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Dangerous mold in your home

The fuzzy stuff growing on your leftovers is not the only mold living inside your house.

There are an estimated 400,000 types of mold, and about 1,000 of them are found indoors.

Most forms of mold aren't an issue to your health or your home until you add water.

Molds can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions, and continue to do damage if they are not killed off completely.

The worse it gets, the more dangerous it becomes, and the more expensive it is to clean up.

Whether it's from the aftermath of a flood, or from the quiet drip of water coming from a leak behind the wall, once indoor mold spores find moisture, you can soon have a clean-up project on your hands that has you pulling apart your home piece by piece to find and fix the cause of this crud.

"If you smell it, there is a problem somewhere," said Mike Flores, an Indoor Environmental Professional with Environmental Health Solutions, LLC, in Charlotte, NC. 

Usually, mold is a hidden problem until there's an obvious odor, or in the case of a flood where a visible water line essentially becomes a smelly marker for potential mold.

More often, mold secretly festers in kitchens and bathrooms either behind loose caulk or around damaged plumbing.

America Now found a home in Charlotte with a growing mold problem caused by a single nail which penetrated a water pipe when the kitchen cabinets were installed more than 10 years ago. Over the years, the nail disintegrated causing water to slowly leak from the pipe rotting the wood and damaging the kitchen floor.

"It is like a sponge and it's going to absorb that moisture to the core," said Contractor Clark Moore, owner of Red Leaf Enterprise, LLC.

Some people try bathing their home with bleach to wipe out the mold, but that doesn't work.

On hard, non-porous surfaces, bleach cannot sink into the rot deep within the walls or surface.

Bleach also doesn't kill the spores. In the event that moisture returns, the mold will begin to grow again. 

When it comes to mold, it's a choice between your health or your home.  

"You have to cut the walls open," Flores advises.

For most people, this is not a do-it-yourself project.

Airborne spores can cause serious respiratory issues and some molds produce toxins.

A professional can identify the type of mold and will have the right tools to dry your house from the inside out, and use a mildewcide to destroy the mold found deep within the affected wood.

Then, they'll set about repairing the damage to the walls all with a price tag that can do major damage to your wallet.  

This project started by a very small pipe puncture that cost the homeowner thousands of dollars to get rid of the mold and to repair the damage.

In the case of a flood, Flores says, "The sky's the limit."

So, start inspecting the second you smell mildew or see separation in your floors, walls and wooden fixtures because a single spore can quickly unfold into a fungus fiasco.

If the sight of that mold isn't scary enough, so are the horror stories of rejected homeowner's insurance claims for clean up.

Most basic policies do not cover damage from mold.

You may need an added policy, but first check the language on the one you already have.

Sometimes accidents, like a burst pipe are covered, but negligence like a repeated leak, is not.

Additional Information:

  • There are approximately 400,000 types of mold, of which less than 100,000 have been named. Approximately 1,000 types of mold are found indoors. Less than 80 molds are suspected of causing some form of illness, and only a few of them are considered toxic. (<http://advancedmoldinspections.com/types_of_mold.html>)
  • Common household molds include Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus. (Source: CDC)
  • To remove mold on hard, non-porous surfaces, use soap and water or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. (Source: CDC)
  • If the property owner, landlord or builder is not responsive to a mold issue, you can contact your board of health or housing authority. Codes, insurance, inspection, and legal matters on mold are usually under state and local jurisdiction. (Source: CDC)
  • You can find information on your state's Indoor Air Quality program at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/airpollution/indoor_air.htm.
  • The only way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture. (Source: EPA)
  • Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning. (Source: EPA)
  • Materials that are wet and cannot be dried within 24-48 hours should be thrown out. (Source: EPA)
  • Wear a mouth/nose mask, gloves and goggles when cleaning mold. (Source: EPA)
  • Remediation is complete when the water/moisture problem is fixed, visible mold and odors are not present, the site has been revisited for signs of mold, there are no health symptoms or an expert has tested the indoor air quality. (Source: EPA)
  • People with allergies may be more sensitive to molds. People with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections. (Source: CDC)

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