Mold Warning Signs: What You Need to Know

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: December 7, 2020

The house is spotless, and you don’t hear any alarms or see flashing lights. How can you know if there’s a mold problem growing in your home? Mold isn’t sneaky, but it’s very efficient at reproducing in all kinds of environments. When you understand mold warning signs, you gain the upper hand in combating this fungal nuisance.

Why Is It So Common?

No one really admires mold, but its ability to survive harsh environments and freely reproduce sets it apart from other notable fungi like yeast and mushrooms. Mold thrives indoors and out, and it favors warm, damp conditions surrounded by plenty of humidity.

According to CDC estimates, there may be as many as 300,000 different mold species, so even the cleanest house can develop problems. Because the fungus multiplies by producing airborne microscopic spores that attach to any type of surface, mold is a very common organism in our homes.

Where Does It Hide?

Talk with a mold remediation contractor about where the fungus hides around the house, and you’ll get some surprising answers. Any area that holds moisture forms a breeding ground for mold. It thrives underneath sink fixtures and grows in stove exhaust vents. Undetected plumbing leaks, HVAC ductwork, washing machines and refrigerator drip pans create mold-friendly environments.

Water damage moldy wood
We’ve seen mold grow everywhere, including behind water damaged bathroom tiles

Mold breeds outside the house too especially in damp, shady areas. Water pooling underneath garden faucets and around the foundation encourages mold. It grows in decomposing vegetation like leaf piles and up in gutters along the roof line. All that outdoor activity releases spores into the air that eventually enter your home.

Warning Signs of Mold in Your Home

Hidden mold growth can go unnoticed because the early warning signs aren’t always obvious. However, these three simple steps can help you identify a mold problem before it becomes serious.

1. Trust How You Feel

Often, unseen mold is detected by the way it affects your health. Headaches, a runny nose and itchy eyes can be reactions to mold growing in your home. If your symptoms disappear when you’re away from the house and reappear when you return, this can be a warning sign that you’re dealing with a hidden mold problem.

2. Take a Closer Look

That dark area on the wall next to the bathtub might be more than a dirty spot that you missed. Mold hidden inside walls eventually stains sheetrock, so be on the lookout for visible warning signs. If you notice green, brown, gray or black splotches on surfaces, contact a restoration contractor who specializes in mold testing here in Chicago or in your vicinity. The mold inspector can identify precisely what you are dealing with.

mold in appartment

3. Follow Your Nose

When a musty smell in the bathroom doesn’t go away after cleaning, it may be the odor of mold growing behind walls or under the sink. The unpleasant, earthy aroma is a strong indicator that the air is filled with spores containing microbial volatile organic compounds that can have negative effects on your health. You may need professional mold remediation services to eliminate mold that you can smell but can’t see.

Can You Share the Same House?

Most species of common mold are more of a nuisance than a serious health threat. They’re a natural part of our eco-system, and we live with hundreds of different species of mold every day at the house and work. However, you might be encouraging the fungus without realizing it. We covered some of the surprising ways that you contribute to mold growth in your home with an earlier post.

It’s important to be vigilant because mold problems can compromise indoor air quality, aggravate allergies and worsen existing health conditions. Left untreated, mold can cause serious structural damage to your home’s interior and exterior. You probably share the house with it every day, but you don’t want to let it get the upper hand.

Always Be Aware

You can win most DIY battles with mold around the house, but always be aware of the health risks. Pay attention to how you feel, what you see and what you smell so that mold doesn’t sneak up on your home.

If a mold problem does get out of hand, you can count on ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba. We offer professional mold removal for Chicago home and business owners, and we’re always here to help.