Apartment living is an affordable way to have your own space without the headache of a house payment and the maintenance demands of your own property. However, though you may not be concerned about the upkeep or the repairs for your building, you do need to know when a mold problem creeps into your apartment. Unlike a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm, you won’t be getting a warning when mold growth starts to appear. It may take a long time before you realize that harmful mold spores are growing all around you and invading your space.
In this article, we’ll walk you through how to test for mold in your apartment and how to take care of the problem before it gets worse.
Mold – The Silent Threat
A mold problem can be difficult to identify because it often grows in places that are not easily seen such as behind the wall or cabinetry. It can also take months or years before there are enough signs of mold buildup to the point you notice that it has taken hold.
Any environment that supplies moisture, darkness, and airflow can lead to mold growth and spore production. As mold grows, it releases the mold spores into the air, where they can be inhaled by those in the room.
If water has been a problem in your apartment, maybe because the roof leaked or the bathtub flooded, you need to be concerned about the silent threat of mold. You may find these funguses growing in the ductwork of the HVAC unit, inside walls, under the carpet, or underneath the refrigerator. When growing, you may see brown, black, or green-spotted areas. If you know or suspect a water problem in your apartment, make sure to check your apartment for mold as it can cause health issues.
How To Test Mold in Apartments
While the suspicion of mold spores should have you calling the experts in mold remediation, there are some things you can do on your own to see if you have a mold problem. If your search does lead to you finding signs of mold damage due to a moisture problem, don’t delay in calling the professionals to test for mold.
When you first walk into the apartment, you should be able to assess the smell of the home. Most often, mold spores put off a musty smell caused by moisture problems and is undeniable to the senses. If you find yourself constantly burning candles or spraying fresheners to change the smell of the air, you may be dealing with a mold infestation. You can always ask friends or family members to come over and see if they can smell anything that may be mold growth. You may have a smell in a particular closet or room.
Make your way throughout the rooms in your apartment, looking for water damage or the presence of mold on the walls or on the floor. Though you can start in areas where moisture is obvious, such as the bathroom or laundry closet, take it for granted that mold could be anywhere. You should look for spots that are green, brown, or even signs of black mold, but you may also see a water stain on the ceiling or along the base of the wall. This could mean that water damage occurred in the past, potentially leaving mold growing in a hidden area.
Mold may also present itself in drywall that has bubbled or cracked. The same effect can happen to the ceiling, especially when water damage occurred or through continual exposure to too much moisture. Surfaces that absorb moisture can become soft resulting in water damage. If your landlord is replacing ceiling tiles or sheets of drywall that are discolored or damaged, be sure that you have professionals come in and assess if mold is growing in or around the area. You don’t want additional mold spores released into the atmosphere so professional mold testing is very important.
One area where mold growth may be easily seen is around the HVAC vents in the room. It is common for mold or mildew to live unnoticed within the duct work of a home or apartment, but as the fungus colonies grow, the spores can start colonizing around the air vents. You may see the black spots or brown spots that accumulate, but more people tend to notice the excess moisture in the area that causes rust to occur on the vents. This could indicate an area where mold will grow easily or that should be checked.
If a mold infestation is found, you don’t want the landlord putting a patch over the hole without dealing with the growth first. By not completely clearing out the damaged materials and killing and removing the spores, you run the risk of the spores spreading and re-inhabiting another area of the apartment. You can’t just treat the surface area if there is an obvious presence of mold; complete mold remediation is needed.
Though invisible to the naked eye, mold spores floating around the air in your apartment can lead to and cause health problems. Even if you don’t normally struggle with allergies, mold may be toxic to the body and can create breathing problems and skin rashes. A chronic cough that doesn’t seem to go away with treatment could be a sign that the air in the home is contaminated. Skin conditions like psoriasis can also be associated with mold toxicity caused by water damage, and those whose bodies are struggling with fungus exposure may find themselves continually fatigued and weak.
Asthmatics may struggle more with moldy air, though anyone could experience wheezing and breathlessness. Children and older adults are especially susceptible to these health concerns. If you or members of your family find themselves constantly dealing with allergy symptoms or respiratory conditions, you may want to have the indoor air quality checked for the presence of mold growth. If you find that these conditions seem to improve when you are away from the home, it could be that it is your environment causing the allergic response.
Even if you have done your part and didn’t find anything, it doesn’t guarantee your air quality is fine. Consider calling on the services of Mold Remediation to conduct a thorough test of the air in your apartment. Using sensitive equipment, the air or surfaces within your home will be tested for the existence of mold. This equipment can also identify which type of mold is present, as there are different remediation processes for each type.
Samples of the air may be taken with a spore trap, where a large volume of air passes over a sticky surface that catches spores. The strong the air current that passes over the trap, the greater a sampling is taken. The trap is evaluated by a professional laboratory, leaving you with an accurate idea of what you are up against. There are mold test kits that can be done your own, but for the best results, leave mold testing and analysis to the professionals.
The Apartment Mold Removal Process
Once you find out you are dealing with mold or black mold caused by water damage, it can be an overwhelming and scary thought. As a tenant in an apartment home or unit, you may not be liable for the removal and cleanup costs. You will need to deal with your landlord concerning the presence of mold. As landlords are legally required to provide living conditions to tenants that are free from health hazards due to a moisture problem, the implied warranty of habitability often makes toxic black mold the property owner’s problem. Be sure to notify your landlord, in writing, of the discovery of mold and provide a cost of any analysis or testing results. How the problem is addressed is something the landlord needs to work out with you.
Regardless of how much you enjoy your apartment, you should always be concerned about the presence of mold spores or mildew and how they can cause health problems. This is particularly true if you or a prior tenant experienced water damage in one or more areas. Mold can wreak havoc on your health, so if for nothing more than your own piece of mind, you should have your apartment tested for black mold or other toxic spores caused by a moisture problem. You can rely on the expertise of the team at Mold Remediation and Removal to thoroughly remove the danger of the fungus from your home and help mitigate health issues.
Hiring a professional mold inspector will give you peace of mind. Being in a position where you are uncertain as to the toxicity of mold in your residence can be extremely stressful.
At moldremediation.io, we pride ourselves on being quick, thorough and effective in how we communicate the mold remediation tests that we perform for our homeowner clients.