What Are the Signs of a Mold Infestation?
Updated: Apr 25
Mold isn’t always obvious. It often grows hidden in attics, air ducts, and other places that you’d never expect. But even if you can’t see it, mold can still be dangerous. Some strains of mold are even toxic to humans, and can cause serious health problems. Do you know how to tell if there is mold in your home? Here are some of the signs that mean your house or apartment has a mold infestation.
How to Tell If There Is Mold in Your Home
Wondering whether that dark patch on the ceiling is actually mold? Have you been noticing a strange new odor in your laundry room? Do you have constant congestion or a mysterious skin rash?
The three main signs of indoor mold are:
Discolored Walls or Ceilings
What Does Mold Smell Like?
If there's a funky, dirty-gym-socks sort of smell in your basement, bathroom, or garage, it might be coming from mold. Musty odors are often the first sign of a mold infestation. Sometimes it smells stale, like a stuffy attic, or damp, like a leaky basement. Some types of mold give off an “earthy” odor, and others smell like rotting wood.
What Does Mold Look Like?
Hopefully, you’ll never see mold growing on your drywall or underneath your carpet. By the time mold is visible, it has spread enough to mean that you’re dealing with a serious infestation. Besides being a health hazard, significant amounts of mold can also be a sign of structural damage.
Mold can be fuzzy, slimy, or powdery, and any number of colors—from black and white to green or blue or orange. In fact, “black mold” isn’t usually black at all, but more of a dark brown or dark green. Mold usually shows up as spots or splotches that look like stains, but if you wash the surface and the stains return, they are probably part of a mold colony.
What Are the Signs of Mold Exposure?
Everyone reacts to mold differently, and some people don’t have any reaction at all. Allergy symptoms are one of the most common signs of mold exposure, as about 1 in every 4 people is allergic to mold. Common cold symptoms like sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, and runny nose that never seem to go away could be due to mold exposure.
People with asthma can have more frequent attacks if they are exposed to mold. In other people, mold exposure can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, and even anxiety or depression. Body aches, dizziness, brain fog, and nausea can all be symptoms of mold illness as well.
Why Indoor Mold Is Dangerous
Mold spreads very quickly—it can start to spawn in as little as 24 hours, sending its spores into the air through the HVAC system, and all over the rest of your home. All it needs to grow is a comfortable temperature, a little moisture or humidity, and something organic to feed on, like dust, wood, or paper.
How Easily Can Mold Grow Indoors?
Mold grows best at temperatures between 60º F and 80º F, the same temperatures that humans find most comfortable. It also likes humidity, so any parts of your house that get a lot of steam or condensation (like bathrooms or basements) can easily fall victim to mold.
The number one cause of indoor mold is water damage. Floods, broken gutters, leaky roofs, cracked foundations, burst pipes, and dripping faucets can all attract mold. If your home has suffered any type of water damage, you should schedule a mold inspection.
How Harmful Is Mold Exposure?
Prolonged exposure to mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma attacks, depression, and many other serious health problems. It can also complicate illnesses like pneumonia or cystic fibrosis, making them worse and sometimes even fatal.
Mold is especially dangerous to infants and the elderly, as well as people with compromised immune systems, organ transplants, chronic sinus infections, or respiratory infections. The more mold there is in your home, and the longer you are exposed to its spores, the more dangerous it becomes.
What Types of Mold Are Dangerous?
Some common types of mold are relatively harmless, but certain strains, like aspergillus fumigatus and stachybotrys chartarum (aka black mold), are toxic to humans. If toxic mold spores get inside your body, they can cause serious health problems. Sometimes, they can even be deadly.
Professional mold testing can tell you what strains of mold you’re dealing with, and help your doctor make the correct diagnosis. Don’t rely on DIY mold test kits—they only measure airborne spores, and are unreliable when it comes to determining whether there are any toxic molds in your home that could pose health hazards.
Request a Free Mold Inspection Today
Mold often grows hidden inside of walls, attic insulation, or HVAC ducts, and sometimes it takes a professional inspection to detect it. If you suspect that you have mold in your home, schedule a free, onsite inspection from My Pure Environment today. We’ll investigate your home inside and out, from top to bottom, and let you know whether or not we recommend further testing or remediation services.
Give us a call today!
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Photo by michael schaffler on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 1/11/2023.