Mold. To homeowners, buyers, and sellers, it’s almost as bad as other four letter words our parents told us not to say. For the bad reputation, mold has, it isn’t the main culprit in lower home valuations or health issues. Instead, it’s the secondary development of water damage. But, it still isn’t something to ignore or be remiss about when found.
Experts across the board say there isn’t an uptick in mold today, but instead an increased awareness of it. But not every mold is the same, and we address that and more in this blog.
Does Mold Eat Whatever It Is Found On?
No. This is a misnomer as the mold is eating (and growing from) the nutrients on the surface its spores have landed on, such as wood, for example. Any damage the surface or structure has comes from the moisture content, like prolonged exposure to water from a leaking pipe. If any surface has the perfect storm of moisture, temperature, and food, it will grow mold. What type of mold depends on what spores are floating through the air at the time.
True Black Mold Isn’t One of the Four Most Common Types Found in Homes
While it may seem like every mold is the same, they’re not. Yet, black mold gets the headlines these days as its toxic nature can cause major health issues. Instead, it’s not even one of the most common types of mold found in homes. Most don’t affect anyone living or visiting a home beyond allergy-like symptoms, including a runny nose, watery eyes, and a slight cough. People most affected by mold exposure are those with compromised immune systems, young or elderly.
Aspergillus is often found in foods and in air conditioning systems. This type of mold thrives in warmer climates with water damage or extreme dampness but is found in household dust. As with most forms of mold, there is a different color for each specific species. For aspergillus, black, brown, yellow, and green are several common colors. Given its affinity for water damage, it can cause deterioration of paper and textiles, such as cotton and linen. Yet, aspergillus isn’t exclusively destructive. The species aspergillus niger is used in the production of citric acid, a common food ingredient, including in your afternoon soda.
Cladosporium finds a home on the back of toilets, painted surfaces, and in fiberglass air ducts. This mold will grow on textiles, wood, or anything that is a porous surface in a damp area. Though it is identified more outdoors than indoors, the species found indoors is different. Cladosporium can trigger allergies in humans but is overall non-toxic.
One of the first kinds of a mold to begin growing on a water damaged surface is penicillium. Though penicillium is known for its medicinal impact, it loves leaving its mark on indoor water damaged materials, such as chipboard, plywood, wallpaper, and glue. It has a strong musty odor; the colonies have a paint brush like appearance, resembling the brush head with bristles.
If you’re a gardener or know someone who is, chances are you’ve seen or heard of Alternaria already. Mostly found as an outdoor mold, it is the cause of black rot on tomatoes while thriving on many types of vegetation. Inside the home, it thrives on moist surfaces and carries a risk of asthma due to its allergenic properties. Alternaria grows in thick colonies, usually green, gray, or black in color.
Then there is the dubious Stachybotrys atra or black mold. Finding legitimate black mold is generally limited to foreclosed, abandoned, or otherwise run down properties that are exposed to long-term moisture issues. Stachybotrys atra requires running water to grow, forming a slimy, black mold. Once formed and growing, it produces airborne toxins called mycotoxins. These are only produced under specific growing conditions, though all molds are capable of producing them. Humans and animals would need high exposure levels to be affected by mycotoxins.
Common Areas or Surfaces Mold Grows On
Every surface in a bathroom is a mold spores’ dream. There is an almost endless supply of moisture, whether from a bath, shower, or humidity which occurs during both in an enclosed space. With the water source and temperature covered, mold would need a food source to flourish. Even if you religiously use the exhaust fan when in the bathroom and otherwise keep the area immaculate, eliminating the food source is virtually impossible. Why?
Anything containing carbon atoms (organic material) will provide the right amount of food for mold to eat and grow from. Natural oils from a fingerprint on a surface would be enough to spur growth. Common household materials like wood, paper, and organic fibers are more than enough.
Like a bathroom, the kitchen is full moisture, warm temperatures, and food sources for mold. Sinks, sink drains, even a used plate sitting on the counter are common places for growth.
Where to begin for areas mold is commonly found in the basement. Basements often lack ample ventilation and natural light, making any water seepage, leakage, or otherwise difficult to dry out quickly.
How Mold Damages a Home or Office
While mold doesn’t do the yeoman’s work of damaging a home or office, it does its part three main ways. First, having untreated mold in the home can lower the property value. Mold has a highly negative connotation to buyers and sellers alike. Even a small area that could easily and quickly be cleaned up by a professional mold remediation company can lower what buyers are willing to spend. The onus to pay for the remediation then, usually, falls on the seller. But this can be negotiated during the buying process.
Tied into a lower property value are the aesthetic issues with mold. If you’re not planning on selling your home, you could still be faced with the decision to remodel or replace mold damaged areas in the home. The severity of the mold, along with what a mold inspection finds, will help guide you to a decision. Regardless, a remodel alone can cost several hundred or thousands of dollars; having to replace an entire room or section would cost more.
Make Your Health a Priority
The final impact mold has is to the health of yourself and others in the home. The tricky thing about mold is that it may cause no effects, or it can immediately cause them. Common symptoms are nasal stuffiness, coughing or wheezing, and throat and eye irritation. A mold inspection test for your home and a test at the doctors for yourself will let you if you’ve been exposed to mold and how it’s affected your health. If your home has been subject to mold issues, Water Extraction Experts can repair the damage, get rid of that nuisance and help you and your home stay happier and healthier.