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Where to Look for Mold in Your Home
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Mold is the single most common byproduct of any type of water damage, and it is a dangerous one. Typically appearing within 48 hours of a water damage event, mold establishes rapidly anywhere there is sufficient moisture, spreads like a wildfire out of control, and may prove almost impossible to get rid of. Far too often, the mold problem is not discovered until it has already been present for some time, by which point the safety of the home and even the health of those living there may be seriously compromised.
So how do you know if you have a mold problem? Where do you go to look for it? And what are the tell-tale signs of a mold problem in your home or business?
Methods of Finding Mold
One of the ways to determine if you have mold is to measure your own allergic reactions or those of your family members. Do they exhibit such reactions only when they are in the home? If so, then what you are seeing is probably a response to mold spores that are present in high concentrations.
Odors are another way of determining the presence of mold. Mold growth is usually accompanied by a musty smell. If such a smell is detected, that may be a very good indicator that mold is present somewhere in the home.
Some people spend large amounts of money to have their homes tested for mold. This isnít really necessary, as home mold test kits are available for less than $50 and are effective enough to tell you that you may have a problem. These kits utilize Petri dishes and a growing medium to capture mold spores. The dishes are then returned to the manufacturer, who can then determine the type of mold that is present. Unfortunately, these tests will not identify the source of the mold.
Visual inspection is another method for finding mold. Look on walls, flooring, and piping for a greenish black growth, which is typically mold. Do not touch the mold, however, as you may inadvertently release hundreds of thousands of microscopic mold spores into the air. This not only spreads the growth, but may be very dangerous if inhaled.
Of course, visual inspection only works if the mold is growing in an area that may be readily accessed. Many times mold grows in enclosed, sealed-off areas such as within walls where you would never notice the problem until it has already grown to considerable size. In these cases, a hole is usually made and air within the wall or other enclosure is sampled.
Testing the level of moisture within the air is another good way to look for mold, since areas with a higher than normal moisture content will be prime spots for mold to grow. Digital moisture meters are recommended for this purpose, and any moisture level over 50% may signal a potential problem. Dehumidifiers may need to be brought in to bring moisture levels back down within acceptable parameters.
The Hazards of Mold
Types of Mold and Their Effects
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