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What Causes Mold to Grow

Mold spores are like tiny seeds, floating through the air until they land somewhere. Think about planting seeds in the ground. If the conditions are right, with moisture and nutrients, then the seed will sprout and grow. Mold works the same way, so if the place the spores land is good and moist, mold can start to grow, spread, and make more mold spores. All it needs is time, and you can have a big problem on your hands.

How does mold grow?

Mold spores are always present in the air, but they only grow when given the right conditions. Mold needs four things to grow: oxygen, a food source, warmth, and moisture.

Oxygen is needed for mold spores to germinate and start growing. Once they have started growing, mold produces enzymes that help break down organic matter so it can be used as a food source. Mold also needs warmth to grow, which is why you often see it growing in damp, warm places like bathrooms or basements. Finally, mold needs moisture to grow. This can come from humid air, leaks, or standing water.

The Right Conditions for Mold Growth

Mold needs three things to grow:

  • Right Temperature:
    Mold grows well in temperatures between 40° and 100°. Indoor temperatures fall within this range. This isn't a condition you can change to prevent indoor mold growth.
  • Food:
    Mold feasts on all kinds of natural materials. Most building materials contain nutrients that would support mold, whether it's wood or dry wall or even the couch cushions.
  • Water:
    This is the critical element. Add water indoors, where it doesn't belong, and suddenly you can have mold growing. Water can be actual water soaking into building materials, it can be condensation on windows, or it can even be high indoor humidity levels - over 60% relative humidity and mold can start to grow.
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What can mold grow on?

Mold can grow on many different surfaces, including wood, paper, carpet, food, and insulation. Mold spores are present in the air and can land on any surface. When mold spores land on a wet or moist surface, they can start to grow, and the object can become visibly moldy. Worst of all, mold is extremely destructive. Mold growing on food causes it to rot. Mold growing on insulation can cause it to deteriorate and break down. Mold growing on wood can cause the wood to rot. Mold growing on carpet can cause the carpet to stain, not to mention also smell really bad. Mold growing on paper, like books, can ruin the books completely.

To sum up, mold can grow on any surface that is wet or moist. When mold spores land on such a surface, they can start to grow and will continue to do so as long as the moisture remains.

Time Matters Too

There is a 4th thing that is required for mold to grow, and that is time. Let's say a pipe leaks and the wall is wet. As long as the water is cleaned up and the materials dried within 24-48 hours, you have a pretty good chance of preventing indoor mold growth.

Indoor humidity levels can also increase temporarily without risking mold growth. This is like after showering, or cooking. That's why the oven hood and the exhaust fan in the bathroom exist, to help get the increased humidity out of your home before it can cause harm.

How does mold harm your health?

Mold can cause a variety of health problems, including allergies and respiratory infections. Some people are more sensitive to mold than others. mold spores can irritate your nose, eyes, throat, and lungs. They can also cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Mold can also cause asthma attacks in people who are sensitive. Mold exposure can irritate the skin. In people with chronic lung illnesses such as COPD, mold can cause serious lung infections.

Mold is also linked to some neurological conditions, such as memory loss and depression. Mold can also weaken your immune system. If you have a mold allergy or are sensitive to mold, it's important to avoid exposure to mold spores. Some ways to do this include:

  • Keep your home clean and dry
  • Use an air purifier
  • Don't use humidifiers
  • Avoid carpeting
  • Don't use moldy foods
  • Wear a mask when cleaning or working in a moldy area.

Water Damage and Mold

Mold often follows after water damage if the area affected was not dried quickly enough. If you have had water damage in the past, it can be well worth your while to get your property checked for mold. If you have any questions or concerns, you can consult with one of our mold experts and hire our team for professional mold remediation in your home or office. Call us today at 877-421-2614.

 

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