Mold (fungi) is a natural, living substance that grows in every part of the world, and is especially harmful on food, vegetation, and building materials. While visible mold can present many dangers, hidden mold in our place of residence can not only cause serious health problems, but also damage the structure of our home over time. Where does this living matter hide? How can it be detected? And what does one do when it is discovered?
The Typical Effects of Mold inside the Home Two major problems usually occur when mold growth is not handled quickly and efficiently: the family’s health will suffer and the stability of the home’s building materials will be compromised.
Health risks associated with exposure to hidden mold include breathing problems, congestion, headache, severe or increased allergic reactions, skin disease, asthma, sinusitis, as well as infections of all sorts. Airborne mold spores are inhaled, thereby causing serious issues with an individual’s respiratory and immunity system. Those with a pre-existing condition such as asthma or allergies will find it difficult to sleep and their ailment will most likely be aggravated in a home with major mold issues. Exposing children or the elderly to mold for a certain period of time can cause them to eventually develop illnesses.
Mold breaks down the stability of building materials in your home. Experts advise that out-of-sight mold is especially destructive, since it has the opportunity to spread extensively before being detected. It will damage drywall, plaster, wood and insulation. Steel, glass and plastic components are less susceptible to damage; nevertheless, when mold is coupled with humidity your house structure is at risk.
Where does mold hide? You are likely to find fungi wherever there is a build-up of moisture and lack of air flow. Two areas in the home that commonly harbor mold are the kitchen and bathroom due to their high level of humidity. Basements and attics should also be inspected regularly for hidden mold.
Whenever a defective sump pump results in flooding or a plumbing leak occurs, mold usually establishes itself behind the drywall. The spaces between wood frames, and near windows and doors are ideal for mold growth. It can spread behind wallpaper as well as under flooring. It can grow in the back of closets or behind heavy furniture that is not often moved from its spot against the wall. If you can actually see mold creeping up the wall or in a damp corner, you can assume that it is growing out-of-sight as well.
How can hidden mold be detected? A keen sense of smell and diligent observance of health symptoms are key in determining whether the presence of mold exists in your house.
A consistent earthy, musty odor that cannot be traced to damp clothes or wet items is usually a sign of mold. If this odor only manifests itself when the heat or air conditioning is turned on, you may have mold growth in the HVAC system. In order to refine your search, pay attention to when and where the strange odor is most noticeable.
If members of your family are having trouble sleeping, constantly clearing their throats, or exhibiting cold and flu-like symptoms such as a runny nose, scratchy throat and/or labored breathing for an extended period of time, they could be reacting to the presence of mold. Pay attention to whether the symptoms are consistent or intensify when the person is at home. For instance, your child may experience a persistent cough or runny nose at home, but not at school. Or your spouse may suffer from a constant headache, which disappears when he/she leaves the house. These patterns are valid indicators of hidden mold.
What to do? If you suspect mold growth in your home, do not delay in contacting a professional mold inspection firm. These companies use state of the art technology to thoroughly inspect your house for the presence of hidden mold. Early detection often means less invasive circumstances and less expensive repairs.
Written by Gary Martin Gary Martin is a freelance writer specializing in health and allergy research for the Mold Removal Unit website.
For most people, a home is one of the most valuable assets they’ll ever own. Unfortunately, there are some major perils that can befall a house and put a serious dent in the value of that asset. Many of these perils are much more insidious than a fire or natural disaster. Read on to learn about some of the most expensive damage that can occur in your home, how much it costs and how to avoid it.
Problems in older homes are often well hidden. More often than not, serious damage doesn’t show any symptoms until the damage is significant and expensive.
With recent storms, exceptionally rainy weather and, of course, Hurricane Irene, many homes throughout the country have been exposed to excessive moisture and water, which could lead to mold growth if not handled properly.
To help raise awareness, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency dedicates the month of September as National Indoor Mold Awareness Month. Follow these tips from CertainTeed, a building products manufacturer headquartered in Pennsylvania, to ensure a healthy home.
Homeowners should check for leaky roofs, foundations, faucets and pipes on a regular basis, making sure they aren’t allowing extra moisture to accumulate in these areas. Leaks should be fixed as soon as they are found.
Keep humidity under control
The ideal humidity for a home is between 30 and 50 percent. Relative humidity can be measured with an inexpensive moisture or humidity meter, available at most hardware stores.
Keep it dry
Homeowners should clean and dry any damp furnishings within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Check for odors
If you have had a leak, then the first sign of mold may be musty or moldy odors in the vicinity of the leak. Keep in mind you do not want to sniff for mold or touch for mold –– if you suspect a mold problem contact a certified mold inspector.
Watch for ground water
Checking the exterior of homes regularly will help avoid the accumulation of ground water, which can cause mold. If found, homeowners should route water away using downspout extensions and re-grade to slope water away from the home.