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It is a homeowner s worst nightmare: You walk into the basement only to become overwhelmed by an unpleasant, pungent odor. In search of what is causing that horrific smell, you find a patch of furry, dark growth dropping from the wall onto your carpet. You have mold. Unfortunately, such a diagnosis is not always so obvious, and you could be living with it for years before actually discovering it. There are several things to look out for that indicate you might have mold or an area that is prime for mold growth.

Strange Odors
Mold, whether it is visible or not, emits an unusual and unpleasant odor. If an area in your home persistently smells musty, there is a good possibility there is mold in the room. You can follow the odor to where it is strongest, find the mold and remove it. However, if the mold is in an unreachable place, like inside walls, you need to call in a professional to help you remove the mold.

Mold Growth
There are so many varieties of mold that you can t really identify the type based on specific shape, size or color. It can appear as a furry, dark growth, as a black stain, or as black, white, orange, green or brown specks. Rather than look for out-of-the-ordinary, multi-colored flakes in every inch of your home, identify areas that are moist and then look for possible signs of mold. The fungus thrives in cool, damp areas, and it will be much easier to find it by limiting your search to areas that are affected by excess moisture.

 

Symptoms
Your health can be a telling sign if there is mold in the home. Symptoms of a mold allergy include a consistently runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, dizziness, headaches and even memory loss. On their own, these symptoms could just be a sign of an oncoming cold, but if you are only symptomatic within your home, mold could be the culprit. Some varieties of mold are toxic and can cause more serious symptoms, which is why it is so important to remove mold from your home and prevent it from coming back.

Condensation
Whether there is excess moisture on your windows or condensation dripping from your pipes, it is likely there is a great deal of moisture in your home. As a result, your home is becoming an ideal breeding ground for mold, and it indicates that mold might already be present in your home. Dehumidifiers serve as a good solution to reduce excess moisture. They will set the humidity in your home to the level you indicate on the dehumidifier.

Water Problems
If your home has ever had moisture problems, whether a toilet overflowed or a sewer backed up, it is at risk for mold. The best places to look for mold are areas where water remained for a long time. If your home has ever flooded, mold could grow underneath the flooring and behind walls. If you suspect mold, search for discolored walls, ceilings and floors; the discoloration indicates colonies of mold are growing behind it. Keep an eye out for bubbles and cracks in your paint and wallpaper, and look for warped and bulging walls. These also indicate that moisture has penetrated the surface and they could be housing mold.

The Solution:
For areas that have already fallen victim to mold, there is hope. Using common household ingredients, you can save your home. Mix a cup of bleach with a gallon of water and scrub the mold off your walls, carpet or ceiling. It will kill the mold and give you your house back. If there is too much mold or it is in an area that you cannot get to, you will need to hire a professional to help you.

Rather than taking action after the mold is already a problem, you can do several things to prevent mold from ever growing in the first place. Keep things dry. If large quantities of liquid are spilled, dry off the damp surfaces within 24 hours using whatever means necessary. A little elbow grease now could save you a lot of effort, time and money later.

Remodel your house using materials that are mold-resistant. They may cost more initially but they will save you a headache later. You can find paints that prevent mold from growing. This will prevent mold from growing on bathroom walls that are often humid and covered in condensation.

Invest in a dehumidifier. Regardless of the climate you live in, your home will inevitably have excess moisture in it at some time. You can find basement dehumidifiers for large and damp areas, portable dehumidifiers for smaller spaces and bedrooms, energy-efficient dehumidifiers to help you save and quiet dehumidifiers for use in bedrooms. You can find a dehumidifier for almost any purpose; you just need to find the best dehumidifier for your home.

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