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Mold Warning Signs: How to Tell if You Have a Mold Problem

Discovering that you have mold within your home can cause you to feel many things. You might initially feel disgust, frustration or even a sense of being overwhelmed. Placing the home up for sale might be the first thing that pops into your mind, but that should be a last resort. Many people actually live in a home with mold and never realize it is there. They ignore the warning signs until the problem reaches a point where the mold is taking over and affecting their health.

Warning Signs of Mold: Therefore, its important to be aware of what the signs are that you may be sharing your home with more than just your family. Signs that you may have mold include:

  • A strange odor: Mold has a pungent smell. When it is confined to one area of your home, you may notice an unpleasant odor when you are in that area. Mold can sometimes live within the walls or behind wallpaper, and so you might not immediately associate the smell with mold. If you do notice an unusual persistent odor in your home, the culprit may be mold.
  • The appearance of mold: In your shower stall or bathtub, its easy to distinguish normal soap scum from mold.However, in the basement or cellar you may have to investigate a little further to find the mold. Mold will take hold of damp areas, so if you have a wall or floor where dampness collects, mold could very well be there as well.
  • Health symptoms: Because mold is not always visible, it can be difficult realizing that you do indeed have a mold problem. If you feel listless, congested and experience watering eyes while in your home, these can all be signs of the presence of mold.Its not uncommon for a person who lives in a home that has mold to feel better while at work or out shopping. Their health problems begin the moment they step through their front door. Mold can often be the cause of this.

Do You Have a Mold Problem?

If you do think that you may have a mold problem, you’ll need to put on your investigator hat and get to work. Check all moist areas of your home first. If that doesn’t turn up any mold consider calling in a professional.

It can be difficult to stay in a home where the mold is causing an odor or is visible. You may feel very uncomfortable; however, for most people a small amount of mold will not cause serious health problems.

If you do suffer from allergies and find it is causing breathing problems it might be wise to find a temporary place to stay until the mold problem is addressed.

Ignoring the warning signs that you may have mold only prolongs the problems you will experience. Be aggressive in locating the source of the mold and addressing it. After all, nothing is more important than your health.

Further Recommended Reading :

Joslyn from the Moldblogger Team

56 Responses to “Mold Warning Signs: How to Tell if You Have a Mold Problem”

  1. I completed a swab test kit from IMS Laboratory on a ceiling tile in an endoscopy department and the lab results showed too numerous to count Acremonium sp., Alternaria sp., Aspergillus sp., Cladosporium sp. and Epicoccum ingrum. How big of a concern should this be. My understanding of the report is that these are common molds found everywhere outside. Should these molds be showing up in a health care facility, endoscopy clinic?

  2. Thank you for your question Brandnew!

    I’ve posted a reply here : Q&A: Mold in an Endoscopy Clinic

    Joslyn from the MoldBlogger Team

  3. I’m looking to buy a home. many homes are fully rehabbed. how can i tell if there is mold in there on walls since it is now replaced covered up with paint and floor is covered with tile?

  4. hello, My name is Michelle and I have had a Nasal culture of Alternaria back in the summer of 08. From A Ears Nose and throat doctor. It is been a nightmare for me.
    This doctor did not observe the problem and my health has declined.
    I had a Mold Apartment with pictures and on my body. I don’t know if you can help me but I did move but have no help from doctors, I had 3 weeks of a inhaler antibotic and that was all, there is still streptococcus and Pseudomonas in my nasal passage and my body is still itching after my rash that I had all over my body due to the mold.
    I am happy to talk to anyone about my issue, I am happy to go to the media how there must be a time when a doctor observes there are issues.
    And not crazy, for more information about my story and if you can help me I live in LA CA e-mail address is
    michelle_skin@yahoo.com
    Thank You,
    Michelle

  5. i have a condo with black mold inside. can i legally post a sign on my front door describing i have toxic mold?? thank you

  6. I’d post this sign and then LEAVE. Check out my website at areyoumoldy.com

  7. Black mold has been found in my apartment building in a number of units, including mine. If I move to a new apartment and take my belongings with me (e.g. bed, couch, wood furniture, clothing) will moving those items bring the mold with me? None of the items mentioned have any visible signs of mold, smell bad, or were near the wall with the mold problem. Any advice would be appreciated.

  8. I just moved into a house which is built like a log cabin (completely out of hardwood). Everytime it rains or is damp outside all the floors get very damp (both 1st and 2nd floors). My friends have been telling me that this is mold but I would like to know for sure. Is this a common sign of a mold problem?

