Does your home have mold? If you own your house or apartment, mold can be an expensive issue to fix, and a persistent problem. And it is not just the cost either - many forms of mold are extremely bad for your health, if ingested over a period, so you need to get it sorted. If you are in any doubt about whether you have mold, what type you have, or where it is concentrated, you should pick from any of the best mold test kits and check it out for yourself. They are all inexpensive and can help you start to fix the problem.
However, you need to know the early-warning signs in order to start your investigation. Mold can often grow in places you rarely inspect, and can even spread behind stud walls, chimneys, or large items of furniture like wardrobes. One of the most common places for mold to grow is in your HVAC unit, which will then spread it through your home. Many test kits will sample from your air con unit, but some will not. In some instances, you may even need to change the heating and cooling system in your home, if mold gets bad, so if this is the case you should consult our guide to the best central air conditioning units.
Hopefully, though, you will spot one of the signs your home has mold early, and get it fixed before it spreads.
1. Stale and musty odors
Mold, whether it is visible or not, emits an unusual and unpleasant odor. If an area in your home persistently smells musty, there is a good possibility there is mold in the room. You can follow the odor to where it is strongest, find the mold and remove it. However, if the mold is in an unreachable place, like inside walls, you need to call in a professional to help you remove the growth
2. Condensation and persistent moisture
Whether there is excess moisture on your windows, or condensation dripping from your pipes, a damp home is an ideal breeding ground for mold and can be an indicator that mold is already present in your home. The best dehumidifiers serve as a good solution to reduce excess moisture as they will set the humidity in your home to the level you indicate on the dehumidifier. They are not a permanent solution, however, and you should consider getting your windows swapped for double-glazed panes or having them re-sealed by a professional.
If you are finding moisture on pipes, a plumber can help diagnose the problem here. In some instances, putting insulation around pipes can prevent moisture build-up, and in others you can consider running warm-water pipes away from cold ones, to avoid excess moisture build-up.
3. Previous water build-up and stains
If your home has ever had moisture problems, whether a toilet overflowed or a sewer backed up, it is at risk for mold. The best places to look for mold are areas where water remained for a long time. If your home has ever flooded, mold could grow underneath the flooring and behind walls. If you suspect mold, search for discolored walls, ceilings and floors; the discoloration indicates colonies of mold are growing behind it. Keep an eye out for bubbles and cracks in your paint and wallpaper and look for warped and bulging walls. These also indicate that moisture has penetrated the surface and they could be housing mold. In these instances, a professional should be hired to assess your problem, and advise on how to get rid of it, as persistent moisture build-up is a significant issue.
4. Personal health symptoms
Your health can be a telling sign if there is mold in the home. Symptoms of a mold allergy include a consistently runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, dizziness, headaches and even memory loss. On their own, these symptoms could just be a sign of an oncoming cold, but if you are only symptomatic within your home, mold could be the culprit. Some varieties of mold are toxic and can cause more serious symptoms, which is why it is so important to remove mold from your home and prevent it from coming back. The most dangerous type is black mold, which can cause serious respiratory difficulties if left untreated. Most test kits will identify this kind of mold, so you should absolutely check if you suspect it is in your home.
5. Spotting and fur on your walls
There are so many varieties of mold that you cannot really identify the type based on specific shape, size or color. It can appear as a furry, dark growth, as a black stain, or as black, white, orange, green or brown specks. Rather than look for out-of-the-ordinary, multi-colored flakes in every inch of your home, identify areas that are moist and then look for possible signs of mold. The fungus thrives in cool, damp areas, and it will be much easier to find it by limiting your search to areas that are affected by excess moisture. Yes, paint and wallpaper get stained and marked from everyday living, but if you see a pattern to the stains, or they appear in the corners of a room, this is usually a good indicator that mold is present.