In Florida we tend to think Hurricane related storm damage is the worst threat to our homes. But there’s another kind of threat that’s less obvious yet potentially just as harmful: mold. Given the warm, humid tropical climate we live in, mold is a real and constant threat.
Though not as pronounced as storm damage, mold can be equally pervasive, invading walls, floors and ceilings to inflict significant property damage and health hazards. Mold also is a progressive problem: It can spread quickly if not spotted and addressed early. So, how can homeowners head off mold problems before they begin? Here are five signs you should pay attention to if you suspect mold in your home.
- Mold-conducive environments. Many homes have rooms or areas that are especially susceptible to mold. Kitchens and bathrooms with old plumbing, pipes or appliances can lead to leaks—which, in turn, fuel mold. Crawl spaces, basements and attics with minimal ventilation and high humidity are ideal environments for mold to thrive. Cracks on exterior walls also can allow water to enter the structure slowly but in enough quantity to generate mold.
- Allergy-like symptoms. If people visiting or living in your property are experiencing hay fever–like symptoms outside of springtime, or whenever they enter the structure, that can be a sign of mold. Mold causes symptoms very similar to allergies in many people, like itchy eyes or skin and irritated noses, throats and lungs. These mold-exposure symptoms are especially prevalent for those with a preexisting respiratory problem such as asthma.
- A musty smell. Perhaps the most surefire way to detect mold is its scent. Mold produces a musty odor similar to that of rotting wood. If you catch wind of an odor like this and can’t pinpoint the source, it’s likely mold that is festering nearby.
- Water stains. If water stains appear on a property’s walls, ceilings or carpeting, there may be mold lurking beneath those surfaces. The older the water stain is, the longer the mold will have had a chance to spread. Even if the source of the water damage has been fixed—like, say, a busted pipe—mold may still be present and thriving.
- Strange coloring. Not all mold is green, nor does it all have the same texture. In fact, mold can appear in just about any hue, because it takes on the color of whatever it’s eating to sustain itself. If you notice strange discolorations or textures on the surfaces of a home, it may be mold.
Mold isn’t as dramatic as a blazing fire or flash flood, but it can sow just as much damage. If allowed to spread unmitigated, mold will render a home dangerous and unlivable. It can also be incredibly costly to remediate, requiring specialty techniques, equipment and professionals.
Mold can’t be detected with the naked eye. There are a multitude of organic growths which can pop up in your home. Although unsightly, not all of them are dangerous to your property and health. The only way to know what is present is with professional lab testing. There are two ways to test for mold. Air Quality Testing and Surface Testing.
- Air Quality Testing This test collects samples of air from several different locations within a home. The samples are sent to a lab for analysis and determines what may be growing in a home. This test is great if mold is suspected but it’s exact location can’t be seen or for determining if a seen mold has spread spores through the entire home.
- Surface Testing Surface testing can be used when an organic growth has been spotted. This involves taking a physical sample of the growth via a cotton swab or tape strip which is analyzed by a lab. This type of testing is often used in conjunction with an air quality test.
Hanna Home Services is proud to offer both Air Quality Testing and Surface Testing for our client’s safety and peace of mind. These services can be added to a home inspection or scheduled by themselves without an inspection. Contact us today if you think you may have a mold problem.