Causes and Health
Risks of Mold in your Home
Do you suspect there may be mold in your home?
You will not necessarily get sick because there is mold in your house, but it can pose some serious health challenges. Molds play an essential role in breaking down plant and animal matter. When found inside your house, they can create a series of health issues that range from mild to severe.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what mold is, the types you’re most likely to find in your house, the potential risks, and some ways you can get rid of them.
1. How Molds Get into Your House
You can find mold outside and inside a home. Outside, where they belong as part of the ecosystem and the fungi family, they break down organic matter and release spores that float through the air. These floating spores can find their way into your home, carried by pets, shoes, and clothes, and wind through your heat and air conditioning vents, windows, and doors. Once in your house, they can latch on to different materials such as wood, paper, carpet, clothing, walls but will not grow, except when the conditions are right. The two most critical requirements for their growth include moisture and dark places or areas with little light. As such, you can find them in sinks, basement, attics, crawl spaces, bathtubs, leaky pipes, showers, and around windows.
2. Different Types Of Mold
Telling what type of mold is in your house can be difficult without testing. Different mold types can grow in the same spot. However, the good thing is that you can get rid of molds without knowing what type they are. Regarding the types of molds you might find in your house, there are two categories: common and uncommon. The common ones include Cladosporium (usually black, green, or white), Penicillium (yellow, green, or blue), and Aspergillus (gray having dark spots and a powdery look, white, and green). The not-so-common ones, which you might also find in your house, include Trichoderma (a creamy-white mold that turns green when releasing spores), Stachybotrys chartarum, or Black Mold (Greenish-black), Aureobasidium (pink with black spots), and Alternaria (white with black spots).
You can find these molds in one or more of the following places: walls, carpets, insulation, basement, attics, dry food items, wood, carpet, fabrics, cooling and heating ducts, fiberboard, paper, gypsum board, things with high cellulose content (black mold), windows, bathrooms, and kitchens.
3. Signs You Might Have Mold In Your House
Typically, when there’s mold in any place, it starts as tiny spots that can sometimes be noticeable, but then it rapidly expands if it’s not handled immediately. As a result, they are harder to spot when they are in places that are hidden or out of the way. As seen above, they can come in different colors, including yellow, green, gray, white, and can be velvety, cottony, or powdery. If you find any spots with these characteristics in your home, you should further investigate it if you’re unsure whether it’s ‘just another’ old stain. Here are some more ways to tell if it is mold.
- Add one drop of bleach. If its color lightens in about one minute, it is mold.
- There are signs of peeling, cracking, or warping in the area or material where you see the spot or mold growing.
- The spot is close to or in an area with moisture and low light conditions.
- There is an earthy, musty smell around the spot.
- Lastly, but not the best option, leave it for a while. Old stains and dirt will not grow, but mold will. If you notice the spots increase in size, it is mold.
4. Health Risks Of Having Mold In Your Home
No one likes to have anything that will make them sick in their homes, so it’s natural to be frightened at the thought of having mold in your house. Yet, the fact that mold is present in your house does not mean you will fall sick. You should note that, however, that if you are exposed to large amounts of mold, you can develop very severe reactions. Typically, the degree of exposure needed for these kinds of reactions can result from workplace or occupational hazards. The conditions for that level of exposure will, most likely, not be present in your home.
Still, you have to be on guard and note that mold can cause health issues and, as such, should be treated immediately if find them in your home. Some of the potential health risks that molds present include allergy-type symptoms, including lung irritation, headaches, skin rash, sore throats, coughing, sneezing and wheezing, eye irritation, runny nose, and nasal congestion. These typically occur when you touch or inhale mold spores. If you have one or a combination of the following conditions, you might be at a higher risk for having certain infections. The conditions include cystic fibrosis, compromised immune system, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), asthma, allergies. Asthmatic patients will need their inhalers to manage symptoms of an allergic reaction to mold that triggers an attack.
5. How To Treat Mold-Induced Nasal And Sinus Symptoms
If you find yourself with mild to moderate mold-induced nasal and sinus symptoms, you can get some of these over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to relieve the symptoms.
- Nasal rinse
- Nasal sprays with corticosteroids
However, if you notice severe symptoms, you should see a doctor.
6. How To Prevent Mold From Growing In Your Home
As stated above, the two most critical conditions for mold to grow in a home are moisture and low light (or darkness). So, if you can eliminate these two conditions, you can prevent a mold infestation. You might not be able to rid your home of mold entirely because of how it is transported into houses, but you can ensure it cannot thrive by doing some of the following:
- Remove existing carpets from rooms such as basements, laundry rooms, or bathrooms where there is commonly dampness.
- Ensure your house is well ventilated. As much as you can, ensure that exhaust fans vent outside. When taking a bath or showering, open windows or use exhaust fans.
- Ensure low humidity conditions in your home. You can do this with dehumidifiers and air conditioners. As often as required, service air conditioners and change filters.
- Moisture often collects on window frames and sills when there are leaks, or you have sweaty windows. So, fix any leaks or replace the window entirely.
- Repair any water leaks you have in your house immediately. Ensure everywhere is dry, using fans to dry any area where you might have experienced water leakage.
- Ensure your water drainage system works appropriately, expelling water as necessary to prevent dampness or wet areas in your house.
- Do not turn your washing machine or laundry hamper into a store for wet clothes or towels. Do not pile up wet clothes.
- If you find mold, use mold-killing cleaning products to eliminate it. Dry out your shower curtains and wipe down your tiles.
7. How To Get Rid Of Mold If You Find It In Your Home
The above list helps you prevent mold in your home. What if you already have it in your house? You will need to get rid of it. You can eliminate most cases of mold yourself without calling for the experts. You’ll need soap and water, commercial products for removing mold, and a bleach-water solution containing 8 ounces of bleach per gallon of water.
Here are a few things to get done before you start cleaning:
- Open all your windows.
- Avoid mixing bleach with ammonia or any other cleaners. The resulting fumes can be toxic.
- Protect your eyes, nose, mouth, and hands with protective eyewear, a face mask, and nonporous gloves. You can use an N-95 respirator in place of a face mask.
After protecting yourself,
- Scrub the mold off surfaces using a brush and the cleaning solution you have prepared. Make sure you eliminate everything.
- You might need to throw out porous materials, including carpets, ceiling tiles, or furniture, if affected.
- Avoid caulking or painting, until you’re 100% sure the mold is gone, and the area is totally dry.
In some cases, however, you might need the services of professional contractors who have the experience required to remove mold safely. Some of these cases include
- A mold infestation where you have a large amount of mold or where the mold is difficult to reach.
- You have a high risk of contracting an infection from mold spores.
- There has been severe water damage in your home.
If you find yourself in such situations, call for the experts at once.
In conclusion, you should get rid of mold immediately if you notice it in your home. This doesn’t mean you will have health problems once there’s mold in your house, but you could, and it can damage your home or property. With a few house maintenance chores, you will be able to rid your home of mold in some instances. Beyond these, you will need expert help to remove all the mold. If you live in the Greensboro area, the experts at Greensboro Mold Remediation, Inc can assist you. Don’t attempt mold removal yourself if you have health complications that put you at risk or the mold appears in some difficult to reach places in your home.