Are you worried you may have mold growing in or around your home? Maybe you’ve detected a musty odor, found discolored patches on your walls, or noticed brown or green gunk collecting in the corners of your shower.
It’s important to address mold as quickly as possible to protect your health and home, especially if you suffer from allergies. Keep reading to learn how to quickly and effectively address household mold to avoid the dangers of mold allergies.
What are Mold Allergies?
Mold is a type of fungus that’s found just about everywhere there is moisture, both indoors and out. Molds produce spores that are microscopic and lightweight, allowing them to easily travel through the air.
There are thousands of species of molds, many of which are harmless. However, certain types grow easily in indoor environments and can be harmful to humans. People with mold allergies or compromised immune systems and those who suffer from asthma are most at risk. Here are some of the most common symptoms of mold exposure:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Eye irritation
- Dry skin
1. Know the Warning Signs
One of the most reliable ways to keep your home free of mold and the associated health risks is simply to know the warning signs. Thankfully, mold isn’t very good at hiding when you know what to look for.
Here are some telltale signs that you might have a mold problem:
- Musty smell: Is there a persistent earthy smell in parts of your home? Does the smell get stronger when there’s rain or moisture?
- Cold-like symptoms: Have you experienced coughing, sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes, or difficulty breathing, especially when you’re home for long periods?
- Recent or recurring flooding: Is your basement prone to flooding? Do you have water-damaged areas in your home? Do you see any bubbling or cracking in your paint or wallpaper?
- Visible mold: Do you see white streaks or spots spreading near your kitchen sink? Are there clusters of black, green, or gray spots in your shower? Signs of orange or pink blotches behind your wallpaper?
2. Keep an Eye on Mold-Prone Areas
The best way to catch mold early is to know not only what to look for, but where to look. Mold thrives in moist, humid environments. For this reason, basements, bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms are all common places for mold to grow.
Mold is also often found around leaks in roofs, pipes, and poorly sealed windows. It also commonly grows on drywall or ceiling tiles, in carpeting or upholstery, and in or under sinks. Mold can even show up in dust, paint, insulation, and wallpaper.
3. Have a Sample Professionally Tested
While some molds are easy to identify, others are not. Depending on where it’s growing, you could be experiencing symptoms of mold sickness and never even see it. It’s also important to keep in mind that getting rid of the mold itself is not usually sufficient to permanently resolve the issue. You’ll need to address the underlying cause, or the mold will simply grow back.
For these reasons, it’s a good idea to contact a mold remediation contractor who can measure moisture levels and mold spore counts, take samples for testing, interpret the results, and recommend appropriate remediation strategies.
RELATED: How to Collect a Mold Sample
4. Address Leaks, Flooding, and Water Damage Right Away
Dealing with excess water or humidity is extremely important to protect your home and family from mold. Keeping your home dry and free of water damage is always the goal, but there’s only so much you can do and accidents will eventually happen.
After the basement or other area of your home floods, thoroughly dry and clean the space as quickly as possible. Regularly check your roofs, pipes, windows, or gutters and fix any leaks as soon as you notice them. If your home regularly has problems with flooding or leaks, it’s a good idea to have the problem areas inspected by a professional to address the issue before a chronic mold problem develops.
5. Increase Ventilation and Airflow
Keeping your house properly ventilated will prevent mold from growing by making your home an unfriendly space for spores. Mold loves to grow in humid, moist, and musty environments. Keep your home dry and clean with good airflow to prevent mold from growing and thriving.
Here are some ways to increase ventilation and reduce humidity in your home:
- Use exhaust fans in bathrooms.
- Open windows.
- Use a dehumidifier and/or air conditioner, especially during humid months.
- Ensure your kitchen, shower, and laundry areas are properly ventilated.
7. Direct Rainwater Away From Your Home
One of the most effective ways to keep your home mold-free is to keep your gutters clean and ensure they’re doing their job to redirect rainwater away from your home’s siding and foundation. Make sure your gutters are pitched slightly from one end to the other so that the water flows in the intended direction and doesn’t collect.
In addition to making sure your gutters are properly installed, check the ground around your home. It should slope downward, away from the foundation, to prevent water from collecting or flooding in your basement or crawlspace. This will help keep those areas of your home dry and prevent mold from growing.
Are you suffering from cold-like symptoms? Concerned you may have household mold?
At JSE Labs, our team of expert consultants offers professional mold inspections and testing services. We use visual inspection, moisture meters, particle counters, and sample collection to help you identify the problem and determine the best solution. Let us help keep you and your family safe!
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.”