Did you know that almost a quarter of all asthma cases in the U.S. are estimated to be attributable to dampness or mold exposure? While mildew is a mostly harmless gray or white fungus found in moist areas of homes, mold is usually black or green and can cause respiratory illness, nausea, fatigue and allergies. According to a 2017 UNICEF report, dampness and mold raise the risk of developing asthma by up to 50 percent. With so much at stake, how can you tell the difference between mold and mildew, and what should you do if you find mold in your home?
How to Distinguish Mold From Mildew
Looking at the color of the fungi is the best was to distinguish mold from mildew. Gray or white fungus is usually mildew, which can be easily removed with a special cleaner and a scrubbing brush available from any grocery store or online. On the other hand, mold can be yellow, green or black. Unlike mildew, mold can cause serious health problems and even structural damage to your home. Green or black mold is a sign of a large infestation in your home that will begin to affect the health of your family and pets unless you treat it. The sooner you catch mold, the cheaper it will be to deal with, but it usually requires help from a specialist to eradicate completely.
Common Types of Mold to Look For
Our Restoration 1 Certified Mold experts say there are more than 10,000 types of mold that we know of that can grow indoors and threaten your family. Listed below are the five most common.
Altenaria is a mold commonly found in buildings that have suffered water damage. It grows in a variety of places that are moist, like showers, under sinks, and around windows, walls and doors. The mold can appear black, gray or dark brown, and has a wooly or string-like texture. Altenaria is known to increase your risk of allergic reactions and can lead to asthma attacks and breathing issues.
Aspergillus is the most common type of mold found in houses in the U.S. The mold can appear in a variety of colors such as gray, brown, yellow, green, white, or black, and usually grows on walls, insulation, paper products, and clothing. Prolonged exposure to this mold can cause lung infections, allergic reactions and immune responses including fever, asthma attacks, and coughing up blood. Aspergillus mold can bring serious health risks, especially for people with compromised conditions. Keeping your house well-ventilated, clean and leak-free is the key to preventing Aspergillus mold from growing.
Cladosporiumis different than most other types of mold because it can grow in cooler areas. Most frequently found in fabrics like carpets and curtains, and wood surfaces like cabinets and floorboards, the mold often looks black or dark green. While this mold is not often directly toxic to humans, it has been known to cause severe respiratory and allergy issues in some people, as well as infections of the skin and nails.
Penicillium is a different type of mold, which can thrive in low humidity. While often attributed to food spoilage, it can also be found growing on or within furniture, carpeting, insulation, wallpaper, mattresses and other home materials. Its appearance can vary, but the mold usually looks blue or green and produces a strong, unpleasant odor. Penicillium spores can easily spread from one area of your home to another and can cause lung issues like asthma and allergic reactions, which can increase in severity over time.
“Black Mold,” scientifically called Stachybotrys Chartarum, is named both after its appearance and its extreme toxicity, being the most dangerous of household molds. The airborne toxins it produces can cause a wide variety of ill health effects, from breathing issues and allergy symptoms to headaches, chronic fatigue and fever. Black mold has a characteristically dusty, earthy smell similar to dirt or rotting leaves, and can appear in parts of your home that are warm and humid. Some of the common places we find Black Mold are basements, crawl spaces and air conditioning ducts.
3 Ways to Confirm You Have Mold in Your Home
Mold is a silent problem. There are more than 4.6 million cases of asthma in the U.S., yet very few homeowners ever check for mold in their home. Surprisingly, even the regular home inspections that homebuyers pay for before purchasing a home do not test for the presence of mold. By the time green or black mold spores are visible on internal walls or ceilings, the infestation is usually significant. Here are three ways to confirm mold if you suspect it’s infiltrated your home:
- Visual Inspection
A trained inspector will visit your home and assess the problem by conducting a visual inspection. You’ll have to pay for this, as it likely won’t be covered by your homeowners insurance. The inspector will produce a report showing whether or not your home has damage and if there are any possible sources of excess moisture.
- Infrared Inspection
Infrared inspections are typically cost-effective, as mold inspectors use infrared cameras to check behind walls, in attics and in crawl spaces for differences in temperature. They can check for problems such as moisture, leaks and condensation without resorting to “destructive testing.” This means they don’t need to drill into your walls or remove your flooring to identify mold.
- Air-quality test
Due to the high price, air-quality tests are usually only suggested after an initial mold inspection gives cause for concern. Mold inspectors take an air quality test when they inspect your home and send samples away to be analyzed by an independent lab.
Can You Remove Mold or Mildew?
Mildew is far easier to remove than mold. The main culprit for both mildew and mold is moisture. The three most common areas that moisture can enter your home are your windows, basement and your roof. While you can easily remove mildew with a scrubbing brush and cleaning fluid, DIY removal of mold is not recommended, especially since mold spores are easily spread. For areas larger than a few square feet, you need to be aware that by disturbing mold spores, you may generate millions of airborne particles, potentially making the problem much worse. A professional mold removal company like Restoration 1 will use proper containment techniques to prevent the spread and transfer of mold spores. Trying to remove mold yourself can do more harm than good.
Why Should You Pay to Have Mold Removed?
Besides helping you and your family to stay healthy, having mold professionally removed can make your home safe and protect your financial investment. Mold spores are easily spread, and you could end up helping the infestation move to other areas of your home if you attempt to tackle the project on your own. Restoration 1 will ensure that your home is properly ventilated and will use plastic sheeting to cordon off the affected areas.
You should contact one of our Mold Specialists today if you believe your home has a mold problem. Our Certified Mold Specialists will take care of the issue and return your house to you as good as new.
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