Mold problems – what are they, and how do they happen?
When it comes to plumbing, there is one thing that is clear; not all plumbers are the same. Plumbing work can be costly, so it can make sense to hire a plumber on the relatively cheaper side. After all, how hard can it be to put a few pipes together?
As it turns out, it is very hard! Statistically, one in every ten homes in America has one or more plumbing leaks within the home which can waste up to 90 gallons of water a day. Majority of these leaks occur from plumbing work that was done by an inexperienced plumber.
At the worst, water damage throughout your home can cause issues with your roof, destroy the walls in your home, and even cause your floors to swell. While a slow dripping pipe under your kitchen sink might not seem like a big deal, it should be cause for big concern. The worst-case scenario of all plumbing issues – mold in your home.
What is mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that thrives on moisture and reproduces through lightweight spores that travel throughout the air. When mold spores land on a damp spot in your home, such as the wet spot under your slowly leaking kitchen sink, they can start to grow.
Mold growth, which often looks like little spots, can be of various colors and can have a musty smell. The color of the mold is not a good indication of how dangerous it could potentially be.
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause several health effects. Although the presence of mold in your home won’t necessarily make you sick, it could potentially lead to health issues. The severity of the reaction depends on several factors, such as the strength of an individual’s immune system, pre-existing respiratory diseases, or the type of mold.
For example, people who are more sensitive to mold or have asthma could experience more intense reactions to mold. Because of that, individuals with asthma need to be especially careful and wear protection, such as a respirator, gloves, and goggles, as to them, exposure to mold spores could be especially dangerous. Mold symptoms can lead to:
– Upper respiratory tract symptoms
– Stuffy nose
– Wheezing or other breathing problems, especially for those with asthma
– Red or itchy eyes or skin
In some cases, those symptoms can appear right after a person comes into contact with mold, whereas at other times, they might become problematic after some time has already passed since the exposure. Even though people with allergies and respiratory diseases are likely to experience more severe symptoms, perfectly healthy people might suffer unpleasant reactions after inhaling mold spores.
What causes mold?
There are several factors that come into play to support the growth of mold, but the most important ones are humidity and moisture. In most cases, mold growth happens after a flood if proper measures are not taken to remediate the home.
Mold can also occur if your home is too humid and does not have proper ventilation. If you do not have proper functioning vents to let out steam that can occur from cooking, showering, and the use of washing machines, you also run a risk of developing mold. Mold can also develop if your room is leaking water into your crawl space or attic.
However, the most common cause of mold problems comes from plumbing issues. These issues are often hard to pinpoint since a lot of plumbing is hidden behind walls, under the floor, or even in the attic. It means you might not know you have an issue until there is a full-blown mold situation on your hands.
With all of that being said, here are the most common places in which you could find mold that is related to your plumbing:
Under the Sink
The area under the sink is a dark, enclosed space and usually full of cleaning supplies. These conditions mean it is almost impossible to notice a small leak or mold growing in this space. Clogged or aging pipes are the most common issues under the sink causing leaks which can lead to mold growth.
Bathrooms are the perfect place for mold. Your bathroom is usually always wet, humid, and can be poorly ventilated. The most common reason for mold growth in a bathroom is due to standing water which can be caused by clogged drains. The moisture will start to climb up the wall, and you will start to notice mold around the bathtub, shower, walls, and base of the sink.
Basements provide the perfect environment for growing mold, just like the bathroom. The basement houses your sump pump, drain pipes, pressurized water, and most washing machines. Any sort of leak from any of these appliances or pipes that go unnoticed could lead to mold infestation.
Walls and Ceilings
Hidden leaks are the worst kind of leak and plumbing issue you can have in your home in our opinion. Any supply lines running through your home behind the walls can crack or come apart which can lead to a leak. The worst part about these hidden leaks is that you will not notice them until your walls and ceilings start to show signs which are usually discoloration or wet patches.
Let’s talk about some plumbing mistakes that can lead to mold growth.
There are a lot of pieces that need to be installed and put together when creating the plumbing system – toilets, showers, pipes, faucets, and more. Simple mistakes such as connecting the wrong size pipes could cause a leak that can go unnoticed for years.
