How to Detect Warning Signs that Your Home Has a Mold Problem

Mold needs only moisture, darkness and nutrients (like dirt, soil or any household material made from plant matter) in order to grow. If your home is subject to indoor humidity, or if it has had any leaks or water damage, it may develop mold.

As a wise precaution, you should periodically inspect your home for possible mold growth. It also helps to familiarize yourself with the key warning signs.

  1. Observe any musty odors that appear out of nowhere. If mold hides behind walls or in your ceiling, you will not always see it right away, but you can almost always smell it. The smell of mold resembles sour air. Even if you have never lived with mold, you may have noticed traces of a similar musty odor in very old libraries or homes.

  2. Observe your household surfaces for visible signs of mold. Mold does not have one specific color or consistency. It can appear very thin or very slimy and can manifest itself in a variety of colors like white, black, gray, green and yellow. Typically, though, it will appear in small to large patches on porous household surfaces like walls, ceilings, carpets, furniture, books, shower tiles, grout and upholstery.

  3. Install a hygrometer inside your home. You can find one of these devices at any home improvement stores. It is sometimes called a relative humidity sensor or a humidistat. It functions like a thermometer, but rather than telling you the temperature inside your home, it measures the amount of relative humidity. If the meter consistency reads above 55 percent to 60 percent, you may already have a mold problem, since mold spreads like wildfire in highly humid conditions. Use a dehumidifier to maintain healthy humidity levels in your home.

  4. Examine areas of your home that you would not normally inspect. Mold can grow undetected for long periods of time inside attics, basements, water-heater closets and sheds. These environments can breed large mold colonies partly because homeowners do not always notice the problem early on. By inspecting oft-ignored regions, you can stamp out a small problem before it becomes a serious mess.

  5. Observe any unnatural health symptoms that you experience. Prolonged mold exposure can cause allergic reactions, respiratory infections, increased asthma attacks, sinus infections, difficulty breathing and flu-like symptoms. Even if you do not physically see or smell the mold, symptoms may occur. If you do experience any of these symptoms, examine your entire home carefully or call a mold remediator.