Mold builds up in damp and poorly ventilated areas. On average, a person spends about 12 to 16 hours a day at home, especially children and senior citizens.
Inhalation of mold fragments or spores can cause airway inflammation, which can result in nasal congestion, wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and throat irritation.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), continuous exposure to high levels of indoor dampness and mold can lead to a decrease in lung functionality, and may result in chronic respiratory conditions. People who are asthmatic or allergic can face a higher risk of severe symptoms when exposed to mold.
Aside from visible mold, other indications of dampness problems include mold odor, water stains, cracked wallpaper, wet basements, and so on.
According to the WHO, 15 percent of houses in cold climates show signs of dampness, and about 5 percent have signs of mold problems. In warm climates, however, it is estimated that 20 percent of houses have dampness, and 25 percent have mold. Dampness is most likely to occur in overcrowded houses or those that lack appropriate ventilation, heating and insulation. Because symptoms of mold infection are similar to other respiratory ailments, they are often misdiagnosed.
The most common types of mold include aspergillus, cladosporium and stachybotrys atra (also known as black mold). Aspergillus is a fairly allergenic mold that is commonly found on food and in home air-conditioning systems. Cladosporium is typically a black or green “pepper like” substance that grows on the back of toilets, painted surfaces and fiberglass air ducts. While this mold is nontoxic to humans, it can trigger common allergy symptoms, such as red and watery eyes, rashes and a sore throat.
There is one particular type of mold known as black mold (stachybotrys atra), which is quite distinguishable from other types of mold by its typically black to dark-greenish color and a slimy texture. It is often found indoors, growing on surfaces such as wood, paper and fiberboard, because of the high cellulose content of these materials. It has a distinctive odor that is musty and mildew-like.
Symptoms of black mold infection (also called “toxic mold”) can be very severe, especially if it is untreated for a long time, or when someone has a mold allergy. An infected person experiences nausea, vomiting and may also have nosebleeds, and in severe cases, bleeding in the lungs.
The effect of mold has been studied for more than three decades, and it has been discovered that it’s a combination of a number of fungi which grow in filaments, and reproduce spores that drift away and are not detectable to the naked eye.
Mold, because of its size is everywhere in homes, outside, and even in our food, and may not be obvious. Homes provide a very viable environment for mold to grow, particularly in a damp basement.
Symptoms of mold in house
The severity of mold symptoms is dependent on the number of spores inhaled and the length of exposure. Some of the symptoms include:
Chronic Sinus Problems
If you have a stuffy nose, it may not be a cold, particularly if you don’t have any other symptoms. A study that was conducted suggests that as much as 90 percent of chronic nasal problems can be traced to mold in the house or in the workplace.
Mold can also result in a nosebleed in some cases as a result of dryness in your home. You should pay attention to nosebleeds, especially if you don’t normally get them. Cleaning your house with bleach-based products and ventilating your home can reduce the risk of having nosebleeds.
Exposure to toxic molds can lead to Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis although the cases are rare. This is a result of inflammation of the lungs due to breathing impurities.
Asthmatic people can have a flare up when they breathe in airborne mold spores. If you are allergic to mold and also asthmatic, you should have a contingency plan for emergency situations, as the reactions can be severe. Airborne fungus can result in breathing problems such as wheezing, and this can happen even without a prior asthma condition. Contact your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or any other respiratory ailment without an apparent trigger.
A particular type of mold known as Sporothrix schenckii, related to that often seen on bread and in beer, can result in a skin infection called Sporotrichosis. The infection is caused primarily by mold entering the body via a wound. In some cases, rare fungus-carrying cats may spread this infection. It can also be inhaled. The first symptom of this infection is a lump on the skin, which develops into an open sore over time.
A rare scenario has been cited where someone suffered neurological damage due to mold toxicity. The victim experienced a loss of their motor and cognitive functions.
Other non-specific symptoms have been reported and are listed below:
The first step is to locate and confirm the presence of mold. In addition to looking for the obvious discoloration spots, you can have your home tested for mold. According to homeadvisor.com, the average cost to test for mold is $834. However there are home mold-testing kits available for $10 to $50.
It is quite important that you remove the mold the moment you discover it, because the spores can affect the quality of air in your home. It is always advisable to hire a professional to remove the mold, but if you do it yourself, use an OSHA approved respirator, gloves, disposable coveralls, non-vented goggles. Listed below are a few tips on how you can remove mold from your house:
Remove moldy materials
If not properly disposed of, moldy materials may stir up spores, which can spread into your house. Because of their microscopic size, a square foot of wall can have over 3,000 million mold spores. You have to use the appropriate equipment and follow the safety procedures so as to protect yourself from the spores.
Excessive levels of contamination may require that you discard absorbent materials such as carpets, wall paper etc. To avoid airspore becoming airborne, professionals seal off the affected area with tape, and use plastic sheets to seal doorways and vents. They also use air movers, dehumidifiers and HEPA air scrubbers to eliminate moisture and dry out the air and surfaces.