Poor or Lack of Insulation
If you are experiencing low water pressure or even no water pressure at all during the winter, chances are you have frozen pipes. It is a common problem if your pipes are being run through your attic, basement, or crawlspace. Frozen pipes will continue to expand until the point of cracking, especially when they are thawing. An experienced plumber would be aware of this potential situation and ensure the proper pipes are insulated well enough to withstand the cold winters.
An experienced plumber knows how to properly seal connections so that there are no leaks in your piping system. If your connections are unsealed either your plumber put it the wrong way or did not use any sealant. Eventually, all the shaking and pressure from the water passing through the pipes will start to make the connections lose if they were not sealed properly.
Depending on the severity of the mold problem, you might be able to deal with it on your own, though given the fact that if you don’t exercise enough caution you could experience some of the previously mentioned health issues, hiring a specialist to do the job for you might be a wiser choice. However, if you would like to try to get rid of the mold from your home, or at least, limit the pace of the mold growth, there are a couple of things that you should know.
- Taking care of any leaks in your home is among the first things that you should do if you want to prevent the mold from appearing in your home. As you have probably gathered from this article, it might not be an easy task, as leaks can become a problem in almost any place in your house, and some time might pass before you realize there is a problem at all. Unfortunately, if the leak isn’t fixed quickly, getting rid of mold is going to be much more difficult.
- If mold appears on a hard surface, using water with detergent and scrubbing it off might be enough – just remember to dry it off so that the mold problem doesn’t return. However, if mold infects absorbent materials, the problem is going to be a whole lot more difficult, and getting rid of the mold spores might be even impossible.
Still, you might not want to throw out an item that you have stored in your attic or in the garage, especially if it has sentimental value. In this case, the best course of action would be to contact a restoration specialist, as trying to restore the item to its previous state and remove the mold on your own might be too risky.
- Some people try to stop the mold growth on the walls or ceiling by simply painting over it, but it’s not the best idea there is. Unfortunately, if you paint over a moldy surface, the paint is likely to peel soon after. Instead, if you want to restore the aesthetic value of the wall, you should get rid of the mold first, and only then can you paint it.
- As breathing in the mold spores could result in a variety of health problems, you should remember to wear an N-95 respirator that you can buy online or in a hardware store. This way, you will limit the number of mold spores that you breathe while you are in the mold-infected room. However, it’s not enough that you wear a decent respirator – you need to ensure that it fits perfectly as well, or otherwise, it won’t prevent the mold spores from getting into your lungs. That’s why, before you begin, you should read the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the respirator to ensure that you wear the mask the right way.
- Even though a respirator is a must if you want to get rid of mold growing in your home, gloves are just as important. If you use water and a mild detergent, then rubber gloves are a perfectly fine choice. However, if the mold infection is more severe, and you decide to use, e.g., chlorine bleach, then you should have PVC gloves or a similar type that will offer better protection. Let’s also not forget that if you don’t use any protection, the detergent might damage your hands, and mold spores could also irritate your skin – and both of those things can be easily avoided if you wear gloves.
- You should also get goggles so that mold spores won’t get into your eyes while you get rid of the mold infection.
- Even if you have spent a considerable time scrubbing a moldy surface, and it seems that you have completely removed the mold, you might notice a moldy odor return soon after. Unfortunately, getting rid of mold is not always easy, and sometimes you might need to contact a specialist to do the job for you. Remember that it’s easier to prevent mold from growing in your home than trying to remove the mold infestation. That’s why getting an experienced plumber to do the job is a wise investment, as it will help you avoid problems with mold in the future.
Choosing a good plumber
Choosing a good plumber is a hard decision. People who have called the first and cheapest plumber live to tell their horror stories. Not only is a mold-infested house a potential hazard to your health, but it can be a disaster for such elements of your home like your walls, floors, ceilings, and more.
If you need a good, experienced plumber to make repairs in your home or are worried about the possibility of a potential leak, give Air Temp Solutions a call today! Our experienced, well-trained plumbers will be happy to make sure your home is safe from leaks and mold.