Quick Summary of The Ultimate Guide To Mold In The Seattle Area
- What Is Mold?
- The 3 Types of Mold According To Health Effects
- The 3 Most Common Types of Mold According To Color
- Where Does Mold Grow?
- How Dangerous Is Mold?
- What Are The Signs Of A Mold Problem?
- How To Prevent Mold In The Home
- How To Get Rid Of Mold In The Home
Question: What does a Seattle area resident like you and mold in Washington State have in common?
Answer: You both live where it’s wet.
Even if you don’t know a lot about mold, you probably know that it shows up where there’s constant moisture. And Seattle residents are no strangers to moisture. If you live in one of the wettest areas of the country, naturally, mold is a concern. If you’re not careful, you can have a mold problem quickly.
Mold is toxic so it shouldn’t be taken lightly, particularly in the Seattle area.
Let’s talk about what mold really is, how to recognize it, prevent it, and get rid of it. Good news is that most of the preventative measures for mold in Washington State are common sense and relatively easy.
1. What Is Mold?
Mold is a fungus. (Some people mistakenly believe it’s a plant, which is not true.) Actually, the word mold isn’t a scientific term. Nor does it describe one specific organism. The word refers to many different kinds of fungi that thrive in moist conditions and don’t like sunlight.
There over a hundred thousand kinds of mold, some being more common than others. Molds are important in nature because they help break down dead tress, plants, and leaves. They reproduce in moist environments by way of tiny airborne spores.
They are categorized into subsets which makes them easier to identify and study. Molds are broken down into two subsets:
- According to health effects
- According to color
The health effects subsets are:
2. The 3 Types of Mold According To Health Effects
There are 3 types of mold in Washington State according to their negative effect on human health. They are allergenic, toxic, and pathogenic.
a. Allergenic Molds
These kinds of molds have strong allergenic properties so people with allergies and asthma don’t want these in the house. Exposure to them results in hypersensitive reactions that activate mast cells in the body.
This is very bad for the respiratory system because it causes a fast and strong inflammatory response. If you are not prone to allergies, allergenic molds will probably have little or no effect on you.
b. Toxic Molds
This mold type is higher on the health-risk scale. They create and release harmful chemicals called mycotoxins that have the potential to be fatal to humans. If you know more about mold in Washington State than the average person, you know that mycotoxins are very bad.
They’re some of the most harmful chemicals in the world. These chemicals can enter your body through inhalation, ingestion, and exposure to skin. The negative effects range from short-term irritation to long-term sickness.
c. Pathogenic Molds
These molds cause infection and disease. If you have a weak immune system, pathogenic molds are extremely harmful and should not be taken lightly. Especially if you’re already sick or have an infant in the home, pathogenic molds can be life-threatening.
Though some people have strong immune systems and can naturally fight of their effects.
Though there are more than three color subsets, the three most common are:
3. The 3 Most Common Types of Mold According To Color
Though there are more than three color categorizations of mold in Washington State, black, yellow, and green and the most common.
a. Black Mold
If a mold is dark green, gray, or black, it’s categorized as a black mold. Common places you’ll find black mold are toilets, bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and showers. This is because these are the areas of the house that are usually both moist and warm.
b. Yellow Mold
Common places you’ll find yellow mold are tiles, walls, bathrooms, wooden surfaces, and food. Yellow mold is often called slime mold because it looks and feels slimy.
c. Green Mold
This is the most common type of mold in the Seattle area. More than likely, you’ve seen lots of green mold in your life. Mostly outdoors but it can be found indoors as well.
Black, yellow, and green mold can all be harmful to your health.
4. Where Does Mold Grow?
We’ve already mentioned some of the places mold can grow. If an area is constantly wet (or is left wet unintentionally), mold can likely grow there. The most common places for mold in the house are crawl spaces, basements, laundry rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.
But mold can also form on furniture, carpet, appliances, and many other places if unattended water is not dried. Here’s a list of places where mold often grows inside the home:
- any area where water damage occurred but wasn’t properly soaked up
- heating ducts
- behind or around washing machines
- the basement (floor, ceiling, and walls)
- inside the insulation in the attic
- behind or around furnaces and water heaters
- upholstered furniture
- live plants kept indoors
- vents and air conditioners
- window sills
- stoves and microwaves
- toilets (inside the tank, around the edges, and behind)
- showers (floors, walls, and ceiling)
5. How Dangerous Is Mold?
It can be very dangerous. Though it isn’t dangerous in every scenario, it always has the potential to be, if it isn’t already. But the truth is that the majority of mold isn’t harmful to your health at all.
Remember that mold is important to nature because it’s great at breaking down dead organisms. This provides nutrients to the ecosystem. But just because most mold isn’t harmful doesn’t mean all mold isn’t.
That’s because it isn’t harmful in and of itself. Mold becomes harmful in our homes only when it’s left unattended for a period of time in a damp environment. This allows the spores to grow and the spores are really what’s harmful to you.
