Mold is microscopic and can live almost anywhere. All it takes to make a perfect breeding ground for mold is warmth, moisture and nutrients (food).
Anywhere water can soak into a room-temperature surface can easily become a breeding ground for mold. That’s why bathrooms and kitchens are often the first place you’ll notice mold growth.
It often takes a long time to notice, however. Mold can grow in hidden places for weeks or months – even years – before you find it. By then, it’s done quite a bit of damage to your home and possibly even your health.
Mold can grow almost anywhere, but let’s take a look at 10 of its favorite hiding places along with some ways to minimize the chance for it to grow in your home.
Favorite hiding places
All of the following are porous materials that easily soak up water. If not properly dried within a day or two, mold can use the organic materials in them for food and begin to grow.
- Air conditioners and ductwork
- Areas by downspouts
- Hidden spaces
Walls can become moldy after a fire or flood. But they can also develop mold from daily use, especially in moist areas like the bathroom or kitchen.
If you have water damage in your home from a fire or flood, you will need to dry the walls as quickly as possible. You can begin by opening windows and doors and setting up air movers and speed dryers to draw out the excess moisture. Dehumidifiers can also help. Removing baseboard or crown molding and drilling small holes behind it speeds the drying process.
In day-to-day life, wiping up spills and using exhaust fans while showering and cooking can reduce mold’s opportunity for growth.
When dealing with moisture in the walls, you cannot afford to forget the insulation hidden behind the walls. Attics and garages can become quite hot, providing a cozy place for mold to take over. Especially after a fire or flood, making sure these areas are properly dried is vital to avoiding a mold overgrowth.
Mold loves the wood, upholstery and leather of furniture. Body heat makes this hiding space even more inviting.
To reduce the risk of mold overtaking your furniture, mop up spills immediately. Use a water extractor or hair dryer if the spill is big. Remove cushions and blankets to allow greater circulation over all surfaces.
Clothes can develop mold if they are left in the washing machine too long. Keep the washing machine lid open between washings. If you have a front-loading washer or otherwise cannot keep your machine open, wipe out any residual moisture after removing wet laundry.
When storing clothes, make sure they are completely dry before placing in a waterproof container. Store the container in a place unlikely to experience excess moisture during the time of storage.
Cardboard boxes. Books. Photos. Files of important documents. All are at risk of growing mold if they get wet and are not properly dried immediately.
Keep these items stored in dry places. Don’t place cardboard boxes on cement floors. When storing items, use containers meant to resist water. Not cardboard, which soaks up water like a sponge. If you spill on your paper items, mop up the spill right away. Expose as many surfaces as possible to allow speedier drying.
Air conditioners and ductwork
Especially in humid locations like Florida, air conditioners and ductwork are exposed to constant moisture. Ensuring your air conditioner is the correct size and kept properly maintained is necessary to reduce mold risk.
Areas by downspouts
If downspouts are too close to the foundation, water can pool and encourage mold growth. Eaves that no longer fit properly can allow water to drip into areas next to the foundation. Keep water from downspouts flowing away from the home. Make sure eaves fit properly and gutters are kept clean to prevent overflow. And build up the ground around your foundation so water flows away from the house, not toward it.
Any place where outside air meets inside air can develop mold. The difference in temperature from outside to inside causes condensation. If that’s left to set long, mold can begin to grow. Just like every other area of your home, wipe up any extra moisture as soon as you see it. Even chimneys can harbor mold, so be sure to have them checked regularly.
Pipes, sinks, windows and doors are all areas where water can leak in unnoticed. Routinely check to make sure these are properly fitted and not leaking. Repair any damage as soon as possible, keeping the area dry until repairs can be made.
How often do you think about the drip pan under your refrigerator or water softener? The lint under your dryer and the grease under your oven? Include these hidden spaces in your annual spring cleaning routine to make your home less likely to experience hidden mold growth.
If you believe you have a mold overgrowth problem, it needs to be addressed professionally. You can get a free consultation by calling Super Restoration at 800-516-8059. If it is determined you do indeed have mold overgrowth, Florida state law requires that it must be cleaned by a state licensed mold remediation professional. State law also protects you by requiring an independent assessment report. Call us for more details.