Mold Damage: 41 Frequently Asked Questions

Mold-Spore-Colony-under-Microscope

What are molds?

Mold is a type of fungi found in both indoor and outdoor environments. The primary functionality of the mold is to breakdown dead materials. In nature, mold can be found on soil, food, and plants.

What makes mold grow?

Mold can grow abruptly with the following limited resources.

  • Nutrients (organic materials like paper, wood, drywall)
  • A suitable place to grow (basement, bathroom & crawl spaces)
  • Suitable condition (Moisture & Humidity)

How does mold spread?

Molds produce “spores”, a set of microscopic cells that can spread through air, water and insects. Under the right conditions, live spores transported to new areas form mold colonies.

Is inhaling mold spores dangerous?

For people sensitive to mold, touching or inhaling mold spores can trigger health concerns like sneezing, itching, sore throat, runny nose, and skin rashes. These issues can be chronic for people with existing health concerns like:

  • Liver diseases
  • Compromised immunity
  • Asthma and allergies

Infants, children, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to health concerns from mold spore interaction.

Can mold kill you?

No, exposure even to the most dangerous mold types like black mold will not kill you.

How dangerous is black mold?

Even though black mold has been linked to chronic health concerns like cancer and lung diseases, we still have no solid proof to confirm the direct association of black mold with these chronic diseases.

As per the Florida Department of Health, exposure to black mold can trigger the following health problems:

  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Wheezing
  • Blurry vision
  • Itchy eyes

What are the most dangerous mold types?

Some of the mold dangerous mold types are:

  • Stachybotrys (Black Mold)
  • Chaetomium
  • Aspergillus
  • Cladosporium and
  • Fusarium

What are the signs of mold growth?

Some signs of mold in your house are:

  • You are sick and never better
  • Musty smell
  • Bubbly walls
  • Rust

How can I get exposed to mold?

It is impossible to avoid exposing yourself to mold spores due to its ubiquitous nature. It is when the level of exposure elevates, you start observing symptoms. Handling moldy materials or inhaling moldy air often can elevate the concern.

People with existing health concerns start exhibiting systems even with minor exposure levels.

What is the cost of mold removal?

The cost of mold removal or remediation can vary based on factors like the area, location, and type of contamination.

How long does mold removal take?

It depends on your individual situation; however, on average we take 3 to 6 days to restore the conditions based on IICRC best practices for mold remediation.

Can I remove mold myself?

It depends on the mold type and the situation that you are dealing with. You can use DIY tips for everyday mold, which you can often see in the bathroom corners and the kitchen cabinets.

However, when you start observing the other signs of mold like the musty smell and feeling of uneasiness or if you observe a hidden mold colony with size more than 10 sq. ft., you have to consult a mold specialist.

Mold reoccurrence after using DIY techniques is another sign that you are dealing with a strong mold type, which needs to be taken care of by a professional.

Can mold dry out and die?

Mold spores require moisture and food to thrive. However, when the moisture supply is cut off, the spores actually fall into an inactive state. Once they come in contact with moisture again, they start functioning and multiplying.
Some mold types are can stay dormant for years under the right condition.

Does mold come back after remediation?

Yes, mold can reappear after the remediation process.

Moisture problem is the main reason that drives mold re-growth.

Professional remediation services can reduce the probability of mold reoccurrence to 10%.

As per our observation, the probability of mold reoccurrence increases by 40% if DIY techniques were initially used to address mold growth.

Can I use bleach to kill mold?

Using bleach does not kill the mold. The chemical composition of the bleach takes away the color of the mold and creates an illusion of a mold-free surface. The fungi present can continue damaging your property.

Furthermore, the overuse of bleach can also cause permanent damage to residential possessions like furniture or marble.

Can I paint over mold?

Have you observed bubbling on newly painted walls after a couple of months? Painting on molded walls without properly addressing the concerns can lead to this situation.

Painting over mold can delay the inevitable, but you are certain to face the following:

  • Personal & family health concerns
  • Property damage
  • Hefty mold remediation bills
  • Property value depreciation

Does painting or using caulk over mold kill it?

The short answer is ‘No’.

There are several mold killing paints and coatings available in the market today. However, if you do in-depth research, you can easily challenge these claims.

Mold colonies on walls or other surfaces have to be properly addressed prior to painting.

You can easily see surface mold. However, on most occasions, the problem sits deeper within your walls. If you suspect that there is mold beneath your painted walls, hire a professional mold remediation service.

Commercial mold remediation service can access the mold growth, identify the extent of damage, and recommend a plan of repair.

What are the signs of mold growth under the paint?

  • Paint appears chipped, bubbled, cracked
  • Wall discoloration, especially a tinge yellow color that signifies water leak
  • Wall surfaces appear irregular

What does mold smell like?
Mold smell can vary, some are:

  • Musty
  • Meaty
  • Earthy
  • Wet socks or rotten wood

Why are some mold types hazardous to others?

