June 18, 2019

Mold: The Hidden Allergen In Your Home

All too often, allergies conjure up images of grassy fields, wildflowers, and tree pollen drifting in the warm spring air. But for many allergy sufferers, there are hidden dangers lurking inside the home as well as the great outdoors.

What is mold? 

Mold is a type of fungus and can live almost anywhere indoors and outside. Mold reproduces through lightweight spores that travel through the air, which may eventually be breathed in. It's usually harmless in small amounts, but you are exposed to mold every day.

Symptoms of mold

Mold can trigger allergies and asthma attacks. If mold particles are floating through the air, you could breathe them in without realizing. Some symptoms of mold allergies include: 

  • Itchy, watery or red eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Scratchy throat
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose

Where mold thrives

Molds thrive in areas with high moisture, humidity and rainfall. Mold is a common household allergen that often goes overlooked. Here are the typical nooks and crannies of your home that could be harboring mold:

  • Bathrooms
  • HVAC systems
  • Laundry rooms
  • Basements
  • Carpets
  • Kitchens
  • Behind walls
  • Crawl spaces
  • Around faucets and sinks

The mold in your bathroom

Mold thrives in dark environments with high moisture present, so the bathroom is a big problem area. Leaky plumbing can slowly be encouraging mold and mildew, so be sure to check under the sink. Wet, damp cabinetry can provide the cellulose that mold needs to grow. And when was the last time you took a flashlight and inspected the connectors under your sink? We’re guessing it’s been a while.

If you’ve turned on your air conditioning for the first time in a year as spring temperatures rise, you might notice a bad smell emitting from the returns. If it smells like damp, wet laundry that’s been left out too long? That could mean a build up of excess moisture in the condenser unit that’s harboring mold growth. It’s a double whammy when you realize the fan system is pushing that mold throughout the house, into nearly every room. Yikes!

mold in bathroom

Mold problems in the laundry room

Speaking of damp laundry, it’s time to turn our attention to the laundry room. Often placed in a windowless room with poor ventilation, laundry rooms can be humid and dark -- the perfect environment for mold growth. Throw in a leaky water supply line and you could have a recipe for disaster.

What could be worse than a windowless room for your laundry? How about a basement. Not only are they dark, they are often humid -- thanks to moisture from below ground seeping through concrete walls. If there are any leaks in the water-tight barrier of your basement, moisture can slowly but surely make its way through the porous concrete. Here, it can propagate on exposed subflooring or wood beams.

Sometimes, mold can be hiding in plain sight. If you have carpet in your home, mold could be growing right under your feet. Peel back a corner of your carpet and carpet padding to double-check for any mold growth.

Mold is at its worst when leaks are around

On top of all these hot-spots, you should be extra cautious if you have experienced any leaky windows or roof issues. Severe weather can damage roof shingles and let in moisture, which in turn can encourage mold growth in attic spaces. Again, dark areas of your home with exposed wood (cellulose) combined with moisture creates the perfect storm for mold.

Not only can mold exacerbate your allergy symptoms, but it can have serious health consequences with long-term exposure. Even if there isn’t a mold infestation in your home, you could be experiencing allergies due to nominal levels of mold spores in the air, in your carpet or soft surfaces of the home, or even your wardrobe.

Tips for controlling mold

If you find yourself suffering from a mold allergy, you'll want to address it right away. Here are a few tips for reducing exposure to mold: 

  • Make sure humidity is less than 50% and use the air conditioning if needed
  • Use a dehumidifier if you're having trouble with too much humidity in the air
  • Clean regularly with a diluted bleach solution; usually one part bleach to 10 parts water works well
  • Replace carpet with tile, wood or laminate flooring if possible
  • If you notice mold on carpets, upholstery or curtains, have them professionally cleaned
  • Make sure not to over water plants, as too much water can cause mold growth
  • Watch for any leaks around the sink areas and fix them immediately
  • Use the bathroom fan when you take a shower to minimize the chances of the environment becoming too humid

If you’d like to get tested for mold and dozens of other common allergens, book your appointment online today.

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