How to Spot Mold in Your Home

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Attic (Photo: @katelouisewhyte via Twenty20)
Hopefully, the only mold in your home is on your blue cheese; however, there are many other ways for mold to appear in your home (and most of those ways don’t come in a grocery bag). Mold is both a symptom of problems in a home (water damage and excess moisture) and the cause of problems in a home (allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and long-term health problems).
That being said, if you find mold in your house, take immediate action. But sometimes, finding mold is half the battle.
Here are the telltale signs of mold and how to look for them in your home.

How to spot mold

In many cases, it’s not the visual appearance of the mold problem that alerts you to its presence in your home, but rather, its cause.
Mold spores flourish in places with excess moisture. Therefore, if your home experiences any water problems that result in leaks or floods, it’s important to stop the water leakage as soon as possible and, afterward, ensure the area is completely dry to discourage mold growth. Without moisture, mold can’t grow.
Thankfully, the visible signs of mold are pretty distinct. To spot visible mold in your home, look for the following:
  • White, thread-like growth on the ceiling, walls, floors, and other surfaces
  • Clusters of small, black spots
  • Cracked, peeling, or bubbling paint
  • Uneven, lumpy insulation
  • Soft spots in the flooring
  • Discoloration of surfaces (mold colors include black, white, gray-brown, gray-green, purple, pink, or orange)

Where to look for mold

Mold can grow basically anywhere. In many cases, this might be in areas you can’t see, like crawl spaces, ceiling tiles, basements, and closets.
If you think you might have a mold infestation, here are some places to double-check:
Bathroom: Thanks to your love for steamy showers, your bathroom is a prime location for mold issues. Common places that can harbor mold in your bathroom include:
  • Loofahs and shower curtains in the bathtub/shower
  • In/around the faucet, shower head, or tile grout in the bathtub/shower
  • On bathroom sink surfaces and countertops
  • Underneath the bathroom sink
  • Behind the toilet and in the toilet tank
Kitchen: Your kitchen has the two things mold loves — food and moisture. When looking for mold in your kitchen, check the following areas:
  • Around the kitchen sink, including in, on, or under it
  • The drip tray and water dispensers of your refrigerator
  • Microwave or stove/oven, especially where food has spilled
Bedroom: If you live in a humid climate, your bedroom may also be mold-prone. Here’s where you should look for mold in your bedroom:
  • On/ under your mattress
  • Windows and window sills
  • Air conditioner and heating vents
Living room: Although your living room isn’t as likely to have a mold problem as your bathroom, it’s always worth checking. When inspecting your living room for mold, make sure to check these areas:
  • On your couches and curtains
  • Overwatered indoor plants
  • The fireplace and chimney
Attic: “Out of sight, out of mind” shouldn’t be your motto when it comes to mold. Just the opposite, actually. The best way to make sure your house doesn’t have a mold infestation is to check all the dark nooks and crannies of your home. Plus, who doesn’t want an excuse to visit their attic? Here’s where to look:
  • Inside the insulation
  • Near the vents from your bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room
  • Around the soffits, which are the vents at the bottom of the roof that provides ventilation
Basement/ crawlspace: Your basement or crawlspace is the most common area for the growth of mold. Both are usually damp and dark, providing optimum conditions for mold to flourish. When looking for mold in your basement, be sure to check the following areas:
  • Pipes or ducts (HVAC system)
  • On or around your sump pump
  • On or around windows, vents, and other openings
Some varieties of mold are more severe than others. For instance, black mold is toxic and can wreak long-term health effects like memory loss, whereas a few spots of mold on your bread is no reason to fret.
That being said, if you discover a mold problem in your home, seek help from mold removal professionals immediately. Usually, the visual appearance of mold is just the tip of the iceberg.