Mold Growth Information For Renters And Homeowners

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab


Mold Growth

Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Mold is usually not a problem indoors, unless or until mold spores land on wet or damp spots and begin growing. Molds produce allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions) and irritants. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive persons. Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic persons. 

Research on mold and its health effects is ongoing. This does not describe all the potential health effects related to mold exposure. 

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If there is mold indoors then it may be impossible to get rid of all mold as there are likely mold spores found floating through the air and house dust. The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold AND fix a water problem. If you clean up the mold but don't fix the water problem, then it is likely that the mold problem will come back. If you have a mold problem, act quickly. The longer the mold grows, the more damage it can cause. 

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The key to mold control is moisture control. If mold is a problem in your home, then you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem. It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items 24 to 48 hours after to prevent mold growth. 

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These tips and techniques will help you clean up your mold problem. Professional cleaners or remediators may use methods not covered here. Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage. It may not be possible to clean an item so that its original appearance is restored.

  • Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
  • Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely.
  • Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold. See:
  • Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces. Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel.
  • If you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a specialist. Specialists in furniture repair, restoration, painting, art restoration and conservation, carpet and rug cleaning, water damage, and fire or water restoration are commonly listed in phone books. Be sure to ask for and check references. Look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations.

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Places that get damp such as a bathroom can be hard to maintain completely free of mold. If there's some mold in the shower or elsewhere in the bathroom that reappears, then you can help clean it up by increasing ventilation (running a fan or opening a window) and cleaning more frequently. This will help keep mold from recurring or at least keep the mold to a minimum. 

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Investigating hidden mold problems may be difficult and will require caution when the investigation involves disturbing potential sites of mold growth. For example, the removal of wallpaper can lead to a massive release of spores if there is mold growing on the underside of the paper. If you believe that you may have a hidden mold problem, consider hiring an experienced professional.

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It can be difficult to know when the remediation or cleanup for a mold issue is complete. To help fix a mold issue, you must have completely fixed the water or moisture problem before the cleanup or remediation can be considered finished. You can visit the site of the mold and it does not show signs of water damage or mold growth. You should have completed mold removal. Visible mold and moldy odors should not be present. Some mold may cause staining or other cosmetic damage. When mold cleanup is finished, then you can occupy or re-occupy the area without health problems. 

You may suspect hidden mold if a building smells moldy, but you cannot see the source, or if you know there has been water damage and residents are reporting health problems. Mold may be hidden in places such as the back side of drywall, wallpaper, or paneling, the top side of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and pads, etc. Other possible locations of hidden mold include areas inside walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes), the surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), inside ductwork, and in roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation).

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After a flood, when you are cleaning up the indoor air quality in your home may be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and reduce moisture and humidity can cause serious long-term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are breeding grounds for viruses, bacteria, and mold growth. This can cause disease, and allergic reactions and continue to damage materials and spaces long after a flood. 

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Last Review and Update: Sep 13, 2022
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