Tips & AdviceDoes My Home Have Mold?

Does My Home Have Mold?


No matter how much time you spend scrubbing and cleaning your home, mold can still appear. Mold spores thrive in damp areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Water intrusion from a plumbing leak or flood may also grow mold. While everyone has some mold in their home, finding larger amounts may prompt you to step up your cleaning and removal efforts. Concerns over mold may lead you to consider professional remediation to prevent damage to your house and reduce the potential effects on your health.

How to Identify Mold

Most of us can easily identify a greenish patch on a loaf of bread pulled from the pantry, but not all molds have a similar appearance. As a type of fungus, mold grows in many different species. Varieties of mold may appear as black, green, brown, white, or gray patches growing on household fixtures such as walls, tile grout, or inside damp cabinets. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies one type of black mold, known as Stachybotrys chartarum, as containing a greenish-black in hue. Black mold can stem from water infiltration after a leak or flood.

In addition to identifying mold by sight, you may also pick up on a telltale odor due to the release of microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCS). If you notice a new smell of mold or an increasingly stronger musty odor in a room, you may want to investigate unseen areas such as the space behind walls, inside ductwork, or above ceiling panels.

Notice the evidence of mold found behind the drywall in the picture below:

*Photo Contribution: Original team member photo

If your home has suffered from water intrusion, it’s important to stay vigilent following your initial cleanup. Any new smells or mold sightings could signal the need for further action.

Is Mold in My Home Dangerous?

Mold exists everywhere in small quantities and typically does not cause harm to humans. However, large quantities of mold can have varying effects on people and young children. While some types of mold may not elicit any reactions, some molds can cause allergy-related symptoms, particularly in those with preexisting allergies or asthma.

According to the CDC, early exposure to mold in young children may cause asthma, but scientists have not identified a strong enough correlation between the two events.

How to Detect Mold in Your House

Combining a damp environment and organic materials such as paper, wood, or wallboard can feed mold growth. When you find mold in your home, you should immediately clean it up. However, homeowners should take additional steps to control moisture or improve ventilation in their homes, especially if the mold returns.

Most homeowners do not need to perform a test to determine if their home has mold. However, those who continue to experience mold can hire a professional to determine if their cleanup efforts successfully eradicate mold.

The following areas in a home are most susceptible to mold:


In bathrooms, mold typically grows in showers and sinks. When cleaning, check the grout and caulk in and around your shower and the ceiling, where humid air rises and lingers. Mold can also grow around inside the cabinet beneath your sink area after pipes leak or liquids spill.


Food and beverages can cause mold, especially if they spill. Homeowners should routinely check their appliances and cabinets to ensure that all food remains mold-free. The kitchen sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator can also easily grow mold. Owners should check and clean these areas to keep the room clear of mold.

Laundry Rooms

Washers can harbor mold around the seal and inside soap compartments. Try leaving the door open to help air out a washing machine between uses. Most washing machines disclose instructions for cleaning mold from the appliance in their specific instruction manual or online. Homeowners can also run their washers on a self-clean cycle or purchase cleaning products to keep the barrel free of mold.

They’ll also want to monitor the dryer seal, laundry room sink, and any storage spaces holding liquids in the laundry area.


Keep an eye on areas where past leaks have occurred from pipe breaks or water infiltration. If your basement has a musty smell, you probably have some mold or mildew. A dehumidifier can help remove dampness from your basement and improve the air quality. You can also check areas around your water heater and HVAC system for leaks and mold growth.

If you plan to finish your basement, you may consider having a professional first inspect the area to ensure there are no existing leaks or areas of concern.

*Photo Contribution: Original team member photo

Attics, Upper-Level Walls, and Ceilings

If you can safely access your attic, periodically check for roof leaks to ensure water isn’t entering the home and feeding mold growth. If you notice water leaking through your upper-level ceiling or walls, hire a professional to check your roof.

Throughout the Home

Gaps, leaks, and cracks around windows and doors can cause water to collect on frames and sills, resulting in the appearance of mold. Condensation on window glass may also indicate an existing problem with the humidity in the home, leading to mold growth. Mold can also form on many household items, such as toothbrush holders, kitchenware, toys, or fabrics exposed to water or damp air.

Reducing Your Risk of Mold-Related Issues

Mold is ever-present both indoors and outdoors. Mold spores travel through the air and can enter the home anytime and collect in damp places. As a homeowner, you should try to control moisture to limit mold’s presence. Owners can take the following steps to limit mold growth:

  • Control indoor humidity using a dehumidifier and an air conditioner as needed.
  • Clean gutters to divert water away from the home.
  • Stick to a regular cleaning routine to reduce mold growth in your house.
  • Fix roof and pipe leaks promptly.
  • Limit the number of damp articles, such as rugs, towels, and bath mats, that sit around the house without properly drying out.
  • Consider a moisture-resistant paint in bathrooms.
  • Improve ventilation by opening windows and doors.

After a Leak or a Flood

If you experience a leak or flood in your home, quick action can limit the damage. Find the root cause of the problem and fix it before additional damage occurs, hiring a professional if necessary. Then, promptly clean up standing water from all surfaces. Open the windows and use fans or dehumidifiers to assist with drying out your home. You’ll also want to remove and replace any saturated carpet.

*Photo Contribution: Original team member photo

Larger leaks and floods may require more substantial efforts. Consulting with a professional can help determine how to stabilize the home’s condition and reduce mold growth. After the event, homeowners should continue to monitor the area and ensure it remains clean. If your home resides in a flood zone, it’s a good idea also to acquire flood insurance to help protect against more severe damage.

Cleaning and Removing Mold

Depending on the extent of mold growth, you can try various cleanup and removal options. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), homeowners with less than ten square feet of mold growth can tackle the cleanup on their own. If the area spans larger than ten square feet, they should hire a professional remediation service.

How to Clean Mold By Yourself

First, protect yourself with proper safety gear such as an N-95 respirator mask, goggles, and gloves. For delicate materials like wood, start with a gentle cleaning option, like a mild detergent. For stubborn mold in the bathroom, try specialized cleaners for tile and grout. If you cannot get the caulk around showers and sinks clean, remove it and reapply the new caulk. Always follow safety precautions when using harsher chemicals such as bleach-based cleaners. If you cannot clean the mold satisfactorily, you may need to determine how best to remove and replace items such as drywall, tile, or shower curtains.

Hiring a Professional Remediation Service

Consult a professional when you have concerns about unseen mold or large areas of visible mold. An experienced mold inspector will evaluate the extent of the issue and offer guidance on removing or treating affected surfaces.

When possible, it’s a good idea to get a second independent opinion on mold remediation before moving forward. The EPA does not have set standards for mold presence in a residential home, and some remediation companies may suggest different courses of action. If you choose to remediate your home professionally, ask your contractor if they follow any standards or guidelines.


Mold exists everywhere, so it’s best to assume you have some amount inside your home. Homeowners can routinely clean their homes and pay attention to cool and damp areas more susceptible to mold growth. When mold appears, owners can clean the spores and move on. Substantial or recurring mold growth may indicate the need to hire a professional remediation service to ensure the mold disappears safely. While some mold does not cause any harm to humans, there are types of mold that can aggravate asthma and allergy symptoms in children and adults.

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