What Does Mold Need to Survive?
Mold is an environmental nuisance when its spores meander through the natural habitat and land in your home. All it takes is a single, microscopic spore to land on an organic substance and rapidly flourish under the right conditions. Once the mold spores feed on the proper nutrients, they swell and form what is known as a hyphae. These hyphae swiftly spread, making visible the recognizable black mold splotches.
When found indoors, mold can discolor property, destroy and weaken building structures, cause illness and spread a musty, pungent odor throughout the home or building. As a result, mold is a dangerous organism when growing within spaces inhabited by humans. Homeowners and business owners alike will want to rid their home or building space of mold the instant it is noticed.
Mold is actually a type of fungus, but fungus is not mold. The terms cannot be interchanged. While mold and fungus are related, mold is really a subset of fungus. Both mold and fungus have their own distinguishable characteristics and functions.
Scientists have identified over 100,000 mold species, out of which 80 are harmful to humans. Surprisingly, mold falls into its own category of living organisms, since it is neither an animal, plant nor bacteria. Of all the mold species, each can be roughly categorized into one of three types: allergenic, pathogenic and toxigenic. Allergenic molds may provoke allergies but don’t necessarily cause illness; pathogenic molds cause infections in people who suffer from immune system deficiencies; and toxigenic molds are toxic to anyone who comes in contact with the spores.
Despite mold wreaking havoc within homes and buildings and causing illness in some people, mold offers numerous benefits to humans and our natural ecosystem. Mold is responsible for breaking down biodegradable goods, for instance. Molds are even cultivated to make medicine, like penicillin.
What conditions contribute to the growth of mold indoors? Plenty of nutrients are found within homes and buildings to allow mold to flourish:
Any organic surface, including all biodegradable items, like paper and leather, can serve as a food source for mold spores. Mold finds nutrients in food particles, waste from cockroaches and dust mites, and even skin flakes. Mold can be found behind wallpaper, underneath damp carpeting or even growing on leather couches. In fact, mold finds a habitable place to thrive in areas like
- Ceiling tiles
- Household dust
While mold cannot grown on inorganic materials, like glass, concrete or metal, mold spores will thrive on the dust found on these surfaces.
In combination with an organic food source, spores also need moisture to survive. Mold spores absorb moisture in the air and expand, extending to other parts of the property that supply sufficient dampness.
A dark, wet basement is an ideal spot for mold spores to find plenty of nutrients. A leaky water pipe provides a continual water source for mold to feed on. When a roof leaks, the surrounding walls become dampened; in turn, mold discovers an excellent source of nutrients situated along the saturated wall. Even areas around over-watered houseplants serve as an optimum spot for mold to grow.
Along with a sustainable water source, a humid environment is conducive to mold growth. Indoor humidity that ranges from 40 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for mold to thrive, especially when combined with a sound organic food source.
Poor ventilation also encourages mold growth. Inadequate ventilation results in higher humidity levels within the home or building, which in turn ensures condensation buildup. This accumulation of tiny water droplets inside gives mold an ideal spot to feed.
Moisture-logged areas like bathrooms without running fans are frequented by mold spores. Homeowners often find mold growing behind the toilet, along the ceiling or on bathroom tiles. The common occurrence of mold in the bathroom is due to the presence of adequate and constant moisture.
Mold spores cannot grow in subfreezing temperatures. That’s why you’ll almost never see mold growing inside a functional freezer. Cold areas do not guarantee that mold will not grow. But warm climates inside a home, along with moisture and a food source, can provide the right sustenance for mold growth.
As a living organism, mold needs oxygen to survive. Where there is a lack of oxygen, mold cannot live.
When an organic food source is combined with moisture and oxygen, then mold spores feast. Plus, it doesn’t take long for mold to begin its destructive path when the circumstance is right. In fact, just 48 hours are all that is needed for mold to take hold.
Mold is a natural byproduct of the environment and can be found everywhere in nature. Home and business owners cannot escape mold, but it is possible to limit the growth of mold inside. Reduce the inside moisture content to between 30 and 60 percent, and stop the rapid advance of mold quickly.
As soon as you detect mold inside your home or business property, take steps to remove it. First, find the water source that feeds the mold. Spores cannot die off unless the moisture in the area is removed. Even if you kill the mold spores, they will return if water is available. So fix the plumbing leak or water damage as soon as possible.
When the mold infestation is large, it is critical to contact a mold remediation service to eliminate the mold from your property. ServiceMaster Restoration Services offers comprehensive mold remediation services to thoroughly remove all mold from your building and even prevent it from returning.
ServiceMaster Restoration Services’ trained technicians first visually inspect the mold growth, then work with an independent third party to locate hidden mold growth as well as test the air quality. Once the independent assessment is complete, the ServiceMaster Restoration Services team develops and implements a mold remediation plan. The professionals at ServiceMaster Restoration Services utilize advanced equipment and specialized products to eliminate all traces of mold. As soon as the mold is removed, the specialists perform another air quality test to ensure the property is safe to inhabit.