What is mold?
Mold is a microorganism that is classified as fungi. It’s a living organism that doesn’t fall under either the plant or animal classification in accordance with scientific standards.
There are many different types of molds that can be found in the environment. Invisible to the naked eye, mold spores travel through the air and are commonly found in soil and on decaying matter. Outdoors, mold plays a big part in the natural degradation of plant matter. However, when mold travels indoors, it can be hazardous to your health.
Mold comes in a variety of colors including white, brown, orange, green and black. Mold often has a furry look or resembles a stringy slime, but certain molds can also have a powdery-look. Black mold is considered to be the most dangerous type of mold found in homes. Finding black mold in your home is scary and should be addressed immediately to avoid potential adverse reactions to the mold.
Mold can grow at an extremely fast pace. A mold colony can form in as little as 48 hours from the initial contact a mold spore makes with a surface.
Health Risks Caused by Mold
Mold exposure can lead to several health-related problems. With its natural ability to travel through the air, the inhalation of mold spores can create a variety of respiratory ailments. Common side effects include asthma, allergies, respiratory infections, sinus infections and skin rashes. Mold in air ducts can cause allergic reactions. In some cases, mold exposure can even be fatal.
How does mold grow?
As with all living organisms, mold requires specific elements to develop, grow and thrive throughout the environment. These elements include mold spores, moisture, proper temperatures and carbon atoms which are used by molds as a feeding agent. When these elements are plentiful in a given location, it creates the perfect environment for mold growth. To avoid mold growth and mold symptoms in your home, consider these elements.
Mold spores are invisible to the naked eye. They are carried through the air and have the ability to attach to almost any solid object. Mold spores especially like to attach to porous items or damp surfaces.
Mold doesn’t have an allegiance to one specific climate. It prefers temperatures similar to the human body and can grow in both hot and cold areas. Humid and moist areas are the most prone to mold growth.
Moisture is created for a magnitude of reasons and molds will seek it out. From weather and climate conditions to leaky pipes found within the home, complete moisture control is impossible. Areas that trap condensation or water vapor are ideal locations for mold to grow. This can include spaces such as under tarps, in cabinets and behind furniture.
Most living things release carbon atoms that mold will use as a food source. If the first three requirements for mold growth are met, it will use almost any carbon-containing organism as a food source. Everything from skin cells to wood can supply mold with the necessary nutrients for growth.
Preventing mold growth
Even the cleanest homes have the potential for mold. Residential building structures have many areas that offer prime environments for mold to grow. Basements, bathrooms, utility rooms, laundry equipment and kitchens are some of the areas where black mold is often found. Homeowners can take proactive steps to drastically limit mold grown, but unfortunately, it’s literally impossible to eradicate all together.
Tips for preventing mold growth:
Basements especially should have a ventilation system in place. This can help to bring fresh air in and push water vapor out. Homes that are not equipped with windows should use a dehumidifier or circulation fan.
Fix foundation cracks
The smallest crack or leak can provide a perfect habitat for mold growth. Window frames, doors and corner locations of the foundation can be sealed using a water proof chalk. This is a service that should be performed at the beginning of rainy seasons.
Keep stored items organized
When storing personal belongings or furniture, it is best not to pile items on top of each other. This can cause moisture to get trapped, and it prevents air circulation.
Try baking soda
Baking Soda helps to absorb moisture. By placing a box of baking soda under kitchen and bathroom cabinets and in the refrigerator, it will prevent moisture from forming and creating an ideal habitat for mold growth.
Keep HVAC systems free of mold
Air ducts, heating systems, air conditioning systems and filters should all be cleaned and changed regularly. This will prevent mold from growing and spreading throughout the home. Mold growth in air ducts and HVAC systems allows smells and mold spores to travel quickly throughout a home. Seek the help of a professional HVAC technician or air duct cleaner if you suspect mold or notice mold symptoms in these areas.
Video: Mold Removal
Mold testing and removal
Testing for mold
There are several home mold testing kits on the market. However, experts stress these kits should only be the first step. The testing kits usually come with a swab that can collect a small sample of mold. Some kits are designed to collect and grow mold in an incubator while others will instruct the user to send the sample in for lab testing. Home mold test can be misleading because they do not give an indication of the amount of mold present or how dangerous it is.
Hiring a professional for mold testing and removal
Professional mold removal contractors are individuals that are licensed and professionally trained in proper mold identification and removal techniques. These mold removal contractors use industrial equipment and cleaning supplies to kill and remove mold and mold colonies from the home.
During a mold inspection, a technician will perform a visual inspection and then test the air with a device referred to as a “sniffer.” Depending on the findings, the technician may send a mold sample in for lab testing.