There’s nothing mold loves more than humidity and North Carolina clocks in at one of the more humid states in the country with an average relative humidity of over 70%. That means that North Carolinians should be on the lookout for mold problems in their homes, especially during the warm seasons.
Mold isn’t just ugly. It can cause some serious health issues, which is why North Carolina provides legal protection for renters or buyers of brand new homes that encounter mold problems. Mold can become so toxic that it is considered a violation of your right to a habitable living environment.
So what types of mold should you be on the lookout for and how can they affect your health? How can you treat the mold in your house?
Read on for a full guide to North Carolina mold. And, if you haven’t done so in a while or you’re concerned about the state of your home, schedule a mold inspection!
Common Household Mold Problems and How They Can Affect Your Health
Even when you live in the less humid cities of North Carolina, like Greensboro, Winston Salem, and Chapel Hill, mold can still be a major issue. Moisture can occur within your house in the dark, musty crevices, near the air conditioning units, and in poorly ventilated bathrooms.
We’re going to discuss some of the most common household mold problems, but before we do, let’s talk about the three categories that mold can fall into.
The first is the allergenic mold. These molds can produce allergic reactions or trigger severe reactions in people that already suffer from allergies or asthma.
The second is a pathogenic mold. These molds are dangerous for those who suffer from a pre-existing illness, as they can worsen symptoms and feed the illness.
Finally, the third and most dangerous mold is toxigenic mold. As the name suggests, these molds are toxic and can produce health issues ranging from severe to deadly. If you believe you have found toxigenic mold in your home, call in a professional for mold removal right away.
Cladosporium is an allergenic mold that can thrive in both warm and cold temperatures. It tends to grow on textiles, so check your carpet, upholsteries, and curtains. Less frequently you will find it growing beneath floorboards or inside of cabinets or drawers.
There are hundreds of different kinds of Cladosporium, but most appear black, grey, brown, or olive in color. It tends to form in circles or spots and has a soft suede or felt-like texture.
If someone in your household is allergic to Cladosporium, they may experience symptoms such as dry skin, congestion, dry eyes, and coughing. In extreme cases and after long periods of exposure, reactions may become severe, causing asthma attacks or sinusitis.
Penicillium (sometimes referred to as penicillin) is another allergenic mold that grows in damp spaces. If your home has any water damage, there’s a good chance that you’ll find this mold creeping in the corners.
Penicillium is easy to spot because of its bright green or blue color. It grows in circles, often sporting a lighter shade in the middle and around the edges. It has velvet or fur-like texture.
Penicillium poses a large threat to people with allergies and asthma because the spores become airborne and are inhalable. Exposure to Penicillium can actually cause asthma, as well as sinusitis, pulmonary inflammation, and other respiratory difficulties.
Alternaria is a common allergenic mold that often spreads in showers, toilets, and beneath leaking pipes. It will often grow in water-damaged homes, but it’s not uncommon to find it in the bathrooms of otherwise mold-free homes.
Alternaria grows in shades of brown to dark green and sprouts hairs or follicles of the same color. It follows the pattern of the moisture it’s growing on and can appear in patches and speckles. It favors cracks and crevices and will spread beneath damaged spackling or grout if left unattended.
Alternaria causes symptoms that resemble asthma, creating inflammation or irritation in the nose, mouth, and throat. It is important to remove Alternaria as soon as possible, as it can spread rapidly to other areas in the home.
Aspergillus is an allergenic mold that nearly qualifies as a pathogenic mold and, in worst-case scenarios, can actually become toxigenic. Because there are so many varieties of Aspergillus and because it is highly to most environments, it’s difficult to pinpoint where it may grow and what it might look like.
One way to identify Aspergillus is by the density of the mold. Aspergillus grows in layers upon itself, creating an inner layer that clings to the surface upon which it grows and an outer layer that protects this inner layer.
Some forms of Aspergillus are essentially harmless to the human body. However, there are other forms that will pose a threat to individuals with a weakened immune system or a pre-existing illness. These forms can trigger asthma attacks, inflammation, and infections in the lungs and respiratory system.
It is possible for some forms of Aspergillus to produce aflatoxins, which are deadly carcinogens. This is more likely to occur in crops and vegetation than in your home, but it should be taken seriously nonetheless. Longterm exposure to aflatoxins can cause irreversible damage to internal organs such as the liver and kidneys, leading to death.
It’s more likely that you’ve heard Stachybotrys referred to as “black mold.” Stachybotrys can grow in wet, highly humid areas that have been consistently damp for days or weeks. You may find it in bathrooms, but it thrives most in areas that have limited airflow, like basements, crawlspaces, and attics.
