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How to Detect, Test For, and Get Rid of Mold In Your Home – Beware of Mold Exposure Symptoms

By Heather Levin

moldy brick wallThanks to the efforts many Americans have been making to tighten up their homes and appliances, homes are more energy efficient than ever. Not only does this movement benefit the environment, but it also benefits people’s pocketbooks as well.

However, there’s one gray lining to this silver cloud: ultra-sealed, environmentally friendly homes are seeing an increase in mold.

A mold problem starts innocently enough, usually with a tiny leak. Water works its way through a home’s tightly sealed facade and leaks in the attic, the basement, a crawlspace, or a side wall – and then, it gets trapped inside. As moisture sits, mold quickly grows because of the ideal environment surrounding it: a sealed, humid area, like drywall, fabric or wallpaper. If left unchecked, it can grow and spread rampantly, leading to serious health issues and major expenses for both your home and your health.

Indoor mold has been linked to asthma, allergies, headaches, decreased concentration and agitation. And if your home is infected with toxic black mold, the effects can be even more serious – even life threatening – by damaging the organs, skin, and respiratory system, and even causing infertility in some cases. To make matters worse, most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover damage caused by mold.

ABC News reports that one out of three people has an allergic reaction to mold. So it’s imperative that you make sure mold stays out of your home.

How to Detect If You Have Mold

Mold needs to have certain conditions if it’s going to flourish. And although a quick glance around your home may convince you that you’re safe, don’t be so sure without a thorough home inspection. A mold problem isn’t always obvious.

1. Look Around
Are there any water spots in your ceiling? Are any of your walls discolored or yellow from old leaks? Is there any paint that’s cracked or peeling? All of these signs could point to mold lurking behind the drywall.

2. Check for Smells
Do any areas in your home smell musty or like mildew? Sometimes a strange odor will be the only sign you get hinting at a mold problem.

3. Take Note of Leaks
Have you had any flooding or leaks lately? Mold often shows up after these little disasters, so this can be a big clue.

4. Check the Gutters
Are your gutters blocked? Blocked gutters can cause water to back up and leak into the side of your home or into the basement.

5. Re-think Any Allergies or Illness
Mold often creates health issues for those living in a moldy home. Typical health complaints involve asthma, allergies, and respiratory problems.

How to Prevent & Get Rid of Mold

1. Control Your Home’s Humidity
Try to keep your home’s indoor humidity at 55% or less. Electronic sensors can help monitor your home’s relative humidity, especially in at-risk spaces like the bathroom and the basement.

2. Use Dehumidifiers
If you live in a humid environment or you have high seasonal humidity, use dehumidifiers to keep the indoor humidity down.

3. Fix Leaking Pipes
Any plumbing problems in your home are only going to contribute to the growth of mold. If your tub leaks, or the water pipes in your basement steadily drip, get them fixed as soon as possible.

4. Keep Your Gutters Clean
It’s an annoying chore especially in the Fall season, but the cleaner you keep your gutters, the less likely you’ll get water leaking into your home.

5. Make Sure Your Foundation Is Tight
Your foundation should have no cracks or open spaces, so if you see any seal them up with caulk. You should also make sure the ground slopes away from the foundation, not towards it. This will ensure that water runs away from your home instead of pooling around it.

Final Word

There’s no doubt that mold can be a problematic, even dangerous, nuisance in the home. If left unchecked, it can actually destroy your home’s value and lead to lawsuits. The best way to can combat mold is to focus on prevention. The less opportunity you give mold to flourish, the less stress and worry you’ll have to deal with later on.

Have you had a mold problem? How have you worked to prevent mold from growing in your home?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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