What is white mold?
There are many species of mold found in homes that can have a white appearance, such as aspergillus, cladosporium, and penicillum. These molds may also have other colors present as well. Mold will very often appear white when it is first developing and later change color after producing spores. While other mold will remain white throughout it’s lifecycle due to the type of material that it is feeding on.
No matter what the color of the mold present in your home, it should be removed. Generally, mold will have a negative effect on your home itself, your possessions, and your health. Therefore, we recommend that you have a mold remediation company take care of the issue as soon as you see mold present in your home. In some states, such as New York, you’ll need a mold inspection done by a separate company before your home can be remediated.
What does white mold look like?
When white molds are first developing they are very hard to detect since the spores are minsicule. Once the colonies form, white molds will appear as white spots on a surface. The spots can be powdery and filmy in nature. Although it can look similar to mildew at first, white mold is more harmful since it can grow within organic materials, not just at the surface. Below is a photo of white mold growing on wood rafters in an attic.
What causes white mold
The cause of white mold is the same as all types of mold. Mold needs two things to thrive – a moist environment and a food source. Many times, the moisture is caused by leaks or poorly ventilated spaces. Common food sources are wood, drywall, carpeting and other organic materials.
Is white mold dangerous?
The bottom line is that white mold health risks are highly dependant on the individual. Some people never have any effects, while others can be allergic to the spores. Allergies can include sneezing, skin rash and a runny nose. If you have a compromised immune system the effects can be more serious and dangerous. If you suspect that you or a family member has had long term exposure to white mold, it is always best to consult with a physician.
How to get rid of white mold
In our article Do I Need Professional Mold Remediation, we detail when hiring a professional mold remediation company is necessary. According to New York State, capable homeowners who are not highly sensitive to mold can remove mold themselves when the the affected area is less than 10 square feet. For these minor issues, homeowners can use tools, safety equipment and cleaners found at hardware stores. When the area is larger or in a hard to reach spot like an attic or basement, it’s recommended to call a mold removal service. You’ll also have the piece of mind that the mold is completely removed and the cause of the mold is also addressed.
Where in homes is white mold most prevalent?
Mold tends to thrive in dark, damp environments with a food source present.
Attics provide an ideal environment for white mold since they contain plenty of food sources such as wood and insulation. Leaky roofs, condensation from fluctuating temperatures, leaky pipes, and/or poor ventilation can provide mold with the moisture it needs to grow. Eliminating mold from attics can be particularly tricky due to the tight spaces. We recommend checking your attic occasionally for the appearance of white mold or a musty smell.
White mold in basements frequently grows on concrete walls, wooden floor joists and possessions stored there such as clothing. Water often seeps through basement walls to create a moist environment that is beneficial to mold growth. Cold outside air that comes in contact with warm indoor air in basements can also cause condensation making it a perfect breeding ground for white mold.
It’s easy to confuse white mold in a basement with a substance known as crystalline efflorescence. Both substances grow in high humidity areas, but efflorescence isn’t a type of mold. Efflorescence is a salt deposit left behind when moisture makes its way through concrete. In order to tell if it is white mold or efflorescence mist the affected area with water. If it’s efflorescence the salt with dissolve away. If you’re still unsure, you should have a mold inspection, because mold can spread inside the walls and floor joists.
Crawlspaces like basements are a likely location where you’ll find white mold in your home. Leaky pipes, broken downspouts or gutters, cracks in the foundation, poor ventilation and other causes of moisture can all contribute to mold in crawlspaces. It’s also best not to use your crawlspace as storage, because cardboard boxes and other organic materials are a food source for mold. As we mentioned before, the source of the moisture must also be addressed when removing and remediating the mold.
Furniture and wood
White mold penetrates porous surfaces such as wood, sheetrock and furniture. White mold is commonly found growing on wood surfaces: rafters in the attic, floor joists in the basement or crawlspace, and wooden furniture are all places where you can find white mold. If you find mold on wooden furniture many times you can remove it yourself, however more porous materials such as cloth on chairs or sofas will need a professional cleaning.
White mold on clothing
White mold is also commonly found on clothing, especially during the summer months. Make sure clothing is fully dried before putting it in your closet. Drying clothing in the sun will remove all the moisture from clothing and also acts as a natural disinfectant. If your clothing smells musty or has signs of white mold, use vinegar and hot water to help kill the mold spores.
How to prevent white mold
The most important aspect of preventing mold comes down to moisture control. Perhaps your basement floods, you have a leaky roof, broken gutters, a malfunctioning appliance or poor ventilation. Along with removing the mold, it’s essential to tackle the root of the problem, or the mold will return. A mold professional can do an audit of your home to see where the moisture problem originates.
Along with keeping your home free of excess moisture, it’s also important to keep a clean home. Mold needs a food source to flourish. Dust, cardboard, paper and other organic materials are all used as a food source for mold.
Professional mold remediation
Unless the mold problem in your home is very minimal, we recommend hiring a professional mold remediation service. Mold remediators can find mold in spots that aren’t visible to the eye, such as in between walls. They also have experience in removing mold from tight spaces like attics, basements and crawlspaces. Most importantly, the contractor will be able to identify and fix the moisture problem.