How To Check For Mold In Your House Or Apartment
Mold is the most common source of indoor air quality problems in houses and apartments.
With the average American spending 90% of their time indoors, according to the EPA, the presence of mold is something everyone should be concerned about.
Over time, exposure to mold spores can produce the following signs and symptoms:
- Musty, earthy odors
- Asthma or allergy symptoms while indoors
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin rashes
How to Check for Mold
To check for mold, look for discoloration on surfaces with a slimy, fuzzy, or powdery texture.
Mold can sometimes grow in hard-to-spot places, such as behind wallpaper, inside vents, or in an attic or basement.
Start by inspecting your house or apartment for leaky pipes or any other signs or sources of moisture. Mold always needs moisture to grow, so look in areas and surfaces that have been recently exposed to water, humidity, or condensation.
When you check for mold, youll want to answer these 3 questions:
- Do you have mold?
- What caused it?
- Where is it located?
With answers the questions above, youll have a much higher chance of successfully getting rid of the mold and keeping your house or apartment mold-free in the future.
If you discover mold growing in your home, its important to take steps promptly to find and remove it.
If You Suspect Mold in Your House or Apartment
Here is a list of common places to check for signs of mold:
How To Tell If Mold Is Toxic
Mold is a nasty problem to deal with for any home or business-owner. In the wake of a disaster such as a storm, its possible for mold to start growing in as quickly as 1-2 days. Whats even more alarming is when that mold turns out to be toxic, posing a serious risk to you and anyone else on your property.
To clarify, its not that the mold you are dealing with in and of itself is toxic. Its that certain strains of mold, like the notorious Stachybotrys chartarummore commonly known as black moldproduce mycotoxins. Its these mycotoxins which may cause a burning sensation in the throat and lungs, chest pain, persistent coughing, fever, rashes, and migraines. Prolonged exposure to Stachybotrys may lead to serious health issues, including breathing problems, fatigue, sinusitis and other pain in the sinus cavities, and even depression.
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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Do You Have Toxic Mold In Your Home
How to tell if you may be dealing with toxic mold in your home:
How To Get Rid Of Black Mold
Depending on the severity of your black mold infestation, you can either clean it yourself or hire a professional. Hiring a professional is more expensive, but it prevents you from being exposed to the mold while trying to remove it. Youll probably want to hire a professional cleaner if you have wide-spread growth in multiple rooms.
If you choose to remove the black mold yourself, be sure to take the proper safety precautions. You want to avoid letting mold spores touch your skin or breathing them in by wearing:
- Latex gloves
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How Common Is Mold In Buildings
Mold is very common in homes and buildings.
One 2017 study found mold in every public building studied, with an average of about 14 instances of mold per building.
Another involving 31 European countries found mold in 1 in 6 homes. The author noted that the prevalence of mold may vary greatly depending on the regional climate.
When Should You Consider A Mold Inspection
If you notice a musty smell in your home but cant find any visual evidence and you or a member of your family has persistent symptoms, you need to hire someone to inspect your home for mold. Or if you need help locating the source of the water thats causing the mold. If you are buying or selling your home you need to have a mold inspection and if you need a formal plan to remove the mold and repair the damage.
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Will Duct Cleaning Remove Mold
When its time for your monthly home cleaning maintenance time, air ducts cleaning is one of the essential parts of that service. It is very easy to have molds inside of your air ducts if your home has high humidity and high temperature.
Homes like these are the favorite places for molds to grow. So cleaning an air duct will not just help you get rid of the specks of dust and impurities, but it will also help you prevent molds inside your ducts.
So always clean your air ducts to prevent having mold.
Who Is Most At Risk For Health Problems Associated With Exposure To Mold
People with allergies may be more sensitive to molds. People with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections. Individuals with chronic respiratory disease may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression are at increased risk for infection from molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment.
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Headaches Or Memory Problems
When you have mold, mycotoxins present a big concern. Mycotoxins come from toxic mold strains and can cause serious health issues. Symptoms of exposure include:
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Memory loss.
- Short attention span.
As with the allergy symptoms that non-toxic molds can cause, these symptoms can mean mold exists in your unit if they get worse when youre at home.
Air Conditioning And Heating Vents
You probably prefer your bedroom to be at the optimal temperature for you to get a good nights rest. While using the AC and heating unit are fine , its possible for mold to grow in the vents.
To prevent mold from contaminating your bedroom, you should:
- Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air
- Dry up any condensation you find on the walls and windows
- Invest in a mold-resistant mattress or, at the very least, a waterproof mattress cover
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You Visibly See Mold Spores
Of course one of the most obvious ways to determine that you have mold in your house is if you can see it. The downside? If you see a ton of visible mold, it can be an indicator that you have a big problem on your hands.
“Once you see it, you’ve got a big mold problem because what you’re seeing is literally just the tip of the iceberg,” Kelly Hayes-Raitt, a housesitter and the former director of the HomeSafe Campaign in California, told INSIDER.
Simply scrubbing the visible mold with soap and a sponge won’t actually get rid of the mold. So if you see visible mold, you need to reach out to a mold remediation company or another expert to help you get things under control, including any leaks that may have caused the issue in the first place.
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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How Do You Test For Mold In Air Vents
If you find a smell coming out from your AC vents while the air is blowing and the smell is kind of musty or earthy, it means your air cooling system has grown mildew somewhere inside of it.