    Thanks,
    Ryan McCabe

  9. I just moved into a house which is built like a log cabin (completely out of hardwood). Everytime it rains or is damp outside all the floors get very damp (both 1st and 2nd floors). My friends have been telling me that this is mold but I would like to know for sure. Is this a common sign of a mold problem?

    Thanks,
    Ryan

  10. Hi, i have a question about mould being visible on white/cream leather seats and same coloured seatbelts in a car.
    If the seat belts or upholstery is of a darkish colour mould/mildew usually shows up as white patches or you will see black spots etc:
    But would you see the mould on the above as it is light in colour, and usually you have to hold things at certain angles to see that mottled mould effect!

    Please can you advise????

    Many thanks.

  11. Hello, i noticed some mold in the bathroom closet. I assumed something was leaking behind and it was. I got that fixed(twice. Then i noticed mold later on but, there is no leaks. My husband thinks the because the weather changed we have a small portion of the slab exposure(due to dirt settling around the house) that the air is getting in and mixing with moisture from the inside between the closet and the asset panel of the tub. We noticed today where the drain is, that its open. There was a piece of cement there but nothing is covering it. I don’t think it should be open like that. Could this be the cause of our problem? we want to get to work, IMMEDIATELY!!!!

  12. In response to Michelle, I am going through the exact same thing. I too have a rash all over my body. I recently noticed it after the heavy rains these last couple weeks. My roomate thinks I’m crazy because hes not experiencing the same or any of my symptoms. This rash is so irrating. I notice it the most after taking a shower. I truly believe we have major mold problems in the walls and deffinitely in the bathrooms. Please email me with any more comments or anything you have to say. I know I should go see a doctor but I think the best solution would be to get someone in here for a mold inspection.
    take care,
    Kelly

  13. where can I get a swab test kit for mold in my home?

  14. My husband has a home that a friend of his has more or less given to him to fix up. It has had roof leaks for at least more than 2 years and has been vacant for at least 2 years or more, I believe it has been several years. My husband wants to move into this home, I personally fear mold is in the home because of the vacancy and the roof leak. Can you tell me if a roof leak and being vacant are factors that would lead to mold more than likely, please respond. I have a chronic cough and hoarseness that has lasted for months now since, working on the home with him last summer

  15. Can you tell me if the mold i have growing in my basement is bad mold. and how to get rid of it. It is a white powdery . I spayed water and bleach on it and seams to work for a while. But grow back a sort time later. Its growing on the foundation wall.

  16. I live in a Hotel/Inn 1 bedroom. 1st night we stayed here it rained real bad and we found out we had a major problem when the ceiling started to swell up in this are. It looked like a pimple that needed to be popped or that was gonna explode. Luckly it didn’t but the owner called out the roofers but still to this day we also are dealing with these nat’s, little slow fly’s that never will go away. We are very clean people and have nothing inside that would be attracting them. Is this a sign of mold in the walls and ceilings from all the leaks over the years? please help if you know anything. deb484u@yahoo.com

  17. I live in a basement apartment. 6 months ago i noticed black spots on my beige carpet. At the time I thought it was probably just dirt and didnt look into it. After a while there were more spots, and i started to get sinus headaches. I didnt think much of that either as I am allergic to dust, and being a brand new basement I assumed it had a large amount of dust from the construction. However more black spots started popping up in places that could not have been from dirt. I had a mold specialist come to check it out, and the carpet picked up to check the floor . He said that the concrete is impressively dry and that he did not see any mold on the bottom of the carpet. I had the carpet cleaned anyway. It is now 6 weeks after I had it cleaned and the spots came back with even more. My wife who is not allergic to anything started complaining of dizziness and headaches .How can i fix this ? and how can I tell if this is because of mold or their is a different problem? What may that be? Thank you for your expert advice.

  18. Hi

    For 2 weeks I’ve been smelling something which kind of smells like baby sick in my flat. (That’s the best way I can describe the smell). I’ve now started smelling it on my freshly washed clothes. No children are ever in my house never mind babies. I typed it into google and this is the first website which came up. Could I have mold in my house? I’m really worried now! Please help!
    Thanks.

  19. Gillian-
    is the smell coming from the washer? Many times, washers can develope mold, esp those new front loader ones. You need to leave the door open, not shut. Try running the washing machine on full load, hot water, as long a cycle as you have and add a half bottle of ammonia and some baking soda and see if that helps.
    If the odor is coming from other places inside the home, do some investigating-follow your nose–and make sure no dead rodents under furniture or anything, like a dead mouse…or food left in unlikely places. (If you have kids this is a great possibility-I once found a gross and disgusting what-used-to-be-an-orange in my kids’ toybox years ago, and the rule was “food eaten in the kitchen only!” someone sure broke that rule at least once!

