You can ignore the dryer buzzer for a few minutes. You can ignore the wall color you absolutely hate. But you can’t (or shouldn’t) ignore mold. Not for a second. Mold can be dangerous to your home and furniture, but more seriously, mold can be dangerous to your health. And because it spreads quickly, it can be difficult to control and eliminate. Ignoring it, even for a day, can be disastrous. Just like you should learn CPR, but hope you never have to use it, you should learn the signs of mold in your home — and hope you never need to use your knowledge.
Mold doesn’t always look like… well, mold. Sometimes, it can look like soot or dirt. It can also be white and thread-like, or clusters of small black spots. It can be black, gray-brown, gray-green, or white. Because its appearance can vary, be vigilant. Pay attention to your home so you can recognize if something unusual pops up.
Of course, other times, mold is very obvious. Keep in mind that a patch of visible mold on one surface can just be the tip of the iceberg as mold can also grow behind surfaces.
If you have dripping water under your sink or a leak somewhere in your home, you need to look for signs of mold, no matter what.
Again, pay attention to your home, and watch for signs of water problems, like:
- Water stains
- Discoloration on floors, ceilings, or walls
- Peeling, bubbling, or cracking of paint or wallpaper
- Bowed walls
- Bulging or warped walls
- Damp walls
If you’ve had past flooding issues in your home, keep an eye on those areas for signs of mold.
Of course, there are countless causes of allergies, but if you’re experiencing allergy symptoms — especially only when you’re at home — you should rule out mold in your house. Symptoms may be sneezing, itchy skin, a runny nose or nasal congestion, and sore eyes. You may even feel lethargic. Pay attention to when you feel these symptoms, and if they’re only happening at home, investigate further. And if multiple people in your home are experiencing the same symptoms, that’s another clue you may have mold.
A Moldy Odor
Let your nose guide the way. One of the most obvious signs of mold is a moldy smell. If you begin smelling a moldy odor, don’t ignore it. Mold typically has a pungent smell. But if you don’t see mold as you smell, it may be hard to recognize the smell for what it is. Remember — if you notice a persistent smell that just seems “off,” sniff it out to find its source. Mold isn’t always visible to the eyes, since it can hide behind walls, so always follow up with a mold inspection.
Signs of high humidity in your home — like condensation on the windows, or a feeling of humidity — can indicate that mold is a potential problem in your home. In general, you should keep the humidity level of your home between 30% and 60%. If you’re concerned, buy a humidity monitor.
If you notice rust on nails or pipes in your home, you may have too much moisture in the home. And where there’s too much moisture, you can often find mold.
What to Do
If you see these signs in your home, get a mold inspection done. You may find out that you have harmless mold, or it may turn out that you’ll need restoration and remodeling work. The cost of the inspection is worth it when you consider the peace of mind you’ll have knowing what you’re dealing with and how to attack it. Some mold can be removed by you, but large areas of mold and certain types of mold will need to be handled by a professional.
Deborah Lamberton is the general manager for New Life Restoration, a 24/7 disaster cleanup company that offers fire & smoke, water & storm damage, mold remediation and more.
Guest Post by Deborah Lamberton