Mythbusters: Debunking Old Mold Lore

There is no shortage of erroneous mold information!

Call it Mold, Fungus, Mildew, Rot, Crud. In shower stalls, attics or basements. Under appliances, clothes hampers, sinks. If you’ve got excess moisture anywhere in your home, expect uninvited, stealthy mold to slink in. With so much seriously misleading information in our culture concerning mold and how to deal with it, folks can get themselves worked up for many wrong reasons. Many property owners are inclined to take things into their own hands when attacking a mold infestation. In doing so, they can end up causing more harm than good. So let’s shine a bright light on this dark topic, mold – and make decisions based on current, truthful and scientific info rather than ‘mold wive’s tales’ and dark-age mythology. 

Myth 1: Household bleach is the stuff to use on moldy problems.

No, Not a good idea! Chlorox and other household cleaners can only remove surface mold, while the underlying moisture problem and the live mold ‘roots’ or hyphae will remain behind ready to grow again. Bleach can actually encourage a mold problem. Look at the label on a bottle of bleach. The active ingredient is only 6%. The other ingredients are mostly WATER -94%. What does mold need to grow? That’s right WATER, just what mold requires to expand and thrive.

Chlorox labelmold illustration

It is best to not give mold additional nourishing water when your goal is removing moisture from it’s environment. Bleach is ineffective when it comes to treating mold on fabrics, drywall, insulation, wood and upholstery, because mold hides deep in porous materials and cannot be safely or effectively removed. With these infected materials, it is advisable to dispose of them if at all possible. (Whenever cleaning with bleach, always keep in mind that even diluted it is a really harsh chemical and not very safe even mixed in low concentrations.) The remediation pros who deal with mold every day use products specially formulated to kill mold and remove its stains – not bleach.

Myth 2:  Only black colored mold is dangerous.

Wrong-o! Fact is, when any color of mold is found indoors where people live, it is potentially bad. Black is just a color. Mold types and various colors -blue, greys, orange, pink, white, etc. signal the presence of excess moisture in an area inside your home. Many different color molds release toxic gases called mycotoxins and spores that can sensitize or trigger health problems in already sensitive people. Typical responses to molds include allergy symptoms, like eye and skin irritation, stuffy nose or shortness of breath. It is rare that only one type or color of mold appears. Colonies of molds of various species can happily coexist in the same space. Some may be black, but aggregations of various species can randomly germinate and populate damp material such as wall board.

Tanko Mold Kitchen

Myth 3:  I will never be able to sell my house if mold is detected.

The opposite is true: Realtors sold many thousands of homes last year where mold turned up during a property inspection prior to closing the sale. There should be no shame in finding mold (or other defects) as long as necessary and prudent steps are taken to correct the issue. Treatment and cleaning by certified professional mold remediators is always advised to remove mold. A certified remediator will document the process, and then verify their work. Once your home is ‘mold cleared’ a buyer’s concern is usually resolved. Certification and post testing will show you to be a responsible homeowner who dealt with a common house problem and secured a healthy environment for that next owner.

Myth 4:  If I don’t actually see mildew or moldy spots, it can’t be mold.

The human nose can usually detect the odors of mold, even if the mold can’t be seen. Molds or mildews usually have a musty, dank odor, although the smell varies by species. Some molds smell woody, others have a sour or rancid smell. Any abnormal smells in a home indicate an urgent need to worry and investigate to locate what is propagating the smell. Trace a water leak, condensation or past spill. Seeping water from roofs or groundwater, wet carpet pad, furnace ducts, or damp wall board cavities are frequent culprits. An experienced professional remediator with a moisture meter, trained eyes and nose can be your mold detective.

Myth 5:  If I can’t actually see it, it isn’t there or will go away on its own.

Many hazards in life are invisible.  Mold and its spores or seeds can be found everywhere and hide anywhere. Molds propagate in high moisture, wet or humid surroundings, and can easily hide behind furniture or closed, dark spaces not often checked or cleaned. The most common mold affected areas include attics, basements, or under kitchen appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers or laundry equipment. Also, musty odor and signs of water or condensation tip you off to possible or likely presence of the mold.

Again, even if you don’t see it, mold can seriously affect your health as it generates toxins and airborne spores. To be confident your home is mold free, you should have a qualified inspector conduct laboratory mold testing if mold is indicated.

Should you or other family members have a fragile immune system or history of asthma, allergies and other respiratory issues, you should take immediate steps to assure your home is completely mold free to protect your family’s health.

If you have questions about the appearance of mold in your home, we’ll gladly do what we can to help you find the correct information and appropriate answers. We don’t charge for an initial discussion.

Please call Floodco, LLC at 406 892-1717.