Whether your home is sealed air-tight or exposed to the fresh outdoors, there is a risk of mold finding its way in and leaving significant damage behind. Although the onset of these issues may be difficult to recognize, there are many signs to look out for to detect mold damage as early as possible.
To find areas of mold damage in your home, you must first understand the sort of habitat this organism tends to thrive in. In general, mold most commonly dwells alongside moisture and under some sort of cover. Places such as under a sink, behind a toilet or near an air vent, where it is both dark and damp, are hyphae paradise.
Unfortunately, the previously mentioned areas are not usually seen much less sterilized. This is why mold damage often takes a toll on the home before it is noticed. Finding mold damage early will likely save you the costs of expensive repairs such as repainting, rebuilding a wall or, in worse cases, remodeling an entire room.
The importance of mold damage awareness in your home extends further than monetary losses, though. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, being exposed to mold in your home can result in breathing problems and possible pneumonia.
It is important to stay ahead of the damage by having a constant awareness of the mold and mildew in your home. While this might seem like a daunting task, you can easily track down any potential damages by educating yourself on exactly what to look for.
Where to Start Looking For Mold Damage
As a homeowner, you might not even know where to start on your hunt for mold. Luckily, there are a few common areas mold damage will show itself no matter the size, shape or layout of your home. Oftentimes, homeowners will notice the scent of mildew or mustiness that might lead them to look for mold. Others might rather locate and exterminate the molded areas before the scent is strong enough to be noticed.
Some of the more obvious places to examine when looking for signs of mold damage are near sources of water in the home. This may include under bathroom, kitchen or laundry room sinks, near washing machine water lines, lining showerheads, close to faucets and around drains. If you’ve had damage from a hurricane or flooding because of another, smaller storm, those sites may also be spaces for mold to grow.
Although a variety of molds common household interiors, they are each relatively distinguishable. Most types of mold can be described as possessing a green color with a fuzzy appearance. Other types can show up much darker, with a coloration that is close to black.
The mixture of green and black in mold is most commonly found in between the grout area of bathroom tiles, but can also be spotted in similar areas. All in all, it really helps to know what you are looking for while you are examining your home for mold.
If you do happen to spot mold in areas such as on top of or between floor tile surfaces, damage may have already occurred. However, it is also likely that the surface on which the spores have planted themselves is clean-able.
De-mold-able surfaces are made of waterproof and impermeable substances such as marble, granite, laminate, vinyl, stainless steel, tile, etc. Though mold may often be found on these types of surfaces, the damage is likely to occur by mold growth through porous materials that are also found near the “commonly-moldy” areas.
Check for mold growth on materials such as drywall, wallpaper, carpet, fabric, foam, plastic, unfinished wood or paint, ceiling tile, and un-sealed grout. These surfaces consist of microscopic air pockets that allow mold spores to grow through efficiently which infiltrates and inhabits the entire substance causing irreversible damage.
On the other hand, if an area of your home or a particular object becomes infected with mold, and the surface happens to be soft or porous, it will probably need to be completely discarded and replaced. As a general rule of thumb, hard surfaces are more salvageable in the case of potential mold damage.
Mold That Hides in Plain Sight
After checking all areas where water enters your home, there are additional possible locations to analyze in which house-mold tends to thrive. Areas that create that ideal living-space for the fungi need to be considered first: dark and damp.
Anywhere that steam may often contact should be looked over thoroughly. Shower curtains, bathroom ceilings, objects or surfaces above ovens where water is often boiled, above kitchen sinks and dishwashers, along the edges of windows and mirrors and around air vents that may commonly see condensation.
Known areas of leakage in your house will have greater risks of mold growth that will initially be difficult to sense. Other places that might otherwise be protected by seals or sealant such as windows, exterior doors, sunroofs or pet doors should be examined as moisture is likely to seep into your home over time.
Finding Hidden Mold
The discovery and removal of mold from obvious places in your home is a great place to start, although ensuring the absence of mold within interior walls and beneath floors is critical in ridding the house of all the fungi’s nasty attributes.
If you suspect mold damage in areas such as these, you notice the scent of mold in the air, or you have known water leakage, you should contact a certified mold inspector, or CMI, to professionally assess the issue. Hiring a professional for extensive locating is important for your safety and that of your home.
Signs of mold damage within walls can be spotted by staying aware of change in wall or ceiling color, deterioration of paint or wallpaper and warping of wall/floor materials.The hardware used in the creation of home interiors should be reliable and sturdy. Any change should wave a red flag.
Using Your Senses To Locate Potential Mold Damage
Although the mold damage might be hidden well from your sense of sight, there are other methods that may be used just as well in sensing the unwanted fungus.
Many homeowners may identify mold damage solely on the common musty odor that comes with mold growth. The odor may also be described as damp, rotten or mildew-y. Others have described the smell as being similar to fresh dirt or mud.
The feeling of damp interior wallpaper or paint may also be a sign of mold damage in your home. Any objects that you find damp or soaked, if not already home to mold, are likely to soon be the habitat for many unwanted living organisms.
