Mold is everywhere, and it is a prevalent problem in homes and can cause many serious health issues such as allergies, respiratory complications, skin problems, headache, chest tightness, and more. Mold thrives in humid and wet environments and can fast become a major issue if the spread is not early detected and remedied. It is very important to regularly evaluate your home for mold and water damage. In this blog post, we will reveal recommendations and instructions to assist you recognize the warning signs of mold growth in your home.
There is quite a bit of contradictory advice when it comes to testing for mold in the home; namely, whether it’s a DIY-type job or one that calls for the experts. But as with most things, it’s not a black and white answer, with different circumstances requiring different approaches. Before we explain further, however, let’s outline the factors that may lead you to check your home for mold in the first place:
Warning Signs of Mold
- Check for unusual smells. Often, the dank, musty aroma accompanying mold is the only real tell-tale sign that you have a problem. Never had the misfortune of smelling mold? Lucky you! Check out this post on what does mold smell like? If you notice a new smell, follow up to determine if mold is the cause.
- Allergies. Sneezing, runny nose or sore eyes? Chances are there are some mold spores lingering in your home.
- Serious health problems, such as damage to internal organs or mental impairment, can be indicative of toxic mold, which is a serious problem.
- Look for visible growth. Obviously, seeing mold is iron-clad proof that it exists, but often it’s the mold you can’t see that is most problematic. Mold is often green, black, or white, and can appear fuzzy. It likes to root on walls, flooring, and ceilings. Watch all areas that are prone to moisture and humidity, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Mold can often be found behind furniture, so be sure to move and check those often, as well as pay attention to windows and windowsills.
- Check for water damage. One of the primary origins of mold is water damage. You will want to watch for early signs of water damage, such as warped wood, staining and/or discoloration on surfaces and walls in your house, and peeling paint. If your home has recently been flooded or you’ve suffered leaky pipes, chances are you’re going to have a mold problem and you will want to immediately dry out and clean up or remediate the issue thoroughly.
- Maintain and observe humidity levels. Maintain your home’s humidity levels at a healthy range to prevent mold growth. Indoor humidity levels should be kept below 60%, and preferably between 30-50% to prevent pests and fungal growth. Levels higher than this can create an environment that is ideal for mold growth. If your normal home humidity levels are too high, you may need a dehumidifier to sustain the moisture levels within the best possible range.
- Regularly inspect your home. Be aware of any changes to the condition of your home. Regularly check for leaks and roof condition. Make sure your home maintains proper ventilation. Mold can hide out in attics, so head up there to do an inspection yearly. Watch out for signs of moisture and water damage.
- Get a mold inspection from a professional. You may want to check with a professional about your home if you suspect any issues. It is also a good idea to test a home for mold before purchasing. There are often options that a home inspector will offer that can indicate if there is a mold problem. Another option we will examine is a home mold test kit.
Mold test kits
Allowing you to collect mold samples by yourself – before sending them off to a laboratory – these are available to buy online and are a much cheaper option than calling out a professional mold tester. Some things to bear in mind when choosing to do it this way, however, is that any mold test will only give a snapshot of any mold spores present at any given time as they constantly fluctuate. It is advisable, therefore, to buy a number of these kits to test at different times and in different locations, to build up a more complete and accurate picture of the mold in your home. There are three main types of mold testing, as our friends over at Moldpedia so eloquently put it.
- Air testing. Testing the concentration of mold spores in the air, samples are taken and later examined under a microscope. A good option for when you suspect you have a mold problem even though you can’t find a growth. Sometimes mold spores may be blowing into the home from outdoor mold, or they could be leftover from mold that used to be present.
- Surface testing. Takes samples from surfaces, most commonly using swabbing or tape lifting.
- Bulk testing. Tests various materials taken from the home to identify any mold spores.
These kits may also come in handy after you’ve had mold removed, to make sure it was a success. If you do decide to test for mold yourself, always wear a mask and gloves.
Call in the experts
Although mold is an everyday problem that may seem to be more irritating than anything else, when toxic mold enters the equation it’s a whole new ball game. If you have the slightest suspicion that the mold you’re seeing is either Stachybotrys (toxic black mold) or Aspergillus – the most common types of toxic mold – you will need to exercise extra caution, thus calling in a qualified professional. It is also always prudent to call in the experts if the mold problem is anything more than mild. You can read more about black mold here.
In conclusion, it is very important to check your home for mold to detect any issues early. Mold can quickly spread and cause major problems for you if left unchecked. Consistent home inspections, maintaining your home’s humidity levels, and catching any unusual smells or signs of water damage will help you avoid disaster. Check with a professional if you suspect you have mold. Keep up with the early signs of mold to ensure a safe and healthy home.