effects to your home are usually in places of high moisture or humidity (over 60%), including attics, crawl spaces, laundry rooms, basements, chimneys, window seals, under carpets, bathrooms, and kitchens (under the refrigerator and under wet dishes). Other visible signs in your home include water stains on walls, deteriorated materials, missing grout between tiles (look closely to find the mold!), warped flooring, and a foul odor that seems to have no source or increases in one room over another. If the smell intensifies with you turning on the air conditioning or heater, it’s likely that the air conditioning or heating system is the source of the mold.
What Causes Mold?
Mold thrives on moisture, which makes warm climates and areas prone to flooding ripe for mold growth and reproduction. Some mold types do not require as much moisture as others in order to prosper, and some mold types actually prosper in cooler climates. Mold can be found indoors and outdoors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 10,000 species of indoor mold.
In your home, mold comes from wet areas that normally should be dry. If your home has ever experienced flooding or water damage from a leaky roof, bathtub, sink, or pipes, then mold is a likely culprit, whether you’ve seen it or not. For example, if your carpet gets wet due to flooding, it is possible that in under 24 hours mold could form underneath; the carpet might be dry, but the flooring or padding below the carpet is most likely still wet. Some other situations in your home that might lead to moisture and, consequently, mold include poor ventilation, lack of insulation, rust, and high humidity levels (above 60%). Furthermore, dusty areas are also a good growth spot for and transporter of mold spores.
How to Prevent Mold?
To prevent mold, you must prevent moisture. Here are some steps you can take around the house to keep your spaces dry and mold-free:
Take special care of high-humid and high-moisture areas, including the bathroom and kitchen. Install dehumidifiers and use mold-resistant paint. Avoid carpeting and consider purchasing mold-resistant materials and fixtures, including stainless steel, tile, stone, and a waterproof wallboard. Install exhaust fans or crack a window during showers and cooking. Air conditioning can also reduce moisture in these rooms.
Pick a day each month and mark it on the calendar. Use this time to check for water problems and leaks around any appliance that uses water. If there’s an appliance you can’t check regularly, install leak detectors. Don’t forget to check your windows, too. Consider having your windows sealed properly. If you notice a leak of any kind, get it fixed immediately.
Make sure your home is well-insulated in order to control humidity and ensure that the air conditioning unit works most efficiently.
Waterproof the foundation of your home to keep moisture outside. Waterproofing can be done to your existing home; it isn’t just for new homes.
Install rain gutters that direct rain away from your home, thus preventing roof damage and leaks.
Mold or Mildew: What’s the Difference?
Mold and mildew are both fungi that can affect your home and your health. They feed on moisture, spread quickly, and stubbornly cling to surfaces. However, the major differences between the two fungi include the following:
Mildew is a plant disease that can also affect crops, such as potatoes. It is often powdery in appearance with white, gray, or yellow splotches that change to brown or black over time. Mildew is a surface fungus that you can carefully treat with a special cleaner and a scrub brush.
Mold is fuzzy or slimy in appearance with black or green coloring. It consists of irregular spots of varying colors. Usually, moldy areas rot over time. Mold spores penetrate below the surface and cause permanent damage. Therefore, it is essential for you to hire a Mold Inspector for professional guidance and remediation protocol.
If you are unsure whether you have mold or mildew, do this quick, safe test:
- Place a drop of bleach on the area in question.
- Wait about five minutes.
- Examine the area. If it’s lighter than before, then you have mildew. However, if it’s darker than before, then you have mold.