Mold in the Home

The first thing to understand about mold is that there is a little mold everywhere - indoors and outdoors. It's in the air and can be found on plants, foods, dry leaves, and other organic materials. We have been testing and inspecting homes in the Pittsburgh Area and Western PA for 30 years.

It's very common to find molds in homes and buildings. After all, molds grow naturally indoors. And mold spores enter the home through doorways, windows, and heating and air conditioning systems. Spores also enter the home on animals, clothing, shoes, bags and people. King Tut's Tomb was closed for 4,000 years and 3 days after it was open, there was mold growing on the walls that had been closed for those thousands of years.  

When mold spores drop where there is excessive moisture in your home, they will grow. Picture a handful of seeds dropped on wet soil. They will begin to grow. Mold is the same way. Anyplace on earth where there is food and water, something will grow.  

If the area is very wet, such as a leak behind a wall, toxic mold or black molds such as Stachybotrys or Chaetomium will grow.

Common mold problem sites include humidifiers, leaky roofs and pipes, overflowing sinks, bath tubs and plant pots, steam from cooking, wet clothes drying indoors, dryers exhausting indoors, or where there has been flooding.

Many of the building materials for homes provide suitable nutrients for mold, helping it to grow. Such materials include paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery. We can reduce the chance of mold growth by selecting materials less favorable to mold.

Exposure to mold

Everyone is exposed to some amount of mold on a daily basis, most without any apparent reaction. Generally mold spores can cause problems when they are present in large numbers and a person inhales large quantities of them. This occurs primarily when there is active mold growth.

For some people, a small exposure to mold spores can trigger an asthma attack or lead to other health problems. For others, symptoms may only occur when exposure levels are much higher.

There are children that react to a single peanut and others that can live on PB&J sandwiches. Reactions are highly individualized.

Should I be concerned about mold in my home?

Yes. If indoor mold is extensive, those in your home can be exposed to very high and persistent airborne mold spores. It is possible to become sensitized to these mold spores and develop allergies or other health concerns, even if one is not normally sensitive to mold.

Left unchecked, mold growth can cause structural damage to your home as well as permanent damage to furnishings and carpet. Wood is using the materials in a home as food, thereby breaking the material down. 

We are proud of being Pittsburgh's mold testing professionals working with remediators to solve problems like black mold, better know as Stacybotrys  

Can my home be tested for mold or allergens?

Yes. An indoor air sample can be taken as well as an outdoor sample to determine whether the number of spores inside your home is significantly higher. If the indoor level is higher, it could mean that mold is growing inside your home. Reliable air sampling can be expensive, time consuming, and requires special equipment and a qualified technician.

If you can see or smell mold, then you should take steps to cleanup the mold. Mold growth is likely to continue unless the source of moisture is removed and the contamination is cleaned.

High risk areas include areas such as finished basements and basements with interior french drains.

How do I remove mold from my home?

First address the source of moisture that is allowing the mold to grow. Then take steps to cleanup the contamination. Here are helpful links to lean more about cleaning mold in your home.

*Sources: California Department of Health Services Indoor Air Quality Info Sheet, "Mold in My Home: What Do I Do?" revised July 2001; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Questions and Answers on Stachybotrys chartarum and other molds" last reviewed November 30, 2002.