What Is Mold And How To Identify Toxic Mold

Mold is something that most people come across on a somewhat regular basis during their day to day lives – even if they don’t think about it. One of the most common places for people to see or smell mold is on food items that have been around the kitchen a little too long. If you have a piece of fruit, for example, that has been sitting in the fridge for longer than it should, you are likely to find mold growing on it as the days go by.

Mold can take over a room quickly, especially after the presence of water.

Of course, a moldy piece of fruit is easy to deal with – simply dispose of it. However, when mold starts to grow in your home, the fix is not nearly as simple and can get quite expensive.

Mold is a fungus that can do damage to the air quality in your home and actually makes it an unsafe place to live, depending on the specific type of mold and the quantity present. Toxic mold can grow when they have an ample source of water to live from and some kind of organic matter to feed off of.

Frequently, mold can be found behind the walls in bathrooms or kitchens that have a water leak of some kind that is feeding the growth. Also, regular condensation in a specific location can lead to the spread of mold over time. If you spot mold in your home, it is important that you deal with it right away to prevent the problem and to remove the health risk for you and your family.

What is Mold?

Mold is a fungus, and there are thousands of different types that exist in our environment. The spores are multi-cellular organisms that can undergo chemical reactions and release fumes into the air.

If you have ever smelled that musty, ‘old’ scent in a moldy home or room, those chemical reactions are to blame. Many can be airborne and can get into your home through something as simple as an open door or window. Once inside your home, the possibility exists for the mold to grow and spread as long as it has a source of water and the right surface to grow on.

Molds thrive on moisture, and taking away that moisture is the only way to make sure the mold doesn’t return. Even after you have done a good job of cleaning a moldy area and treating it with a commercial mold cleaner, you can always have a recurrence of the problem if the moisture is still present.

For that reason, solving any water problems that you have in your home is key to avoiding future mold colonies from developing.

The reason that mold is such a concern inside of a home is that, beyond the objectionable odor, they can become hazardous to the health of you and your family. Toxic mold is the one that can create a dangerous situation for humans and/or animals. For this reason, you need to act on any mold growths that you have in your home to reduce the chances of getting sick from the toxins that could be released.

It doesn’t matter what kind of mold you think is growing in your home – steps should be taken to get rid of the mold, even if you don’t think it is toxic.

The Types of Mold and the Cause

According to some research, there are hundreds of thousands of different types of mold which occur in nature. Because they are naturally occurring, they can take hold in your home without you having done anything to ‘invite’ them in.

Mold spores can simply be flown around on the breeze, and could lead to a colony within your home if the right conditions are present. Most often, mold tends to grow in dark and damp places, and also in places with high humidity.

By providing your home with proper ventilation and ample sunlight, you can reduce the chances that mold will develop. Also, taking care of any water-related problems such as a leak will reduce the opportunity that the mold has to grow and thrive.

Some of the most-common types of mold that are seen inside homes are as follows:

  • Green mold. As the name suggests, this mold is green in color and can be hazardous to humans. Often, the mold that will grow on old food items will be of the green variety.
  • Orange mold. Usually, orange mold is found outside of the home and is usually not harmful to humans. However, it should still be removed as a precaution, and do protect the condition of your property.
  • White mold. If you see white mold growing anywhere in or around your home, it should be treated and removed just as any other mold. It may or may not be a risk to your health, but don’t take any chances and have it taken care of as soon as possible.
  • Black mold. Black mold is generally the color that most people are concerned with because a specific type of mold, Stachybotrys, is black in color and is toxic. However, not all black mold is Stachybotrys, and some non-black molds can also be toxic. As a general rule, all mold should be treated as if it were toxic, and removed safely from the home.

Picture of Mold

picture of mold

While you probably have seen mold in various forms throughout your life, you might not have always recognized it as being mold. It is important to know what you are looking at when it comes to mold, because a visual inspection is one of the best ways to determine if there is a mold problem in your home.

As soon as you think you smell mold in your home – or if you see it anywhere – you should take measures to remove it quickly and completely.

The following is a video covering the different kinds of molds. When you see anything like these examples – you may be growing in your home, you may have a mold problem that needs to be addressed.

How to Detect Toxic Mold – And Why You Need To

It is very important that you detect any mold growing in your home for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, for the health of you and your family. When toxic mold is growing in your home, it could potentially cause health problems if it is of the toxic variety.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms of health problems initially, it is unsafe to be breathing in air on a regular basis that contains mold spores. Prolonged exposure, such as would come from living in a home with a mold problem, could be especially harmful.

Beyond health concerns, it can also be damaging to the value of your home to have mold colonies grow in various parts of the home. When the time comes to sell your house, mold issues may be a big red flag for potential buyers – leaving you needing to complete costly repairs in order to get the home market ready.

Instead of putting yourself in that unfavorable position, staying ahead of the game and dealing with any mold problems as soon as you discover them is the best option.

There are primarily two ways for the average homeowner to detect mold in their home – sight, and smell. The first is the most obvious, as seeing mold is the best way to know for sure that you have a mold problem. Places to look include anywhere there could be water present, such as bathrooms, the kitchen, or a damp basement or crawl space.

Mold needs water to thrive and grow, so dark and damp places are always the most likely location to find a mold colony. A routine visual inspection of these areas in your home on a periodic basis is a good idea to catch any mold growth before it gets too large.

Commonly, the smell of mold is the first thing to alert a homeowner to a problem. Mold often smells musty and ‘stale’, and it is certainly an unpleasant odor for most people.

If something smells ‘off’ in your home, make sure to take a close look around and try to find any signs of mold. Unfortunately, one of the problems in tracking down mold is that it commonly grows behind walls where there is moisture available.

Of course, you can’t see behind the walls, so part of the wall may need to be taken down to get a good look.

If you think mold might be growing behind your walls in a specific part of the home, it is a wise idea to call in a mold inspector who can work on tracking down any mold that is growing. Before you go ripping up any walls or plasterboard in your home, consult with a professional who can advise you.

The dangers of black mold are serious enough that it warrants you immediate attention when you spot signs (or smell signs) of mold growing in your house.

The sooner you can respond to the problem, the easier the fix is likely to be. Left untreated, mold can grow relatively quickly and leave you with a serious problem that requires expensive repairs – not to mention the dangers to your health. Take all signs of toxic mold seriously, and do what you can to prevent it from taking up residence in your home.

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Mas Broto

Written by: Mas Broto

Mas Broto is a small business owner with 30 years experience in the real estate industry. He is the founder and editor of theDailyThrive.net, the most comprehensive free home improvement website on the planet!

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