Is it or isn’t it mold? And if it is, what are the dangers? Could it be a sign of larger problems with the home? What are my next steps? Can it be cleaned up? How quickly does the problem need to be addressed? What can I do to prevent future concerns?
These are just some of the questions that confront people who encounter what appears to be mold in a home. Whether you’re a homeowner, a home seller or a potential home buyer, the bottom line is this: Your best bet is to hire a professional to help you make the right decisions—and provide you with peace of mind.
In one scenario, a real estate agent checking out a new listing smelled trouble in the basement: piles of rotting books so decayed that some fell apart when touched. Before making any assumptions about the proper course of action, a certified mold inspector was brought in to assess the extent of the problem. The voluminous collection of paperbacks was quickly removed. Then the entire area was scrubbed clean. Other steps, such as running a dehumidifier, were taken to prevent the problem from reoccurring. This story is important to remember in area’s that experience a high degree of rain and humidity. Warmer weather ushers in the potential for rapid growth of mold. Indoor air specialists and mold experts, known as mycologists, warn that this problem should never be neglected.
Here are five points to consider:
No Area of the Home Is Safe:
Wherever these four factors are present – dampness, mold spores, warm temperatures, and organic material (mold food, such as books, drywall, or wallpaper) – mold can find a place to flourish. Inside a home, that means basements, shower grouting, walls, sink areas, ceilings, floors, doors, furniture, insulation, air ducts, carpet, air conditioners, attics, leaky pipes, the roof – you name it.
How Does Mold Get Inside?
With warmer weather comes more open windows and doors. Mold can also gain passage through vents and air conditioning systems. Further, spores like to hitch rides on family members and pets, clinging to bags, purses, clothing, and shoes.
Is It Mold? Use Your Eyes and Nose:
Airborne mold spores are invisible to the naked eye. When growing, mold often appears as dots in various colors, including white, green, brown, black, or gray. Mold often emits a strong, musty odor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should take steps to clean up any mold problem as soon as possible. A professional mold remediation specialist should be brought in when the problem is extensive and mycotoxins are involved.
Mold Can Make You Sick:
Some individuals are particularly sensitive to mold exposure. Symptoms, such as eye and skin irritation, headaches, coughing, and sinus issues, can result. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions, and exposure to toxins may pose even greater health risks. In the most extreme cases, excessive mold growth can render a home uninhabitable.
Visit https://www.epa.gov/mold for more information. There Are Steps You Can Take to Control Mold: It is not possible to completely eliminate mold spores floating indoors.
However, as recommended by the “CDC”, there are measures you can take to mitigate the problem:
• Control humidity levels
• Fix leaky roofs, windows, and pipes
• Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products
• Ventilate shower, laundry, and cooking areas
• Dry or remove items damaged by water
It’s also useful to have a quality electrostatic filter on the return of your HVAC systems. The CDC cautions to always carefully follow manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or other cleaning products. When cleaning an area yourself, experts strongly encourage wearing gloves, non-ventilated goggles, and a mask.
Know When It’s Time to Call an Inspector:
A mold inspection can give you the peace of mind of knowing if a home is affected. Through methods such as air spore sampling or direct culture testing, licensed and certified mold inspectors can assess the extent of the problem before it worsens. Also, hiring a home inspector to check for after-winter damage, such as leaky roofs, is another good way to stay ahead of the situation.