It has a very distinct look and smell, but it’s not always something that homeowners catch when it’s invading their home—despite the dangers that it can pose for the health and safety of a homeowner’s family and him/herself. We’re talking about mold, and while there is not much you can do to avoid it entirely, there are things you can do to be aware of the dangers and be vigilant about removing it if and when it does get inside your house.
How Mold Gets Into Your Home
Even the cleanest and most well-kept homes are still in danger of mold damage, and the reason is that mold is just about everywhere. It is exceptionally adapted to growth, which means that just a single mold spore that gets into the house can quickly multiply into a colony. Tests in all kinds of houses show mold spores in places that range from the walls, floors, and ceilings to ductwork in your heating and air conditioning system. Once inside, it can spread from room to room and requires only a little bit of moisture, oxygen, and a source of food (often readily available in the dust particles that are circulating through your home) to grow.
The Health Consequences
Mold can have some serious health consequences for you and your family. In its mildest form, mold allergies might seem like a minor cold or seasonal allergies, with coughing, sneezing, and itchy/watery eyes. In more serious cases, though, mold can trigger asthma attacks and cause serious respiratory distress. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cautions that all molds can potentially cause health problems, the severity of which are dependent on the type of mold and your own person allergen sensitivities.
Beyond cold and flu-like symptoms, mold can also cause muscle and joint pain, fatigue, headache, visual problems, digestion issues, shortness of breath, and more, but it can go undiagnosed for months or even years, especially in homes where the mold is growing out of sight.
The Consequences to Your Home
Mold can grow in visible areas, such as on the walls or floors, a well as in hidden areas such as under the carpet, in the walls, and in the heating and cooling system. This growth is particularly problematic because it may grow unchecked for a significant period of time before you discover and take steps to fix it.
Homes at particular risk of hidden mold growth are those with plumbing problems, which can provide a water source to fuel growth, and since the plumbing is often hidden inside walls and in basements or crawl spaces, it’s hard to detect a minor leak.
Controlling mold requires that you keep moisture levels to a minimum, and regularly check rooms that have higher moisture content in the air, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. It may also grow on appliances that use plumbing, such as the dishwasher, washing machine, or refrigerator.
The first sign is often a musty odor, or in some cases you might see visible discoloration or spots on the surface where it’s growing. Other signs might be health-related, such as wheezing, respiratory issues, coughing, sneezing, and rashes.
In many cases you will not be able to rid your home of mold without the help of a professional mold remediation company. Call to get your home tested and the mold removed, then focus on preventive measures such as installing high-quality air filters, keeping moisture levels down, checking regularly for leaks in the plumbing (even hidden ones), and having your home tested and professionally inspected at least once or twice a year.