How Mold Growth Develops
Finding mold growth in your home is certainly not fun. To prevent it from developing and spreading further, quick action will need to be taken. While there are numerous types of mold, some more dangerous than others, none of it belongs in your home. Mold growth can cause serious structural damage as well as negative health effects, and it’s difficult and dangerous to remove. If you find mold in your home, you must work with a mold remediation professional to have it removed safely.
Understanding just how mold develops is important for preventing it. No doubt it’s bad, but exactly how is mold able to develop and spread to other areas? This is certainly a question worth looking into to help better protect your home from the effects of mold growth.
How Mold Growth Develops
When it comes to the decomposition of organic substances, what exactly is it that breaks them down? It’s the tiny mold spores in the air, floating dormant but looking for the perfect conditions to settle and harvest additional mold spores. The perfect conditions include warm, dark, and moist areas with an organic substance on which to feed.
In your home, spills, humid conditions, and water damaged structural materials provide the perfect environment for mold to grow. With temperatures in the high 70s, moist areas, especially basements, attics, and behind walls and floors, are especially susceptible to mold growth.
Once the dormant mold spores have found their organic food source – and a source of moisture – they accumulate within these areas and form an unsightly large mold colony, which can appear in different colors, including black, yellow, orange, green, pink and more.
How Mold Spreads
Once a mold colony is developed within the affected space, it needs food, oxygen, and moisture to grow. So, it will continue to look for additional areas that provide these resources to set up shop again. As the mold source consumes the surrounding building materials within your home, it will then release spores into the air to search for additional areas with the right conditions. This is why it’s important to react quickly to prevent mold from spreading.
Each of the following conditions below are needed to create the perfect environment for mold to grow:
- Food: As mold spreads, it feeds on organic (carbon-containing) matter, including drywall, carpeting, insulation, hardwood floors, and other porous materials.
- Oxygen: As molds are obligate aerobes, they need oxygen to survive. Mold can even grow in environments where oxygen levels are low.
- Water: Mold is most active in damp, moist conditions. They need water to develop and spread, which is why it’s highly recommended to keep moisture levels low in your home. Everything from high humidity and condensation to flooding and water leaks provide great opportunities for mold to thrive.
- Temperature: Research has shown that mold cannot grow below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is why food should be kept refrigerated at 39 degrees. The best temperature for mold to grow is between 77 and 86 degrees with humid conditions.
How Mold Affects the Surfaces on Which is Grows
Because mold consumes the materials on which it grows, critical damage will occur to your building materials if they become prey to these fungi. Cosmetic damage like staining and unpleasant odors as well as structural damage can all occur due to the presence of mold.
As mold digests the carbon from its food source, it slowly breaks down the organic materials. Eventually, the digestive enzymes will destroy the material as it spreads, looking for additional food sources. When locating mold in your home, it’s crucial to identify the source of the growth and remove it so it can’t grow back.
Types of Building Materials Affected by Mold
Mold can grow on any organic material, digesting the carbon on the surface and spreading to other areas.
Common organic materials on which mold can grow in your home include the following:
- Hardwood flooring
- Roofing materials
- Concrete and cement
Other surfaces like metal and glass prove to be more difficult to sustain mold growth, however, mold can feed on dust and dirt on these materials.
How Mold Affects Your Health
As mold travels through your home in search of additional breeding grounds, its tiny spores can cause a number of negative health effects. Exposure to mold spores can lead to itchy eyes, throat, and skin, headaches, sneezing, coughing, breathing issues, and even respiratory infections if long-term mold exposure occurs.
When present around mold, it’s important to protect your eyes and mouth from the small mold spores. Always wear safety glasses, a breathing mask, and gloves to prevent allergic reactions.
As soon as you find mold in your home, it’s important to have it removed right away. First identify the source of the mold by looking for any water damage, water leaks or humid conditions that have promoted mold growth. Then contact a professional mold removal service to have it removed from your property.
A licensed and experienced professional will first set up a containment chamber to prevent the mold from spreading further. They will then use specific mold remediation products and methods to remove it at the source. After removing all mold growth, they will apply anti-microbials to inhibit future mold development. Additional steps to lower the moisture levels in the home and repair a water damaged area of the home will also be taken to ensure the mold doesn’t return in the future.
It will then be up to you to keep moisture levels low in your home to prevent future mold from returning, especially in the attic, crawlspace, basement or bathroom as these areas are most common for hosting mold growth.