You probably already know that mold prefers humid, dark environments with plenty of porous material to colonize. Put these ingredients together—such as a dark room without windows, covered in 1970s wallpaper—and you’re almost bound to have a problem on your hands. A flooded basement where the water was never properly cleaned up? Mold will almost surely make an appearance.
But if you really want to prevent mold problems in your home, it’s important to look beyond the obvious. There are other, hidden places where mold typically grows in America’s homes and businesses—yet most people don’t know about them. Learning some of the lesser-known hiding places of mold is a good step toward avoiding costly infestations down the road, and making sure your mold remediation efforts hold up over time.
Here are five places people don’t often look for mold, but should.
1. The laundry room
Washers and dryers are often located in the basement or an unfinished utility room. There are several factors here that contribute to mold growth. The first is moisture. Water from the machine often drains through the floor, creating a more humid environment. Likewise, clothing hung inside to dry will put moisture into the air and encourage the presence of mildew and mold. Dryers then kick out heat, adding warmth to humidity (which is perfect for mold). Monitor your laundry area closely for signs of mold, and whenever possible, use outdoor lines to dry your laundry.
2. Humidification devices
People often use humidifiers, whether tabletop units or central appliances, to control the humidity inside their homes. Dry air can be irritating, especially in the winter, and many people need extra humidity to feel comfortable. But these devices are a double-edged sword. While they solve one problem, overuse and improper maintenance can create another: Mold growth. Pumping humidity into your home makes the air more conducive to mold growth, while humidifiers that aren’t regularly cleaned can become internally infested with mold—this is not an ideal situation!
3. The bathroom
Most people clean their bathrooms more than other areas of the house, yet many standard cleaning methods do not necessarily keep mold in check. The constant presence of steam and running water in bathrooms makes them a hot spot for mold growth. Grout between tiles is another potential problem. Mold loves to grow in cracked seals between tiles and expand its operations from there. Common solutions include applying new grout to damaged areas, and making a habit of drying the tub/shower walls after the day’s last use. Ventilation is also key.
4. Leafy plants
House plants provide a great accent to any room, and they’re generally good for your health. But if a plant becomes infested with mold (and this does happen), it becomes a liability. Mold is commonly found both in the soil and on the leaves of house plants. Be sure to remove any visible mold from the soil, and use new soil to fill the gap. Some homeowners use anti-microbial compounds made specifically for plant soil. Also clean the leaves with warm water if they show signs of mold, and make sure your pot has good drainage.
5. The wood pile
For those homeowners who do use fireplaces or wood stoves in their homes, mold is a surprise risk. Firewood is a perfect breeding ground for mold due to its porous nature and ability to absorb water. Wood that has been stacked for years on end is more likely to be rotten and/or mold infested. The risk is that when this wood is carried into the house to be used, the spores will release into the air and find other places to colonize. To avoid this, make sure your firewood is stored somewhere with good ventilation and plenty of light.
Search and destroy
This is by no means a complete list of places where mold can grow. In reality, mold can appear almost anywhere with sufficient moisture and heat. But if you’re aware of the main risks in the average home, you’re in a much better position to stay one step ahead of any troublesome mold invasions. If you do discover mold and think it may be a significant problem in your home, your local mold remediation specialist should be able to perform a detailed assessment.
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