  20. We are considering the purchase of an older home. Signs of mold are present around the baseboards and some of the wood panels are warped in the finished basement. The basement was dry when we saw the house shortly after record rains in the area. The current owner is not interested in removing the old wood paneling.

    Should we forget this house in fear of opening Pandora’s box?

    If we continue looking at other old houses with more recently finished basements, what signs of water/mold should we look for?

  21. Karen, if the home is of high enough interest to you I suggest having a mold inspection added in as a part of the negotiations and have any decisions you make be based on the results of the inspection. To your second question, my only suggestion at the moment is what you’re probably already doing – keeping asking lots of questions, use your sense of smell, and look closely and carefully for areas where mold might be hiding.

  22. I would be very leary…If the paneling is warped, that is a sign of extensive moisture back behind the walls. The basement may have been dry after a recent rain, but signs of water intrusion are evident inthe paneling. You did not say if the baseboard was down in the basement or up in living area? If it is UPSTAIRS, that could be a sign that mold contamination is not contained only to the basement area, and has spread throughout the living quarters also. I would ask why the home is for sale, and see if you can speak with previous tenants to see if anyone suffered any type of illness. If you are real keen on buying the house, ie, ideal location, etc…then I would definitely get QUALITY mold inspection and testing, which would reveal how hazardous the situation is and also how contaminated the home is. I personally would keep looking!

  23. I have a large cedar closet. Over 15 yeasrs there has never been any mold in it. Now I find that some of the clothes have white mold. What can I do to prevent further mold in the future. Non poisonous method would be good.

  24. iS IT A MOLD PROBLEM IF TOILET (THE HOLES IN WHICH THE WATER RUNS INTO THE BOWL) HAVE BLACK PARTICLES. tHE PARTICLES CLOGS THE HOLES AND LEAVE A RESIDUE IN THE BOWL. IT REQUIRES CONSTANT CLEANING.

  25. We just moved into an apartment and one of the bedrooms has a smell to it , it smells moist and that won’t go away we have opened all the windows and aired it out and its fine but when we close it up the smell comes back. Could it be because of mold? We checked and there is no moist area and no leaks. Is there any other way we can check and see if it is mold without having to call a professional?

  26. I just moved into an apartment that has horrible mold…my fault for not really seeing the severity prior to moving. Can I request the landlord to repair this? The mold is in the shower caulk and particles (black little specs) fall when the water is shut off or turned on the shower. I’m very concerned but feeling ignorant for having litterally only lived there a week. I don’t smell much because they just polished the hardwood floors and it is still pretty strong. They don’t seem to care too much about other issues so I am worried this will not be a concern and would like to know if it is legally possibly an obligation.
    Thanks!

  27. We recently started renting and older home that had been vacant for years. I have been having many of the symptoms assosciated with mold exposure such as headaches, extreme fatigue, dizziness, and so on. I have a toddler, who thankfully, has had no symptoms. I discovered black mold under the tiles in our bathroom. Is it possible that mold in the bathroom only could cause such severe symptoms? I am fearing that there is more mold in our house unseen. We rent from a family member and a mold inspector just isn’t in the budget at this time.

  28. Hello. I’m interesting in finding out more about a vacant house that is owned by someone very far away but has been severely neglected (paint is peeling everywhere)& a back door appears to have been left open for god knows how long!I do not visually notice mold but wondered if this situation for a rehab/renovation would be a big no-no due to these signs?

  29. I found stains of mildew (mold?) on some clothes in my closet. The closet wall is connected to the shower stall wall. I don’t see any water or dampness on closet floor or wall.
    Can it be just that I need to recaulk around the shower stall?
    What should be my first step? Do I need a mold inspection?
    Thanks.

  30. @gus diiorio on April 22nd, 2011 the white powdery mold on your basement floor may just be a cement compound raising up from the foundation of the house you are in. i thought it was mold, too and treated the same way you did only to find out it was just an old time mixture used for foundations. hope this helped.

  31. I moved into an apartment just over 7 months ago and the carpet looked great when we moved in. Over time old spots from previous tenants started showing up, which I know is common if the carpet isn’t replaced. However, along with those substantial spots are little black spots as well. Should I be concerned about mold, as I have a baby and a toddler in the apartment with me.

  32. A musty odor is indicative of a mold problem. High levels of moisture may be the culprit.

  33. This would be a fun sofa slip cover project for a dorm room because you have al of your friend sign the couch slip cover.
    You may notice that I did not mention removing the old fabric before putting on the new.
    If you’re looking for ways to keep your staff motivated, why not consider an office makeover.