Believe it or not, your sense of hearing may also be incorporated when seeking out mold damage. Listen for water dripping throughout your home to locate problematic faucets that might be the source of molding in sinks, tubs, showers and other water outlets. A dripping sound might also lead you to a leak within the house’s plumbing system either exposed or hidden that needs to be remedied.
Water droplet sounds that do not lead to a source of water might be a sign of leaking pipes within the walls or ceiling of your home. Unfortunately, this will most likely require a plumber or your current contractor to evaluate further.
A kinder scenario might be that there is condensation gathering on a vent or water-heater in your home causing a subtle drip. Although this issue would be more preferable than the former, consistent dripping (even subtle) most likely will require your contacting a specialist to ensure the problem is minor.
Considering the taste of mold to be a factor in this search would be utterly repulsive…although, like it or not, a commonly reported symptom of mold within a home occurs when occupants inhale a substantial amount of mold spores residing in the air.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, possible effects of mold exposure include respiratory problems, coughing, and wheezing, with no visible signs of sickness or disease. Children, in particular, have been reported to experience shortness of breath and breathing sicknesses, which have all been linked to damp or wet living conditions.
Dealing With the Damage
If you are questioning whether or not to contact a professional about the mold damage situation, chances are, you’d better play it safe. The last thing you want is to blindly dive in, tearing your home apart and spending hundreds of dollars in repair when the situation would have been better handled by a simple call to your contractor so that they may provide you with the exact needs and monetary requirements.
The truth is, there are many trained professionals who deal with problems like this on a day-to-day basis. Professionals will have the proper equipment, knowledge, training and judgement when it comes to making decision about restoring areas of your home.
You wouldn’t choose to stitch up your own wound. You’d call a Medical Professional. It’s the same with home damage.There is a wide variety of specialists to choose from when hiring a professional for mold damage assessment.
Their titles include, Water Damage Restoration Tech (WRT), Wood and Laminate Flooring Inspector (WLFI), Wood Floor Maintenance Tech (WFMT), Stone Masontry and Ceramic Tile Cleaning Tech (SMT), Senior Carpet Inspector (SCI), Carpet Repair and Reinstilllation Tech (RRT), Resilient Flooring Maintenance Tech (RFMT), Resilient Floor Inspector (RFI), Rug Cleaning Tech (RCT), Odor Control Tech (OCT), Health and Safety Tech (HST), House Cleaning Tech (HCT), Commercial Drying Specialist (CDS), Building Moisture Thermography (BMT), Applied Structural Drying Tech (ASD), Applied Microbial Remediation Tech (AMRT) and many more.
If you are insistent on taking care of the mold issue yourself, or if the issue is easily solvable, ensure that necessary safety precautions are made regarding appropriate clothing and eyewear. This is vital especially if you have never dealt with mold contact directly before. An allergic reaction to mold can result in incurable conditions and symptoms such as watery eyes, skin rashes, coughing and difficulty breathing. If any symptoms do occur during this process, get medical attention immediately.
If possible, remove mold colonies with the use of handled tools and latex or rubber gloves. Mixtures that incorporate mold-killing liquids are best to use when ridding one focused area of the mold colony. After mold removal, it is imperative that the area is thoroughly dried to prevent further colonization of mold in the area. In addition, you should always wear protective gear when any chemical is in use.
The CDC recommends that eye protection and a respirator should be used when entering a home that is experiencing any kind of mold damage. Whether you are attempting to handle the issue yourself, or you have brought in a professional cleaning crew, it is vital that you keep yourself safe during this process. It is also recommended that you wear long sleeves, gloves, and waterproof boots.
Another solvent, besides bleach, that is commonly recommended to kill mold is Ammonia. While many reports exist on the efficiency of Ammonia in killing mold on hard and flat objects, porous materials such as tile grout, sheetrock, wallpaper, fabric, and carpet will require a different extermination method.
Vinegar is often used on clothing items as well as furniture that have been contaminated with mold. Use a mixture of water and vinegar to stop mold growth on porous areas. These materials may also have to be followed up with by the use of scented soaps or disinfectant as the smell of vinegar often lingers long after application.
One note though is that these solutions may only handle the surface appearance of mold and as such, an expert should be called in to handle the problem rather than homeowners resorting to using bleach.
For items such as removable carpets or rugs, consider throwing out the piece to prevent leftover mold spores to continue colonizing throughout the room.
While it is true that a small sighting of mold might seem like it would be easy to clean up, you can never be too safe. After cleaning up the surface of the problem, you could be at risk for continuous exposure without knowing it, if the job is not done professionally.
Overall, taking the time to thoroughly search your home for mold damage will pay off in the long-run. Preventing the infestation that can occur may protect you from major expenses and possible health risks. Stay ahead of the destruction by being proactive in the examination of your home for mold and mold damage.
Need to make a mold claim with your home insurance? Worried about the cost of repairs and the effect on your wallet? Reach out to Bulldog Adjusters to see how we can help you get the biggest possible settlement!