Mold is never a good thing. Spores reproducing on counters, walls, and wood trim can take flight and aggravate allergies and respiratory ailments, as well as ruin drywall, carpet, and woodwork. But in every life a little mold will form, and not every patch is a reason to panic.
Here’s how to tell if you can get rid of mold yourself or if it’s time to call out the remediation cavalry.
Spores thrive on moisture, so expect it to grow in areas that get and stay wet:
- Bathrooms with poor ventilation, especially shower ceilings and tile grout lines.
- Around kitchen and mudroom sinks.
- Along thresholds of exterior doors.
- Basements near hot water heaters and sump pumps.
If you can see it, you probably can get rid of it with a little elbow grease, soap, and water. More stubborn forms usually succumb to a solution of 1:9 bleach-to-water. Spray and wipe.
If you’ve better things to do than hunt spores, cure the moisture problems that foster growth. Throw open a window or run the bathroom fan after you shower or bathe. Thoroughly dry sinks and surrounding tile after washing dishes. Periodically clean and dry moisture-prone basement areas.
If you find spores growing on drywall, studs, and subflooring -- especially if the area exceeds 10 sq. ft. -- then you’ve got a bona fide mold problem.
Don’t bother buying a hardware store petri dish kit, which claims to help identify airborne mold: It doesn't. The kits might grow some spores for you -- they’re always present in indoor air -- but the kits can’t guarantee that a statistically significant number of spores are flying around. Also, kits don’t confirm the presence of dead spores (they can be harmful, too) or determine baseline levels in order to compare results after remediation.
To get rid of mold that you suspect is serious, your best bet is an independent consultant with credentials. Lastly, be sure to ask your agent regarding the relationship between home insurance and mold coverage.