  34. wow, i have lived in my apartment for over a year now and everything is finally making sense. I first moved in and got sick, i thought i was just fighting a cold. then a few times i was out having drinks and broke out in this horrible rash. I’ve never had a rash before. i realized black mold began to come through the wall above the shower tiles and brown mold on the ceiling. I am now suffering from intense suicidal depression, my lungs wheeze, my thryoid has been throbbing. I’m stressed as i am out of work but still put in my 30 day notice today in hopes it will all work out fine. Regardless, id rather sleep in my car than here. anyways, my main concern are three things. Can i keep all my clothes and bedding? And also, i have a dog and cat, are they going to be okay? and lastly, am i going to be okay? I appreciate any advice i am having the worst anxiety right now. oh and also my ears have been leaking fluid… not sure if anyone else has this sympton?

  35. Very sorry to hear about your situation. I would recommend reading “Are You Moldy?: The True Story of a Very Moldy Person” by Lori Tondini for your situation. It is possible to recover from toxic mold exposure. As for your clothes and bedding, if you want to keep them you will want to thoroughly clean them to avoid transferring the contamination. This article may help you get started with that. From what I understand, toxic mold can cause health concerns in animals. Removing yourself and the pets from the toxic mold is the most important step. Hopefully you and your animals will soon be on the road to recovery!

  36. Thanks for the share. When it comes to mold I would highly advise you to just call a mold repair service. After Hurricane Sandy I tried to remove the mold in my house and ended up getting extremely sick, take it from me just call a professional.

  37. Can mole come up your vents if it in your basement ?

  38. There is a lot of information going around about mold but one can generally handle it by following the KISS principle(keep it simple stupid). If you can see the mold and it appears to occupy a sizeable space[or perhaps a sizeable space containing more mold than is visible is behind the small visible mold and/or you can smell it, and you find yourself newly fatigued or with new or aggravated respiratory symptoms– then you should check the situation out more fully and attempt to remove the source of the mold ( usually a leak) and the existing visible mold. The worlds’ scientific experts are not as concerned with the mold counts or lack thereof as they are with the visible and smell character since those are the two best signs of mold contamination. Where there is mold, there is usually also bacteria and other sources of affects on inhabitants.
    The scientists for years were pulling out their hair in trying to create dose/response measurements for mold and gave up on it because much of what causes irritation or antibody reaction is not even measured in ordinary mold testing.
    Harold Hyams
    Attorney

  39. I Hhave been haveing terrible breathing problems.My nose is running my chest feels awful. We have a basement thats half mud half cement. Have had many rain problems with basement. I AM SO WORN OUT .hOW DO I FIND OUT IF THIS IS THE PROBLEM?

  40. Hi
    Our 2 kids have been sick w/unknown issues, mostly gi for about a year. Drs don’t know. Had house mold tested. The air test came back and said there was “extremely elevated levels of Chaetomium which can be potentially toxigenic”. This is alarming and we don’t know what to do. The company that did the visual also found some pencillium aspergillus growing on a piece of furniture in the basement (had a water leak down there and it has been fixed for about 3 years.)

    Other than that, there was no visible mold. I am trying to get an honest answer from someone knowledgeable. I have heard many stories about companies that also do remdediation often things.

    I have not yet spoken with the company – was just notified. I am wondering where the mold could be coming from? How will they know if their inspector did not see anything?

    Any info is so helpful!
    Thank You
    Laura

  41. My wife and I just got done cleaning that contracted mildew. I do not see any signs of mold on the walls or floors and the room the sofa is in has skylights, one wall is sliding glass doors, and one wall is open into a well lit foyer. There is one corner of the foyer that seems to have a faint mildew smell, but no signs of mold. How can I determine if there is an issue??
    Thanks,
    Brian

  42. We have just bought a house where the cold room”s ceiling is black. The whole thing is black. The ceiling appears to be chipboard or compressed wood of some kind. The house inspector called it mildew and told us verbally just to make sure that window is always open a little down there and to wear a mask and clean it with detergent and water. But in his report, he said to bring in a specialist. Now I don’t know what to do.

