Mold can grow in the home when its tiny spores land on wet surfaces. It won't grow without water, so eradicating moisture is the ideal preventive measure. Hundreds of molds are known to thrive in favorable indoor conditions, which can be created when water comes in through walls, floors, roofs or plumbing leaks. Moisture can also be caused by daily activities such as showering, doing laundry and cooking.
If you can see mold, testing is pretty much unnecessary, but it can be put to good use after cleanup to ensure the mold is gone. Professionals can be hired to take samples or to detect mold in unseen places with special equipment or mold-sniffing dogs. Hire a certified mold inspector you trust or one who doesn't also perform cleanup. That way you can be sure any findings are based on fact and not a potential sale of services.
If you detect a musty odor, or if you know there has been water damage and are feeling ill, mold could be the culprit. It can hide behind drywall, wallpaper or paneling, on top of ceiling tiles and under carpet or underlay. It can also grow in drain pans found in air conditioners or dehumidifiers. Drywall covered with vinyl wallpaper can trap moisture and become an especially good environment for mold. If you think the problem is hidden, hire a mold removal expert. Disrupting hidden mold can cause the release of harmful spores.
Negative health impact
Mold spores can cause sensitive people to have allergic reactions if they touch or inhale them. Symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes or a skin rash and can appear either immediately following contact or some time later. People with asthma can suffer an asthma attack. Even in nonallergic people, molds can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs.
Solving the mold problem
Although it's nearly impossible to rid the home of all mold spores, mold can't begin growing on surfaces unless moisture is available. Keeping humidity in a safe range means watching the moisture level can prevent initial growth or spreading. If mold is caused by a water leak, the site should be thoroughly cleaned and the leak repaired to prevent growth from recurring.
The longer mold grows, the more trouble it causes, so deal with it as soon as it's discovered. If the problem isn't severe, a dehumidifier might be enough to dry things up. If a wet area is dried out within 24 to 48 hours of a leak, mold is a lot less likely to grow.