7 Signs You Have Mold Growth in Plumbing & Why Remove It

by | May 23, 2024 | Mold | 0 comments

Mold growth in homes and other buildings is a common problem. Because mold grows best in moist environments, it’s no surprise that one of the most common places to find indoor mold is around pipes and plumbing fixtures. 

 

It’s less common for mold to grow in the interiors of water pipes and filters. That’s because, in addition to moisture, mold also requires adequate oxygen and a food source to survive, and water pipes generally don’t have enough of either. But it can and does happen, so it’s important to be aware of the signs so you can prevent further growth and avoid any potential health risks.

 

Keep reading to find out how you can identify a mold issue in your plumbing and what to do if you find it!

Signs of Mold in Pipes and Plumbing

water dripping from a faucet in the kitchen

1. A Musty Odor When Running Water

The smell of mold is pretty distinctive. It’s often described as “musty” or “earthy,” and this odor is typically one of the first signs of mold in homes and commercial buildings. If you notice a persistent musty or moldy smell when you run water, around plumbing fixtures, or in enclosed spaces like bathrooms and powder rooms, it could be an indication of mold in water pipes and other plumbing.

2. Visible Buildup

Keep an eye out for visible mold growing around your pipes, joints, and plumbing fixtures. It’s common to see mold or mildew building up in your shower, near tub and sink drains, and around toilets. Various types of mold look different, but it’s common for them to appear as slimy or fuzzy patches of black, green, or gray and they sometimes look like dirt or dust.

3. Water Damage

Water damage can be both a cause and a consequence of mold growth. If you have a plumbing leak, water can seep out of pipes and onto the surrounding drywall, insulation, or other building materials. If mold spores in the air land on these damp surfaces, they can begin to reproduce and spread. Mold that already exists in your plumbing system also has the potential to corrode your pipes over time or cause obstructions, which can lead to busts and leaks.

4. Mold Growth in Other Areas of Your Home

One of the reasons mold spreads so quickly is that it reproduces through spores. These spores can become airborne, allowing them to travel through plumbing and ventilation systems to land and grow on surfaces in other locations. If you notice mold popping up in various areas of your home, your plumbing system may be the source.

5. Frequent Plumbing Problems

A faulty or damaged plumbing system can contribute to mold growth. Leaks, bursts, and clogging can all lead to water damage, creating hospitable environments for mold spores to reproduce. 

Mold can also damage plumbing fixtures over time. The materials around moldy pipes, drains, and faucets can degrade as a result of mold exposure, leading to more frequent leaks and other plumbing issues.

6. Persistent Cold-Like Symptoms

woman in bed sneezing and blowing her nose

Exposure to mold frequently causes unpleasant allergy symptoms, including:

  • A stuffy, runny, or itchy nose
  • Persistent coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Mental fog
  • Dry skin

If you’re experiencing these symptoms for a prolonged period of time, you could be dealing with a mold problem.

7. High Humidity Levels 

Mold thrives in moist environments. This means that if the bathroom easily becomes humid or steamy, mold can begin to form and spread. Be sure to manage bathroom and kitchen humidity by using fans to increase airflow. 

Why Mold in Plumbing is a Problem

Risks to Your Health

Long-term exposure to mold poses a number of health concerns. In addition to persistent allergy symptoms, mold inhalation over an extended period of time can contribute to more complex health risks, including:

  • Asthma
  • Lung inflammation 
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches

These health problems can be particularly harmful to at-risk populations, including children, the elderly, those with immune disorders, those with respiratory conditions, and pregnant women. 

Risks to Your Property

Untreated mold growth can also do serious harm to building materials and your personal belongings. Mold feeds on organic materials. This can erode the structural integrity of your home over time.

Mold in kitchen plumbing systems and bathrooms can degrade the materials that surround pipes and faucets. But it’s important to remember that mold rarely stays in one place. Mold releases airborne spores that can travel to other areas of your home. This means that mold in plumbing can easily spread and land on other surfaces, creating a much bigger (and more costly) problem.

What To Do If You Discover Mold in Your Plumbing

If you discover signs of mold in pipes or around your plumbing systems, there are steps you can take to remove it and protect your health and property:

  1. Get professional mold testing and analysis from an accredited laboratory.
  2. Remove the mold yourself or with professional remediation services.
  3. Take preventative measures to stop future mold growth.

Are You Concerned About Mold Growing in Your Plumbing System?

person wearing yellow gloves cleaning the sink to remove mold buildup

If you’ve noticed any of the signs discussed in this article, professional mold testing and analysis can give you peace of mind that you’re doing everything you can to protect your property and the people inside. 

JSE Labs is Oregon’s premier environmental laboratory, providing reliable, accurate, and prompt hazardous materials testing and consulting services and specializing in mold, lead, asbestos, and more.Contact us today to learn more about our services and find out how we can help!

Lisa Jones-Stohosky

Lisa Jones-Stohosky

Lisa started in the industrial hygiene and environmental industry in 1992 as an asbestos microscopist and began performing building inspections for asbestos, lead paint, and other hazards in 1994.

“This career has been an amazing experience, traveling for work to perform inspections both locally and abroad to locations such as Hawaii and Germany. My real love however is being in the laboratory and assisting our wonderful clients.”

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