  43. I am a sufferer of Black toxic mold. I have suffered for many years of this terrible fungi growing in the condo that I rented from a slum lord here in Anchorage, Alaska. This epidemic of toxic mold growing/infestation in the bathroom was growing in the bathroom and in the kitchen. You could smell it and even though I brought it to the landlord’s attention, he did nothing about it. Leaks upon leaks occurred but the landlord through bubble gum, shoe string and glue remedy did not resolve the problem. A professional was not called in to resolve the problme until too late. The damage has already been done. I am have been to ER 6 many times in the past year for not being able to breathe. This last time the the nurses worked on me for 8 hours to get me to breathing. I am having to go to get allergy tested to see if I have mold growing inside my body. My neck broke out in a itchy rash, black streaks appeared on my neck, blistery looking, two black spots appeared on my tongue, certain foods that I eat makes my tongue very dry and irritated and sore throat and nasal congestion, yellow spitum secreted from my mouth and when I blow my nose it is someties yellow. Congestion when I awake everyday. My health went from energetic to fatigued all the time. I am not used to feeling like this. Not to mention that I had to move out into a hotel, because of this terrible mold. I have furniture, a couch that is made out of porous fabric, when I have the movers move me, can I take the couch with me? Or do I have to get rid of it? I don’t want to take these terrible mold spores with me to my new place of residence or even to the storage unit (which is where everything that I own will go before the first of the next month.) I don’t have a lot but I would like to know if I have to give up the couch, clothing items they may be affected by the mold spores that are still present in the unit. This landlord is really a slum lord and has not business having rental property. They should be in jail for what they have done to me. I always paid my rent and even took it to him, all the way up until I could not because of being sick with the affects of this toxic mold. Please let me know. Thank you.

  44. Hi Laura! I have the same problem with my 3 year old. GI problems. Stomach pain on and off but X-ray is fine and lab work ok. Constant illnesses and ait tested positive for mold – 3 diff kinds.
    Email me pls! Would love to get your advice!
    faith@karissak.com

  45. I have severe mold allergies and recently moved into a new apartment with my family. We were unable to see the unit before moving because of it being through a housing program. Therefore I was unable to detect an allergic reaction to my apartment until I moved in. Now that I moved in I have had severe complications with my mold allergies. I cannot see any mold as I have checked the entire home. What do I do? I am barely getting back on my feet with 5 kids and evrryone is starting to get sick like me. But I cant find the source. Please help asap.

  46. Hi Tiffany,

    Check out this article on Toxic Mold Litigation, specifically the section on Landlord Liability. Hopefully it helps get you started!

  47. You could also get mold test kits (online or from Home Depot), or have a professional come in and test the air for mold. Sometimes the mold is not visible and could be hiding in walls or in the air conditioning.

  48. I have a rash, bumps, and itching all over my body! I now believe it is from mold! The doctors I have seen keep telling me “It’s dry skin, because it’s winter, the dry air and very low humidity from the heating system in the house!” BULL!! I did not have dry skin way back in June 2013 this all started! I have tried Moisturizing for 2 weeks straight, 5 different times and that has not helped!! I have tried anti-itch creams and they have not helped either, I have even tried ani-fungal lotions/creams and that has not helped either!! I have even tried taking 2-10 mg loratadine tablets daily to help with the itch and ease the rash, under doctors advice, but that has not helped!!

    For those who have asked about is it safe to remove clothing and bedding from a house with mold in it? I have read and seen on TV programs that it depends on the type of mold and how much mold is present. With Some mold types, the clothing and bedding can be safely removed from the house and then be washed removing the mold. But in other instances you would have to use a special detergent to safely remove the mold depending on the type of mold. But depending on the type of mold, especially with the more toxic kind it is recommended that you do not remove the clothing, bedding or anything from the home or wash them, because it would only spread the mold spores!! Those items that are exposed to toxic mold will most like have to be disposed of!

    But before you do anything make you check with a reputable Mold remediation company to check to see if you have mold and what type of mold you have and then to remove it properly! Also do not forget to check references!!

  49. I was concerned with some mould build up in my bathroom and I was offered a free survey from a ventilation vendor called envirovent. As it turned out it was just a minor issue and there was no real reason to panic! The main reason was that my windows was stuck closed so once that was fixed the mould never appeared again!

  50. That is a very good tip particularly to tose new tto
    the blogosphere. Simple but verry accurate information… Thanks for sharinjg
    this one. A must read article!

  51. I noticed black spots in just one side of my kitchen sink the other day and I don’t know much about black mold besides it’s very dangerous. The light above it is always on (idk if that makes a difference). Please help

  52. I want to get out of here I never lived in a home where there was mold d molds under my sink I just found the problem it time to clean it up on my own can I .

  53. I rented a house floor was wood, landlord said he was putting tile or carpet, I got a rash all over my arms, chest, stomach, had a triple bypass in 2010 have other health problems landlord knew all this the mold is going up from floors and now from ceiling All over my bins I have important things that can not be replaced but my dog is really sick and me as well what or who do I contact to help me?

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