If you’re researching information on mold, that’s unfortunate, but you’ve found the right place. It’s essential to be aware of mold in your house because of its adverse effects on you and your home. Some people are more susceptible to the negative health effects of mold exposure than others. Children and pets can be affected. The air we breathe naturally contains mold spores, but prolonged exposure to high amounts can be dangerous.
Toxic mold spores can trigger asthma and other respiratory problems. Aside from the health risks explored later in this article, it can also damage your home. No one wants a mold problem, but what can be done about it? Which mold is the most dangerous? Not only will you be able to put a name to the type of mold, but you’ll learn how to get rid of it and prevent it from happening again.
If you’re unsure where to look for mold, that’s okay! Mold can be in quite a few places in your house, and it’s always a good idea to check at least yearly. In the following post, you’ll learn how to identify the most common types of mold and which ones may need expert help. You’ll be an expert and better prepared after reading this article.
What Causes Mold?
When it comes to the most common types of mold, it’s helpful to know what can cause it. Since mold tends to like dark and wet places, anything that creates in combination with the proper temperatures can cause mold. The perfect temperature for mold to develop is between 72 and 81 degrees. Humidity levels above 60 percent, like homes near lakes or oceans, are ideal for it to grow.
So warmth and humidity are covered. What about the darkness it needs? Most mold in homes starts in hidden places, such as around cracked pipes (like under a sink) and air conditioning systems. Poor ventilation or a build-up of condensation, even on brick walls, can cause mold to form—that’s why good ventilation is essential. It prevents the build-up of condensation and stagnant air.
Once the mold is established, it needs to feed on something, but what? It gets its food from the air, which delivers airborne particles like dust. It’s impossible to remove the food sources. It doesn’t help that air naturally carries mold spores, which is how mold can develop in most warm, damp, and dark areas. Bathrooms and kitchens are great examples of where mold likes to set up camp.
Mold vs. Mildew, Is There a Difference?
Mildew and the other most common types of mold are fungi that like damp conditions. Both are frequently found in homes, particularly in moist regions with water damage. Mildew is often found in places like showers and windowsills. Mold can be found on organic matter like paper, walls, and even clothing. Mildew looks different from mold. It is often a shade of gray or white.
The consistency seems powdery and will expand on the surface but not grow outward, creating a noticeable texture. Mold, however, does grow outward. It looks more three-dimensional because it is noticeably more raised than mildew. Unlike mildews, pale colors mold can be a wide range like black, green, and even red or blue.
The texture also appears to be fuzzy and not the cute kind of fuzzy. It can appear slimy but don’t touch it to verify that. Mildew sticks to the surface layers, so finding and removing it is easier than mold. This is because mold can hide better and thrive on any surface or item. Of the two, mold has more health risks and is more challenging to remove than mildew. You can get away with cleaning mildew with household cleaners; mold can be more complicated.
Common Types of Mold
Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Alternaria are the most common types of mold. The majority of Cladosporium species are not harmful to people. Hundreds of molds are classified as this, so it can be challenging to identify them without expert help. Cladosporium can range in from a greenish, brown, or black color. Since it can be black, it’s hard to tell if it’s truly Cladosporium or the toxic black mold.
The only way to find out is by professionals getting samples for testing. Penicillium is used to make a well-known antibiotic by a similar name called Penicillin. While antibiotics are helpful, it’s not so helpful if you find them growing inside your house. This mold often starts as a whitish color and can change into greenish, blueish, and even pinkish shades. The texture looks velvety. Alternaria is common both indoors and outdoors.
When left untreated, Alternaria mold can develop into sizable regions and frequently manifests as dark or gray blotches. It disperses spores and a musty odor into the environment. Aspergillus is one you may find in books; literally, it can grow in the binding. It can appear greenish blue on the top, and the underside can be light-colored or white.
How to Remove Mold
If you find any of the common types of molds that aren’t toxic and it’s not too extensive, you can handle the problem yourself. A professional should see any mold covering over ten square feet. It’s essential to use safety precautions that might sound extreme but can protect you from the mold and the harshness of some of the chemicals.
You’ll need to wear old clothes that you can either throw away or wash in hot water. Gloves are essential, and wearing a mask can help prevent you from inhaling mold spores and harsh chemicals. Opening windows and doors can help ventilate the area as well. You can use diluted chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide—these are good options for tiled floors or walls.
You can use vinegar, borax, or baking soda if you need something that won’t stain because the mold is fabric. Since it’s not as powerful as the other two options, it can require more scrubbing to remove the stains. It can also leave spores behind and cause the mold to return. After removing the mold and cleaning it, you should immediately wash your clothing and towels. Wash them in hot water, throw away your gloves, and wash your hands.
