Learn how to detect signs of mold and what to do if you find it in your home.
Mold can grow on any surface or substance when moisture is present and reproduces through spores, which are carried in the air. Many times after a home has experienced flooding or water damage, mold can grow if the areas are not thoroughly cleaned, dried and properly repaired in a timely manner.
Where Does Mold Come From?
Mold grows when these conditions are present: moisture/humidity, adequate oxygen flow, a food source (such as wood or drywall), warm temperatures (between 70 and 90 degrees) and dark or dimly-lit areas. Moisture is the main catalyst for mold and it can start growing as soon as 24 to 48 hours under the right conditions. That’s why after water damage or flooding has occurred, it’s essential to address it immediately; otherwise you may end up dealing with mold remediation. Mold can be found in water damaged areas such as ceilings, drywall, areas prone to leaks, condensation or that are damp and poorly ventilated (think: bathrooms, basements and under sinks).
Mold is easily detectable and usually appears in a cluster on a surface. It can be green, yellow, white or black – which is the most hazardous type – and usually indoor mold grows in a tree-like pattern. However, some molds may not be as easily detected and could be hidden in areas that aren’t noticed by the human eye, such as behind walls or on pipes under floors.
Mold has a distinct damp, musty smell and if you can’t visually identify the mold, you can usually smell it.
Exposure to indoor mold can cause upper respiratory tract symptoms, allergies, coughing/wheezing and a range of other health effects, which will vary depending on an individual’s sensitivity to specific types of mold. Prolonged exposure can be particularly harmful and result in long-term negative effects.
If you suspect you have a mold problem that can’t be easily remedied with do-it-yourself methods (cleaning with bleach, reducing humidity, etc.), it’s best to call a mold remediation specialist. If you’ve experienced flooding or water damage, you’ll need to first have flood/water cleanup performed which will include water removal, drying the impacted area and, in some cases, demolition of drywall or severely damaged areas.
Identifying the source of moisture is the first step of the mold remediation process. Equipment such as a moisture meter, humidity gauge or a borescope may be used to help find the source. Once the professionals assess the extent of the mold growth, contamination and/or damage, it can be cleaned and treated with commercial detergents that physically remove mold and include an EPA-approved antifungal agent. Some other methods of removal include using a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) vacuum or wet vacuum for water removal and drying, sanding/dry brushing or dry-ice blasting, which removes mold from wood and cement. Prevention is also a big part of remediation – whether it’s a cleaning company that specializes in fabric restoration, mold spore removal and odor treatment.
The information and advice contained in this article is intended as a general guide for informational purposes only. It does not take into account your personal situation. While we at Resolve have significant experience and history operating in the home restoration industry and working closely with construction contractors, we are not licensed as a general or specialty contractor. We encourage you to consider the information we’ve provided but urge you not to rely upon it in place of appropriate professional advice from a licensed, experienced construction contractor.