How Common Is Mold In Buildings
Molds are very common in buildings and homes. Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus. We do not have precise information about how often different molds are found in buildings and homes.
How Does Mold Get Into Our Homes
The more people who live in a home, the more likely it is that molds will grow inside it. This is because we release a lot of moisture in the air when we breathe. When we take long hot showers, cook with uncovered pots, dry clothes on an indoor clothesline, or use humidifiers, we also make more moisture for molds to grow. Storing wet firewood, watering many plants, and storing many vegetables like potatoes and squash can make a mold problem more likely, too.
Mold Is Often A Sign That You Have A Bigger Problem
If you spot mold in your home, its often a sign that you have a water leak or plumbing issue that needs attention. Some species of mold also give off a musty odor, which is a telltale sign that youve got a bigger problem to address.
Mold is also a big concern in areas that have been impacted by significant storms and flooding. For example, mold formed in many buildings in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
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How To Tell When Mold Is Behind Your Walls
Mold may be a part of nature, but its one natural thing that you never want to see in your home. Even the most minor examples of mold can be visually unappealing and potentially cause health issues, especially for people who are allergic. Learn about what causes mold in the home, what to look for, and how to prevent and treat it to keep every room in the house clean and safe.
What Happens If You Eat Food With Mold
The thought of eating something moldy likely makes you want to gag. Most of the time, this is the only symptom youd get after eating moldy food. If somethings not right with your immune system and you eat something moldy, you might experience symptoms like:
- If you had an allergy to mold, then you might have symptoms connected with it as well
If you notice mold on your food that you dont want to throw away, then USDAs guide on handling moldy food will be for you.
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Health Issues When In The House
Mold can cause health issues ranging from mild to severe reactions. When youre inside your home, you shouldnt feel as though your own house is making you sick. Try to take note of how you feel each time youre at home and each time you lay down for bed.
Are you constantly coughing and sneezing? Are your eyes itchy, and is your nose running? Although these are typical signs of common allergy symptoms, they could also mean youre battling mold inside your home.
Headaches and sore throats could also point to mold exposure. Be sure to get checked out by a doctor and then have your home tested for mold.
Once Ive Found Mold What Do I Do
If youve found a spot, or series of spots, that looks convincing, contact your local mold removal service for testing and removal. They will be able to tell you what kind of mold it is, and can safely remove it. This is one area its better to be safe than sorry and leave to the experts.
It is very important that you do not disturb the mold, especially if it is a large colony or looks like a toxic mold disturbing it can release dangerous mycotoxin spores and cause it to grow. Inhaling certain kinds of mold can be dangerous or deadly.
Once the mold is gone, you should repair any leaking pipes, faucets, or ceiling spots. Continue preventative maintenance often, drying out damp spots and sealing any holes. A dehumidifier in humid areas of your home can help keep mold from growing.
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In The Walls And On The Floor
From top to bottom, mold growth is likely in a bathroom. In addition to the places mentioned above, pay attention to any water leaks coming from the walls or floors these leaks can cause mold to grow quickly. Bathroom rugs are also known to harbor mold, and are usually not washed as often as they should be.
Some tips to keep your bathroom free of mold
- Use a ventilation fan during your bath or shower, and keep it on for at least 30 minutes after
- Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to keep humidity levels down throughout your home
- Keep all surfaces, including counters and floors, clean and dry
- Check for leaky faucets and pipes
Signs You Might Have Mold In Your Home
Have you noticed a stuffy nose lately? Or maybe some small patches of dark color on your basement walls? Youre not alone. Mold is a common household problem, and if left ignored, can become dangerous and expensive.
DISCLAIMER: If you find that you match the description of any or multiple of the signs of mold below, please proceed with caution as some molds can be toxigenic. Always play it safe and wear long sleeves, goggles and a mask when attempting to inspect mold. If you are experiencing symptoms from mold, please see a doctor.
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Dont Leave Wet Stuff Laying Around
Anyone who has young children knows how much water ends up on the floor during bathtime. Its safe to assume that the bathmat is soaked, and you may have a couple of wet towels leftover too. Dont leave these lying around! As soon as youre done using them, get them off the floor and hang them on a towel rack or over the shower rod to dry.
If you have older children, regularly check their rooms for wet towels and clothing. Even something as simple as a sweaty soccer jersey can grow mold if its left to its own devices. Although it may not seem like its worth the argument that ensues every time you ask your teenager to pick up their room, we promise its worth it in the long run.
Mold Prevention And Removal
The best way to prevent mold is to remove water and moisture sources. Fix leaks, dry damp areas and remove humidity from the air to help stop mold growth and keep it from coming back.
To remove mold:
If the mold returns quickly or spreads, there may be an underlying problem, such as a water leak. Report repeated mold problems to your landlord.
If large areas of mold are present, you may need outside help such as a professional mold abatement company. Be sure your contractor is licensed and follows NYS Labor Law requirements.
To report a large amount of mold in an apartment if you are a tenant, or if the mold is in a non-residential location, submit a complaint online or call 311.
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Extent Of Mould Growth
It is important to determine the extent of the mould problem in your home to help you decide on the clean-up procedure. An area of mould is considered small if it covers one square metre or less. There should be no more than three patches of mould, with the total area staying within one square metre. Many small patches of mould in one area or throughout your home are a sign of moisture problems that need to be investigated and corrected right away.
If ignored, small mould areas may become larger over time, so it is important to clean them up before the problem gets bigger. A small amount of mould may be cleaned up using proper procedures and protective equipment.
The area of mould is considered medium if there are more than three patches of mould , but the total area is less than three square metres. In this case, assessment by a qualified professional is recommended but in most cases a medium amount of mould may be cleaned up using proper procedures and protective equipment .
