Mold is everywhere, but it doesn’t typically cause problems if its growth is limited. Unfortunately, many homes are unwitting hosts to mold, which can ruin indoor air quality and cause seemingly-inexplicable health problems. This guide will explain why mold is often known as a “silent threat” and what you can do to ensure your home doesn’t have a secret breeding ground.
What is Mold?
Molds are fungi that reproduce via tiny, floating spores. In nature, molds play a key role in decomposition, helping to break down organic matter such as leaves or tree branches, but it can grow indoors as well and potentially cause health problems.
Indoor mold growth occurs when spores make their way through open windows and establish themselves in damp areas such as a bathroom, air conditioner, basement, or crawl space. Mold grows very quickly once a few spores have landed on a wet spot, then damages underlying surfaces as the colony spreads.
How Does Mold Cause Property Damage?
Mold damages both your home and your health. Its natural role in the environment is to break down organic materials like wood. The problem is that fungi don’t know the difference between your walls and a downed tree, so once they land on your furniture, crawl space, carpet, or windowsills, these structures will begin to rot if you don’t quickly take care of the problem.
Health Issues from Exposure to Mold Spores
In rare cases, molds can even release mycotoxins into the air. Mycotoxins are toxic byproducts of fungal growth that can cause more serious health effects as they accumulate in the lungs.
It’s almost impossible to tell how dangerous a mold colony is by looking at it, and some people are more sensitive to mold spores than others. Because of this, it’s best to keep your home as close to free of mold as possible to prevent unwanted reactions.
How to Identify (and Prevent) Mold Growth in Your Home
Various molds can look very different, but you’re likely familiar with the general appearance if you’ve ever left food in the refrigerator for too long. Most home mold is dark green, red, grey, black, or brown, and it may initially look like dirt. Unlike mildew, mold might be fuzzy, and it might be slightly raised off the surface where it’s growing.
Signs Of Mold in the Home
Sometimes, you might suspect mold growth before you identify the actual colony. Some warning signs include the following:
If you notice any of these concerns, you may want to investigate whether there is mold growing out of sight. You may want to check your crawl space, laundry rooms, air conditioner, basement, and bathrooms, which are all common sites of mold growth.
What if I Can't Find the Mold?
If you have reason to suspect mold growth, especially if you notice water damage, you should contact a professional for help. Hidden mold can cause serious air quality problems, and it can be nearly impossible to identify if you don’t know where to look. For instance, hidden mold is often found:
Attempting to remove hidden mold on your own is not a good idea as you may unintentionally release mold spores, irritating your lungs and spreading the infestation. Instead, have a professional inspect your home if you have experienced a water problem or suspect mold for any other reason.
5 Tips to Prevent Mold Growth
Preventing mold is primarily about controlling moisture. It’s impossible to eliminate every single mold spore that enters a home, but they aren’t a problem as long as there is nowhere for them to establish a colony. The following tips can help ensure there is nowhere in your house for mold to grow, saving you from a costly and uncomfortable mold problem.
1. Deal with leaks or floods immediately.
Mold is known to establish itself within 24 to 48 hours of a leak, so it’s absolutely essential that you dry damp areas quickly. This is especially important if carpet, ceiling tiles, or wood have become damp, as these are all prime locations for mold growth.
2. Monitor indoor humidity.
In the absence of a major leak or spill, moisture problems are the primary culprit for mold growth. In many cases, this can be solved by lowering humidity levels. Use exhaust fans or open the windows when you cook, use the bathroom fan when you shower, and place dehumidifiers in the dampest areas of your home. High humidity leads to condensation, which provides the moisture mold needs to thrive.
3. Use insulation to prevent condensation.
Improper insulation allows for condensation on windowsills, roofs, and floors. If you notice condensation in the winter months, installing extra insulation can save you from a serious mold problem.
4. Avoid carpet in moist areas.
If you have frequent mold problems, you may need to remove carpet in areas prone to moisture or condensation. You should never have carpet in the bathroom or near water fixtures, and you should be cautious about carpets in poorly insulated basements.
5. Make moisture prevention part of your regular cleaning routine.
You should make a habit of wiping any moisture in your home as soon as you notice it. After you shower, dry bathroom surfaces such as shower curtains, shower walls, floors, and baseboards. When you close the windows at night, make sure there is no water on the sills. Every few weeks, check on your basement and crawlspace to see if anything has become excessively damp. These small steps may be all it takes to make sure your home stays free of mold.
In sum, moisture control and mold prevention go hand-in-hand. Monitoring humidity levels and removing moisture when it accumulates are the two most important steps you can take to help keep your home mold-free.
I Found Mold. Now What?
If you do notice mold growing, don’t try to handle it on your own. Mold is notoriously difficult to remove, and you may expose yourself to harmful mold spores if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you do choose to address a small area of growth, make sure that you wear rubber gloves and a mask. Ventilate the area with fresh air, if at all possible, to avoid breathing in spores. Then, using standard cleaning products, wipe away the visible growth. Check the area periodically to ensure that the growth does not recur.
Trust Dry House Restoration for Mold Remediation
Mold can cause serious issues before you even notice it’s there. The Dry House Restoration team is filled with experts in water damage, and we provide 24/7 emergency services to assess plumbing leaks, floods, and similar problems that can lead to mold and property damage.
We also provide specialized mold remediation services, working with clients to identify problem areas, manage humidity, and remove all traces of harmful mold. To learn more about our services, contact Dry House Restoration today.