Mold is a common problem in many households. Experts estimate that nearly 70% of homes have mold, whether that be behind the walls or in a visible spot. This can be frightening because the health implications of long-time exposure to mold are serious.
Mold can grow on walls, ceilings, floors, and other surfaces, and it can cause respiratory problems, allergies, and other health issues. In this article, we’ll explore some simple steps you can take to reduce mold appearance in your household.
What Mold Can Be In Your Home
We may associate mold with rotting things and homes that are overly messy, however, it’s a common issue in more households than we realize. If we look specifically at the type of mold that can grow in your walls and other surfaces within your home, three main types of mold cause the most problems.
- Cladosporium – You can usually spot this mold on wood, carpets, heating ducts, and fabrics. It can be black, green, or brown.
- Penicillium – Keep an eye out for this yellow, green, or blue mold if you’ve had any water damage. It’s most often found under carpets and in insulation.
- Aspergillus – This type of mold is likely what you imagine when you think of mold on food. It can be green, white, or gray and look almost fuzzy. It’s also found on fabrics and walls.
- Stachybotrys Chartarum – When people say “black mold” this is what they mean. It’s a slimy, dark green or black mold that grows in areas with high humidity and is highly toxic.
While these are the most common, several other types of mold may become an issue depending on the environment in your home.
Why Mold Appearance Matters
You may be thinking: if mold is so common, can it be that bad? The short answer is yes. While many people simply keep an eye out for black mold – which we all agree is toxic – in reality, any kind of mold can quickly become a problem if left unchecked.
Mold appearance can have serious health implications, particularly for individuals with respiratory problems or weakened immune systems. You are at greater risk if you
- Are asthmatic
- Have respiratory allergies
- Have a weakened immune system
- Are elderly
Mold has also been linked to health issues and even death for young children and babies.
It’s possible to have mold in your home for years without having any negative effects, but the longer it goes untreated the more dangerous it becomes and the harder it is to deal with.
Symptoms of mold exposure include:
- Allergy-like symptoms, such as a runny nose and watery eyes
- Respiratory problems
- Irritated skin or rash
If you suspect you may have mold in your home, you should contact a professional to have it properly tested and removed.
How Mold Grows
Mold grows in damp, humid environments. It thrives in areas with poor ventilation and can quickly spread if left untreated. Mold can grow on any surface, including walls, ceilings, floors, and furniture.
Mold starts with spores, little particles that travel through the air and latch onto surfaces. They can enter your home through open windows and doors or can be brought in on clothing and pets. Once a spore has found a suitable place to grow, it will need three things:
- Moisture – Mold can grow in any area of your home with high humidity or that is prone to flooding.
- Food – Mold feeds off of organic matter such as wood, paper, and drywall.
- Darkness – Mold loves dark, damp places, so it’s important to keep your home well-ventilated.
The biggest factor in mold growth is continuous moisture. If your home has been flooded, or moist areas like bathrooms don’t have good ventilation, you can expect to see some form of mold.
While mold can grow anywhere within your house, there are a few specific places you’ll want to keep an eye out for it. Anywhere with regular moisture or condensation such as around the sink, toilet, bathtub, or shower can become a breeding ground for spores. Leaky pipes and windows can also lead to excess moisture and mold.
The places in your home that you don’t spend a lot of time in, and that might have older materials stored in them, are also great places for mold to take hold. This includes basements, attics, and crawl spaces.
Mold doesn’t only grow on walls and ceilings. It can also be found on materials such as fabric, carpet, paper, insulation, and even dust. When in doubt, you can always test for mold or call an expert.
Spotting Mold in Your Home
The early stages of mold growth are critical if you want to stop it from growing out of control. It can be a challenge to tell if something is truly molding, or simply a stain.
Some ways to spot the difference include:
- Checking for a musty, earthy smell
- Cracking, peeling, or warping of the material
- A source of moisture and lack of light
- Discoloration or signs of discoloration
Remember: mold will continue to grow and spread, but dirt won’t. Keep a close eye on new marks and dark spots in your home.
How to Reduce Mold Appearance in Your Household
Reducing mold appearance in your household involves identifying and addressing the root cause of the problem. Here are some steps you can take to reduce mold appearance in your household:
Keep Your Home Dry
Mold needs moisture to grow, so keeping your home dry is the first step to reducing mold appearance. Fix any leaks in your roof or plumbing, and make sure your home is properly ventilated. Use dehumidifiers in areas with high humidity, such as basements and bathrooms.
To prevent the growth of black mold, in particular, you never want the humidity within your home to rise above 50%. You can use a meter to keep an eye on this throughout the day.
Clean Up Spills and Water Damage Quickly
If you experience a spill or water damage, clean it up quickly to prevent mold growth. Use a wet vacuum or mop to clean up spills, and use a fan or dehumidifier to dry the area.
If there’s flooding within your home that you can not dry for longer than 24 hours, you should assume there is mold starting to grow.
Use Mold-Resistant Products
Using mold-resistant products can help reduce mold appearance in your household. Look for paint, drywall, and other building materials that are specifically designed to resist mold growth. You can also add mold inhibitors to a paint that doesn’t have them, allowing you to keep any space safe without sacrificing your style.
Keep The Air Flowing
Because mold travels with spores, having proper ventilation within your home is vital. Having a fan in your kitchen and bathroom that takes air outside the home can make a huge difference, as well as having your clothes dryer push air outside.
Certain air purifiers can catch spores and prevent mold from spreading. Airfree’s filterless air purifiers protect your home and respiratory system without the need for filters, reducing the cost and the chance of forgetting to replace them.
Regular cleaning can help prevent mold growth. When you tidy, pay special attention to areas with high moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens. You can use mold-killing products in these areas as a preventative measure.
Ensure that any mold on food or other surfaces is quickly cleaned up and removed from your home to stop it before it spreads. You can use a solution of bleach and water to clean moldy surfaces and wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from exposure. If there has been flooding, you must get your surfaces clean and dry within 24 hours.
Remove Moldy Materials
If you have moldy materials in your home, such as carpets or furniture, it’s best to remove them. Mold can spread quickly, and it’s difficult to remove from porous materials like carpets and upholstery.
It’s a good idea to avoid using carpet and upholstery in areas that are susceptible to mold like bathrooms and basements. This way, if there is any water damage or moisture build-up you have less of a chance of mold build-up and an easier cleanup.
Dealing With Present Mold
If you find you already have mold growing in your home, you must act fast. Mold, like other fungus, grows by decomposing what it’s on. This means that the longer it is allowed to grow, the more structural damage will be done to your home, on top of the health risks.
Chances are, if you catch the mold growth early, you will be able to handle the clean-up on your own with some bleach or borax. If it covers a space smaller than a 3 ft by 3ft square, you’re good to go. However, if the mold has spread more than that, you’ll need to call in a professional.
Other reasons a contractor or expert may be necessary include:
- Mold in the HVAC system
- Water damage caused by contaminated water like sewage
- If you’re experiencing health issues due to the mold
No matter what, make sure you are limiting your exposure to mold spores by using protective equipment like a mask and gloves when dealing with the growth.
Reducing mold appearance in your household is important for your health and well-being. By keeping your home dry, cleaning up spills and water damage quickly, using mold-resistant products, cleaning regularly, and removing moldy materials, you can reduce the risk of mold growth in your home.
If you’re concerned about mold appearance in your household, it’s important to seek professional help to identify and address the root cause of the problem.