What Causes Mold Growth? Why Should I Be Concerned? How Can I Detect It?
Mold is nature’s recycler, designed to consume dead organic material. It is everywhere and part of nature’s ecosystem. Problems occur with mold when it begins growing in an enclosed environment such as a home.
Mold found inside homes and buildings originates from the outside. Mold spores may enter buildings and houses through open doorways, windows, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Spores in the air outside also attach themselves to clothing, animals, shoes, bags and more!
The key ingredient mold needs to thrive and grow is moisture and of course a food source.
SOURCES OF MOISTURE
- leaky roofs,
- humidifier which is not regularly cleaned and disinfected,
- damp basements or crawl spaces,
- water leaks,
- house plants and their debris,
- steam from cooking and showers,
- wet clothes hung to dry indoors,
- inadequate air exchange,
- excess humidity, and
- condensation, especially in winter, on poorly insulated surfaces.
When mold spores settle on surfaces where there is excessive moisture, such as where leakage may have occurred in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or where there has been flooding, the spores will start growing and spreading. In other words, mold can be controlled because we know that it will only proliferate in the presence of moisture. Control moisture and you can prevent mold. Maintaining an interior humidity level of between 35 to 50% will prevent mold growth.
SOURCES OF FOOD
Mold can use a wide variety of materials as food source: wood & wood products; paper and other paper products like cardboard and wallpaper; leather; fabric and upholstery; grout; painted walls; cement; plaster (drywall); ceiling tiles; insulation materials; and carpet.
Like a parasite, mold will continue to thrive as long as there is an ample food source and most importantly a source of moisture. With this in mind, the first line of defense against mold growth is to prevent excessive moisture and dampness.
WHY ARE WE CONCERNED?
- If and when mold is disturbed, spores are instantly made airborne increasing the likelihood of you breathing it in.
- While some people are not affected by mold spores, others sharing the same environment infested with mold can have severe reactions.
- Mold spore exposure can cause adverse health effects in immune compromised individuals.
- Individuals sensitive to mold exposure can suffer from nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing and more.
- People with chronic illnesses, such as asthma or obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.
- Allergic reactions, similar to common pollen or animal allergies, are the most common health effects in individuals sensitive to mold. Flu-like symptoms and skin rashes can also occur.
In addition to the health concerns, it is also important to realize that like a parasite mold will continue to feed on it’s host, causing significant structural concerns.
SEVEN TIPS TO DETECTING MOLD
- Search For Mold: Check for visible signs of mold growth. Molds may appear in colors such as gray, white, black, or green. Black mold, stachybotris, is especially dangerous.
- Smell: A mildewy or moldy smell is a strong indication that mold is present.
- Flooding or Indoor Leaks: If you experienced flooding or found a leak that has not been fixed for some time, there is a strong possibility that you will have mold growth because mold thrives in moisture.
- Winter Mist: Generally when it’s cold, there is an excess in moisture. Excess humidity in the environment can cause mold growth. Ice Damning issues are a concern.
- DIY Kit: Use a Do It Yourself Kit to test for mold only after you have done a thorough visual investigation.
- Hidden Molds: Hidden molds are particularly hard to find. However, if you smell a stale mildewy odor or have allergic symptoms when close to a source with no visual mold, this may be a clue that there is a hidden mold source.
- Hire A Professional: We strongly recommend that you hire a Certified Inspector to determine if you have a mold issue. Professionals follow a set procedure which starts with an interview to learn more about the building history, moisture readings to determine if there is a source of moisture required for mold growth, and visual inspections. During the meeting, the inspector may even recommend thermal imaging if an identifiable moisture source is not present, but mold is detected. Other recommendations may include a swab test, tape sample, or air quality test to determine the type of mold and spore count present. Ultimately, the goal of the mold inspection is to determine the extent of the mold problem so recommendations can be made to bring the fungal ecology to a healthy level.
What Causes Mold Growth? Mold needs two key ingredients to grow: moisture and a food source. To prevent mold growth, the first line of defense is to prevent excess moisture and dampness.
Why Should I Be Concerned? Two key reasons. First, health…mold causes sickness. Second, structural…like a parasite, mold will continue to feed on it’s host causing structural integrity concerns and reduce the value of the property.
How Can I Detect It? Mold can be detected through smell, visual clues, and knowledge of the building history, ie. was there a flood or indoor leak. DIY kits are available, though we strongly recommend that the advice of a professional be sought because they have specialized tools and knowledge. The primary concern of all Mold Inspection professionals is to first identify the cause of the mold growth, ie. the source of moisture, and then make recommendations on how to remove the mold after the moisture problem has been fixed.
If you have questions or have a concern about a potential mold problem, call us toll free, 1-888-909-6653 or use the form below.
— #GotMold?™ (@gotmoldglobal) August 1, 2014