Signs and Symptoms of a Mold Problem
- High Humidity
If you live in an area with high humidity, then you should always be on the lookout for potential mold problems. Naturally, the outdoor humidity affect indoor humidity levels, creating a perfect environment for toxic mold growth.A relative humidity (RH) level of greater than 55% promotes the growth of mold and other fungi.. Although relative humidity remains fairly consistent outdoors, it fluctuates drastically inside as a result of being altered by the artificial heating and cooling (i.e. climate control by the HVAC system).
- Water/Pipe Leaks
Mold needs moisture in order to grow and thrive. Many mold problems originate as a result of some kind of water intrusion, especially those that are not resolved quickly. In which case, water and pipe leaks are common culprits, since they provide plenty of moisture, and are often undetected for days, months, or even years if minor enough.When leaks are discovered, appropriate steps are not normally taken to minimize potential mold growth problems.
By the time they are discovered, it is often too late, since the mold will have had ample opportunity to grow in the same hard-to-find places where water leaks occur, such as in wall cavities
Mold problems are very common after flooding for obvious reasons (plenty of moisture which is conducive for mold growth). Plus, it usually requires several days or weeks to fully dry out the home or building once flooding occurs, giving colonies of black mold more than adequate time to become fully ingrained in these sections.
- Mildewy/Musty Odors
Odors can often be the first or only sign of a potential mold problem, since mold commonly propagates in places not normally in view. This does not necessarily mean that you definitely have a mold problem, but it should prompt you to look for the other signs, or to look for the mold growth itself..In some cases, mildewy smells will only be evident when the air conditioning or heat is turned on, or it may just be much more evident when the HVAC system is running. If this is the case, then it is very possible that you have significant mold growth within the HVAC system.
- Increased Allergy/Respiratory Symptoms
If one or more people living in a house, or working in a building (especially if it is an unusually high percentage of occupants) begin suffering allergic reactions that seem to be associated with your home or building, then it could be due to the presence of high levels of mold, especially if other signs are also present.This may mean that people began experiencing much more allergic and respiratory-related symptoms after moving into a home, or after beginning to work in a building.
Remember, that according to a 1999 Mayo Clinic study, nearly all chronic sinus infections (afflicting about 37 million Americans) are a result of mold.
- Signs of Toxic Poisoning
Toxic black mold and other fungi produce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) during the process of degrading substances to obtain nutrition. The VOCs are the cause of the typical “moldy/musty” commonly associated with fungal contamination indoors. Exposure to high levels of VOCs may irritate the mucous membranes and the central nervous system leading to symptoms of headaches, decreased attention span, difficulty in concentration, and dizziness.
- Leaky Roof
Like other types of water leaks, water intrusion through the roof is difficult to find until it is too late. If you suspect a leaky roof, check in the attic for signs of water damage or mold growth. Also be on the lookout for signs of water damage or mold growth in ceilings on the uppermost floor of the home.
- Condensation or Rusting
Condensation on or around pipes, windows, or walls is a sign of a leak or high humidity. Rusting on pipes in particular, and anything else metal, is also a sign of a high humidity problem or nearby leak.
- Discoloration of Walls (Water Stains)
Yellowish stains on walls and ceilings are a sign of excessive moisture. In more obvious cases, where mold growth may already be in full swing, the wall or ceiling may have a greenish, brownish, or blackish discoloration to it.You may also notice places where the paint is coming off due to moisture, or where it is “bowing” out.
One way to check for mold growth is to move a medical grade, flourescent tube (“black light”) around walls, ceilings, and even carpets while it is dark. A yellow glow is a sign of mold growth.
- Visible Biological/Mold Growth
This may seem like an obvious sign, but many people do not take a little visible mold growth very seriously. However, this can be an indication of a much larger mold growth in less visible places.Mold can take on a variety of appearances, such as black, grey-brown, grey-green, white & orange spots, or even pink or purple splotches if growing behind vinyl wallpaper. Stachybotrys is commonly a dark, slimy, greenish-black mold.
Some of the more common locations where mold is found inside includes in bathroom tile, basements/crawl spaces, and other damp and/or dark areas.
- Poor Ventilation
If the air pressure in your home is “negative”, meaning the air pressure outside is greater than it is inside, then it will force moisture and contaminates back into the home. If the air pressure is well into the “positive” side, then it can cause moisture to be forced into walls. The air pressure in your home should be slightly positive, or at least balanced.
- Presence of Wet Materials Indoors
This can include rags, steam from cooking, indoor clothes lines, carpet, or furniture. If these or other items are damp for extended periods of time, then the moisture level can be high enough to accommodate mold growth.