An area of mould is considered large if a single patch of mould is larger than three square metres. Health Canada does not recommend that an unqualified person clean up large areas of mould. You may need a professional assessment to determine why the mould is there in the first place and how to clean it up.
Tips For Mold Prevention
Wondering how you can prevent mold from affecting your home? Here are a few tips that may help you prevent mold from forming altogether.
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Your House Smells Musty
Were not knocking your cleaning skills, but mold that grows undetected can pose a real health risk. This is especially true for the elderly, warns Dr. Parikh. Their symptoms are generally similar, but all chronic conditions are worse in the elderly as their bodies are not as resilient as younger patients and usually have other medical problems which may interfere with or complicate the treatment, says Dr. Parikh. Here are 9 ways to get rid of mildew.
What Does Black Mold Look Like
When you want to identify positively the signs of the dangerous type of this fungus versus the regular type, you need to know for what characteristics to look. The toxic variety can look dark green or black in color. It may also be gray, depending on where it is growing in your home.
You can also identify it by its odor. The odor is one of the tell tale signs of it that can help you detect its presence. It may smell musty and like mildew where it grows.
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Is Mold Dangerous To Your Health
Mold can have long-lasting effects on the human body and can be especially harmful to children, seniors, pregnant women, and people with pre-existing conditions. Detecting mold in its early stages is crucial for preventing the adverse effects it can have on our health.
Some of the most prominent health organizations in the world have all researched the effects mold can have on human health. WHO and IOM have both published research that has found the following results:
- Chest and nasal congestion
- Chronic conditions
These are the most common types of mold.
- Acremonium a small type of mold that has a delicate powdery appearance. Mostly found in humidifiers and cooling systems. It can cause diseases to bone marrow, immune system, or other organs.
- Black mold perhaps the most common type of fungus that is seen by the naked eye. This type of mold collects in house corners that are usually covered by furniture. It can cause headaches, aches and pains, memory loss, and nose bleeds.
- Alternaria also very common and is actually usually confused with black mold. It is often found in showers, bathtubs, or areas where there are high levels of moisture. It causes asthma-like symptoms.
- Aerobasidium found behind wallpapers and painted wooden surfaces, and has a yellowy appearance. It causes infections to eye, skin, and nails.
- Chaetomium commonly found in water-damaged buildings, and has a cotton-like texture. It is dangerous for people with compromised immune systems.
Mold Doesnt Just Hang Out In The Bathroom
Contrary to popular belief, mold doesnt limit itself to your bathroom or kitchen. Mold can form anywhere theres moisture. Mold especially loves damp, dark places, such as your basement. Mold can also grow on cabinets, windows, fabric, carpet and upholstery, especially in buildings that have recently flooded.
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I Found Mold Growing In My Home How Do I Test The Mold
If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. You do not need to know the type of mold growing in your home, and CDC does not recommend or perform routine sampling for molds. No matter what type of mold is present, you should remove it. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, either because of the amount or type of mold, you cannot rely on sampling and culturing to know your health risk.
In The Shower And Bathtub
Showers and bathtubs are one of the most common places you may find mold. With repeated use, these areas tend to be damp most of the time. If you arent properly ventilating during and after your shower or bath, mold spores will thrive. But mold isnt always visible and obvious be sure to check for mold on your shampoo bottles, washcloths and loofahs, shower curtain, in and around the faucet and shower head, and in the tile grout.
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Why Does Mold Form In Homes
Mold forms in homes because, in many cases, a home is the ideal place for mold to grow particularly in basements and other areas which may be dark and moist, and have a similar temperature all-year-round, due to furnaces and water heaters.
Essentially, there are mold spores in the air at all times and once they find a place thats hospitable to them, theyll start reproducing, causing a visible mold problem.
Refrain From Installing Carpet In Areas Prone To Moisture
Theres a reason most kitchens and bathrooms have tile or vinyl floors. Carpet attracts moisture. When its put in areas prone to a lot of moisture, its more likely to soak up the moisture and grow mold. If you live in an older home and it came with carpet in these areas, consider having it removed in favor of tile or vinyl flooring both of which are non-porous and wont soak up moisture.
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How Do I Look For Mold
There should be two goals when finding mold: getting rid of the mold, and finding the water or moisture that is creating the mold in the first place to fix the problem at the source. Hiring a professional mold inspector is always the best bet to know for sure, but doing occasional mold inspections on your own is a great way to prevent large colonies from growing.
To look for mold on your own:
- Wear goggles, gloves, and a mask to ensure your safety against any mold mycotoxins
- Look for wet spots, or spots that are frequently humid or damp
- Using a flashlight, inspect the area for any discoloration, textured patches, or signs of growth
- Pay attention to any strange smells that feel musty or moldy in any way
- If you find a spot that looks suspicious, and might just be dirt, inspect it more closely but be careful to cause minimum disturbance in case it is mold that can release spores when disturbed
What Is Mold And What Causes Mold In Your Home
Mold is, by broad definition, a type of fungus that sprouts from microscopic spores floating in the air. When clusters of mold spores grow on surfaces, they start to reproduce and become visible to the human eye. If you have mold allergies, asthma, or another lung condition, even breathing in the microscopic pores can trigger an attack. If you dont, you may not even be aware that there is mold in your home until you see it or smell it .
All homes have the key ingredients needed for mold growth: the presence of mold spores, a surface for it to grow on, oxygen, warmth, and darkness. When you add moisture, whether from a water leak, stagnant water, or high levels of humidity, into the mix, thats where mold problems begin. Knowing where mold is commonly found in homes can help you prevent and treat it so you can keep your home and body healthy.
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