Heating, Insulation and Ventilation
Provide adequate heating and insulation in cold climates to reduce air humidity levels and condensation.
Install appropriate ventilation, especially in wet areas such as bathroom, laundry and kitchen. It’s imperative to avoid water leaks by maintaining rain and surface water drainage. Ensure all holes in the roof are watertight, and that pipes and other structures are correctly fitted.
Find and fix interior plumbing leaks
If you discover mold near waste lines, water pipes or any other plumbing fixture in your house, this indicates that the mold is somewhere near the leak. While you check for mold spots, ensure all water runs through the pipes and the surrounding area. Remember, water can travel in any direction (down, up or even sideways) especially when it wicks into a drywall. So, be careful while you look for leaks, as the actual leak might be a short distance from the mold spot. Once you notice the leak, you can call an expert to fix it immediately.
Mold can sometimes be a warning sign of an expensive moisture problem such as wood rot inside ceilings or walls. Don’t just wipe the mold away, take a step further by finding the water source and fix it. Don’t forget to caulk around the water fixtures.
Check the ductwork
When ductwork is not properly done, there may be mold formation on the ceiling under a duct, especially when there isn’t any sign of a roof leak. This usually happens when moist air condenses and forms water on ducts transporting cold air through the crawl space. When this happens, it means that the duct is uninsulated, and as such, will form mold spores. In cold weather, the reverse is the case. Ensure you inspect your ductwork as a test for mold.
Know whether it’s dirt or mold
Mold isn’t hard to identify, however, small or largely-hidden mold growths can make a surface look dirty. You can quickly run a mold test by dipping a swab in diluted bleach and dabbing it on the wall. If the spot dries quickly or keeps reoccurring after each clean, then it is mold. Mold test kits that can detect the presence of mold are often available at hardware stores.
Bleach, Soap and Antimicrobial spray
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mold can be removed from hard surfaces with household products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water. Once the moisture dries up, clean and spray the area with an antimicrobial treatment to stop mold from coming back. For an effective result, you may need to fog the entire room if the area is large and has musty odors.
Mold-resistant building materials
It is always good to use mold-resistant building materials when you need to build or rebuild an area where moisture has been an issue. Build walls with pressure-treated wood and strong insulation, then cover the walls with paperless drywall, which is resistant to mold.
Add Mildewcide to your paint
In areas where there are tendencies for mold growth, such as basement walls, spray or paint the walls with a mildew-resistant primer or add Mildewcide to your paint.
Look around your bathtub for mold
To avoid mold around your bathtub or shower, spray the bathroom wall with an antimicrobial spray, then seal the grout with two coats of grout sealant to prevent leakages. If the presence of mold persists, then rebuild the wall with a cement board tile backer and new tiles.
Check roof and windows
Check for roof leaks and clean out the gutters. Water that pools in your gutters due to blockages can lead to water leaking into the eaves, and thus, exterior walls. Caulk around the windows to prevent leaks after a big rain. As mold thrives in moist conditions, it is not enough to fix moisture problems by drying the wall and areas where the mold is present. Ensure there are no leakages present behind the walls. Check sewer backups, leaky roofs and AC ducts, as these are the common sources of moisture. Check crawl spaces under the home for water accumulation.
Tea tree oil is one of several natural mold killers that can be used as an alternative to chemicals such as bleach. Combine about 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture where you see the black mold. Allow it to saturate, then reapply if necessary. Tea tree oil is said to be one of the best natural mold killers.
Baking soda works as a remedy for mold because of its antifungal content. Mix baking soda with water, and spray the content on the moldy area. Scrub off the mold using a brush, then rinse and respray the surface, without scrubbing allow it to dry.
Spay undiluted vinegar on moldy areas, do not rinse or wash off. After a while, the presence of the mold will begin to fade and so will the vinegar smell.
Grapefruit seed extract offers an alternative to vinegar because it is odorless and contains an antifungal property that helps fight off mold. Add grapefruit seed to water and spray on the affected area.
Hydrogen peroxide can be used to fight black mold. Spray the hydrogen peroxide around the affected area, let it saturate for about 10 minutes and then scrub thoroughly. Wipe the area with hydrogen peroxide when you’re done scrubbing.
If the mold infestation is persistent in your home, then it’s high time to hire a mold remediation expert. Ensure you find one who is dependable and trustworthy. The expert will carefully inspect your home to determine the extent of the infestation. Make sure you get a written report from the specialist. In order to avoid conflicts of interest, hire a specialist to inspect your home, and another to work independently to complete the mold remediation job. Mold stains can also grow on roof tops that are mostly in shaded areas. These types of mold and mildew can discolor the roof and damage the roof shingles over a period of time if left unattended. For cleaning mold and mildew on the roof call us at 781-447-0022.