Molds, mildew and fungus are microorganisms. They are found in damp surfaces like bathroom walls, window trims, and in places where water can accumulate like basements that flood.
Mold and fungus organisms will grow on materials that get dampened by water leaks and/or condensation.
They can look like black stains, or specks of black, white, orange, green, or brown. These types of microorganisms can cause infections, allergies, asthma, and other breathing problems. There are many types of molds. Take a tour of your home and look for the following;
- Leaks in your roof or plumbing – Any water that is trapped inside walls or under carpeting will cause molds to grow there. In not so obvious places, check to see if your walls or rugs have light stains or a strong musty smell.
- Mold in your basement – Rain or moisture can penetrate your home’s concrete foundation and make the bottom of carpets or inside of finished walls moldy.
- Dampness at the base of the walls.
- Rust at the base of steel posts or heaters.
- Stains, discoloration or decay on wood partitions, paneling, drywall and wood posts.
- White powdery substance on the concrete.
- Peeling floor tiles.
- Mildewed carpeting.
If you find a leak in your roof or plumbing, mold in any area of your home or flooding in your basement, don’t panic! There are steps to take to clean and disinfect the areas that have been affected. Although cleaning walls and floors is laboring and time consuming it is necessary to do it properly to get the best results. If you are unable to remove the mold or do not want to attempt to remove it, seek the services of a mold removal company. But remember, it must be done. The effects of mold are very dangerous so make sure to deal with the problem.
Types of Mold
There are many types of mold, some of which can be just a mild nuisance while others can be toxic and can produce serious health problems to those who are exposed to it.
The issue of mold contamination poses a serious health threat for many people who may or may not be aware that they are possibly at risk in their homes, schools and workplaces.
Some types of mold may contain mycotoxins that can be life-threatening to everyone especially infants, the elderly and any person with immune system deficiencies.
Stachybotrys chartarum is a type of toxic mold which will grow anywhere indoors where there is moisture. This type of mold is most commonly found in homes or buildings that have sustained flooding or water damage, roof, wall or floor leaks or condensation.
It continues to grow as long as the area remains damp or wet.
It is usually black in appearance (but can be other colors), slightly shiny at first and powdery when dry.
The World Health Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have raised concerns about the dangers of poor air quality and how it is related to SBS (sick building syndrome.)
Common Places to Find Toxic Mold
- Paper covering of gypsum wall board
- Cellulose based ceiling tiles
- Paper products
- Carpets with natural fibers
- Paper covering on insulated pipes
- Insulation material
- Wood and wood paneling
- General organic debris
- Paper covering on fiberglass insulation
Mild symptoms to mold exposure can produce flu-like discomforts such as a stuffy nose, eye irritation or wheezing. Severe reactions occur when people are exposed to large amounts of mold which may cause fever and shortness of breath. Those with chronic mold exposure may suffer from obstructive lung disease or lung infections.
Common Types of Indoor Mold
Effects of Mold
Mold is present both indoors and outdoors. It is likely to grow in areas where water and dampness are present.
Mold most commonly grows in the following places:
- Cement walls
The effects of mold can be damaging. Not only can mold cause great damage to the area that it grows in, but it can also affect the health of those who are exposed to it.
These are some of the possible effects of mold to be cautious of:
- Effects on Air Quality – Everyone is exposed to mold on a daily basis without harm. However, mold spores can become dangerous when they enter the air and are inhaled in large numbers.
- The effects of mold on air quality are suspected as being the cause of a variety of inhalation exposure illnesses such as asthma and sinusitis.
Common symptoms of these illnesses include:
- respiratory problems
- nasal and sinus congestion
- eye-burning, blurry vision, light sensitivity
- severely dry cough
- sore throat
- shortness of breath
A physician should be consulted if you suspect that you are suffering from an inhalation exposure illness.
Mold in Furniture – A piece of furniture may become contaminated by mold if it has come into contact with excessive moisture or with settled mold spores. These settled spores might aggravate allergies in some people.
It is highly recommended that affected furniture be removed from the home in order to improve the air quality and reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses.
Cleaning the furniture can not ensure the complete removal of mold. Such items as couches and mattresses must be specially treated in order to completely remove mold. With such items as bed pillows, throw pillows, and stuffed animals, however, it may be more cost effective to dispose of the items than to treat them.
Mold in Wallpaper – In warm environment, vinyl wallpaper can trap moisture-filled air. The trapped moisture serves as a breeding ground for mold. The mold will eat the drywall, the glue that holds the wallpaper, and the wallpaper itself.
It is always a good idea to use paint or apply wall-coverings with permeable paper backings that do not trap moisture on exterior walls.
Mold in Clothing – Mold can be found in damp-ridden clothing. Wearing contaminated clothing may cause allergies and skin irritations.
In order to properly clean mold from clothing follow these directions:
- Fill the washing machine up with water
- Pour in 20 mule team borax and hydrogen peroxide
- Put clothing into the machine and let them spin for 2 minutes
- Stop the spin cycle, and let clothes soak for about 4 hours
- Allow clothes to go through normal wash cycle
When cycle is finished, it is recommended that these directions be followed a second time.
Mold in Carpeting – Carpeting that was saturated with water (i.e. from a flood) will most likely grow mold. If the carpet is not removed immediately following saturation, mold spores will settle and affect the air quality of your home. Respiratory problems are a common cause of carpet mold.
Carpet cleaning will not kill the mold. All wet or damp carpeting must be ripped out and thrown away. The longer the carpeting remains in your home, the worse the mold problem will be.
- Beds and carpeting should always be discarded. These items cannot be cleaned.
- Draperies and clothing can be saved by washing or dry cleaning.
- Floors and Walls
- Moldy walls, ceilings, and floors must be washed more than once to properly clean and disinfect.
- Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.
- After cleaning, the surface should be allowed to thoroughly dry.
- Wash the walls, ceilings, or floors again using a mixture of liquid household chlorine bleach and water.
If you have water in your basement, remove as many items as possible furniture, carpeting, and stored boxes of clothing or appliances. Use a disinfectant or chlorine bleach solution to scrub walls, paneling, and sheet rock.
There are two ways to control condensation; insulation and dehumidification. Here are some ways to help keep your basement dry.
- Use a fan to circulate basement air.
- Use a humidifier to remove excess moisture in the air.
- Do not keep wet clothing or materials around the house, use a dryer or clothesline to dry them.
- If your basement is damp, get a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air.
- Air conditioners are great for the summer months; they remove some moisture as well as cool the air.
- Rugs are better than carpeting for basements because they can be removed and cleaned easier and lessen the headache when there is water damage to your basement (although a sump pump will prevent flooding altogether).
- Always keep your home as dry as possible.
- Do not wait to make repairs on your roof and plumbing leaks.
- Using a sump pump is the best device to keep water out of your basement.
- Never ignore the dangers and effects of mold.