Mold is a necessary part of the ecosystem. It breaks down dead organic matter into nutrients that benefit growing plants. Some species of mold improve our lives such as the molds used to make penicillin or cheese. However, the molds that grow in our homes destroy interiors and are a health hazard. Mold produces spores in abundance, which are found everywhere including the inside of your home. If they land on a material that they can digest and it is sufficiently moist, a mold colony will take hold.
The first step in eliminating mold from your home is detecting them. This is not always easy because they often grow in hidden areas. Fortunately there are signs to look for that indicate their presence.
The most obvious sign of mold is seeing it. It is important to know what to look for because some people mistake mold for dirt and may ignore it. A small amount of visible mold could indicate that more is growing out of sight. Look for any discoloration on surfaces especially if they are damp or are periodically exposed to water. For example, a window that is always left open is exposed to periodic moisture when it rains and may have mold growing on its sill. Some common colors of house molds include white, green, orange, gray, brown, and black.
Mold has a musty, pungent, or earthy odor. If the odor is strongest in a particular room, it is likely growing there out of sight. If the smell gets strong after turning on your air conditioner, there is a good chance it is growing within your AC system. Don’t shrug off these odors because they are a clear indicator of mold growth.
Presence of Moisture
Moisture is not by itself a sign of mold. However, it is a good predictor of its presence or of future growth. Even a home that is free of mold will have a low concentration of mold spores that come in from the outside. These spores will start to grow on a suitable wet or moist material after one or two days.
If your basement is chronically humid, damp, or gets flooded, there is a good chance it has or will have a mold problem. The same is true if a bathtub overflows and soaks through the floor into the room below or if you have a plumbing leak that has been undetected for more than a couple of days.