When to Suspect Indoor Mold Exposure

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Chronic Sinusitis
Photo by William Brawley, CC BY

If you are suffering from the several of the following symptoms then you should always consider mold as a potential cause:

Shortness of breath, Wheezing, Headaches, Sneezing, Runny nose, Nose bleeds, Sinus Pressure, Blurred vision, Ear congestion or pain, Ringing in the ears, Dark urine, Chest pain, Numbness or Tingling in the extremities, Seizures, Poor Memory or Concentration, Mental Confusion, Foggy Headedness, Heavy head, Temperature regulation problems, Constant phlegm in nose and/or throat, Cough with or without phlegm, Menstrual irregularities, Infertility, Weight loss, Nausea, Acid Reflux, Fatigue, Joint/muscle stiffness and pain, Flu like malaise, Skin rashes and hives.

If the symptoms are improved when you travel and worsened when returning home then that is a red flag sign for mold exposure. If this happens regularly then you will first want to eliminate all of the potential sources of mold from your bedroom.

  • Remove all potted plants with soil from your bedroom, any room close to your bedroom, and anywhere you spend a lot of time in your home.
  • Have any rugs removed from your bedroom and if you have carpet in your bedroom have it vacuumed and cleaned thoroughly by professionals. The same goes for carpets and rugs in any room in which you spend a lot of time.
  • Then you will want to look for mold growing on surfaces in your home starting with your bedroom and bathroom.

Bedroom

  • In the bedroom check all surfaces especially wood surfaces in the closet with a flash light looking for anything fuzzy looking green, black, or white in color. Also check clothes and shoes thoroughly for fluffy white or powdery molds.
  • The nose knows best and is your greatest tool for detecting mold much more reliable than the eyes. If you have been having respiratory allergies such as runny nose, sneezing, and shortness of breath you can check to see if those are triggered by standing inside of your closet with the closet door closed.
  • You can also try keeping the closet closed for a whole day and then opening the closet and taking several deep breaths. If you start sneezing, feeling tingling in your nose, or develop a runny nose then you most likely have mold in the closet.
  • If you smell a mildewy, damp, musky, or strange smell in you closet then there is definitely mold there although it may not be visible because it is behind structures.
  • Also if clothes and/or surfaces in the closet feel noticeably damp, then there is a very high likelihood of mold.

Bathroom

  • In the bathroom you should check the shower and showerhead very thoroughly looking for any black, brown, green, or white patches or spots.
  • Check the ceiling of the bathroom as well especially if the ventilation is poor and humidity remains in the bathroom for a long time after a shower. Also check with a flashlight under the sink for dampness, leaky pipes, rotten wood, and mold and sniff for a mildewy smell. Check thoroughly behind the toilet for leaky pipes, peeling paint, visible mold, or bubbles in the paint.

Leaks

  • Check all of the walls and ceiling for anything fluffy or powdery looking that could black, brown, green, white, or grey in color. If there are areas where the paint has peeled off look very closely for mold in the peeled areas.
  • If there are bubbles in the paint you will want to have a professional scrape open the bubbles to see if there is mold inside.
  • If there have been any leaks in the roof look closely in the corresponding area of the ceiling for rotten wood, peeling paint, bubbles in the paint, dampness, and/or fluffy, powdery white, green, black, grey, or brown spots or stains.
  • You can also use the same test as the closet by closing all the windows and doors to your bedroom for the whole day and then walking in and taking many deep breaths and observing the smell of the room and your reaction, i.e. sneezing, nose tingling, runny nose, nausea.
  • If there is a musky, mildewy, damp smell in the room, then there is definitely mold there although it could be behind structures and not visible.

Furniture

  • Check thoroughly behind furniture especially when the furniture is wooden and is in contact with walls. Move any furniture that is in contact with walls to check for mold in any area where there has been water damage or plumbing problems. Check the furniture itself from underneath with a flashlight for mold or rotten wood.

Windows

  • Also look closely around windows and window sills for mold, bubbles in the paint, and dampness. Check on top of window sills which is a surface that you usually cannot see from below and will need to climb up on a chair or ladder (with assistance) in order to see.

Plumbing

  • If you know that you have had plumbing problems anywhere in the house then you should check thoroughly around the area where any leaks or flooding has occurred for signs of mold like rotten wood, green or black stains, fluffy, powdery white deposits, and mildewy smells.
  • Look behind the washer and dryer to check for leaking, water damage, and signs of mold.

Books

  • If you have books in your bedroom carefully examine the books to see if the pages have developed black or grey spots and if so you will want to remove them immediately from your bedroom.
  • If you are able to detect mold somewhere in your home by its distinct mildewy, strange, toxic smell but cannot see where it is then you will have to rely on your nose to guide you to the hidden mold.
  • Wherever you smell the mold you should sniff structures in the general area and use your nose to point you toward the area where the smell is most intense. Whatever type of structure that you smell the mold most intensely is most likely harboring a major mold infestation behind or inside it and will need to be removed by a mold remediation specialist.

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