The Ultimate Homeowners Guide: How To Tell If I Have Mold
Customers often say they dont know how to tell if I have mold. Unfortunately, as many of our clients have discovered, theres more to mold than meets the eyeliterally. Just because you cant see the telltale fungi that grow from moldwhich are known as mycotoxinsit doesnt mean theyre not there.
Mold can be lurking under the surface: under your carpet, within your walls, and in your basement and attic space.
In this article, were going to answer one of the most commonly asked homeowner questions: how to tell if I have mold?
The answer is much more simple than you might expect, so lets get started.
How Do You Treat Mold Toxicity Symptoms
Right now, youll see a lot of experts recommending handfuls of supplements and strict diets but the reality is, we just dont know for sure if these are the right treatment approach, says McElroy. Instead, she recommends the steps below. You might be surprised to see that killing the mold is only one out of five. Thats no coincidence! As McElroy explains, I often dont focus on killing mold since most symptoms are due to the immune response, not the mold itself. Instead, she starts with simple lifestyle steps and utilizes non-pill practices to achieve a state of better immune health, including:
Your Kombucha Vessel Should Be Covered With The Right Material
Ideally, wed be able to seal off the kombucha brew completely from the surrounding environment. This way, no mold spores would be able to enter the batch.
Unfortunately, the kombucha development requires oxygen in order to thrive. This is why we choose vessels with wide openings and use cloth covers.
The bacteria need oxygen during the aerobic stage of fermentation in order to produce the healthy acids that lower the pH. Sealing off the vessel will stifle this acid production, in turn harming the yeast.
But this doesnt mean you should leave your brewing vessel completely open to the surrounding air!
Instead, you should be using a tightly woven cloth that will both allow the air flow while filtering out any mold spores.
This is the reason why using cheesecloth isnt the best option. The mesh is too loose to filter out mold spores and can even allow fruit flies to pass through and land on your SCOBY.
Avoid using cheesecloth for your covering. Instead, use a tightly woven dishcloth.
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The Look Of A Developing Scoby
Below are pictures of what a new SCOBY looks like during development. This is a common stage where people suspect mold as the SCOBY had a tendency to develop in little white dots.
For the inexperienced eye, this can look suspiciously like mold. But dont worry, this is completely normal!
As the SCOBY develops, these white patches will begin to connect eventually forming a thin layer of SCOBY.
What About Tiny Mold Toxins Aka Mycotoxins
As mentioned above, though the Stachybotrys spores may be sticky and not easily airborne, there are other airborne contaminants to worry about: tiny fragments of mold and special toxins called mycotoxins. These contaminants may cause illness in those who are exposed, with mycotoxins being the most concerning.
You can think about mycotoxins as the molds defense: they are used for protection from environmental threats. Mycotoxins are minute organic compounds as small as 0.03 microns. These tiny molecules can stick to particles already floating through the air. Studies have found Stachybotrys mycotoxins on mold fragments that have broken off from a mold colony after it has been disturbed . This can be harmfulairborne particles less than 1.0 microns are easily breathed into the respiratory system, where they can cause irritation and potential allergic reactions. If this occurs, mycotoxins could accumulate onto local tissue and ultimately enter the bloodstream. The study by Brasel cited above showed that trichothecenes could be measured in the blood of people exposed to an indoor environment that had Stachybotrys.
Stachybotrys creates a class of mycotoxins referred to as trichothecenes. Trichothecenes have been widely studied and have been proven to be detrimental to the health of humans, animals and plants. In fact, trichothecenes have been investigated for the purpose of biological warfare needless to say, they are not something to which you want to be exposed.
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The Paint Is Bubbling On Your Walls
Have you noticed that the paint is bubbling on the walls of your bathroom or near a window? One of the most common reasons paint begins to bubble is moisture. And where theres moisture, theres probably mold. You wont be able to cover up the problem with a fresh coat of paint you have to find the source of the moisture. It could be a leaky windowsill, too much humidity, or leaky plumbing. Once you fix the moisture issue, then you can repaint. Just make sure to scrape, patch, clean, and thoroughly dry the walls before rolling on the first coat. Watch out for these sneaky everyday objects you touch every day that can be toxic.
Where To Check For Mold In Your Kitchen
From long-forgotten leftovers in the back of your fridge to the not so easily forgotten dishes that pile up in the sink, there are ample surfaces for mold to take up residence in your kitchen. The added levels of humidity from using the stove and running hot water from the sink can cause kitchen mold to grow quickly. Some of the most common places to check for mold in the kitchen include:
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How To Know If I Have Mold Allergy
Mold can be found everywherethey can be outdoors, in your home, and in places you visit. The fungus likes damp environments and produces spores that can become airborne. It needs four things to grow: air, water, food, and appropriate temperature. If you have a mold allergy, your immune system overreacts when you breathe in mold spores. A mold allergy can make you cough, make your eyes itch and cause other symptoms that make you miserable. In some people, mold allergy is linked to asthma and exposure causes restricted breathing and other airway symptoms.
