All About Mold and the Dangers of Mold
Mold results from water damage and excess moisture and can form as quickly as within 24-48 hours. If you experience flooding or other water damage, you must address it as quickly as possible to avoid health hazards and damage to your property. The longer it is left, the more difficult it is to remove, and the more damage will be sustained.
Mold can leave stains on walls, furniture and important documents. Mold is a toxin and can cause health problems like allergic reactions, asthma attacks and more. Depending on the extent of the problem, you may be able to handle it yourself, with proper precautions. More on this below. When in doubt, call a professional mold and water damage expert who will have the proper knowledge and equipment to safely and quickly remove the problem.
What is mold?
Molds occur outdoors as part of the environment and have a role in nature by breaking down dead matter such as fallen leaves and trees. They reproduce by means of tiny spores that are invisible to the naked eye. Mold grows when these spores land on a damp surface. Mold can occur anywhere that moisture is present, whether it is from a leaky pipe, flooding, or spilled water left unattended. There are many types of mold.
Black mold (stachybotrys chartarum) is one of the most known toxic molds and can grow very quickly in your home. It is a greenish-black color and can grow on materials with a high cellulose content such as fiberboard, cardboard or paper. Black mold thrives in warm, moist environments such as baths, showers and toilets, basements or kitchens. Pink mold is common in bathrooms, aspergillus mold, which is prevalent even in arctic regions is less dangerous to those with healthy immune systems but can be detrimental to those with compromised immune systems and lungs. And don’t forget your pets! Pets can also be susceptible to health issues from mold. This mold can even be found in your kitchen on starch items such as bread or potatoes.
What causes mold?
In a word, water! Every type of mold needs water to form. Moisture is the key cause of mold growth in a home. High humidity from extensive rain, or by the coast or other large bodies of water increases indoor humidity. It is important in those conditions to keep your home well vented. Other causes of mold are leaking pipes, roof leaks, condensation, poor ventilation, wet clothes, a water-saturated floor that is not promptly dried and of course, flooding and other water damage. Mold will form in a damp basement, or at a house’s foundation if the water run off is toward your foundation.
What are the dangers of mold?
Black molds are toxigenic, which means they release toxins called mycotoxins that can be irritating or harmful to people with preexisting conditions. High concentrations can even cause poisoning in healthy adults.
Some common signs are coughing, wheezing, nose stuffiness, itchy or red eyes or itchy skin. Those with allergies or asthma may experience headaches, exhaustion, coughing and sinusitis, chest colds, fever or difficulty breathing. Long-term exposure can lead to additional symptoms over time. Medical professionals do not conclusively agree upon the effects of mold, but you should take steps to prevent, and remove immediately.
For more detailed information consult a health professional. You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.
Where is mold most commonly found?
Mold is very common in building. It grows in places with lots of moisture, and so is common in bathrooms, near dishwashers, and under sinks. It also grows in any water damage sites and so can be found anywhere in your home including around roof leaks, window leaks, damp basements, around pipes, in damp drywall, ceiling tiles or cardboard and paper products stored in damp places.
Your heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) could be contaminated with mold as well, which could spread mold through the entire building.
How to prevent it
The key to controlling mold is moisture control. If you have a water spill, leak or flooding you must act quickly. Mold can begin forming as quickly as 24-48 hours. Take preventative steps to avoid excess moisture in your home and reduce the chance of mold.
Watch for rain drainage to be certain it is directed away from the building to avoid seepage through the foundation. Be sure to clean your roof gutters to prevent back up there. Always keep any air conditioning drip pans clean and drain lines unobstructed. Try to keep your indoor humidity level low, between 30 and 50 percent if possible. Watch for any signs of pooling water, condensation, or moisture collection.
Vent dryers outside, and use air conditioners and dehumidifiers when practical. Be especially cautious in the bathroom, running fans and opening windows when showering, and wiping any excess water immediately. Never ignore any signs of mold in your home. You can often smell it and sometimes seven see it.
Testing for Mold
A professional mold inspector can determine if your home contains an unhealthy level of mold. Mold can be found most everywhere, including in himes at a safe level. Be sure to understand before the test what they consider abnormal. There are several types of mold tests, including swab testing, air cell testing and a full residential mold test which normally includes inspection, reports and two tests- one for control and one inside. The average mold testing in 202 runs from $350 to 400 on average.
Test for mold when you notice an odor of mold or have water damage. Other signs of mold can be cracked paint, rust, warped ceilings, or water stains. Mold can attach to wallpaper, insulation, carpets, fabric and upholstery. Tests can also identify hidden mold without damaging drywall and releasing additional mold.
Be sure to hire a qualified Mold Inspector to do your testing.