The horror stories of mold growing in homes undetected behind walls and in basements, stealthily affecting the health of the occupants residing there, are too numerous to count. While there is validity to some of these stories, luckily, it is rare for mold to grow for long periods of time without there being signs that everyday homeowners can look for to make sure the problem is fixed before it wreaks havoc on your health and bank account.
- Anyone Has Recurring Allergies or Illnesses
One of the first signs of hidden mold growth is the increased frequency of respiratory issues, in the form of allergy-like symptoms or even recurring illnesses. Many often overlook this warning sign, attributing it to the outdoor air environment or season, instead of mold growth within the home. This exposure to elevated levels of airborne mold spores can aggravate the respiratory system, causing these allergy-like symptoms. Over time, as the body’s immune response fights to remove this mold contamination, it is prevented from effectively combating other infections, leading to more frequent and severe illnesses.
One common story we hear is that certain areas of the home will trigger a more significant respiratory reaction, like sneezing or stuffy nostrils, often denoting the presence of hidden mold growth in that area. Alternatively, some have experienced more severe symptoms centered around storms, often signaling the presence of external leaks in the roof, siding, or foundation (including grading around the home).
Though this indicator is helpful in identifying potentially hidden mold, there is a drastic difference in the immune response to mold from person to person, so while an environment may incite a significant response in one, someone else may not experience any respiratory symptoms whatsoever.
- You Notice the Presence of a Damp, Musty Odor
While a damp, musty odor is not always an indicator of a current problem, it does represent a likely moisture problem in the home, which can potentially lead to mold growth if left unchecked. These odors typically take time to develop, and addressing the source of the moisture intrusion quickly can save you thousands by avoiding the need for expensive demolition and remediation in the future.
If you believe you know the source of the moisture intrusion responsible, it is best to have a qualified professional (i.e. plumber, foundation repair, roofer, etc.) address that issue first, before contacting a mold or air quality professional to conduct an inspection and air quality testing to determine if any mold growth has occurred.
- The Presence (or Growth) of Water Stains
Water staining occurs in building materials, often due to plumbing, HVAC, or roofing/siding issues, leaving a telltale sign of possible mold growth. Often times, due to these issues persisting for significant periods of time before becoming visible, hidden mold growth can occur in ceiling and wall cavities well before any respective water staining is noticed.
While water staining can remain visible long after the issue has been addressed, and may not be harboring active mold growth as a result, the noticed growth of an existing water stain is an almost guaranteed indicator that a moisture intrusion problem is ongoing and needs to be fixed immediately.
- Past Flooding or Water Damage
If your home has ever been flooded or experienced significant water damage in the past, the chances of residual or recurrent mold growth rise significantly due to inconsistent practices between water damage companies and the ability for mold to grow in hidden, unexpected areas.
One of the most common practices of water damage companies is to remove upwards of 2+ feet of sheetrock in flooded areas, followed by treatment of affected materials with an antimicrobial fungicidal product to ensure any visible and potential mold growth is removed from the affected surfaces. Unfortunately, some companies fail to remove the airborne spores effectively from the indoor environment, leading to possible residual contamination and exposure after the issue is believed to have been addressed.
Due to this common problem, we recommend anyone who has been through this situation to have air quality testing performed in the home (or at least the affected areas) to ensure an ideal air quality and a healthy home environment.