According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mold is a component of the environment belonging to the Kingdom Fungi, that lives and thrives in moist areas such as the soil, tree barks, or other decaying matter.
Since they only need moisture and oxygen to grow, you can also find them indoors in the damp areas of your home, like the basement, bathrooms, and kitchen.
Yes! Being a member of the Kingdom Fungi, Mold is a living organism that is neither a plant nor an animal. Scientists refer to them as heterotrophic organisms.
This means that it can’t produce its own food through photosynthesis like other plants, and it also can’t eat its food like animals.
It survives by absorbing food and nutrients from the surfaces it attaches itself to.
Is mold a bacteria?
No! Even though most people group molds and bacteria together, the two are very different. They differ in family, size, cell structure, growth, and how they feed. For instance, unlike mold, bacteria are not fungi. Bacteria can also produce their own food, and are much smaller compared to mold.
Types of Mold
Most people don’t know this, but there are very many different types of mold in the environment. In fact, experts estimate that there exist over 300,000 types of molds, some of which are more likely to be found indoors.
So, the black mold or (Rhizoper Stenilifer) you always see on your bread may not be the only ones in your house.
Other common indoor molds you could find in your house include:
Aspergillus – Appears like a green, white, or sometimes gray patch with dark spots and a powdery look. It mainly grows on building materials like drywall, cabinets, dry foodstuffs, attics, and basements.
Cladosporium – Thrives in both cold and warm areas. It appears like a black, green, or sometimes brown patch and often grows on fabrics, wooden surfaces, and air ducts.
Penicillium – Is known for its antibiotic properties. It attacks areas with water damage, especially basements and under carpets. It usually appears as a blue, green, and sometimes yellow patch.
Alternaria – Appears as a dark brown, grey, or sometimes black patch. It’s common in damp areas, especially under showers and leaking sinks.
As earlier mentioned, these aren’t the only molds that can be found in your home. Different molds will vary in color, shape, and texture. So, don’t rule out anything that looks like a stain on any surface in your home.
How does mold form?
Like most organisms in the Kingdom Fungi, molds reproduce by releasing many tiny spores into the environment. These spores act like small seeds that are transported by wind to different locations.
As such, there are millions of spores in the air at any one time. When you open your door or window, these spores enter your home and attach themselves to different surfaces.
For the mold spores to grow into the irritating mold, they have to land on surfaces with the right conditions. This means the area should be warm and moist or damp and have oxygen. If it lands on a dry surface, it can’t grow.
The mold spores can attach themselves on surfaces like carpets, wood, paper products, e.g., wallpapers, fabrics like upholstery, and ceiling tiles.
Some areas that are favorites for mold growth in your house include:
- Around windows and window frames
- Around bathtubs, sinks, and showers
- Around leaking pipes
- Basements, attics, and crawl spaces
While mold can’t survive on inorganic material surfaces like glass, metal, and concrete, it can grow on the dust or debris that accumulates on them. This is why you might also find mold in your air duct and HVAC system.
How does mold affect the surfaces it grows on?
When mold attaches itself to a surface, it digests that material using it as a source of food. Therefore, mold damages those surfaces and degrades their quality. The longer it remains on a surface, the more it digests it and breaks it down.
If it grows on a painted wall or tiles, it’ll leave them discolored and with some ‘stain.’ On surfaces like your drywall, molds can cause structural damage, and on metal surfaces like your AC, it can leave an unpleasant musty odor.
How does mold affect your health?
Besides harming the surfaces it grows on, mold also harms your health and that of your family. These risks range from mild symptoms to severe, depending on the type of mold and the infestation rate.
Some mild effects of mold infestation include allergic reactions like running nose, headaches, coughing, itchy eyes, throat, and skin, sneezing, and wheezing.
For people with Asthma, chronic lungs, breathing problems, and other underlying conditions, the mold spores can trigger different attacks and complications.
In rare cases, molds can also result in a disease known as Aspergillosis caused by the Aspergillus mold.
What are the signs that your house has mold?
The most common sign of a mold infestation is its musty odor. This smell increases as the rate of infestation increases. It might also be stronger whenever your AC is on.
Another sign is usually the visible dark spots on surfaces like your basement drywall or ceiling. They may also appear as colored stains on your walls.
You can also spot mold in your house from your peeling wallpapers. Mold usually eats through its surfaces, and soon, they start cracking and peeling.
Finally, your last sign is your health symptoms. Do you have an unexplainable cold or cough? This could be an early sign to start checking for mold in your house.
6 Must-Know Facts about Mold
Mold is everywhere
Regardless of how clean you keep your house, there are still millions of mold spores lying around. Mold spores are transported by the air, and so, every time your AC is running or you have your windows open, you’re letting mold spores in.
The only way you can prevent them from growing into molds is by ensuring you don’t have any damp surfaces in your home.