Dont inhale too much air if you find that kind of a smell coming from the vents. If you are curious and wanna test the vents, to be sure, then go near the vent and then take a couple of breaths.
If you find that smell, then just be sure the reason behind it is mold, and you have to get rid of it as soon as possible.
What Does Mold Smell Like
Mold has a damp, musty scentsimilar to what you’d smell after opening an old book. “In general, smell is not a good way to determine if there is a mold problem,” said Laureen Burton, a staff chemist and toxicologist for the Environmental Protection Agency . The smell of indoor molds can differ depending on the type of mold, the surface on which it’s growing, and its source of moisture. Plus, she said, some people don’t notice a smell at all.
The mold smell is caused by microbial volatile organic compounds , which are substances that are naturally produced by molds as they grow. “The health effects of inhaling mVOCs are largely unknown,” said Burton, “although exposure to some mVOCs has been linked to symptoms such as headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea.”
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How To Detect Mold In Walls
If there is an area of your home where you think mold may be present in the walls due to smell, a strange appearance of the wall, or any other factor there are a few ways you can test this.
The simplest way is to probe the area with a screwdriver. If the area is soft or the screwdriver easily pierces the drywall, mold likely has rotted the surface away, and youll be able to see it once a hole has been opened up in the surface. Be careful when doing this and do not do it near any wiring or electrical outlets.
You could also use a fiber optic camera to look around inside after opening a hole in the wall, but at this point, you may as well hire a professional inspector. A professional inspector has the tools required to examine the wall thoroughly, and ensure that its mold free or detect any potential issues.
What’s The Difference Between Mold And Mildew
Neither is pleasant, but mold is likely to cause you a lot more grief than mildew. Both are also fungi, but mildewusually a gray or white color that can become black as the fungus growsis a surface fungi. This is an important distinction because that means some elbow grease and household cleaner can usually contain a mildew situation.Mold, howeverwhich tends to be fuzzy and come in several shades is embedded in the material. This is why getting rid of any significant mold infestation requires the physical removal of infected areas, like sections of walls and flooring.And that’s one reason why its so costly to remediate mold. Another is all the precautions that must be taken to prevent cross-contamination, including sealing off and ventilating the area, doing a thorough cleaning, and careful disposal.”Its more of a surgical removal than a demolition, Gross says. We dont use sledgehammerswe use knives and spray bottles to wet down the material. The debris we create is bagged in bags taped shut, and the exterior has to be vacuumed to prevent cross-contamination. Surfaces that cant be removed, like a concrete slab, have to be cleaned and if there is evidence of contamination, have to be encapsulated in an antimicrobial sealant, like a primer.”Beware of remediation companies that offer “mold fogging,” or filling wall cavities with spray foam, rather than full removal of the contaminants.
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Water Damage Or Leaks Have Not Been Repaired
If there’s a history or flooding or existing water damage, this is a prime opportunity for mold to grow. Mold spores need moisture. Check your rental property for water damage and leaks, or other damp areas where mold is likely to multiply. To try to avoid this problem, make sure it is clear to your tenants that any water leaks or damage must be reported to you so they can be quickly and properly repaired.
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.
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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.
How To Know If You Have Black Mold In Your House
Mold isnt always visible. If you can see mold, its only a sign of the real potential health risk the unhealthy levels of harmful types mold in the air of your home or workplace.
Airborne mold is all around us in both the outdoors and indoors. The types and amount of mold determines the potential health risk. Most of us are accustomed to the varieties and amounts of mold present in our outdoor environments.
Healthy indoor environments will have mold conditions similar to or better than those in the surrounding outdoors. Over time, because of moisture , many indoor spaces develop unhealthy types and/or unhealthy levels of airborne mold that can be harmful to you or your pets.
These signs could mean you have unhealthy mold conditions in your house:
- Allergic symptoms
- A damp or musty odor in one or more places
- Frequent headaches
- The air in the home feels different
- Your house has been flooded or currently has leaks
- You previously tried removing mold yourself
Take note of how you feel in and out of the house. If the symptoms disappear or decrease when youre out and about, then you might have a mold problem, yes, even if you cant see mold.
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Can Black Mold Grow In An Air Conditioner
Often air cooling systems ducts are not suitable for molds to grow. Molds need a food source to grow. Air cooling systems are not suitable for a mold to grow because of sheet iron ducts and styrofoam channels in your window component. These things are not in a food list of a mold to help it grow.
Clouds of dust are the leading criminal. Dust actually helps molds to grow inside of your air cooling system. So you should regularly clean the aircon system so that it does not trap bags of dust inside.
You Find Dark Or Colored Spots On Your Walls
Mold can appear in many shapes, textures, and colors. It can look like anything from green, dripping slime definitely something youd notice to an innocuous-looking grey fuzz. If your walls are coming out in spots, its worth double-checking that there isnt a leak in the pipes or uncontrolled humidity in the room.
If you have a pre-existing breathing problem that seems to flare up after long periods at home, mold could be the culprit.
Most species of household mold wont bother people without breathing issues but can aggravate asthma in individuals who already suffer from the condition. Consider scheduling a doctors appointment and a mold inspection if your breathing problems seem to worsen without a clear cause.
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