Mold F.A.Qs

Mold can be hazardous to your health if not taken care of. Here are some frequently asked questions about mold.

Q: Why does mold grow in homes or buildings?

Mold is a fungus that is found in nature and is necessary to breakdown dead matter. These micro-organisms can enter a building by their spores being carried in on something or directly through the air. In a home, mold is usually found growing on wood, upholstery, wallpaper, drapes, carpeting, ceiling tiles, and drywall (gypsum, sheetrock, plaster).

The key factor to mold growth is moisture. This is the main component this fungus needs to grow, and as a result, the most common places that mold are found are in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens.

In buildings, moisture can be present due to flooding, leaks in the roof or plumbing, showers, cooking facilities, too much humidity, and sealed buildings that do not allow excess moisture to escape.

Q: What are some types of mold?

While it is cool to be able to identify what mold is present in your property, it isn’t necessary. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that all molds should be treated the same when it comes to health risk and removal.

Here are some of the common types found in buildings:
Stachybotrys chartarum
Aspergillus sp.
Penicillium sp.
Fusarium sp.
Trichoderma sp.
Memnoniella sp.
Cladosporum sp.
Alternaria sp.

Q: How does mold cause health problems?

Just because a property has mold doesn’t mean that the health problems will also occur. However, if you inhale the fungus or parts of it, it can lead to health problems or make pre-existing health problems worse. Also, many of these molds make mycotoxins. These are by-products from the molds that have been established toxic to humans. These toxins can slowly wear down the immune system and can lead to respiratory problems.

Here are the most common symptoms: headaches, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, eye irritation, nasal congestion or runny nose, asthma flare ups, and coughing.

Molds can also make allergies much worse, such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing. People recovering from surgery are also more susceptible to health issues from mold.

Q: How can I prevent mold contamination?

Mold can grow practically anywhere as long as moisture is present. Essentially you will want to keep the relative humidity between 30% and 50%.

These steps can also help: use a dehumidifier, vent showers to the outside, insulate cold surfaces to prevent condensation, use exhaust fans when cooking, washing dishes, or doing laundry, clean up spills or floods immediately, do not install carpeting around sinks, bathtubs, or showers, and keep your HVAC system in good working order.

Q: What should I look for when inspecting my home for mold?

A visual inspection is the most reliable method to identify any type of mold on your property. The most common signs of water damage is discoloration and staining. Usually, mold will appear as a dark spot, a stain, or a patch. If you find a spot that looks like it could be mold, put a small amount of chlorine bleach on it. If the color changes or disappears, then it is likely mold.

When inspecting your property, make sure to check these areas:
-Ceiling tiles
-Wallpaper, walls, drywall
-Flooring
-Window sill
-Insulation
-Carpeting
-Behind duct work
-Furniture
-Cardboard or paper products

Also, you should look for standing water, which could be underneath sinks, tubs, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and refrigerators. Surface sampling can be done by scraping or swiping the suspected spots if needed, but this should be done by a professional.

When looking for a mold remediation company to help you through this time, make sure that they are experienced, qualified, and certified.

Other helpful resources:
National Association of Realtors

CDC – Mold