Molds are fungi that are found both indoors and outdoors, and scientists estimate that there may be as many as 300,000 different types of mold. Regardless of type, molds reproduce through spores that become airborne, invade indoor spaces, and are breathed in by the home’s occupants. It is important to be aware of what causes mold growth in your home so that you can take steps to prevent it.
Inhaling mold spores may cause a variety of health issues. For some people, the health issues may be limited to sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, rashes, or other typical allergic reactions. However, people with chronic respiratory problems, those taking immunosuppressant drugs, infants, and recipients of an organ transplant are more prone to developing a severe reaction or serious fungal infection. To protect your family’s health, consider whether any of these factors could be inadvertently encouraging mold growth in your home.
Are You Accidentally Encouraging Mold Growth in Your Home?
Many people assume that mold only grows around shower tiles or in other visible locations. However, mold can grow in carpets, on upholstered furniture, behind drywall, under the floor, and in many other hidden locations. Once a sizable colony of mold infests a porous substance, replacement may be the only option. Therefore, to ensure that you are not encouraging mold growth in your home, you must consider the possibility of hidden mold as well as visible mold. The following factors are some of the common ways that mold gains a foothold indoors.
1. Leaking Faucets or Pipes
Allowing faucets or pipes to drip can promote the growth of mold. The water will typically find its way to the wood contained in the floor, wall, or cabinet. Damp wood offers the moisture and food that mold needs to thrive, so even a small leak can lead to the establishment of a large colony that may be difficult or impossible to see.
2. Neglected Crawl Spaces
Crawl spaces with dirt floors are the ideal environments for the growth of mold, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The wicking action of the soil increases the soil’s moisture content, and when it evaporates, the humidity level will soar. Moisture or mold can enter the home through cracks or gaps in the floor or walls. Ideally, a crawl space should be properly ventilated, downspouts should be directed away from the foundation and a vapor barrier should be installed in the crawl space to prevent encouraging mold growth in your home.
3. Leaks in Roofs and Siding
Roofs and siding may leak for several months before the water reaches the interior. By the time you realize you have a leak, mold may have already become established in the insulation, support timbers, and roof deck. Preventive maintenance includes keeping gutters clear, maintaining any caulking on siding, repairing damaged fascia boards, and having a professional inspection of your roof following an incident of severe weather.
4. Improperly Maintained HVAC Systems
The air ducts are prime breeding grounds for mold, so they should be cleaned periodically and properly insulated and sealed to help prevent condensation. Drain pans should be sloped to prevent water from accumulating underneath the system’s cooling coils.
5. Inadequate Ventilation
Attics should be properly ventilated to prevent the accumulation of moisture. Dryers, vent hoods, and exhaust fans should not be vented into crawl spaces or attics. Excessive moisture in these spaces is conducive to encouraging mold growth in your home.
6. Failure to Get a Professional Mold Inspection
Since many areas of mold growth in a home are hidden from view, a periodic professional mold inspection can help uncover concealed mold colonies and issues that need to be addressed to prevent encouraging mold growth in your home. A qualified inspector will be able to identify signs of previous mold growth as well as signs of current mold growth.
What to Do About Mold in Your Home
If you suspect mold in your home or know that your home has one or more of the factors above, you should schedule a professional mold inspection before the problem worsens. Prompt action can make remediation easier and less expensive, while also protecting your and your family’s health.