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8 Sneaky Places Mold Hides in Your Home and How to Get Rid of It

Like many others I suffered from allergies as a child. The allergy screening my pediatrician conducted revealed my greatest allergies were to dust and mold. Mold was especially problematic because our house was built around 1910 and the brick basement walls routinely allowed water to seep through. Consequently we often dealt with moisture in the air – a common factor in the production of molds.

how to get rid of moldMold is a fungus that can be found anywhere in nature. It can survive indoors and outdoors at any time of the year. However, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), it grows best in locations that are warm, damp and humid.

Mold spreads by producing tiny spores that are released into the air. Coming in contact with these mold spores can produce allergic reactions including sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and even skin rashes. They can even produce asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold.

You may have heard that some molds are toxic and pose an even greater danger. While certain types of molds can produce toxins the mold itself is not toxic or poisonous. The CDC has reported a few cases where mold toxins created a further health risk. However, under normal circumstances the mold types and levels we experience on a daily basis are not harmful beyond fever-like allergy or asthma symptoms.

Regardless all molds should be taken with the same amount of care whether it is a kind that produces toxins or not.

How to Recognize You Have a Mold Problem

Mold can be detected in several ways.

Obviously the first way is with your eyes. It most often appears as a gray, white, brown, yellow, green or black discoloration on a surface. This gallery from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is worth looking at to see the various types of mold as they appear in different locations around the home.

Sight isn’t the only method to detect molds as it also gives off a distinct smell. No doubt you have walked into a basement where you could detect a bad odor such as a musty or earthy smell. It could even be described as a foul stench. This is another significant clue that mold may be present even if you can’t see it.

However you come across mold it’s best to take care of it right away. You don’t want the problem growing worse that it is. That will only lead to a higher cost of cleanup and more potential health problems.

Common Places to Find Mold in the Home

Mold grows in areas where moisture is routinely found so look for it in these common areas around the home:

  • around windows where moisture condenses
  • near leaky sinks or pipes
  • on basement walls or in a crawlspace
  • on bathroom tile
  • in or near shower and tub areas
  • on exposed insulation facing in attics
  • in washing machines
  • on the refrigerator’s gasket or water dispenser drip pan

However, not all molds grow out in the open for you to see. Some molds hide in your home in places you might never suspect. According to the EPA, the top places for mold to hide include:

  • the backside of drywall
  • behind wallpaper or paneling
  • on the top side of ceiling tiles
  • underneath carpets and pads
  • inside walls around pipes or on wood framing (due to leaking or condensing pipes)
  • the surface of walls behind furniture
  • inside ductwork
  • in roof materials above the ceiling (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation)

How to Get Rid of Mold

If you are wondering how to get rid of mold, here is one thing you should realize: don’t delay in cleaning it up. The quicker it can be removed the less chance it has to spread and cause further damage.

Your first step should be to identify the problem. Fix any plumbing, roof or basement leaks or any other water problems and dry the affected areas completely.

After the moisture is brought under control scrub mold off hard surfaces with a simple detergent and water.

You can use a commercial product or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. DO NOT mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products as this may produce toxic fumes. Be sure to use non-porous gloves and protective eye wear and ventilate the area by opening doors and windows. You should also purchase a N95 respirator mask from a local hardware store to limit exposure to airborne mold spores.

If the water damage has caused the mold growth to exceed more than 10 square feet, the EPA suggests you consult Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings for recommendations that apply to all building types.

If you have doubts in your capability to clean the mold hire a contractor or a mold removal specialist. Find out if they have experience cleaning up mold and ask for references. You should insist they follow the recommendations of the EPA or other professional organization to which they belong.

Tips to Prevent and Control Mold

The best remedy for the growth of mold is to be proactive. To prevent and control it in your home follow these suggestions from the EPA and CDC:

  • Clean up water leaks, spills and condensation promptly. Mold will generally not grow if the wet or damp area is cleaned within 24-48 hours.
  • Routinely clean gutters.
  • Grade exterior dirt so it slopes away from the home’s foundation.
  • Regularly clean air conditioning drip pans and drain lines.
  • Measure the indoor humidity with a humidity meter. Keep indoor humidity levels between 30 – 50 percent by running a dehumidifier.
  • Ensure you have adequate ventilation in problem areas like kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Use mold-killing cleaning products in the bathroom.
  • Do not carpet areas with high moisture probability such as bathrooms or basements.
  • Use mold inhibiting paint when painting in areas susceptible to mold.

The indoor environment cannot be entirely cleansed of molds and mold spores.  The biggest key to controlling their growth is to control the moisture levels in the home. If that’s done properly then mold spores will be reduced and those that are allergic to mold will be able to breath easier.

Questions: Have you ever dealt with a mold problem? Did you know right away how to get rid of mold? Or did you have to figure it out? What did the cleanup cost you?

Image by Lance Neilson at Flickr Creative Commons

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  1. My parents are worried that they might have a mold problem in their basement. Their water heater busted a little while ago and spilled water everywhere. I like how you mentioned that in addition to seeing mold, you can also sometimes smell it with its distinct musty or earthy aroma. It might be a good idea for my parents to call a remediation company that specializes in this sort of thing.

  2. Lucy Gibson says

    I’ve noticed that my children are starting to cough a lot more recently. I’m starting to worry that the coughing might be due to mold somewhere in our house. I like your point about making sure to deal with it right away to prevent further problems and health issues. I’ll also have to look around where there tends to be more moisture. Finding a mold elimination professional might be the best thing for me. I would assume a professional might have better tools and experience to find and fix any mold issue.

