Mold and mildew are a natural part of our environment and play an essential role in breaking down and decomposing organic material. However, allowing microbial growth to ensue in your home can cause expensive damage and severe health issues, creating the need for prompt mold remediation.
The first step toward preventing microbial growth is understanding what molds are, how they spread, and what you can do to protect your home.
What Is Mold?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines mold as a fungal growth that occurs and spreads on damp or decaying organic materials. Mold “recycles” dead leaves, plants, trees, and other organic materials by speeding up the decomposition process and returning nutrients to the soil.
The Difference Between Mold and Mildew
The terms “mold” and “mildew” are often used interchangeably, but they have significant differences.
Both are types of fungi, but the distinction lies in the stage of development they’re in. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers mold to include all species of microscopic fungi materializing in bumpy brown, black, or green films and fuzzy cultures. Meanwhile, mildew is often referred to as mold in its early stages and looks flat and powdery.
Unlike mildew, mold can thrive in dark and enclosed spaces, wreak more havoc on the surfaces it sits on, and be more difficult to remove. The good news is that a certified mold restoration company can use the same treatment for both mold and mildew.
How Molds Get Indoors and Multiply
Mold spores can be found outdoors, and since they are only about three to 40 microns small, they can easily enter your home through your windows, open doorways, vents, and even your HVAC systems. They can also attach themselves to your clothing, shoes, and pets.
When spores land on damp or moist surfaces inside your home, that’s when they start to culture. All they need is moisture, food source (organic materials), and oxygen to start propagating. According to the EPA’s publication, “A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home,” these spores can grow within 24 to 48 hours after a humid, enclosed area becomes wet.
Mold grows well on paper, cardboard, wood, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, fabric, carpets, and upholstery. It can also culture on ceiling tiles, shower curtains, and other non-organic surfaces.
Structural Damage and Health Effects Caused by Mold
Mold eats through organic matter, and when it finds its way to your home’s insulation, wood structures, and other building materials, it will eat through them too. Certain species also bring about dry rot, wherein the fungi colonize and degrade wood fibers, targeting the cellulose and causing the material to rot.
Microbial growth can also cause serious health problems. For example, inhaling spores can trigger symptoms such as allergic reactions, coughing, wheezing, and itchy eyes. The CDC adds that people with asthma or allergies to molds may have more intense reactions. Moreover, findings from the Institute of Medicine in 2004 showed evidence linking indoor mold exposure to upper respiratory tract symptoms in healthy people.
The Next Steps: Prevention and Mold Remediation
The EPA says that completely removing spores from your home is impossible. However, taking these steps will certainly help you manage the conditions that are known to promote microbial growth:
- Keep humidity levels between 30% to 50% inside your home throughout the day using an air conditioner or dehumidifier.
- Use exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms to vent the warm, humid air outside your home.
- Repair leaks in your roof, walls, or pipes immediately to avoid moisture buildup.
- Avoid using carpets in bathrooms, basements, and rooms in your home, which often tend to be dark and humid.
Most importantly, note that effective mold removal requires two steps: eliminating the existing mold and protecting your home from future infestations. The moisture problem or water damage source that caused the microbial growth must be resolved to ensure your property is truly free from mold.
Restoration 1 of Kansas City is a local mold restoration company certified by the IICRC to remove and remediate mold. We are trained to address long-term mold concerns using safety measures, containment methods, and moisture sensors. Call us at the first sign of property mold, and we’ll be there to get things back to normal.