Two Shocking Spots Where Mold Is Hiding in Your Home

Two Shocking Spots Where Mold Is Hiding in Your Home

Now that mold has been spotted in sippy cups, sparking alarm and a flurry of viral photos online, it begs the question: Where else is this funky fungus lurking in our homes?

To find out, a reporter on NBC's “Today" show invited a mold expert into his home. Although the house looked fine at first glance, the expert found these nasty spores in many places. For example: under the sink, where leaks combined with the dark quarters provide the perfect environment. The bathroom was another prime place, where the expert found mold on the bottom of shampoo bottles and even (ugh!) under the cap. Basically any moist place is at risk, which is why mold also flourishes around laundry machines and dishwashers.

And there's good reason to root out this silent scourge: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold can cause coughing, wheezing, and other respiratory problems. Some studies associate mold with the pervasive problem of asthma among kids.

Only how do you know if the gunk you're seeing is actually molded? According to the "Today" show's housing expert, Lou Manfredini, you can buy a mold testing kit for $34, swab the questionable area, and then send the samples to a lab to get results. But experts also say that you don't need a test: If you can see mold or smell a musty odor, it's there!

And luckily, a little mold doesn't mean you should pack up and vacate the premises, it just means it's time to conduct a thorough cleaning. For this, bleach is your best friend, killing every species of indoor mold and its spores. Just mix one cup bleach per gallon of water and wipe (no rinsing required).

If you're not into using bleach because of the harsh fumes, there are alternatives. All-natural vinegar, for one, can kill 82% of mold species. Just pour into a spray bottle (don't water it down). Spray on the moldy surface, leave for an hour, then wipe.

To prevent the mold from growing again, you'll need to fix whatever's making the area damp. For instance, keep the humidity in your home below 50%; a dehumidifier or air conditioner can help. Fix any leaks with your plumbing or on the roof. You can even add mold inhibitors to paint.

In short, mold's not the death knell for your home, so don't start freaking out about every damp crevice and shampoo bottle. Instead, take a deep breath, then roll up your sleeves and start scrubbing.

white mold

What is White Mold and How to Prevent it in Atlanta, GA

White mold growth, while a common problem in residential homes, does not receive the same attention as the black mold. Primarily this is due to the fears surrounding more well known black molds, such as Stachybotrys. However, many white molds are still capable of producing negative health effects and should be dealt with promptly. Curious what kind of white mold you’re dealing with? Read up on mold testing before hiring a pro. It may seem like mold in Atlanta grows more rapidly during the cold winter months. This is only because the conditions in winter are ideal for the growth of mold. Many of us tend to close ourselves into our homes when the temperature starts to drop. As a result of all the requirements for energy efficiency, our homes are tightly sealed during winter. This can result in trapping of indoors and the rise of humidity levels.

Common locations for white mold growth
Each type of mold has a preference for certain conditions. For example, Stachybotrys often prefers highly saturated materials, such as sheetrock after a flooding event. Because of these preferences, white mold growth is often found in the same location. Below are the most common areas.

Furniture
Mold growth on furniture is often white in color. Additionally, the mold typically has a 3 dimensional, fuzzy growth aspect.

Clothing & Textiles

Clothing, shoes, backpacks – when mold attacks contents within the home, it’s often white or light green in color. This is especially true for leather items. The good news? It’s easier to remove white mold than black mold. While the latter often leaves behind permanent stains, white mold can often be fully removed.

Attic sheathing and framing

White mold tends to grow in high humidity environments rather than areas suffering from total saturation. This is why it’s less common to see mold growth on base trim after a flooding event. The vast majority of attic mold is caused by humidity, which is why white mold growth is common here.

Crawlspaces

White mold is often found in two locations in a crawlspace, exposed soil and the lower portions of the floor joists. In cool climates, mold growth on floor joists is rare. But when it occurs, it’s often white in color.

In wet climates, exposed soil in a crawlspace will often propagate mold growth. Typically this is due to a missing or incomplete vapor barrier. The combination of an organic food source (dirt), excess moisture and limited airflow creates the perfect conditions for mold growth. In nearly all cases, white rather than black mold grows in the soil.

Does white mold lead to wood rot?

In short – no. Rot (dry rot, wet rot, white rot, brown rot) is caused by wood decay fungi. These are distinct from molds and are relatively small in number in comparison to molds. They require much higher levels of available water to grow. The name ‘dry rot’ is a complete misnomer, as all rot requires elevated quantities of moisture. If you find white mold growing on building material, it will not morph into rot.

However, this doesn’t mean your wood won’t rot. If you have a high quantity of moisture, eventually wood decay fungi will take over. This will happen regardless of whether or not you had any mold growing beforehand.

How can I tell the difference between white mold and efflorescence?

White mold growth provides an additional challenge because it is often confused with efflorescence, a crystalline growth structure found on concrete and masonry surfaces. Efflorescence occurs when water moves through a masonry structure, bringing unbounded salts to the surface. When the water evaporates, a white, fluffy structure is left behind. This growth, while harmless, can appear very similar to white mold growth.

White mold can be found anywhere conditions conducive to mold growth are present. Common areas of white mold growth include attic sheathing and crawlspace framing.

A trained mold inspector can readily determine if the growth structure is from white mold or efflorescence. Additionally, efflorescence will typically dissolve under the application of a water mist, while mold growth will not. Other helpful distinguishing characteristics include the material of the substrate. Efflorescence will only occur on concrete, brick or other masonry structures. If you find a white mold-like substance on sheetrock or wood, you can certainly rule out efflorescence. Another indication, though imperfect, is the presence of a mold smell. Efflorescence is odorless, while mold growth often produces a musty odor.

  • Warm conditions resulting from the turning up of our thermostats in winter make the indoor home environment perfect for the growth and proliferation of mold.
  • Decaying matter around the home resulting from fallen leaves and dead plants results in the release of mold spores into the air. These are spread and settle indoors where they grow.
  • Increased humidity as a result of the wet winter conditions provides ideal conditions for the growth of mold.

1. Keep the surfaces in your home clean and dry.

Don’t give mold spores the chance to settle and grow.

2. Ensure that there is adequate circulation of air.

Open a window when cooking, washing dishes or taking a shower. You can use an exhaust fan if you have one. This will prevent condensation from building up in the home and therefore keep humidity levels low.

3. Ensure that leaky plumbing is fixed in good time.

Ensure that you get a plumber to inspect any leaky pipes or drains. This will ensure that water is not leaking within the home and therefore keep moisture levels down.

4. If you have a crawl space, ensure that you spread a moisture barrier over the soil.

This can take the form of a plastic film or roofing paper made of polyethylene. This barrier will prevent moisture from the crawl space rising and penetrating the floor. This moisture can result in the rise of indoor humidity levels and encourage the growth of mold.