  3. Mold is very pesky and hard to get rid of sometimes. Being proactive on trying to prevent it is the best bet. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. Thanks for providing this guide! Mold can be an insidious organism if you don’t know what signs to look for, but with these tips, readers will be able to check for spots that may not seem as obvious at first glance.

  5. I live in a very humid climate and never knew that that affected the things that lived in crawl spaces. Thanks for writing!

  6. These are really great advice! Mold can be a scary thing to think about due to how fast it could secretly grow around the house in moist areas and how much it could cost to get it removed once found. Thanks for sharing this informative post!

  7. Hii!!
    Roof insulation is a great idea to avoid any kind of molds in your house and also it protect you from the cold and chilly weather outside your house. The tips you mentioned here are really amazing.
    Thank you so much for great sharing.

  8. Great advice. I have trouble with allergies when it comes to mold. Luckily its mostly outside, but I don’t know what I’d do if mold ever got in my house. Thank you for sharing how to rid it in the home.

  9. Thanks for sharing valuable information Luke. Getting the humidity under control will help your mold problem but not eliminate it all together. Using dehumidifiers and air conditioners, especially in hot, humid climates, to reduce moisture in the air is effective..

  10. Wow, this speaks right to me! I have always suffered from allergies but never thought to attribute it to mold. After reading, I am almost positive that your list of places in which mold hides is where there might be mold in my home. Thanks so much for sharing all of the information you did, it is definitely great to have an answer on where to find it and how to be rid of it!

  11. Silas Knight says

    Nothing is worse than finding mold in your home. I had never thought about the hiding places that mold might use, so thanks for the list. I will definitely be more careful with inspecting for mold. I’ll look on the top of ceiling tiles, inside ductwork, and the other places too!

    • Mold is a big contributor to allergies…at least for me anyway. I’m just trying to keep the house as moisture free as possible to reduce mold growth.

  12. I’m glad I read this on your site. I have a few places in a couple of bathrooms that have been hard to get rid of. I’ll try your suggestion!! Hopefully this will work. Thanks for sharing.

    It’s important to carry out all the steps involved in black mold removal to successfully rid your house of the problem.

  13. heyy!!!

    indeed a very nice share..

    I am agree with this..
    Mold is very common problem nowadays ..

    When it comes to removing mold then to have a exhaust fan in one’s home is must.

    It is quite an important part of the ventilation system of the home. Their main functions are to remove the mold, moisture, clear condensation which forms on mirrors and also get rid of foul odors.

    thank you so much for the share,,,,

  14. Judy Wilson says

    After finding some mold in my bathroom, it seems as though I should now what to do to get rid of it. You made a good point about how making sure that my bathroom is adequately ventilated will help to prevent mold growth. Lately, I’ve been taking long, hot showers, so I suppose all of that steam must have caused mold to grow on my ceiling. I should start looking into the way I’m ventilating my bathroom and find out how I can improve it after removing the mold that’s growing there.

    • Ventilation is good but so also is mold resistant paint. I have some in our master bath shower area that gets really steamy. I haven’t seen any mold since using that paint.

  15. I hate mold, it is one of my top allergies – I can tell immediately when it is around. There are so many places that mold can appear and it isn’t doesn’t always want to clean up so easy. Thanks for the great tips for mold clean up and control.

  16. This was really informative! I never knew that mold could be behind wallpaper! I now want to go and buy some mold killing products and get scrubbing! I was wondering if you could tell me any way to know if mold is hiding there other than smell? Thanks!

  17. Cal Driver says

    Thanks so much for this! My wife suffers from pretty severe allergies, and it’s been clear for a long time that mold has something to do with it. I also appreciate the distinction between mold I can find and mold that I’ll need the help of a professional to find. It’s always nervy to try and peel back drywall. Thanks again for the post!

  18. I never ever would have thought that cleaning gutters regularly had anything to do with preventing mold growth. The second I read that from your article, though, it rang true and I think I’m going to have to remember that. I would hate to find mold, especially black mold, whether it’s on the interior or exterior of my house because not only does it look gross, it’s also rather dangerous for pets and humans.

  19. I had no idea that there are so many places that mold can hide! We recently moved into a new house, and we’re thinking of doing some remodeling. As we begin to remodel, I’ll make sure to look for signs of mold in the places that you have listed, especially around pipes that we find along the way. If we do find mold somewhere, do you recommend having a specialist come to remove it, or doing it ourselves?

  20. Thank you for these tips about how to find mold! We just had a pipe burst last week. Now I’m on high alert for signs of mold, and my husband thinks I’m being silly.

  21. Jordan Baker says

    Thanks for adding a bit in here about how to remove the mold. I know that more humid or water damaged homes tend to have mold. Living in a basement, I seem to deal with the mold all of the time. I knew how to spot it, but I didn’t know how to clean it. These tips will undoubtedly be of use to me when it comes to this kind of stuff.

  22. Hi Brian,

    Nice Post! I think it’s impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores in your home, but because mold spores can’t grow without moisture, reducing moisture in your home is the best way to prevent or eliminate mold growth. If you clean up the mold but don’t fix the problem, the mold will most likely return.

  23. This is the one “good” thing about allergies. Sufferers can figure out these sorts of problems before others can. My husband is allergic to everything under the planet (though not necessarily VERY allergic). Mold happens to be a real problem for him, too. Thankfully, we have never had to deal with a mold problem in any of our homes, but this was a good read for me to keep in mind. Thanks for the write up.

    • I took allergy shots for years as a kid to build up my immunity to dust and mold. I’m no longer bothered by them (thank goodness) unless I get in a high concentration area of them. Of course I’ve had other allergies develop since then, most notably to cats. 🙁

    • I don’t know if allergy sufferers would agree that there’s anything good about allergies 😛

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