Water damage and mold often go hand in hand. Mold can be found anywhere moisture is present and can be caused by rain seeping in, leaking pipes, cooking, showering, and even insufficient ventilation in the home.
Considering these causes, it’s no surprise mold is most often found in bathrooms, crawlspaces, kitchens, basements, and attics. But that doesn’t mean it can’t appear anywhere in the house, and many times you may not see mold easily. You must rely on other signs of mold that can be trickier to detect.
How to detect mold in a home
If you cannot see mold, the biggest giveaway is the smell. If the smell of wet socks, dirt, or a general musk lingers in a home for days on end and is strongest when entering a certain room or opening a specific cabinet, there may be mold present. The description of the smell of mold varies from person to person, but the consensus is that the scent is unpleasant to humans.
Another telltale sign of mold is illness. If someone in the home has a persistent cold and allergy-like symptoms such as itchy eyes and a cough, they may have Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, a consequence of mold inhalation.
Signs of water damage, too, may lead to signs of mold. Water spots and dark spots on the wall or peeling wallpaper should be noted and handled quickly. An environment that stays wet for too long, sometimes in just 48 hours, can start to grow mold. If you do come across a wet area in your home, steps need to be taken immediately to start the drying process.
It helps to conduct a quick check for wet spots immediately after rain, flooding or natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. The sooner these wet areas can be dried, the better.
How to prevent mold
There are a number of tips and tricks you can implement to prevent mold and mold damage. Below are our top eight tips:
Check exhaust fans. Take a moment to double-check that the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms are clean and working properly. You can do this by placing a tissue or piece of paper directly up to the fan. If the paper is suctioned up into the fan, it’s a sign that things are running smoothly. If the suction is weak or nonexistent, the fan may need to be cleaned. Note that this method works for ceiling exhaust fans in the kitchen or bathroom as well as kitchen hood fans.
Always use exhaust fans. In the same vein, be sure to put those clean fans to good use. Hot showers and cooking can produce condensation but running an exhaust fan during these activities will help eliminate moisture in these rooms. If you do not have an exhaust fan, open a window or wipe off the water when you are done to prevent mold from growing.
Maintain a healthy HVAC system. Give your HVAC system a checkup, as it is another notorious place for mold growth. You can do this by changing the air filter every few months, using a mold inhibitor, keeping drip pans clean, and having the HVAC system cleaned by a professional every few years.
Use a dehumidifier. This tip is simple. High indoor humidity can provide moisture for mold to grow. Dehumidifiers can eliminate extra moisture in the air. Some dehumidifiers are small and portable while others are larger and designed to eliminate excess moisture from the full house. Rather than making the call to use a dehumidifier based on the perception of moisture, you can purchase an inexpensive digital barometer online to get a better reading on the house’s moisture levels. A good humidity level for a house is considered to be anywhere between 30% and 60%, but the CDC recommends staying under 50% to prevent mold growth. Humidity changes throughout the day, so you will need to check the barometer a few times.
Open windows and doors. Mold likes to grow in a wet and dark atmosphere. When weather permits, you should open windows and doors in homes to gain sunlight exposure and to encourage fresh air circulation.
Use mold inhibitors. Before painting your walls, add a mold inhibitor to the paint. Mold inhibitors can be purchased at home improvement or paint stores. They generally do not kill existing mold, but can be helpful in preventing new growth.
Be strategic about carpet. Try not to place carpet in places where moisture is most likely to be present, like bathrooms or basements. Carpet is easily soaked and can remain wet and damp long enough for mold to grow. If you experience a flood in a carpeted area, consider removing the carpet quickly and replacing it with a hardwood or vinyl floor.
Keep up with outdoor home maintenance. Your yard and home exterior can play a role in mold prevention. Keeping gutters clean and damage-free can stop a roof from leaking. Directing water away from a home using strategically sloped lawns can stop water from flooding in a basement or crawlspace.
What to do if you find mold
Mold may appear even with the right prevention techniques in use, so it’s important you have the knowledge to detect its growth quickly. Once mold is present, it’s very difficult to combat. Surface and airborne mold tends to grow back and require several protocols to ensure they stay gone for good.
Have a plan of action in place if mold should occur. In order to get a thorough cleaning and ensure mold does not reappear, you should always use a professional mold remediation company such as ServiceMaster DSI.
ServiceMaster DSI can assess any unique mold situation, isolate the mold with barriers, use the latest technology to scrub the mold and clean up the water that is causing your mold. If you are experiencing mold problems, give us a call today at 844-413-4130. You can also visit our service request page here.