Remember that asthmatic and allergic people are the most at risk. Exposure to mold can cause:
- difficulty breathing
- nasal congestion
- irritated eyes
- runny nose
- skin rashes
- and more
Mold is particularly dangerous if you have a lung disease or a weak immune system. If this is you and you have mycotoxins in the air of your home, this is bad. This can cause toxic effects such as:
- eye and lung irritation
All it takes is to ingest or inhale the right amount of airborne spores from the mold. Make sure that if you start feeling sick in your home and you don’t know why, check for mold. Or have a professional come and check. And definitely see a doctor.
Black Mold Isn’t the Only Toxic One
If the you inhale or ingest a high dose of mold spores, they’re all toxic. Black, yellow, green, all of them. This is why you cannot let mold in Washington State get out of hand. In the case of pathogenic molds, you’re breathing in poison.
Some of the signs are obvious and others aren’t. Knowing what to look for will help you more easily detect the hard-to-notice ones. But most of the signs are obvious. That’s because, in most cases, you can see it clearly or distinctly smell it.
For example, mold often manifests itself as black spots on the wall. If you see these spots on the walls of your home, you’ve definitely got a mold issue. But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Do you have a musty smell in your home? If so, you probably have a mold problem. If you can smell it but can’t see it, the mold could be growing out of plain sight. Places like underneath floor tiles or ceiling tiles. Or under the carpet padding. Even behind the wallpaper or in the walls.
Here’s An Alarming Statistic
Recent data suggests an alarming statistic about walls and mold in Washington State. It’s estimated that close to 60% of homes in the Seattle area have mold in the walls. Make sure that you are aware of the signs of mold in Washington State. If your home is prone to condensation indoors, you definitely need to check all the time.
7. How To Prevent Mold In The Home
There are lots of steps you can take to prevent mold from getting out of hand. Or from even forming at all. Now that you know that mold spores are everywhere, this may seem like a difficult task. But it’s not as hard as you might thing, as long as you are diligent about it.
The underlying theme of these tips is that you must eliminate the ideal condition for mold in Washington State: moisture. And you have to target the areas that are prone to mold growth.
Fix Leaks Right Away
If you spot a leak of any kind in your home, fix it right away. The longer you procrastinate fixing it, the higher the chance of mold growing becomes. Whether the leak is plumbing related, coming in through windows, or down from the roof, fix it quick. And don’t just “put a bandaid on it”. Do it right.
Check Your Foundation
Leaks in the foundation of your home cannot be overlooked. If there are cracks or other porous sections of your foundation, water can seep in. Mold will quickly set up shop in these areas if they exist. Your basement must be dry.
How do you ensure your basement is dry? Two things you can do are:
- waterproof the walls
- have a French drain system or a perimeter drainage system installed
Potential problem areas must be properly ventilated. Have exhaust fans installed in laundry rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens especially. All ducts in the home need to be checked and cleaned regularly. And not just the HVAC ducts.
Don’t forget about you dryer duct. It shouldn’t be leaking wet, warm air. Mold loves these leaks. In our experience, the laundry room is often the area most likely to be overlooked where ventilation is concerned.
Get An Electric Dehumidifier
This is a great, inexpensive way to get moisture out of the air. You can buy them at most Seattle home improvement stores. And you can certainly get them online. They’re perfect for basements that tend to get damp. Set the humidity level to somewhere between 30-60%.
Insulate and Seal
Mold in Washington State loves homes that aren’t insulated properly. This is because poorly insulated homes usually have cold air circulating through the walls. When this cold air makes contact with the warm and humid air in the home, water droplets form. Also known as condensation.
Also make sure that windows and doors are fully sealed from the outdoors when closed. Older homes in Seattle usually have a problem with this. Air and moisture often seep through and start festering around these openings.
Clean Your House Regularly
This is so important. In order to prevent mold in Washington State, you need to vacuum all the time. Regularly clean your kitchen and bathrooms with cleaning solution and disinfectant. If you see mold spores (which you might. Don’t worry.) wipe them up.
Wipe up spills when they happen. Soak up the water that spills out of the tub and shower. And don’t forget to check you appliances and window frames for condensation or dampness. You should be doing these things anyway, regardless of mold.
Facilitate Good Circulation
This means that you need to assure that the temperature in your Seattle home remains even as much as possible. If your home has trouble with air circulation, you’ll notice your A/C has a hard time keeping a steady temp.
Some tricks for good circulation:
- furniture should never be pushed up all the way against the wall
- when it’s dry outside, open the windows
- use your ceiling fans often
How To Get Rid Of Mold In The Home
If it’s small, sometimes spraying it with a store-bought mold removal product and scrubbing will do the trick. Depending on the situation, there are many mold removal-related DIY YouTube videos that you can reference. (Reference YouTube at your own risk.) Consider wearing gloves and even goggles if necessary.
However, if the problem isn’t small or if you have any concerns whatsoever about what you’re dealing with, call us. It’s better to have mold in Washington State removed right than being unsure about doing it yourself.
Professional mold remediation can include sealing the area off, opening up affected walls, and treating surfaces with commercial grade solutions. Followed by using primer and sealer, repainting, and replacing trim, drywall, and insulation.
If you want some really in-depth information on mold, check out this link from the official CDC website.