There are so many types of mold, so how do you know which is dangerous and which is not? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that all molds be treated as if they were toxic and therefore handled the same way. One of the first things you’re supposed to do after finding black mold is to find the cause and then eliminate the problem. Here are some of the causes of black mold can in homes and how you should deal with them:
- The average mold, including stachybotrys chartarum (which is black mold), likes conditions that are dark, damp, and unventilated. The less they are disturbed the better they can grow. Mold can grow for months or even years without being noticed.
- Some molds may emit a musty, unpleasant odor, which may get them noticed faster. Chaetomium is one of the prime smellers of the mold world. Look for this one on drywall and other related surfaces.
- Some molds go against the traditional conditions and will grow in cooler temperatures. Cladsporium and fusarium are both cold temperature tolerant. Both will grow on carpets, fabric, and wooden surfaces with relative ease.
Dampness or Moisture in the Home
We count on our house to keep us warm and dry. In most cases it handles this task fairly well. In others, it might let us down. Here are some of the ways that dampness or even water can make it into our homes and increase our risk for mold growth.
- Behind or underneath appliances such as the hot water heater, the washer, fridge, and the dishwasher. This includes all of the pipes and connections to these appliances as well.
- Anywhere there are pipes of any kind. Pipes leak. Pipes can also have condensation (sweaty pipes); all of this means moisture, which can in turn mean mold.
- In crawlspaces and basements, especially in older homes. Water can seep in from the ground or can leak in from around the home. If your downspout is missing or blocked, it can allow water to stand long enough to seep in through even very small cracks.
- Around leaky windows and doorframes. Aureobasidium, which is a type of mold that is fond of growing on wood or painted surfaces. It is similar to common black mold, but has a pinkish to pinkish-black appearance.
- High humidity. The higher the humidity in a room, the more moisture is in the air. Eventually that moisture will settle and that is how mold can get started. High humidity is often a factor in bathrooms, especially those without windows.
We like a nice breeze. It turns out that mold spores do not. Improve the airflow in your home for your own comfort and to prevent the mold from getting cozy.
- Cabinets, especially those under sinks and tucked in dark corners in the basement, are prime spots for mold growth.
- Kitchens and bathrooms are high humidity, high moisture rooms that often lack good ventilation. Even if you have windows open in these rooms, it may not be enough. A powerful exhaust fan is a great tool and one that is not used nearly enough in these rooms.
- The attic. High heat plus the chance of moisture seeping in under the eaves make the attic a prime target for mold. Some molds such as penicillium like to grow in insulation and are a fast spreading nuisance. This mold is also a known cause of chronic sinus infections, so it should be monitored for and eliminated quickly.
- The basement. This is another area that typically does not have great airflow. It is often dark, damp, and unused, so mold can grow quite extensively before it is noticed.
Most molds, with the exception of two in particular, like it to be fairly warm. The warmer it is, the faster the mold will grow. There are several places in the home that fit this description.
- Back up to the attic. Again, the attic is usually hot with poor ventilation and may have dampness from both condensation and leaks from defects, making it very vulnerable to mold growth.
- Behind or under appliances. The hot water tank is hot and tends to leak. The fridge is warm near the motor, which may also be where the drip pan is located giving you heat plus moisture. The washer may also have heat, and it definitely has moisture.
- Along kitchen floorboards. The kitchen sink has a gasket or seal that is supposed to keep water from running down in the cabinet. After time this seal can become loose or worn out, and small leaks can happen. The water can end up along the wall in the back of the cabinet or can run down the counters and onto the floor where it may pool near the floorboards. Because this may also be where furnace vents are located, the mold can get started before anyone has a chance to notice. Regular sweeping and mopping may miss the mold if it starts in a recessed spot under the cabinet.
Cladsporium and Fusarium are two types of mold that can grow in cooler temps, so don’t count on that being the only factor when looking for mold. If you smell mold (or think that you do) or you notice it growing, it is important to take the proper steps to get it out of your home before it causes negative health effects to your family and your pets.