How to Identify and Stop a Mold Problem
Mold growth is a common indoor problem that can be triggered by a number of factors that result in excess moisture indoors. These factors can range from leaks and high humidity to major storms such as hurricanes that consist of heavy rainfall that can cause floods. Any amount of mold growing on your property is a serious issue that requires immediate action. Mold colonies can cause major property damage if left unchecked, and exposure to the spores can trigger a range of health reactions from allergy symptoms to full blown infections.
It is important for property owners to know how to identify a mold problem and take action to stop its spread and prevent damage. The following tips will help you uncover mold issues early and stop the mold from spreading and causing serious property damage.
Why Mold Growth is Dangerous
Mold is a threat to appear at virtually any time because mold spores naturally exist in the air. However, the spores will only form into mold growth in environments with excess moisture. In fact, mold can appear within just 48 hours in an area that has been affected by water damage, flooding, or an increase in humidity.
The most common food source for mold is cellulose which is an organic substance contained in most building materials such as wood, drywall, and insulation. This is why mold can quickly cause very serious damage. The mold growth will eat away at the affected surfaces, causing discoloration at first. As the damage gets worse, the affected materials become more vulnerable to serious structural damage. Mold growth can be especially destructive if it grows undetected in a hidden area.
The potential health effects of mold are another major cause for concern. Short term exposure typically leads to allergic reactions such as coughing, itchy eyes and throat, skin irritation, and nasal congestion. These symptoms can easily be confused with the common cold, but it is very important to determine if these symptoms are caused by mold exposure. Continued exposure will only lead to worse health issues including infections and asthma.
How to Identify Mold Growth
As mentioned above, mold can grow in hidden areas so its presence in some cases may not be obvious. As a homeowner, you must be able to identify signs of mold so you can react to the situation before the damage becomes extensive. The following are the most common signs of a mold issue:
- Visible Mold: This seems obvious, but not all mold looks the same. It is possible for homeowners to dismiss visible mold as dirt or cobwebs. Mold can be slimy or fuzzy, and it can be several different colors including black, green, or orange. Certain types of mold can also appear threadlike. Any visible mold should be addressed right away because what you see may only be part of the problem.
- Musty Odors: Mold colonies tend to put off a distinct musty odor. If there is a musty smell in your home, this usually indicates a mold problem, or a water damage issue that could lead to a mold problem.
- Hidden Mold: In cases of hidden mold, the mold itself may not be visible, but other signs of its presence are. Common signs of hidden mold include cracks, peels, or bubbles in the paint or wallpaper; warping or bulging drywall; and unidentified spots or stains on walls and ceilings. If you believe you have hidden mold, you can hire a professional for mold testing to be sure.
- Water Damage: Mold growth does not occur in all cases of water damage, but it is much more likely to appear if there has been water damage. If you notice leaks, condensation, or other issues with excess moisture, check the affected areas for mold growth.
How to Stop Mold Growth
Once you discover a mold problem, you must immediately react to limit the potential damage. Any hesitation will allow the mold to cause deeper damage and even spread to new areas. The following tips will help you stop the spread of mold:
- React quickly: Mold will continue to spread and cause damage until you take action to stop it.
- Keep humidity low: Mold can only grow and spread in moist environments. By lowering the humidity, you can slow or stop its spread. If the humidity levels outside are lower than in your home, open your windows. You can also use air conditioning and dehumidifiers to keep the humidity under control.
- Isolate affected areas and objects: Try to isolate heavily affected areas if possible using tarp or garbage bags to contain the spread of the spores. Objects that are affected should be sealed in plastic bags and removed from the home.
- Clean nearby areas: Make sure you clean the areas near the mold infestation to prevent it from spreading. Use a disinfectant to clean surfaces and objects that are at risk.
Call a Mold Removal Professional
Attempting to clean up mold growth without the proper training or equipment is dangerous. It is always best to contact a professional to provide mold remediation services. Mold removal technicians can provide testing to uncover the mold issue, as well as complete mold removal using advanced equipment and techniques. They can even locate and address the moisture issue that caused the mold growth in the first place.
Check your home often for signs of mold growth, especially after water damage or a major storm like a hurricane. If you suspect that there may be mold growth in your home, contact a mold remediation specialist right away. The quicker you react, the more likely you will be able to stop its spread and prevent serious damage.