True to its nickname, Stachybotrys is black or greenish-black in color. It prefers to grow on porous surfaces like wood, cardboard, and drywall. It will spread outwards as long as it is allowed to and has a thin, almost inky appearance.
Stachybotrys is a toxigenic mold that can affect not only your physical health but your mental health, too. Exposure to the mycotoxins Stachybotrys can cause breathing difficulty and pain in the respiratory system. It can also cause migraines, nosebleeds, and depression.
There is some evidence that Stachybotrys is particularly dangerous for babies and children. It has been linked to neurological issues that are more severe for developing brains. To reduce risks, remove young ones from your home as soon as you detect black mold and keep them somewhere else until the mold has been removed.
How Mold Can Damage Your Home
In order to survive, mold subsists on organic materials. Some of this organic material can be found in the dust particles in the air or the dead skin cells on your home’s surfaces. However, some of it will likely come from the structural materials of your house.
Mold may eat away at the aesthetic features of your home, like wallpaper, carpets, curtains, and furniture upholstery. However, it can also make a meal out of floorboards and wood-based walls, wooden studs, drywall, and more.
If this goes on for too long, the structure of your home can become weakened. In extreme cases, walls can collapse, floorboards can give way, and holes can develop in floors and ceilings.
If it has reached your ventilation and air conditioning systems, it will be difficult to remove. On top of that, it will spread quickly through the rest of your home as air pushes spores through your ducts and into other spaces. Ducts almost always have to be cleaned professionally, both to reduce safety risks for you and to ensure that it has been removed.
How to Manage Mold Problems
Now that you have a sense of what kinds of mold problems you may encounter, we’re going to talk about some of the things you can do to manage mold in your home. It’s important to take action quickly to avoid issues with your health and damage to your home.
Limit Your Risks
Take advantage of the North Carolina law that protects you from mold damage as a renter or buyer of a new home. Request that your landlord or builder completes a full home inspection before you move in. As long as mold is not found to be your fault, your landlord or builder is required to remove the problem for you.
If you live in an older home or have been in the same rental for a while, stay on top of maintenance issues. Don’t ignore leaking faucets or pipes. Monitor the humidity in poorly ventilated rooms and invest in a dehumidifier if necessary.
For areas that are not just humid but consistently damp, like your bathroom or basement, increase the airflow by opening a window or running a fan. These areas may be hard to keep mold-free, but you can cut down on the spreading by trying to keep surfaces dry.
Properly Clean Mold Outbreaks
If you’ve recently noticed a small mold outbreak, clean it immediately.
Mold on hard surfaces can be removed with a sponge or brillo pad combined with bleach or another mold-killing detergent. Follow the directions on your cleaning supplies to avoid risks associated with their chemicals. You may need to keep children and pets away from the area until the chemicals have had a chance to dissipate.
Mold on porous surfaces such as carpets, wood paneling, and drywall may not come off as easily. Depending on the extent of the mold damage, you may need to remove and replace these materials altogether. Covering moldy, porous surfaces with rugs or paint will not protect you or your home from the spread of mold spores.
Finally, check all personal items like clothing and books for mold, especially if they are located in a room or closet that has mold problems. Launder any washable items and store in airtight containers until the mold problems are dealt with. Some items will be more difficult to clean, and a specialist may be required.
Call in a Professional
At some point, calling in a professional or specialist may be the only option. If you’re trying to salvage a valuable item like an antique, look for a specialist who knows how to do cleaning and repairs without risking more damage. If your mold problem has spread or you’re dealing with a toxigenic mold, call a professional mold remover.
If you have an outbreak of black mold in your home, call a professional who knows how to deal specifically with black mold. This job is time-sensitive and requires the right equipment, chemicals, and know-how. A quality mold remover may even be able to get mold out of your porous surfaces if you call them early enough!
Let Us Help You Eliminate Mold Problems
If you’re in Durham, Rocky Mount, Eden, or the surrounding areas, let us help you with your mold problems!
We can handle everything from mild mold outbreaks to black mold. We’re happy to get into those hard to reach spots like your basement and crawl spaces to make sure that nothing is brewing in there! We know where mold grows, how it spreads, and how to stop it in its tracks.
Start with your free quote. We’d love to talk with you about the extent of your mold problem and let you know upfront how much we’d charge to fix it. No surprises here!
If you’re ready to rid your North Carolina home of mold problems or want to know more about what mold can do, contact us today.