Painting Mold doesn’t kill it
When you notice mold on your drywall, painting over it won’t usually kill the mold growth or prevent it from spreading. After water damage, mold grows deep into your wall. Therefore, even when you paint over it, it’ll only be a matter of time before it eats through the paint and penetrates back.
The best way to ensure the mold can’t come back is by first removing it, then using a paint-resistant paint.
Bleach isn’t the best mold remover
Over the years, many homeowners have been led to believe that bleach is the best cleaning agent for removing mold. But the truth is, bleach only kills mold growing on the surface and not mold spores. Therefore, if mold spores have penetrated through porous materials, bleach won’t work.
A good alternative to bleach is white vinegar. When mixed with water, white vinegar can penetrate through porous surfaces like wood and drywall and kill all mold spores ensuring they can’t come back.
Mold starts growing in 24 to 48 hours
Once you’ve had a water damage problem, you have to clean up and dry the affected areas immediately. With mold spores floating around all the time, it’ll only take them 24 hours to attach themselves to damp surfaces and start growing. The more time you waste without addressing the water damage issue, the faster the mold spreads. This is why you should also strive to keep the relative humidity of the home low at all times.
Mold removal can be very expensive
While that small patch on your basement wall seems harmless and very easy to remove, once the mold spreads throughout your house, the costs increase drastically.
On average most homeowners spend between $250 – $3,500 on mold remediation costs, depending on the extent of the infestation. What’s worse, most home insurance policies don’t cover mold removal services.
Check your insurance coverage to confirm which remediation services are covered.
Mold could be the cause of Chronic Sinuses
Recent research has revealed that mold plays a crucial role in almost all chronic sinuses problems among many patients. Before, scientists thought that they were responsible for slightly less than 10% of all sinusitis cases. But these new findings reveal that mold may be the reason for your heightened sinus problems.
What causes mold in a house?
Three things: moisture, warm temperature, and food sources. Whenever there’s a damp surface with poor ventilation in your home, mold spores will easily thrive and spread.
So, any leaking on areas such as pipes, walls, or flooding in your basement might provide suitable conditions for mold to grow in the house.
How to prevent mold in your house?
While it’s impossible to get rid of mold spores in your house, you can take some steps to ensure the mold spores won’t find the right conditions to grow.
The best way to do this is by regulating the amount of moisture in your home. Some of the most effective ways to do this include:
- Keep humidity levels down – High humidity means there’s more moisture in the house, which attracts mold growth. As a rule, always keep your humidity levels at the EPA-recommended 30% – 60%. You can use a dehumidifier to help, and a moisture meter to monitor the humidity levels.
- Dry wet surfaces immediately – Immediately after a flooding or plumbing leak, or basement seeping after heavy rains, dry the surfaces immediately. If carpets were affected, remove them and let them dry outside the house. Remember, mold can start growing in as fast as 24 hours.
- Repair leaking pipes immediately – Once you spot leaks on your roof or pipes, ensure that they’re repaired instantly.
- Ensure proper ventilation – Open your windows and doors, or turn on your AC, to ensure proper ventilation in the house. The fresh air helps dry the damp surface in your house and works to eliminate any moldy smells.
- Ensure water drains away from your house – If there’s stagnant water close to the home; it might seep back into your basement or crawl spaces.
- Avoid using carpets – in the rooms with a lot of moisture like your bathroom and basement, avoid using carpet as it creates a perfect environment for mold growth.
- Use mold-resistant products – If you happen to be renovating or building your home, opt for products with some mold-resistant properties. Look for mold-resistant paint, and if possible, use mold-resistant drywall.
Lastly, your best bet at preventing mold in your home is by having a mold inspection expert take a look at your walls, basement, and other areas regularly. An expert can spot the early signs of a mold infestation and remedies it before it turns into a huge remediation bill.
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Yes, but not for long. In the early stages of mold infestation, staying in your house might still be safe. But the more the mold spreads, the more dangerous living in the house becomes.
However, for people with respiratory conditions like Asthma, living in a mold-infested house, even for a short while, is dangerous.
Mold can have detrimental impacts on our health when we inhale a lot of it at a time. So, it’s advisable that you deal with mold immediately when you spot it. Doing this keeps you safe and also saves your pockets.
The national average cost for mold remediation stands at around $810. In cases of minor infestations, you can expect to spend about $250 and up to $3,500 in severe cases. For contractors who charge per foot, expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $25 per linear foot.
You will also spend more if you need mold testing and inspection before the remediation process.
These costs will fluctuate depending on your location, the type of molds you’re removing, and the size of the infested area.
Yes! Like every other type of mold, inhaling large amounts of black mold can have a severe impact on your health, especially if you have a respiratory problem.
Living in a house with black mold infestation can lead to increased allergic reaction symptoms like headaches, nausea, sneezing, wheezing, and coughing.
Anyone with a weak immune system or underlying respiratory issues might also develop other infections as a result.