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Mold Warning Signs and Damage

Whether mold is found in a home or commercial building, mold exposure and repairs after mold-related damage can be very costly -- to both the structure itself and the health of its occupants. However, if you know the warning signs and types of damage to look for, you may be able to catch a mold problem before it causes widespread property damage and/or serious adverse health effects.

Warning Signs of Mold Damage

Mold will grow when a spore reaches an area that has (1) sufficient moisture, (2) the correct temperature range, and (3) a food source. Insulation, paper sheathing, carpet, wood moldings, or ceiling tiles can all act as food sources.

If you suspect a mold problem, the earlier an investigation takes place the better the possibility you can reduce or prevent widespread damages. There are a variety of physical warning signs that should lead you to investigate a home or commercial building for possible mold infestation. These include:

  • Visible mold growth
  • Discoloration or water stains on internally facing walls or ceilings
  • Discoloration or water stains on externally facing walls
  • Areas of standing water or condensation on floors, walls, or window sills
  • Musty odor

What Damage Can Result from Mold Exposure?

If mold is allowed to grow and spread in a home or commercial building, a variety of physical damage can result -- to both the structure itself, and to the building's fixtures or contents.

Building Materials and Structural Components. Mold may cause serious structural damage to a building, because it feeds on and breaks down organic matter. Therefore, when mold infests walls, insulation, paper backing, or carpeting, the materials must be removed. Cleaning and removal causes great expense and inconvenience, but is often necessary.

Personal Property. In addition to causing structural damage, mold may destroy property within the home. When mold attaches to personal property it may be very difficult or impossible to clean. Often the item will have to be destroyed because the spores cannot be fully removed.

Heating and Ventilation Systems. Mold may also enter heating and ventilation systems. Many sections of the system may not be accessible for visible inspection or cleaning, therefore you may need professional assistance. It is very important that heating and ventilation systems are cleaned thoroughly, as spores may use the systems as gateways to other areas of the home or commercial building. If the system cannot be cleaned, or if a moisture problem cannot be corrected, the whole system may have to be removed and replaced, often at great expense.

In the end, the best way to alleviate a mold problem is to deal with its root cause -- almost always a water intrusion problem. If you watch for warning signs and correct a moisture problem soon after it occurs, you may be able to avoid substantial costs involved in cleaning a home or commercial building that has been infested with mold.

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