Mold & Mildew
Is mold a bad word? It sure is a bad word when you have or think you have a problem with it. Pro-techt Home Inspection Services can test your home for mold, but before we talk about that, let's see if we can dispel some myths and face some facts about mold.
The truth is, we live in a world of mold, one in which we can't live without. Mold is actually everywhere! It's outside. It's definitely in our homes. It's in our water and in our air. Mold is plentiful just about everywhere. Mold or "fungi" is what eats and breaks down dead organic material. If we didn't have mold, the earth would be piled up with dead leaves, dead plants and garbage. Fungi aids in the breakdown of dead material, thus returning nutrients to the environment. Without fungi, we would live in a truly messy world. We even eat some forms of fungi. How about blue cheese...the blue is fungi! How about yeast...member of the fungi family! How about mushrooms and truffles...yep, you guessed it, fungi. Some medicines are made from mold, the most famous being penicillin. So you see, mold/fungi are beneficial to us. Now for the downside...
Mold can be detrimental to our health. Molds produce microscopic spores as a means of reproduction. These spores blanket our environment. They are everywhere. Mold spores are outside, covering the ground, floating in the air, inside your home on your cloths, furniture, rugs, walls and ceilings etc. Usually mold and mold spores are not a problem, but when spores come into contact with enough moisture, they can reproduce causing mold and more mold spores. The mold spores act as allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances called mycotoxins. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions. Allergic reactions to mold are common and can be immediate or delayed. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, (runny nose, sneezing, red eyes) and skin rashes. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.
If you do have a mold problem, you have a moisture problem. Mold will not grow without a food source and water. Mold grows by eating and destroying cellulose-based materials and other organic substances. Cellulose is the main building block in the cell walls of plants including wood. It is also used in the manufacture of many organic building materials such as drywall, plasterboard, wood products such as plywood and plywood substitutes, ceiling tiles, carpeting and carpet padding, and upholstery. (You're even wearing cellulose. It's in your clothes!)
Once enough moisture is introduced into your home, you can have mold growth. Mold can grow undetected inside wall and ceiling cavities, beneath wallpaper and paneling, under carpeting, and inside heating and cooling equipment including air ducts. Any room susceptible to moisture or water damage can be at risk for mold including attics, crawl spaces, and basements. How do you stop mold growth? It is impossible to eliminate the food source for mold since the food source is your house. You must eliminate the moisture that is allowing the mold growth. Moisture can come from many sources such as high humidity, water intrusion from the outside (leaks from the roof, windows, siding, flashing, foundation cracks, etc.), leaking plumbing fixtures, and sewer backups. High levels of humidity in the basement, crawl space and attic caused by insufficient ventilation can also be the source of excessive moisture. The main concern is stopping the moisture.
Once moisture is eliminated, the mold will stop growing, but the mold will still have to be cleaned up. Can you clean up mold yourself? Well, yes and no. You have probably cleaned up mold without even knowing it by cleaning up your tub or shower. Yes, that mildew in the bathroom is actually mold, but if you have a bigger problem than that, you may want to leave it up to a professional for mold remediation. They may be able to diagnose or stop your moisture problem as well as safely clean up the mold. You can find information about cleaning up mold at the US Environmental Protection Agency website. (The address is included at the bottom of this page).
Concerned about mold?
Pro-Techt Home Inspection Services offers testing for mold. Something that looks like mold may not really be mold. If you have or have had a moisture problem, you may have an unseen mold problem. We can test suspect areas for mold and can take air samples in your home to determine if you have high levels of mold spores. If in doubt, or if you have unexplained allergy symptoms as described above, it could be mold. If you decide to test for mold, give us a call. We will have results from sampling within a few days.
For more information about mold, try these websites: