The effects of household mold and what you can do about it.

Experts have estimated that more than half of all American homes have a mold problem. Mold can lead to numerous health problems, as well as causing damage to your home if it’s left for too long. Therefore, identifying and removing mold as quickly as possible is essential. Some cases may require professionals who can remove the mold, find the cause of mold growth, and apply treatments to prevent it from returning. Quite often there are plenty of steps you can take yourself to keep moisture levels under control and out of your home.


What causes mold?


Understanding why mold grows is key to being able to prevent it from growing in your home. Mold, specifically black mold, needs moisture to grow. This can be in the form of high humidity levels in your home, moisture on the ceiling after a shower, or water getting into the home from outside. Mold also thrives in the dark and will continue to grow the longer it’s left. This means that if you have a broken roof, leaking pipes, or a lot of condensation on windows, you can expect mold to follow soon after if the problem isn’t resolved.


The health effects of mold


28% of people have a genetic susceptibility to mold-related health issues, meaning you’re more likely to become ill if there’s mold growing in your home. Even without a genetic susceptibility, mold is responsible for making many people feel unwell in several different ways. According to the Institute of Medicine, exposure to indoor mold is linked to upper respiratory problems, wheezing and coughing in people who are usually healthy. Mold often makes asthma worse and can lead to severe reactions such as lung infections. Black mold also triggers allergy-like symptoms and headaches, and causes fatigue. Less commonly known is that mold can trigger and exacerbate mental health conditions and has been linked to brain fog, anxiety, depression, insomnia and difficulty concentrating.


Who is most susceptible?


The health impacts of mold in the home vary widely and affect people in different ways, even if they live in the same home together. Research shows that the elderly, children and people with pre-existing conditions are affected the worst by mold growth. In particular, people living with respiratory issues are often significantly affected. Some people are allergic to mold and can be healthy and then suddenly feel very unwell when mold grows. This is rare, and symptoms and intensity of a mold allergy can vary, but it’s still possible. Ultimately, anyone can be affected by mold, so even if you’re not susceptible to its health effects it’s still essential to remove it.


Damage to your property


As mold requires moisture to grow, it can indicate that there’s a bigger problem going on. You may find that your roof needs replacing as it’s letting moisture in. In cases like this, mold can actually help you to identify a problem with your property that you may not otherwise find as quickly. However, mold can also be responsible for causing damage to your property. For example, if it’s left growing for too long, it can damage the surface it's living on, depending on how porous it is. Drywall and carpets are prone to mold growth and can become ruined if the mold is left to take over. This can result in costly repairs and replacements, and can even mean your home becomes structurally unsafe.


Managing condensation and humidity levels


Condensation occurs when humid air meets a cold surface, such as windows. This type of mold growth is the most common and, fortunately, isn’t usually dangerous. In most cases, you can wipe the mold away, ideally with a cleaner specifically for mold, and you may need to replace sealants that have gone moldy, as it can be difficult to remove mold from them. This type of mold, called Cladosporium, is only usually a problem if it’s on drywall or left for a long time. High humidity levels mean there’s a lot of moisture in the air, offering mold spores a perfect environment to grow. Mold from high humidity levels often grows in poorly ventilated areas, such as closets, bathrooms, basements and in empty properties. Using a dehumidifier or an air conditioner unit will help to control humidity levels, as they draw the moisture out of the air. An extractor fan in the bathroom and kitchen will also help with this, along with opening windows to improve ventilation.


When to call in a professional


If you know or suspect that there’s a leak in your roof or windows that could be letting water into the home, it’s time to call a professional. While cleaning the water and mold can be done by yourself, the problem needs to be addressed or it will be a never-ending cycle. Similarly, if you suspect there’s a plumbing problem, such as leaky bathroom pipes, call in a plumber who can find the problem and fix it. Professionals know how to limit the amount of moisture that gets into your home whilst they’re fixing the issue, helping you to avoid further mold growth problems. When you have mold growth and don’t know what’s causing it or it’s been left and has become a big problem, a professional will be needed. They can identify the cause, remove it, and treat any problem areas to prevent mold from growing in those areas again. They can also measure moisture levels to help find any other potential problem areas before they show themselves.


Mold growth in the home can lead to various health problems, both physical and psychological, as well as expensive structural issues and repairs. It’s essential that the cause of the mold growth is identified and fixed as soon as possible, as well as the mold itself being removed and treated if needed. The sooner mold problems are dealt with, the easier they are to rectify and the less damage they can cause.

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