How Do You Know if You Need Mold Remediation?

David J. Allen

I spent the better part of 2 ½ years learning about mold and indoor air quality because my child's life depended on it. Now I help others avoid ever having to experience the same thing. The mold industry suffers from conflicting opinions and I do my best to distill loads of data into something practical and useful. I love hearing from and helping readers. • "A house desecrated by mildew, mold, or fungus would be a defiled place to live in, so drastic measures had to be taken." — Leviticus 14:45

A couple of little black mold spots on your shower wall or a moldy strawberry in your kitchen doesn’t necessarily mean your home needs mold remediation.

But if you have reason to believe that there’s a more significant mold infestation somewhere on your property, hiring remediation professionals would probably be your best path forward. If you aren’t familiar with the typical symptoms of mold growth, though, you may not even be aware that your home is harboring it.

To avoid ending up with a massive mold problem on your hands, you should learn which red flags to look for and act quickly if they appear.

Musty odor

If you’ve never experienced the odor of mold, you probably ought to consider yourself lucky. While it’s not a pleasant smell by any means, it is certainly a distinctive one.

Granted, not all types of mold will emit this strong, stale odor, but many of them do, and noticing it in your home is a pretty clear indicator that the fungus is present. The smell has been compared to wet dirt, decaying wood, or even wet socks.

Usually, the strength of the odor and where you notice it the most can help you figure out where the mold infestation is located.

For example, if the smell is most powerful when you run your heater or air conditioner, it could mean that the fungus is located somewhere in your HVAC system, such as inside your ducts or vents.

Or, if you only get a whiff of it when you’re in a certain corner of the house, it’s a pretty safe bet that the mold is near that area.

Dark or discolored spots

There’s no clearer signal that you need mold remediation than the presence of visible mold in your home. Black mold is one of the most common types of household fungus, and if it’s prevalent on your property, you may see dark spots or patches on your walls, ceiling, or appliances.

That said, black mold is only one of many different mold types, and infestations can show up in a variety of different colors. Mold can be gray, blue, green, brown, or even pink. In some cases, it may even be a mix of several colors.

If you come across any discoloration around the surfaces of your home, there’s a strong chance that what you’re looking at is mold—especially if you find it in several different areas or spread across multiple patches.

Health symptoms

There are a handful of specific health symptoms that are common for people who have been exposed to mold. These symptoms tend to vary depending on whether or not you have a mold allergy or asthma, but they’re usually similar to what you’d experience with any kind of upper respiratory allergy.

Sneezing, runny or stuffed-up nose, dry or itchy eyes, nose, or throat, and a persistent cough are all common symptoms of mold exposure.

If you or anyone in your family has a mold allergy in addition to asthma, more serious symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath may also develop. If these symptoms are showing up and you can’t figure out why, it could be that your home is harboring a mold problem.

An even more definitive indicator of a mold problem is if you tend to feel significantly better when you’re away from your house. In some cases, you may even notice that you only experience those unpleasant symptoms when you’re spending time in a certain room or area of the home.

If you notice that either of these things is happening, there’s very little doubt that something within your living space is causing you to feel under the weather. In addition to hiring mold remediation professionals, you should also consider seeing a doctor if you experience serious or persistent symptoms.

Water leaks or stains

Mold, like all fungus, loves moisture and can’t flourish without it. If you discover that any part of your home has experienced a significant water leak, there’s a very real chance that there could be hidden mold growth in the area. The same goes for essentially any kind of moisture issue; if you come across water spots on your walls or ceiling, it’s worth exploring the possibility that there could be invasive fungus thriving behind them.

These occurrences are certainly not a guarantee that you have a mold problem in your home, but they should never be ignored. At the very least, you’ll want to inspect the areas thoroughly or hire professionals to do so for you.