Mold is a type of fungus that grows through spores when the conditions are right. These hair-like bodies thrive in dark, moist, warm environments. One square inch of mold can hold 10 million spores. Minor visible mold on the outside of drywall may be several times greater on the inside of the wall cavity where it grows much more rapidly. Whenever there is water damage, there is a high potential for mold to grow. Mold may look slimy or fuzzy. It appears in many different colors including gray, green, blue, brown, black, and white.
Mold and Health Problems
Black mold is a greenish black fungus that is most commonly found in flood-damaged buildings. This toxic mold produces mycotoxins that are associated with some serious health problems including allergies, respiratory problems, mental status alterations, skin irritations, headaches, sore throats, coughing or fatigue. In high enough concentrations whether they are “toxic” or not, all forms of mold are known to cause health problems.
Mold and Structural Damage in the Home
Although mold growth does not cause structural damage, the same conditions that promote the growth of mold can cause decay fungi to rot wooden structures. Decay fungi spores, moisture, food, and temperatures over 40 degrees are all it takes for the rot process to begin. More of a problem in Northern climates, rot generally occurs in crawlspaces around floor joists, girders, and sill plates. Essentially rot makes the entire floor framing system under your house vulnerable as well as difficult and expensive to repair.
Signs, Causes and Location of Mold in Your Home
Mold is a common occurrence with water leaks, roof leaks, burst pipes, sewage backups, and inside shower curtains, HVAC air ducts and vents. If you find mold growing on ceilings, walls, baseboards or furnishings, have ceiling discoloration, or notice a musty or rotten odor, it is likely that you have a mold problem that should be evaluated by professionals.
Roof Leaks, Mold Growth and Your Attic
Leaks in the roof can contribute to mold growth. Water from a leaking roof is rapidly absorbed into the various roof layers. From there, the water can seep into insulation or plywood where mold can easily grow and spread.
Mold can also reside within objects in your attic. If you use your attic space for storage, you’ll want to make sure you regularly check this space for water leaks and mold growth. Mold spores can be transported when moving objects in and out of attic storage. The best way to see if you have a potential mold issue is to have your roof and gutters inspected from the outside of your home, and have the attic space (especially the insulation and ventilation) inspected from the inside of the home.
Mold Growth from Poor Ventilation
Warm, damp air from kitchens and baths circulates throughout your home. When ventilation is restricted, pockets of moist air can get trapped, providing an ideal environment for the growth of mold and fungi. Regular use of installed exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms are helpful for improving circulation of warm moist air. These may prevent a problem with mold and mildew.
Mold Growth from Leaking Windows
Small cracks in the window seals and around window casements can allow rain and humidity to enter your home and cause water damage and mold growth. Small organic particles can live on glass where mold can also grow. Scraping mold off the surface of the glass will cause a release of mold spores into the air. Mold cleanup should always be done by trained and certified professionals who will properly contain the mold and prevent its spread. Keeping window seals and casements in good repair is highly recommended. In older properties, window replacement may be the best solution for leaking windows.
Consequences of an Untreated Mold Infestation
When left unaddressed, mold quickly gets worse as mold growth rapidly replicates. The costs of replacing building structures and personal property escalates with progressive damage. Mold-related health problems become more troublesome with negative impacts on work, school and overall quality of life. But nowhere is the financial cost greater than the decline in property value. Except at discount prices appealing to a limited group of investors, a mold-infested property is extremely difficult to sell.
What to Do When Mold is Present
For the safety of your family, removing people and pets from the area of concern is your first recommended action. Contain the mold by turning off heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. This will prevent dispersing mold spores through HVAC systems into other locations. Avoid handling or disturbing the mold or attempting to clean it up with disinfectants or bleach.
When a mold infestation of any type is present, mold remediation by certified and experienced professionals is the only way to effectively and safely remove the mold, prevent its spread and restore your property to its pre-loss condition. Once mold removal is properly achieved, methods to restore air quality and eliminate sources of the mold problem are an important part of restoring your home.
When Mold is Visible or a Mold Problem is Suspected…
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