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Hidden Mold: I Smell Mold, but I Cannot See it.

check for hidden mold

Extensive mold growth can potentially go unnoticed for who knows how long. The nature of mold growth allows it to grow virtually anywhere. Mold is just waiting to feast on all the delicious cellulose-based building materials (wood, drywall, wallpaper, etc) and other organic matter through the property. Allow it the opportunity, and it will thrive.

In addition to a food source, mold just needs temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher (most indoor environments) and adequate water source. It is estimated that over 250,000 mold spores can fit on the head of a pin. At that small of a size, mold spores can settle into all kinds of inconspicuous places in a property. As a result, sometimes mold ends up growing in hidden places or places that we do not know to regularly check.

Long-term exposure to unaddressed mold growth can lead to various health problems.

How to Find Hidden Mold

The two major indicators of mold are visual signs and musty odors. Visual signs of mold growth can be rather easy to spot and can usually be a clue as to where the moisture source could be. Even so, some mold growth can still be missed. While a visual indicator of potential mold growth is useful evidence in establishing if there is indoor mold growth, looks can be deceiving. Because mold can grow exponentially and spread very rapidly, there can be more mold growth beyond what can be seen at the surface.

If you see visual signs of mold growth, do not make the mistake of assuming that all you can see is all that is there. Be sure to check all surrounding areas and adjacent rooms. It can, very well, be isolated to one area; but, if it appears to have spread quite a bit, call a professional for an expert mold assessment.


Mold Hiding Spots

  • Inside wall voids
  • Above ceiling tiles
  • Under carpet
  • Under floorboards
  • Behind wallpaper
  • Behind drywall
  • In and around duct work
  • On walls hidden behind furniture

In some cases, there are no visual signs indicating mold growth at all. However, mold tends to release a musty odor, so sometimes property owners report musty odors that they cannot identify.  A good start in determining the source of the musty odor is to identify any areas of moisture concern. This includes: leaks, floods, seepage, humidity, condensation, etc.

If you smell musty odors from an area with a history of moisture problems, call a professional. Even if there are no visual signs of mold, there could be extensive hidden mold growth that should be handled by a trained professional.

When dealing with hidden mold, it is best to exercise caution as to not agitate mold spores and potentially worsening a situation. If hidden mold is growing in an area that is typically inaccessible, accessing it (ie: peeling up wallpaper, cutting out drywall, ripping up carpet, etc.) may risk cross contamination and allow the mold to spread.

A mold professional will have been properly trained to look for and identify mold growth in a non-disruptive way. If no visual signs can be found, a professional can complete air quality testing to determine if there is an elevated spore count in the air being breathed. After a professional mold assessment of the property, an expert can prescribe an appropriate scope of work and make all necessary recommendations in terms of plan of action moving forward to remove the existing mold and prevent future mold growth.

hidden attic mold

Mold can also be hidden in places that are perfectly accessible, but not necessarily checked regularly. Areas of the property that tend to go unopened and unoccupied for extended periods of time.

Do Not Neglect These Places

  • Basements,
  • Crawlspaces
  • Attics

These kinds of places also tend to suffer from poor ventilation and air circulation. If neglected, mold can unknowingly thrive in these environments. Depending on the nature of the mold development, the mold can spread and permeate throughout the common living spaces and disrupt healthy indoor air qualities. You should make it a habit to check for potential moisture concerns in ALL areas of the property.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

To prevent mold from lurking throughout the home, be vigilant and take time to practice moisture control and regulation throughout the property. Even in unused spaces (attics, basements, crawlspaces), proper ventilation and adequate air circulation throughout the property should be a priority. Take time to pay attention to any indoor moisture concerns. Whenever possible, it is important to take actions that can reduce indoor humidity to control mold growth.  If there are is any water intrusion, resolve it right away and implement preventative strategies to prevent future water intrusion. As with anything, prevention is key with mold growth. If there seems to be signs of mold growth, visual signs or musty odor, call a professional. Getting a proper assessment from an expert early on can reduce chances of a costly remediation.

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