Mold 411: The Info to Be in the Know
Whether you're buying a 30-year old home or new construction, mold has a way—especially in South Florida—of surfacing.
As a licensed- and certified-mold assessor, Gabe has seen his share of every scenario: a negligent tenant/landlord letting a leak fester; a Builder's Sub-Contractor cutting corners and not properly sealing shower stalls correctly throughout the entire community, and now mold grows on baseboards/carpets/door frames; even mushrooms growing from baseboards (as shown above).
We thought it helpful to provide a guide that gets to the bare bones of mold.
What is it?
Technically, the term we all know as “mold” is a non-scientific term for fungi. According to The National Capital Poison Center, although mold and its spores are literally everywhere, active mold growth requires moisture. Whether on visible surfaces or hiding behind drywall, in attics, or under carpets, indoor mold grows in the presence of excessive dampness or water.
In a case like the above photo (@impact552)—this is an escalated version of mold growth, because there are actual mushrooms growing from the walls. In fact, if you can see and/or smell mold, then the area is probably at a high concentration level.
The photo above was classified by a lab as stachybotrys, which is known as "Black Toxic Mold," which is also a commercial term versus technical. Stachybotrys, historically, was considered related to the genus Memnoniella, because the spores are produced in slimy heads rather than in dry chains. This is a type of mold that you do not want in your home!
Beware: You Can’t See All Kinds of Mold
Mold can grow on virtually any organic substance. Buildings are full of organic materials that mold can use as food—including paper, cloth, wood, plant material, and even soil. Mold can also grow on inorganic material such as concrete, glass and metal, because it can grow on the dirt or dust that is present on the surface of those materials.
Even though mold growth may take place in one area/space, the mold spores can be sucked into other living areas of a home by low air pressure usually created by exhaust fans in bathrooms, dryers and kitchens. The most common place that it's being pulled into is in air conditioners.
As in the photo above from Getty Images, mold may appear as white, black, fuzzy, thread-like, and cobweb-like—although it can never be identified with certainty without being lab-tested.
Signs of water intrusion (discoloration, peeling or bubbling paint, bulging walls or ceilings) Water intrusion (broken pipe, flooded basement, roof leak, etc.) that wasn't completely dried out within 24 - 48 hours
A musty smell
Health problems caused by mold are related to high concentrations of spores in indoor air. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, mold exposure reactions include allergies, asthma and other respiratory complaints.
Do not leave used towels, washcloths or wet clothing where they can soak the floor. Check the toilet bowl to ensure it's tightly secured to the floor.
A shower stall should never be fully enclosed. This prevents ventilation and is a breeding ground for mold. Early signs of a problem may be bubbling (see below). Bath fans help remove the steam within the bathroom and should always be used after taking a shower.
If the area of concern is a small (generally a 3-foot by 3-foot patch), you may be able to do the cleanup yourself or hire a handyman to clean it (within these limits). You can treat the area with a mixture of 1-part chlorine bleach and 15-parts water while wearing goggles and rubber gloves in a ventilated the room. NEVER attempt to remove/remediate mold on your own if it is greater than this space.
Caution to the DIY-Joe
Improper removal can result in spreading mold spores. No amount of bleach or paint will kill mold, and the staining from moisture may actually return. Proper procedures such as hiring a Licensed Mold Assessor to perform a mold inspection to determine the situation. Then contracting a Licensed Mold Remediation Contractor to properly remove the mold will not only save you time, it will save you money.
How IMPACT Can Help
Our mold inspections include detailed reports with photos. We test areas of concern in the dwelling, which are sent to a lab for mold identification as well as findings for each sample collected. The report also identifies species classification along with the quantity within the air.
We receive lab results within 24 to 48 hours. Once lab information is confirmed, we compile our report with the results from the lab (in layman’s terms) and email the report to you.