Home of 10,000 Leaks: Why Water Damage Leads To Mold
Drip, drip, drip. A tiny leak has formed in your washing machine hose. Drip, drip, drip. You can’t see it because it’s behind the machine, and dripping into the wall. The water damage begins. A few days or weeks later you start to notice a funky smell. What is that stink??!
It’s mold growing inside the wall. It sure was easy for the mold to start growing! How does mold grow? Why is it so easy for it to invade your home? What can you do to prevent it? Come read and learn the answers to these questions and more!
How do molds grow?
Mold is a type of fungus. Fungi are neither animals nor plants. They inhabit a kingdom all their own. Fungi are spore producing organisms that feed on organic matter. They include yeasts, mildews, rusts, smuts, molds, and mushrooms. Fungi grow using filaments or hyphae that make up their bodies. They digest organic matter externally before absorbing the nutrients.
You encounter fungi everyday in your food when you eat bread, drink alcohol, or eat blue cheese. Bread rises and alcohol is fermented using different yeasts. Blue cheese has a special type of mold (Penicillium roqueforti or Penicillium glaucum) that is purposely injected into the cheese, and allowed to grow, giving the blue cheese its specific flavor. Even though there are few molds that are beneficial to us, the molds that attack our homes are not.
Where Do Molds Grow?
Molds grow from microscopic spores that are everywhere in the air. Molds are found everywhere in nature, and are important for recycling organic matter (such as leaves). The recycling process they perform returns nutrients to the soil and is important for plants to grow. They need four things to grow: oxygen, moisture, a food source, and warmth.
Molds grow inside of their food sources. They penetrate deeply into drywall, carpets, underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks, etc. Anything with carbohydrates in it could be considered a food source for molds.
Moisture is the one thing you can reasonably control when it comes to mold. A dry home equals a home with less mold growth. Keeping areas dry especially areas that use water frequently (like bathrooms) is important to prevent mold growth.
How Fast Do Molds Grow?
Once moisture is present, molds can begin to grow in less than 48 hours! Water behind baseboards and cabinets, wet carpet tack strips, in crawl spaces, and other hard to reach areas are a ticking mold time bomb.
Why does it matter if mold grows?
Mold can cause everything from allergic reactions to mental health problems to worse. When you have a large leak, even with fans going and mopping up the water, it may not be enough to prevent mold growth. You need professional help to keep mold from growing.
Why Water Damage and Leaks Lead To Mold
Think about how mold grows. The tiniest bit of moisture combined with a food source at the right temperature – you’ve got mold. The smallest drips are the worst for leading to mold because they usually go unnoticed. A large obvious leak is less likely to lead to mold since people usually notice gushing water! When large leaks happen, drying your home quickly is very important to prevent mold growth. Those small drip, drip, drips, that are so hard to detect, help the mold, and can severely hurt your home. Learn more about the top 6 types of water damage in our post: Top 6 Types of Water Damage and How to Avoid Them.
Recent Home Inspection – Home of 10,000 Leaks
Recently, we performed an inspection for homeowners because one of the owners was having severe asthma attacks. The couple was wondering if mold in their home could be contributing to the severity of the asthma problems. This is a problem we see time and again. These are not the first or last homeowners to have this problem. It’s a very common problem to have. For more information about how mold is connected to asthma check out our post: Asthma and Mold.
Our inspector looked at every inch of the home from top to bottom. We believe in mold investigations not just inspections. Some of our competitors offer “free” inspections, which basically means that the inspector shows up and hands over a price to fix a symptom, without truly knowing the nature of the problem.
Our process is far different. In addition to the questions we ask over the phone, once we arrive we ask many more. We treat every inspection like an investigation, and we’re on the case. To learn more visit our post: Do You Have Mold? How to Choose Between a Paid or Free Mold Inspection.
Inspection Findings – Multiple Water Leaks
It’s a good thing the homeowners called us. Almost every room in the home had excessive moisture and mold growth. This home was full of water damage from tiny leaks: roof leaks, leaks in HVAC drainage system near the refrigerator, leak in the hot water supply to the washing machine, leaks under the floor in the master bath, water seeping through the foundation, and to top it off, moderate to heavy accumulation of rodent feces near the HVAC unit.
All those tiny leaks contributed to heavy moisture in the home and heavy mold growth. Several areas in the home had very thick mold growth, and one area was even growing mushrooms on the floor joists! Several areas in the home were saturated with moisture. To say this home has a mold problem would be a severe understatement!
Excessive Crawl Space Moisture
Let’s start at the bottom. Our inspector determined that surface water has been invading the crawlspace under this home for many years. This water has made the soil inside the crawlspace saturated. As the moisture inside this soil evaporates, it is absorbed by the wood floor framing components. The absorption of this moisture through the years has resulted in heavy mold growth and extreme deterioration of the floor joists, sills, beams and subflooring. The damage to the floor joists was so severe, that collapse of the floor system was inevitable without repairs.
