Most people understand that mold has the potential to be dangerous, but they may underestimate how common mold actually is.
Is there a possibility that some type of mold is already in your house? The answer is yes, but mold is a more complicated phenomenon than it first appears to be.
The Basics of Mold
Mold is a type of fungi that originates from spores; spores contain genetic material, not unlike seeds, and when they meet in an ideal environment, two spores can meet to produce the beginnings of a new mold organism. There are actually many different species of mold, some of which you’re already familiar with if you’ve ever left food in your refrigerator for too long.
Because there are so many different types of mold, it’s hard to say whether or not mold itself is a problem. Some species of mold are mostly innocuous, and won’t even harm you if you consume it. Some species of mold are much more potentially dangerous. All species of mold can be a problem if you happen to be allergic to them; this is especially true if mold spores get into the air and, eventually, into your lungs.
If you have a mold problem, it’s best to seek the help of a mold remediation expert. Mold remediation experts can help you determine the extent of your mold infestation, the potential hazards at play with this type of mold, and the best course of action for getting rid of the mold, if necessary. You can try to tackle the mold problem yourself, but if you don’t eliminate the problem in full, the mold may return in short order.
When Is Mold a Problem?
You don’t have to call a mold remediation specialist because a container of yogurt in your fridge started growing. Instead, mold remediation becomes necessary when you have a mold problem that threatens your health or the structural integrity of your building.
In most cases, this means that the mold problem is so extensive it’s eating away at the inside of the house or it’s beginning to trigger allergy symptoms in one or more of the people living in the house.
It’s also important to take mold seriously as a potential problem. If you have extensive flooding or water damage, it’s important to clean and dry the affected areas as thoroughly as possible before mold ever has a chance to develop.
How to Prevent Mold
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to prevent mold from growing in your home.
- Fix leaks immediately. If and when you experience leaks in your house, address them immediately. Track down the root cause of each problem, replace shingles, repair plumbing, and take other measures to avoid any lingering water damage in your building. In some cases, you may be able to fix the leak yourself, but in most cases, it’s better to handle a pro. Not only will they perform a faster and more reliable job of fixing the leak, but they may also help you understand the full extent of the water damage – and whether mold is a risk.
- Ventilate damp areas. Areas that tend to be damp, like bathrooms and kitchens, should be adequately ventilated. This is especially true if you’re engaging in an activity that generates steam, like showering. When you’re using them, turn on the fans and/or keep the windows open.
- Control humidity as best you can. Make an effort to control the humidity with a dehumidifier. This is especially important for damp areas like basements and in the aftermath of a water issue.
- Thoroughly clean and dry after leaks or flooding. If your home suffers water damage from leaking or flooding, get it clean and get it dry as soon as possible. This usually requires hiring a water damage remediation specialist. The first phase is to pump out all the standing water. Then, your priority is drying the area with equipment and towels. After that, it’s important to set up dehumidifiers and run them continuously to remove any final traces of moisture from the area.
Signs of Mold
There are several signs that mold could be hiding in your house, including:
- A bad smell. If there is mold hiding in the walls of your house, you may notice a foul, rotten smell emanating from them. The only other place you might smell something like this is your kitchen (if you’re not in the habit of throwing out your old food in a timely manner).
- Spotting. You may also notice various instances of spotting on your clothes, on your carpets, and on other surfaces. Mold spores may be black, brown, green, or some combination of other colors; if they’re distributed throughout your home via air redistribution, they can show up on virtually anything.
- Allergies. If anyone in your home is even mildly allergic to mold or mold spores, they’ll likely begin showing allergic symptoms when the problem reaches a certain point. These symptoms typically include things like congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, headaches, tension, and in some cases, even vomiting. In very rare cases of extreme allergic reactions, anaphylaxis is possible.
- Warping walls. Warping or buckling in your walls is a sign of significant water damage. It could also be a sign that mold is lurking (especially if that water damage has been there for some time).
- A cough that won’t go away. A cough that won’t go away could also be a sign of a reaction to mold.
- Headaches and sleeping problems. Some people living in the house with mold also experience headaches and sleeping problems.
If you’ve recently had water damage or flooding, it’s important to take care of it as soon as possible to avoid the propagation of mold. If you suspect you have a mold problem, it’s best to hire a mold or remediation specialist to discuss your options moving forward.
While in many cases, small patches of mold and surface mildew aren’t a problem for your health, it’s important to take this potential problem seriously.