There are several types of mold that are commonly found inside of the home. There are several others that are less commonly found indoors, but can still occasionally make an appearance. The CDC, in response to a mold hysteria a few years ago, cautions that all molds be treated as if they are potentially toxic and be handled in the safest and most efficient way possible. If any kind of mold is extensive or likely to have high concentrations of mycotoxins, it is better to hire a professional to handle the removal process. All molds have the potential to cause health problems, especially in people who are allergic to mold spores as well as those who have chronic breathing conditions. Below is a list of some of the types of mold you might find in your home and where they are most likely to grow. Most mold likes damp, dark and warm conditions, but there are exceptions to this rule.
- Alternaria is a mold that is frequently seen after flooding. It can also be found under sinks because of leaky sinks and around showers.
- Aspergillus is one of the most potentially dangerous of the mold types, because it may cause an inflammation of the lungs called hypersensitivity pneumonitis. It also causes allergic reactions and respiratory infections, especially in those most vulnerable. This mold also triggers asthma attacks.
- Aureobasidium is a pinkish black mold that is often found around dampened window frames and other wooden surfaces. It also readily grows on wallpaper, painted surfaces, and other areas.
- Botrytis loves to grow in areas where the humidity is very high and the ventilation is fairly low such as bathrooms without windows and basements. Installing and using an exhaust fan is a great way to reduce the risk of this type of mold in your home.
- Chaetomium usually grows on the drywall in your home, especially if it is unpainted. Like many of the mold types, this one as a distinctive odor that alerts people to its presence.
- Cladsporium and Fusarium are two of the mold types that do not fit the standard mold description- both can grow in cooler temperatures and both like to grow on carpets, fabrics, and on wooden surfaces such as cabinets and walls.
- Penicillium tends to cause problems such as chronic sinus infections and spreads quickly once it gets started. A small amount of this mold in one room can become mold in every room in a matter of days. It is commonly found on surfaces such as the carpet, wallpaper, insulation, mattresses, and even on clothing. It can be pervasive and difficult to get rid of effectively. This is one of the molds best handled by a professional.
- Stachybotrys chartarum is the most common of the molds and the one that most people are talking about when they say “black mold.” It is often referred to as toxic mold. The mold itself is not toxic; however, it contains possible mycotoxins that can affect people who are susceptible to them including those with allergies, chronic breathing problems, and asthma. Children and the elderly, even those without breathing problems, may be more susceptible to problems with this and other types of mold.
- Serpula lacrymans is a yellow mold, which is quite different from the other molds on this list both in appearance and behavior. Its color can range from whitish to an almost brown color, and it feeds on wood causing dry rot and potentially expensive, extensive damage.
- Trichoderma lives on damp carpet and wallpaper.
- Ulocladium needs to have a lot of water to grow and thrive so it is typically only found in homes and businesses that have been flood damaged. Because of the level of damage that is likely present when this mold is found, it is best handled by a professional service. Most of the mold types listed will grow in conditions that range from slightly damp to saturated.
If you suspect mold in your home:
- Look for the obvious signs of mold in easy to access but likely spots. Anywhere that could be damp is a potential growing spot for mold.
- If you find mold, determine if the amount is extensive and then proceed. If there is an extensive amount of mold in the area, consider calling a professional who can remove it from your home far faster and more safely than you could.
- If the amount of mold is relatively small, you can choose to handle it yourself. Different surfaces must be cleaned in different ways, so remember that before you get started. If the amount of water damage or the mold turns out to be more than you can handle, stop and hire a pro.
- Remember the CDC’s caution that all molds be handled as if they are potentially mycotoxic. Do not attempt mold removal if you are not healthy, allergy free, or willing and able to follow basic safety protocol to prevent the spread of the spores to other areas of your home.
- If mold is not removed and the underlying causes addressed, it will just continually come back and become more and more of a nuisance.
Prevention Now, Less Potential Mold Risk Later
- Look for any potential areas of concern on a regular basis. Areas that are prone to mold include bathroom sinks and shower walls, kitchen sinks and floorboards, basements and attics, but mold can attack anywhere it finds favorable conditions.
- Rooms that are subjected to high humidity should also have a lot of ventilation. Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans on a regular basis to reduce some of the risk of mold growth.
- Install ventilation windows and fans in the attic to keep some of the humidity down in there as well.
- Watch the areas around windows, especially the older models that may leak or not close tightly.