Mold can do a lot more damage to a home than many realize. If left to grow unnoticed, mold can start to infest materials like drywall, wood, carpeting, tile, and more. It can also be extremely problematic for the inhabitants living inside of the mold-contaminated home. Symptoms that people exposed to mold experience can include a headache, difficulty breathing, eye and skin irritation, runny nose, and the development of conditions like asthma and Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis.
Mold needs moisture to grow, and therefore thrives best in wet areas that are poorly ventilated. If you spot any, it is important to remove mold right away as mold spores can spread and grow very quickly. Once the mold infestation gets out of control, there is less you can do to contain it yourself.
Mold on hard surfaces like tile and plastic can be cleaned fairly easily with soap, water, a sponge, and some hard scrubbing. After you are finished cleaning the mold, make sure that you throw away the sponge or other tools you used to clean it. Mold spores can remain on the sponge and spread onto anything it touches. Porous surfaces are another story. If mold has fully infested a piece of wood or drywall, those objects will likely need to be thrown away and replaced depending on the level of contamination.
Below are some places to look for mold in a home in hopes of catching it before it becomes a major issue.
The kitchen is a prime location for mold to grow in a house because there are a lot of water sources.
- Sponge or dish scrubber: These tools get set down sopping wet where they are left to sit until their next use. After each use, be sure to completely squeeze all of the moisture out of these and dry the space underneath them.
- Under the refrigerator: The area under the refrigerator is where leaks, dropped ice cubes and cracked water supply lines can create a breeding ground for mold and go unnoticed for long periods of time. Regularly check to make sure this area is dry.
- Dishwasher: Another appliance prone to leakage and leaving behind puddles that are just asking for mold growth. Dry this area as often as possible.
- Coffee maker: After a coffee maker does its job, it is left to sit there containing the hot moisture and coffee grounds until its next batch. Lift the lid and air it out in between each use to help prevent mold growth.
Bathrooms are extremely likely to harbor mold, as they are moisture heavy spaces that typically do not have great ventilation.
- Drains: Water accumulates at the bottom of the sink, shower, and bathtub drains, which is where a ring of mold often appears. If the water in your tub or sink is ever pooling when not in use, make sure to address it early and get the drain functioning properly.
- Shower doors and curtains: Mold can appear on the inside of shower doors and hide in the folds of shower curtains. After each use, be sure to open doors and curtains all of the ways to allow the area to air out.
- Toilet: Around the bottom edge of a toilet is also a spot where mold can live undetected for some time. It is a spot that is prone to leaks and does not get a lot of airflows.
To help improve ventilation in the bathroom, open any windows and turn on the fan, especially after a bath or shower. This will discourage mold growth.
Since basements are often associated with dark and damp conditions, it should be no surprise that mold growth in the basement is extremely likely.
- Washing machine: Mold and mildew can develop inside of washing machines. Leave the washer door open after each use to allow it to air out and reduce the risk of mold.
- Water heater: Water heaters are prone to leaks. Check around the bottom, under the drain valve, and near the overflow pipe for any moisture and clean any if spotted.
- HVAC: The HVAC drain pain where water is collected and left to sit for long periods of time is begging for mold. Make it a point to regularly check and empty your HVAC drain pan to avoid this.
- Walls: Since basements are underground and their walls are the foundation of your home, there is a lot of pressure on them at all times. Cracks can occur and water will seep through. Without much ventilation or a quick cleanup, this water can rapidly develop mold. After it rains, walk around your basement to check for any signs of leaks.
One big issue with the basement is that for many people it is a room that does not get much foot traffic on a daily basis. This means that signs of mold can go unnoticed, allowing it to grow freely until it becomes a major issue.
Knowing where to look for mold can play a significant role in prevention. Incorporate these wet areas into your regular home cleaning routine to keep your home not only clean but also healthy and safe.