Mold and mildew are one of those things that every person and plumber dreads to see. In a weird way (at times – and more in nature than in our homes), mold can almost be beautiful – however it’s one of those things that creep up on us. For those of us with allergies it is an especially unwanted guest. So what causes mildew? Water is always the cause of mold and mildew. Finding the source of the problem can sometimes feel like an unsolvable mystery. As far as you can see there’s no drips or drops, which means it’s somewhere inside the walls.
Inspect Your Pipes and Drains for Plumbing Leaks
If there’s mold growing near your water pipes or plumbing fixtures there’s a good chance that the mold is feeding off a nearby leak. Normally we tell you to turn your water off when checking plumbing problems, but when you’re looking for mold or leaks you actually want to leave it on. This way you can check for damp spots while the water is running.
Don’t forget, water can travel in any direction. Down, sideways, and even up in the right conditions. The actual leak might not be anywhere near where the mold is growing. Once you find the damp spot you can track where the water is actually coming from.
Don’t Ignore the Mold
Mold creeps up on us, and it’s easy to want to ignore. Ignoring mold can be more than just ignoring a few green spots that are lurking in your basement. As we already mentioned, mold can be warning signs of a moisture problem. Too much moisture can cause more than mold – it can cause expensive problems like wood rot. By just wiping off mold, you allow any inside damage to continue. Take a closer and be sure to call your local plumber if you suspect a leak in your pipes.
Not All Leaks Are Inside
Mold isn’t always inside. During your regular home inspections (think spring cleaning!) inspect vents and windows. If mold is growing on an exterior wall or ceiling take a look for leaks in the wall or roof. If you do find a leak (and mold), you’ll need to inspect anywhere the wood might be rotting. Look for ground sloping towards the house and downspouts emptying out next to the wall. If the ground around your home gets too wet, moisture can get into the foundation and become persistent dampness. That is something that you do not want.
Inspect The Ductwork
If mold is forming on your ceiling under a duct and you can’t find a sign of a roof leak, you might need to check your duct work. Badly insulated ductwork can cause warm, moist air to condense and form water on the ducts. The ducts then carry cold air through your attic or crawl space. Eventually the water will saturate the insulation and drywall – next thing you know, you’ll be finding that moldspores have taken root.
Not Sure If It’s Mold?
Grab a cotton swab and dip it in diluted bleach and dab it on the wall. If the spot quickly lightens and comes back after the cleaning, you can assume that it’s mold. To be sure, you can purchase a mold tip, or of course call a professional to have them see what kind of damage might be taking place inside your home.