How to tell if your house has mold.
Every house has mold. It’s an uncomfortable fact. However, just because your house has mold, it does not mean it needs an expensive remediation. Most mold can be addressed quickly, and with little expense if you catch it early enough. First, you have to know where it is located, and the extent of the contamination.
You can see or smell it.
Whenever I go into a house, within a few seconds I can tell if I need to run a mold test. Its because of the smell, it’s a musty, wet smell. If you’ve never smelled it, imagine what an old wet towel smells like, and you’re close. Check areas where plumbing leaks could be hiding such as behind showers, in the basement, or under plumbing. When you go to check, if you see anything that looks like a fuzzy powder, regardless of color, its probably mold. Normally, mold is either black, brown, or a greenish white.
Someone in your house is getting sick often.
If you or a family member keep getting ill, or maybe have been having a persistent illness related symptom, it may be time to test for mold. Respiratory symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breathe, and even fever can be related to mold. If you think that mold may be causing illness, it is time to get a mold test.
Test for it.
This will require a professional. Normally a base air test is required. If there is visible mold which is active in the house, then a surface sample should be taken. A mold test, and proof of activity, is needed for mold remediation. It is normally an expense, $300-600 depending on who is preforming the inspection, and how many samples need to be taken.
What to do if your house has mold.
There are only a few options when it comes to remediating mold in your house. Essentially, it comes down to a basic formula. Which is to stop the moisture that feeds the growth of the mold, to spray the mold with a chemical that either kills or stops growth, or removal entirely of the contaminated materials.
Higher professionals for remediation.
If you a mold test is performed, and there is a high airborne mold content or you can visibly see quite a large amount of mold, you should call a remediation company to remove the mold. Having a bunch mold in your house should immediately become your biggest concern about the property. It can be quite hazardous and expensive to remediate.
Treat it yourself.
If you find mold, and it’s fairly localized, like around the rim of the tub, then a chemical treatment and cleaning can be all you need. Using bleach, or going to a hardware store and buying an EPA rated mold killing agent can normally treat most molds. I recommend getting the EPA chemicals and spraying down the surface. If it’s a hard surface such as tile or concrete, a spray and then cleaning should be enough. When you start looking at soft surfaces such as drywall, you are better off getting rid of the materials and replacing. With all that being said, if the moisture leak or penetration is not addressed first, you have wasted your time and money!
What’s that old phrase? An ounce of prevention… A few areas homeowners should be looking at to prevent mold growing is anywhere water is located. Plumbing leaks and leaks in the foundation are typically where I see mold the most. Making sure your gutters are cleaned, your downspouts are about 6 feet away from the foundation, and all the windows are properly sealed with caulking around the trim. Around your tubs and showers there should also be caulking. If you have a plumbing or roof leak, take care of it immediately! And lastly, please, PLEASE make sure your toilets are properly secured and installed!