As this long winter concludes, are you or your family experiencing the sniffles, itchy eyes, and scratchy throat? Those may be symptoms of something more sinister than the common cold. You may have mold in your home. Mold allergy symptoms often present similarly to pollen allergies.; however, it can lead to even greater health concerns if allowed to survive and thrive.
Below are several symptoms to help you diagnose mold in your home and take action against it:
Common Symptoms Your Home Has Mold
1) Allergies: Sneezing, itching, coughing, or unexplained rashes can all be symptoms of mold, though they are almost indistinguishable from pollen allergies. Here are a few questions to help you determine if your sniffles are due to mold?
- Are my allergies worse at home? If your sniffles ramp up when you arrive home in the evening, it could indicate that your symptoms are due to home environmental factors, such as mold.
- Are my allergies worse on rainy days? Or, in other words, do you find that you or your family gets the sniffles after being stuck indoors for several hours or days?
- Are my allergies worse in certain parts of the house? Do you wake up with a runny nose that clears up throughout the course of the day? Are your itchy eyes exasperated by spending time in the basement? Answers to these questions may help diagnose the presence and specific location of mold.
2) Visible Signs: Mold can be difficult to distinguish from dirt, but there are a few key differences that can help you identify molds.
- Color: Molds are generally green, pale blue, grey, white, or black. Grey and black colored molds are the most difficult to distinguish from dirt.
- Texture: Molds are bumpy, velvety, or slimy, and will smear if wiped. If you attempted to clean the “dirt” and found it smearing, it is likely mold. However, intentionally attempting to smear potential mold is not a safe way to test for it.
- Colonies: Molds tend to group together in colonies. Mold colonies are similar in appearance to paintball splatters.
- Location: Mold often develops is dark, moist, hidden places in the home.
Often what is visible is just the tip of the iceberg. Mold can hide behind drywall, under flooring, and in all sorts of places invisible to the naked eye.
3) Odors: Molds usually smell musty or sour. It can be similar to the smell of old, dirty gym socks, or a wet towel left in a vehicle in the hot sun, or even like a wet, nasty dog. If you smell that odor, especially in a part of your home prone to moisture, there is a good chance you have mold.
4) Water Damage: Mold can develop as quickly as 48 hours from the first occurrence of water damage. Even if the cause of the damage has been repaired, if the moisture is not properly and adequately dried, mold will likely form. The best practice is to address and correct water damage immediately, before mold has the opportunity to develop. If you find old damage in your home, and you’re experiencing the other symptoms of mold, contact a professional immediately.
What To Do If You Have Mold
If the symptoms add up and you have diagnosed your home as having mold, there are a few things you should and should not do:
You should not:
- Panic: Don’t feel like you need to immediately leave your home forever, board up the windows, and have it condemned. Mold can be remediated.
- Ignore it: Don’t assume mold is not a big deal or that it will go away on its own. You do need to do something about it.
- Clean it yourself: We have previously written about the few instances wherein mold can be cleaned by homeowners if they strictly follow the proper procedures. However, we always recommend consulting a professional before attempting to remove even a small amount of mold. What is visible often pales in comparison to what is invisible.
- Avoid it: If mold is confined to one room or area of you home, consider avoiding that area until it is remediated.
- Address it: Contact a mold remediation specialist as soon as possible. The situation will only worsen over time.
- Correct the source: Mold thrives where there is excess moisture. If the source of the moisture is not corrected, even if the mold is professionally remediated, it is likely to redevelop. Repair the water damage, fix the leak, and dehumidify high humidity areas of your home.
If you have symptoms of mold, our prescription is to contact a mold remediation professional immediately. The sooner you address your mold situation, the better for your health and your wallet.