If you have a mold allergy, the best defense is to reduce your exposure to the types of mold that cause your reaction. Medications can help keep mold allergy reactions under control.
Mold On The Underside Of The Toilet Tank
Occasionally, toilets will suffer from condensation on the back and bottom side of the tank. The vast majority of toilets are constructed from porcelain, a durable, non-staining, non-porous material. These qualities not only make the material perfect for handling lifes biological unpleasantries, they also make the material highly resistant to mold growth. Due to this, mold growth on toilets is unusual.
For growth to occur, it must find another food source settled dust. Often invisible to the naked eye, a thin layer of dust settles upon every surface of a home, including vertical and even inverted surfaces. This microscopic layer of dust provides sufficient organic material to propagate mold growth.
Remember, mold growth requires both a food source and available moisture. Just because the settled dust has provided a food source does not necessarily mean that mold growth will inevitably follow. Moisture must be present as well. On a toilet this primarily occurs through condensation. When the shower is used, warm, humid air is introduced into the environment. This moisture laden air hits the cold toilet and condenses. If the condensation is severe, drips will form and damage the floor below.
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Using A Mold Exposure Test
A mold exposure test is often the best way for you to check for mold on your own. You can pick one up at any home improvement or home supply store.
Simply follow the instructions on the box. Usually, youll just brush the surface where you think mold may be present, and send the test strip or brush in for a laboratory analysis. If mold is present, youll be notified.
Your Floor Feels Squishy
You know to be concerned about a soft spot in your hardwood floor. If you can access the subfloor through a crawl space or a basement, check for moisture. If thats not possible, youll have to pull up a section of flooring. Its worth it: That moistureand any mold growth will eventually spread. If the wood floor is rotted, then the whole flooring needs to be changed, says Piotraut. If the flooring is still in good condition and only has a small amount of mold, it can be removed with mold remover.
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Warning Signs You Have A Mold Problem
- Date: 05-2017
Molds are types of fungi that may grow indoors or outdoors, usually in damp, warm, and humid environments. The most common types of household molds might be found around bathrooms, basements, drywall, ceiling tiles, carpet, wallpaper, under sinks, and around plumbing pipes.
Mold in the home can pose serious health risks, but unfortunately many dont realize they have a mold problem because they dont know what to look for. Here you will read a little about mold warning signs, first as it relates to your health, and secondly as it relates to the structure and history of your home.
Mold Warning Signs: Allergies and Other Health Issues
When someone has mold in their home, they usually show allergy-related symptoms. If youre not sure whether your allergy-like symptoms are caused by mold in your home, then consider this question: do your symptoms get better once you go outdoors or leave your home? If so, then there is good chance that mold is the culprit.
Symptoms of mold allergies include:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Irritated, itchy skin
Some forms of household mold are toxic, causing serious, life-threatening illness. These highly-dangerous molds might cause symptoms such as bleeding, internal organ damage, mental impairment, cancer, and even death.
Mold Warning Signs in Your Home
Warped Walls And Floors
Certain materials in the home will warp when moistures absorbed. Be sure to check your drywall and your wood flooring for signs of warping. If warping is present, then this means moisture is present.
When moistures present, theres a good chance that mold is as well. Any materials in the home holding moisture should be repaired or replaced. Once you start the repair process, you might discover mold growing nearby.
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Preventing Condensation On The Toilet
In all three cases described above, condensation is the primary cause of mold growth. Thus, prevention must hinge upon preventing or lowering the condensation. If you have a working bathroom fan already installed, the solution is simple. Run the fan. If necessary, a push button timer with 20, 40, 60 minute increments can help ensure proper ventilation occurs. Bathroom fans often lack sufficient power. Youll know this if youre still seeing condensation even when running the fan for 60 minutes after each shower usage. Time for an upgrade.
If your bathroom does not have a fan currently installed, your options are much more limited. Opening the window can help, but this isnt comfortable in January. And realistically, most people wont keep the window open long enough to achieve proper ventilation rates.
Verifying The Cause Of Mold On The Ceiling
There are two ways to prove the cause of the mold growth. If you have access to the attic area above the bathroom, simply pull back the insulation. If the backside of the sheetrock shows signs of mold growth youre definitely dealing with a roof leak. See example below.