What Are the Risks of Mold?
Some of the common types of mold can cause health problems. The severity of the issues ranges from mild to severe. For a typically healthy person, it can make them feel like they have allergies with symptoms similar to hay fever. Those symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, and red eyes. If you don’t usually have allergies and show these symptoms, you might consider that mold may be hidden inside your home.
The longer you are exposed to mold spores, the more likely you will have increased sensitivity to them, which can also worsen your symptoms. Other people with underlying health issues can be either allergic or have more severe adverse effects. For example, asthma can be severely affected by mold spores. This can worsen the symptoms of asthma and set off attacks. Having seasonal allergies can exacerbate the effects of mold as well.
You are more likely to get fungal infections if you have lung disease or a suppressed immune system from exposure. It’s not uncommon for upper respiratory infections to recur in people constantly exposed to mold. If you notice these effects, like difficulty breathing, frequent respiratory infections, or severe allergies that are unusual for you, then you may check for mold to be on the safe side.
Toxic Mold and What You Need to Know
While this toxic mold isn’t one of the most common types of mold, you might come across it. Stachybotrys chartarum is referred to as “black mold.” It can be green or black. There are scary stories about this mold. However, it’s not much worse than the others. Most of the symptoms of mold exposure can be caused by “toxic mold syndrome,” which is often confused with a specific type of mold being the culprit. The more mold that you are exposed to, the worse the effects.
Short-term, you can have symptoms similar to those of the other types of mold mentioned above. Long-term exposure can cause asthma to develop in children, recurring respiratory infections, and even organ damage. You can also develop Legionnaires’ disease, which is one of the worst types of pneumonia.
Some of these can happen with other molds as well. It’s still not recommended to take on cleaning this mold yourself, especially when there are experts with the experience and equipment to remove it effectively. Trying to remove mold when you don’t have the expertise can worsen the situation. You could leave behind spores that can cause it to return or cause it to spread.
Toxic Mold and What You Need to Know
Most common types of mold will affect air quality, but what else can it do? Aside from the odor, it can damage your home. Since mold feeds on several types of organic material like paper or wood, it can destroy a house’s drywall and other structures. While a small amount of mold won’t cause your home to crumble before your eyes, it can completely ruin a place in severe cases.
Typically this only happens if it’s left to spread for an extended period. If the mold is bad enough after its removal, the structural damages must be repaired, like replacing drywall or rotting boards. Even repairing the situation doesn’t ensure mold won’t return if the environment is still optimal for mold growth.
This means you have to make sure that the moisture is gone. If mold is found on the carpet and left untreated too long, you could have to replace the whole area. It can leave stains and spores despite how good you think you clean it. In other more drastic cases, it can cause foundation damage and attack insulation. That’s why you should check for mold in areas susceptible to it so you can prevent extensive damage. In most cases, damage can be fixed.
How to Prevent Mold
The best way to tackle the most common types of mold is to prevent it from ever being a problem. For example, get the clothes to the washer immediately if you walk in from a rainstorm. You could create mold if you leave them in the laundry area and forget about them. To protect from mold damage and ensure your home doesn’t make the perfect environment for mold to thrive is to monitor the humidity levels.
Most home improvement stores carry meters that check humidity levels. If your reading is over 50 percent, you can get a dehumidifier to combat that. Looking for leaks is essential. You don’t want water damage or to have the perfect place mold can thrive. Inspect outdoor drainage, like gutters, to ensure they are cleaned and work properly.
You want to keep moisture as far from your home as possible. When something gets spilled on carpet or near walls, it should be cleaned promptly. Some things may air dry, but with carpet, do you want to wait over a day for it to dry by itself? You should thoroughly check your home for mold once a year. If you live in a more humid climate, you may benefit from checking three or four times a year.
Handling mold isn’t the best way to spend your time which is why prevention is essential. If mold isn’t caught early, it can spread and cause adverse health problems. Children and pets are susceptible to mold spores, but anyone with asthma or other health concerns can feel more of the effects. Besides health risks associated with the most common types of mold, it can wreak havoc on your home.
When mold is given a chance to spread, the long-term effects can even harm the foundation of your house. Stay adamant about your yearly checks, watch humidity levels, promptly repair pipes, and keep everything dry. You’ll be several steps ahead of this hungry fungus. If you should ever face this battle, you may be able to tackle it on your own.
You must use proper protective gear like gloves and masks to avoid exposing yourself to spores. You can use bleach, but it should be diluted before you start cleaning the mold. Ensure windows are open for good ventilation from both the chemicals and the spores. Any mold that has exceeded ten square feet will require reinforcements at your base. Which means call a professional.