How to Check for Mold In Your House: 5 Important Areas to Inspect

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 13, 2019

Winter is on its way out, and spring is just about here.

While the spring warmth and sun is a welcome change, it also comes with a hidden threat: mold. In the damp environment of locations like Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, humidity from the winter can build up in certain parts of the home, causing your space to be plagued by mold come springtime. 

Luckily, understanding how to detect mold in your house is a great way to avoid complex mold problems. If you find any mold, now is also an excellent time to get in touch with your local mold removal specialists.

Here’s what you need to know about finding (and dealing with) mold in your home:

How to Check for Mold in Your House: Common Signs to Look for

water leakage in house

The first step to detecting mold in your home is understanding which signs to look for.

So, how do you check for signs of mold in your home?

Start by considering these signs:

    • You can smell mold. One of the easiest ways to figure out if you’ve got a mold issue is to consider whether you can smell mold anywhere. Mold in your home’s interior will smell musty and damp, while mold on the exterior surfaces of your house will smell stale.
    • You can see mold. If you see mold growing anywhere in your home, you’ve got issues. While mold comes in lots of different forms, the most common are Aspergillus, which thrives on foods and in HVAC systems, Cladosporium, which looks like pepper (except that it’s black and green) and grows on the back of toilets, and various types of outdoor mold, which are orange or red and typically grow into decaying wood or other organic materials.
    • You have water leaks, intrusion, or past flooding. Moisture creates mold, so it’s smart to pay extra attention to any place in your home where water was leaking or intruding, or which experienced flooding in the past. Mold abatement companies can help you address these “problem areas,” but they’ll have better luck if you call them early.
  • Someone in your home is experiencing symptoms. Mold contains mycotoxins, which have negative impacts on the skin, the respiratory system, and more. If someone in your household has new or worsening allergies, skin problems, or irritation of mucous membranes, mold could be the cause.

5 Common Places to Check for Mold

While mold can crop up anywhere in the home, it’s particularly likely in these five moisture-prone areas:

1. The Shower and Bathtub

bathroom mold

Your bathroom is a mold spore’s dream come true. Over time, and with repeated use, high high-traffic areas within the bathroom, including the shower and bathtub, accumulate a constant level of dampness.

Unless they’re properly ventilated, these spaces become the perfect habitat for mold spores. While it might seem like mold in these areas would be obvious, that’s not always the case.

As you evaluate your shower and bathtub for mold, be sure to check shampoo bottles, loofahs and washcloths, your shower curtain, the space around the faucet and shower head, and the tile grout.

2. The Kitchen Sink

Second only to the bathroom, the kitchen sink is one of the dampest places in your home. A high-traffic area, the sink is home to plenty of sloshing, washing, and splashing.

As such, it’s virtually impossible to make your sink mold-proof. Between wet food in the garbage disposal, wet sponges in caddies, and water spilled over the side of the sink, it’s a breeding ground for mold spores.

To check for mold around your sink, be sure to take a look at your dish soap bottles, sponge, faucet head and base, and the area under the sink, which can often develop leaks that go unnoticed for an extended period. If you find mold under the sink, read our guide to getting rid of it quickly and easily.

3. Windows and Window Sills

If you live in an older home or one with sub-par windows, sills and window ledges can become hotbeds for mold growth. Even new windows can collect condensation and develop mold. If moisture manages to work its way into your window sill, growth will be rapid and problematic.

If you live in a damp climate or have had window mold problems before, it may be wise to consider investing in a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from your home’s atmosphere.

4. Indoor Plant Soil

While indoor plants are beautiful and beneficial for air quality, they can also create the ideal environment for mold production. Mold on indoor plants will manifest as a white, fuzzy material on the surface of the soil.

To prevent it, don’t overwater plants and take care to ensure your home is at the optimal indoor humidity level.

5. Your Basement

mold in basement

Your basement is at high risk for mold. If your basement smells musty, it’s a sign that mold is present and should be dealt with.

To check for mold in your basement, inspect your pipes and ducting, areas near any foundation cracks or leaks, the spaces surrounding your sump pump, and your windows or vents, where condensation may gather.

If you’re not sure how to tell if you have mold in your basement, you can invest in a black mold test kit to help you get a definitive answer.

Dealing With Mold

Dealing with mold requires more than just a gallon of bleach. If you find mold in any of the places listed above, contact a mold removal company to help you deal with the problem and limit damage to your home.