If you dont have access to the attic, or simply dont like the idea of crawling through insulation, you can use a moisture meter. In the vast majority of cases, a moisture meter will not pick up moisture due to condensation. Therefore, if the meter indicates elevated water content, youre likely looking at a roof leak. Clearly, this needs to be performed after a recent rain event.
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Black Mold Symptoms: What Happens When Youre Exposed
Dr. Lauren Tessier is a naturopathic physician practicing in Waterbury, VT, and New York, NY. She specializes in treating mold-related, biotoxin and other complicating illnesses and is CIRS-certified. Learn more about her practice Life After Mold by visiting www.lifeaftermold.com. You can also find her on , and .
Stachybotrys chartarum, more commonly known as black mold, was first identified in Prague in 1837. A Czech mycologist discovered the mold growing on an indoor wall of a home. Despite an early discovery, the term black mold only became part of the normal lexicon of the average homeowner in the 1990s, when the nightly news brought the phrase black mold into homes across America. Though black mold is considered harmful, the details are still in question. This article is meant to help inform those who are worried about being exposed to black mold.
Water In The Foundation
Look out for a build-up of water around your homes base. This can lead to foundational problems for your home if there is a lot of water. At your homes foundation, gathering rainwater can be prevented by sloping your yard outwards from your foundation. In the same line of thought, damp basements are another culprit. Usually, there is no good ventilation in basements. This is an indication that basements could contain higher humidity or moisture amounts compared to other rooms in the home. Also, basements are often colder which means more condensation occurs which leads to humidity and basement.
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What Causes Mold Sickness
The toxins in your system from breathing in mold spores add to the total amount of toxicity in your body. We call this the Total Body Burden. When your burden is high, you start experiencing symptoms many which are seemingly unrelated.
For most people, toxins get flushed out from the body when eliminating waste.
For some, the toxic load is so high that its too much for the body to eliminate them all efficiently. For others, they may have poor detoxification processes or they may even recycle or reabsorb these mycotoxins back, as the body tries to eliminate them. Genetics plays a huge role in this difference from person to person
In short, multiple symptoms happen because, as we say in environmental medicine genetics points the gun, and then the environment pulls the trigger.
How To Tell If Black Mold Is Hiding In Your Walls
Black mold the words alone are enough to make you cringe. Its the last thing you need in your home. Any mold can cause problems for people who are allergic, of course, but those molds referred to as black or toxic are particularly dangerous. Chances are, if the conditions inside your home are hospitable to mold, youre going to have it. If you suspect the mold is black or toxic, however, consider hiring a professional to remove it for you.
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How To Spot A Mould Problem Before It Affects Your Health
Mould is not always easy to recognise. It often looks like fuzz or appears to be a stain, smudge or discoloration. The most common moulds are black, green or white. However, mould can be many other colours, ranging from grey to orange to brown. Here are some warning signs that you might have a mould issue that could affect your health later on.
We insulate our houses to keep the heated or air conditioned air inside the building and forget that we thereby reduce air flow and increase the air humidity. High humidity means excess moisture in the air. This can cause mould to grow as well as encourage dust mites and other allergens to thrive. Timber furniture and building structures can also be affected by this moisture. This can result in dry rot, termite infestation and wet subfloors which also affect our air quality and our personal moods. In Australia, we allow high humidity to enter our homes when windows are left open for cross ventilation, all day or at night.
Condensation on windows
Commonly in modern building structures, we find tightly sealed windows and doors, plus walls and ceilings sealed by vapour barriers. Here in Australia high humidity days are frequent. Traditional ventilating methods coupled with high humidity will raise moisture content in your walls and furniture. Moisture or condensation on the inside of your single or double glazing has become a sign of an unsound indoor climate.
What To Do About Mold In Your Home
For areas that have already fallen victim to mold, there is hope. We cannot stress this enough – your first action should either be a mold test kit, or a call to a professional service. Do not simply attack mold with bleach and expect it to disappear, because you’re likely fixing the symptom and not the root cause. When you know what you’re dealing with, you can then take appropriate action.
In some instances, common household ingredients can rescue you home. Mix a cup of bleach with a gallon of water and scrub the mold off your walls, carpet or ceiling. This will kill the mold, and allow you to repair or repaint the impacted area . This is usually fine for areas where you haven’t been allowing enough ventilation – simply remove the mold, repaint with a moisture or mold repellant paint, and remember to open doors and windows to prevent the area from getting stale.
If you have a windowless bathroom, mold will likely grow here. Having an air extraction fan fitted is relatively inexpensive, and can prevent moisture from staying within the room. Failing that, keep the door open as much as possible.
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