Mold types producing the chemical: ‘mycotoxins” are considered toxic. However, no research has so far linked toxic mold types to unique health concerns.
All mold types in properties should be treated and eliminated the same.
If my air conditioning system is contaminated, can I still use it?
Any systems that regulate airflow in your house or office should not be used if it is suspected of mold contamination.
Using a contaminated air regulation system seconds quick and effortless spread of mold spores.

How can I prevent mold growth?

  • Use dehumidifiers or air conditioner to maintain the humidity level in your property around 50%
  • Dry any spills or wet surfaces in 24 hours
  • Do not use carpets in bathrooms, basement and crawl areas
  • Address water leaks as quickly as possible

How much mold exposure does it take to make me sick?

This depends on your health statistics and age. Infants and the elderly are more vulnerable to mold exposure.

A 2012 study conducted on infants and young children across 289 homes, found that group exposed to mold had increased risk of developing asthma by the age of 7.

The bottom line is mold exposure will trigger major health concerns in the long run.

Does homeowners insurance cover mold?

Homeowners insurance covers mold damage, provided it is included in the ‘covered peril’.

Homeowner insurance covered perils is a list of damages that makes you eligible to file a claim. The covered peril can vary with the insurance type and other factors.

The main cause of mold damage is water leak or damage. To understand whether mold damage is covered in your home insurance, you need to initially understand what lead to mold damage.

The following can be included in a home insurance policy and related to mold damage:

  • Water damage due to faulty appliances
  • Water damage due to attempts to control fire b firefighters

Can mold ruin my house?

Mold can take its toll on any property made of wood. Look for decay and rotting wood in crawl spaces and basements.
Mold takes its time to inflict serious damage to the structural integrity of your house. This is why we recommend early detection and regulation of mold damage.

If I engage a contractor for structural repair, will I address any mold issues?

Performing a structural repair on your mold-infested property does not guarantee that mold will not re-occur. For the best results, mold has to be eliminated at its root prior to performing structural repair.

Can I sell a house with mold?

You can sell a house with mold, but, disclose any history of water leaks or mold growth that you have addressed or any present related concerns that are not fixed.

For instance, if you fixed a faucet leak, which was not mentioned during the property handover.

If the buyer finds a major mold outbreak behind the faucet wall and the present situation demands him to replace the cabinets completely. He can request you to pay for the damages and even sue you and the realtor.

How does mold inspector check for mold?

A licensed mold removal technician uses a variety of industry level equipment to test, remove and prevent mold contamination. Some tools that we use are:

  • Moisture meter
  • Infrared or thermal imaging camera
  • Rotameter
  • Borescope
  • Humidity gauge

How do I find hidden mold in my house?

Hidden mold is difficult to diagnose. You need advanced tools like a digital hygrometer, moisture meter, and humidity gauge to identify hidden mold.

Do air purifiers help with mold spread?

Yes, an air purifier can prevent mold spore spread, provided they are armed with:

  • HEPA filter: captures airborne spores and prevent reentry
  • Carbon filter: alleviates mold odor
  • UV-C light: prevent mold reproduction

Note that, existing mold colonies is not destroyed even though reproduction might be prevented. In such cases, mold can enter the dormant state and continue to exist in that state until it encounters a favorable condition to reproduce.

Is there a device to check for mold?

There are several mold test kits available in the market to test for mold.

Will moldy food make me sick?

Yes, moldy food can trigger allergic reactions and respiratory issues. Some mold types can produce mycotoxins, ingestion of which could make you sick.

Will mold only occupy the food surface?

No.

You might have observed pigmented mold or dusty spots on edible substances like bread, cheddar and fruits. Mold has root threads that invade deep into the surface of contamination. Therefore, removing the pigmented moldy spots on the food surfaces does not make it safe.

Can I use DIY mold removal tips to kill mold?

We do not recommend DIY Mold removal tips, provided you are unaware of the mold type you are dealing with. Here is why.

How does mold differ from mildew?

Mold differs from mildew in some aspects; find a detailed comparison table here.

When should I call a mold removal specialist?

The area of mold contamination, the air quality within your property and reoccurring health concerns are some signs that you should call a mold removal specialist.

Can my clothes get contaminated with mold?

Yes, learn more here.

What are the best practices to consider while removing mold?

It is recommended to align your removal efforts alongside IICRC’s on 5 major principles for mold remediation:

  • Provide the safety and health of workers and occupants
  • Document the conditions and work progress
  • Decontamination during remediation
  • Contamination removal
  • Contamination prevention

There are several consequences of not abiding by these principles.

What are the common types of mold found in homes?

  • Alternaria
  • Aspergillus fumigates
  • Aureobasidium
  • Chaetomium
  • Cladosporium

Learn more about each of these mold types here.

What to expect from a commercial mold removal services?

A commercial mold removal service is licensed and uses industry-grade equipment to test, remove, clean up and prevent mold contamination.

They also align their work process along with IICRC’s best practices for mold removal and foresee different situations and ensure the safety of both workers and inhabitants.

Mold growth is easy to prevent if you remain vigilant and invest time and effort to maintain your property consistently.