What is mold?
Mold is a microscopic fungus that is part of the natural environment and necessary for our ecosystem. While it is necessary in the outdoor world, too much mold inside a structure can be dangerous and unsanitary. Mold produces spores as part of its lifecycle, and these spores float through the air both inside and outside.
Where Does Mold Come From?
Molds thrive in moist environments created by a flood, slow leak, broken pipe or just high humidity. Without water mold, cannot grow. Mold also needs a food source, oxygen and a temperature between 40 degrees and 100 degrees F.
How Does Mold Spread?
For molds to grow and reproduce, they only need an organic food source, such as cellulose, which is found in building materials such as wood and drywall.
Are There Any Warning Signs to Look For?
If there are dark spots on your ceiling, floors or walls, this is a sure sign of mold growth. Musty odors and mildew are often signs that mold may be growing in your home. Respiratory and allergy symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, trouble breathing and wheezing are a common indicator of mold growth as well. Also, high humidity levels such as condensation on glass and metal surfaces are a warning sign of mold.
Why is mold a problem?
Many people aren’t aware that mold can cause serious structural damage to homes and businesses, which, if left undetected, can cause a property to lose value and/or require significant repairs. And if you have ever suffered from allergies, exposure to molds can often cause nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, skin irritation or even more severe reactions.
What does mold need in order to grow?
Mold needs a moist environment, temperatures above freezing and a food source, which could be leaves, paper, dirt, wood or other building materials. Mold is more likely to be found in damp, dusty spaces or areas with stagnant air.
How can I tell if I have mold?
If you see mold growth or water stains, a mold test can help identify related microbial activity. You can also look for areas where water leakage has occurred, such as roofs, pipes, ceilings or walls. Musty smells may also indicate the presence of mold.
What can I do to prevent the growth of mold in my home?
The most effective means to keep mold in check include keeping the humidity level of your home at 40–60 percent, using an air conditioner and/or dehumidifier during humid months and in damp spaces like basements, and always utilizing exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens, along with dryer vents outside your home. Lastly, if there are leaks in your roof, walls or plumbing, it is important to repair them as soon as possible.
The Special Challenges of Mold
Despite what's readily known about mold, it remains the subject of a lot of confusion.
Mold is an issue that can affect the health of your family and compromise the physical structure of your home
Mold and mildew grow best in warm, damp and humid conditions
Mold may never become visible, since it can grow in the walls and under the floor If more than two days have passed, any wet materials will be affected by mold, even if it's not yet visible
Whether you can see a problem or merely suspect its presence, only a professional can help identify the source and extent of the challenge
Home remedies like bleach can cause more problems
When does mold need to be handled by a professional remediation company?
Most experts recommend a professional remediation company when elevated mold levels are detected. Remediation professionals are specially trained to isolate and treat mold-affected areas to avoid contaminating adjacent spaces.
Some molds have the reputation of being more dangerous than others. Is identifying the mold important?
Sometimes you will hear terms like “toxic mold” and “black mold” used to refer to molds. While identifying the type of fungus or mold may be interesting, it doesn’t affect the course of action. If mold is present, the CDC has strongly recommended that it be removed, no matter the type*.
*Source: “Facts about Mold and Dampness.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 18 September 2012. Web. http://www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm