Mold can range from simply frustrating to clean to a major health hazard. It's not always possible to tell which type of mold you have without testing. Mold spores are everywhere, but mold only runs rampant in areas that are humid and wet. If your basement has leaks or is not properly dehumidified, you may experience some mold growth. Here's how to tell.
Look for Visible Signs of Mold
Mold often begins as a seemingly stained surface in areas with moisture. Over time, it will become raised in appearance and either slimy or fuzzy. Mold can come in a variety of colors, from a pale almost white to a dark black. Yellow stains may emerge in areas where mold has just begun to grow.
If you have any damp areas in your home, you should dry them immediately and watch for signs of mold growth. You may also see things such as swollen, warped wood or peeling wallpaper. These are areas of your basement you'll want to watch.
Pay special attention to areas that are dark and warm, as these areas will grow mold at a much faster rate than others. If you have cabinets in your basement or other crevices in which mold could lurk, thoroughly clean and sanitize them regularly.
Find Any Musty Smells
One of the first signs of non-visible mold is often a musty smell. The smell may not be the mold itself, but instead what is causing the mold, such as excess moisture in your walls. If you do have musty smells in your basement, try to figure out where they are originating from. This area may need to be cleaned out and inspected.
If you can't find the musty smell anywhere, it's possible that it's in the ducts. Ducts collect water and humidity, especially in already humid places like the basement. This humidity can eventually cause condensation within the ducts, which can lead to extremely dangerous mold and bacterial growth.
Examine the Insulation
In addition to furnishing and walls, the insulation of your home could also begin to develop a mold problem. If you've noticed a musty smell and suspect that mold is growing, you may want to take a look at your interior insulation for any signs of growth.
Mold growing inside your walls or inside your insulation can require a professional to remediate. Unless you want to replace all of your insulation, the insulation will have to be treated with chemicals that will sanitize it and prevent mold from growing back later. Remember: visible mold is often only a small amount of the mold that is there.
Order a Mold Test Kit
There are kits designed to help test your home for the presence of mold. Once mold is in your home, it can be difficult to tell how far it's spread. Mold can spread through ducts, in walls, and anywhere else that there's moisture. This is what makes basements particularly vulnerable.
In areas where you suspect there is mold, you can chip away part of the mold and then send it in for testing. The test results will tell you whether it is mold and what type of mold it is. This will take some time to return results, and you should be cautious when you're taking your mold samples.
Is your basement just musty or could there be serious mold growth? The best way to tell is to consult with professionals. An air quality test can tell you whether the mold you have is harmful or toxic. If your basement has a problem with moisture, however, the mold is just going to keep coming back. H2O Waterproofing can help. Contact us today.