Why Basements/Crawl Spaces Are Magnets For Leaks
The simplest answer to the question of why is gravity. Gravity pulls us, our homes, water, everything on earth toward the earth. The lowest point in our homes is usually a crawlspace or basement, so therefore these spaces will also be the places with the most moisture. All the places in your home where you have water features: bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms have plumbing features located under the rooms and in the walls. When there is a leak, the moisture goes straight down causing problems in the basement or crawlspace.
At some point, the home also hosted rodents near the HVAC unit. Off-gassing from rodent urine and feces is drawn into the HVAC unit. Although it becomes diluted, these gasses can cause adverse health effects and unpleasant odors. Although there was no mold in the HVAC system, it was full of dust, and we recommended the homeowners have it cleaned. The rodents also chewed through several electrical wires which can cause a fire hazard. To learn more check out our post: How to Keep Mold Out of Your HVAC system and 12 Facts about Duct Cleaning – How to Avoid Scams.
At the top of the home, bathroom fans were vented to the attic, instead of outside the home as they should be. This contributed to the moisture problem in the roof and above the bathrooms, but was not the only source of moisture or mold growth. The roof also had leaks, and mold growth near roof protrusions.
As you can see, all those tiny leaks with subsequent water damage, along with moisture being trapped in the roof and under the home, contributed to a very moldy and even physically dangerous home to live in. Yet, it’s not all bad news. Calling us helped these homeowners have the knowledge of these problems before they got further out of control. Now, they can get these problems fixed. Fixing all the problems in this home should not only make it physically safer, it should help the homeowners health issues as well. We love to fix problems for people and believe that no one should live or work in a building that makes them sick!
Molds aren’t just dangerous for people with asthma and allergies. Toxic molds can cause problems for everyone. Toxic molds can cause health problems ranging from poisoning to cancer. Not all molds are toxic, but many are. To learn more about toxic molds and their health effects check out our posts: When Mold Is Worse Than Allergies, Your Right to Breathe: Indoor Air Quality, and Mold and Mycotoxins: Effects on the Brain and Nervous System in Adults.
How To Prevent Mold
Ever heard the expression, ‘Prevention is worth 9/10 of the cure?’ This is definitely true when it comes to water damage and mold! Preventing mold growth from leaks is possible. Checking all appliances, near bathroom fixtures, under sinks and everywhere in your home that uses water on a regular schedule (at least every 3 months) can help prevent leaks before they become a problem. As you can see, fixing leaks quickly is vitally important to the integrity of your home!
Although you can’t always avoid catastrophic water damage to your home (think floods, burst pipes, etc.) small things, like a good home maintenance schedule, can keep mold growth at bay. To learn more about how to avoid water damage check out our post: Top 10 Ways to Prevent Water Damage. To learn more about how to prevent bathroom mold, see our post: How to Prevent Bathroom Mold.
Oh, No! I Have Mold! What Do I Do Now?
If you do find mold in your home, the thought of dealing with the mold and navigating an insurance claim can be overwhelming. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone!
At Branch Environmental, we deal with insurance claims every day. As your mitigation and restoration contractor, we consider it part of our obligation to remove as much of the insurance burden from you as possible. We’ll help you through each step of the process, often communicating and negotiating on your behalf. To learn more see our posts: How To Navigate an Insurance Claim and 5 Expectations about Mold vs. Eye-Opening Reality.
If you only find a small area of mold that is less than 10 square feet, you may be able to clean it yourself. To be safe, you do need to know more about what to wear and what to use when cleaning mold. Check out our post A Simple Guide To Cleaning Mold to learn more.
We’re Here When You Need Us
Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts not only at mold removal, but at determining and remediating the underlying causes. We treat each inspection as an investigation. From hidden mold sources to major contaminants, we can identify exactly what is going on in your home and rid it of environmental toxins, often for good.
Branch Environmental – Because nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick.
For more information go to:
- Mold vs. Mildew – Branch Environmental
- Do You Have Mold? How to Choose Between a Paid or Free Mold Inspection – Branch Environmental
- Top 6 Types of Water Damage and How to Avoid Them – Branch Environmental
- Asthma and Mold – Branch Environmental
- HVAC System in Your Crawl Space? You May Be Breathing Dirty Air – Branch Environmental
- 12 Facts about Duct Cleaning – How to Avoid Scams – Branch Environmental
- How to Keep Mold Out of Your HVAC system – Branch Environmental
- Mold’s Top 5 Hiding Places – Branch Environmental
- When Mold Is Worse Than Allergies – Branch Environmental
- Your Right to Breathe – Branch Environmental
- Mold and Mycotoxins: Effects on the Brain and Nervous System in Adults – Branch Environmental
- Home Mold Remediation – Branch Environmental
- 5 Expectations about Mold vs. Eye-Opening Reality – Branch Environmental
- How To Navigate an Insurance Claim – Branch Environmental
- How to Prevent Bathroom Mold – Branch Environmental
- What’s that musty smell? MVOC’s – Branch Environmental
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