Water damage vs mold. Tips from Professionals
Even with proper maintenance, most homeowners know that water damage is still possible. The water may be from rain that gets to the house’s interiors and damages the ceiling and the walls. It may also be from a hailstorm that breaks your windows, and the home floor gets wet. Leaking pipes or faulty plumbing systems may also lead to severe water damage. Water damage often leads to mold unless quickly solved.
Water damage vs mold
Generally, mold growth is due to moist or high humidity, thriving in poorly ventilated areas. Water damage often shows itself as a water stain on the wall or ceiling, and this is often the result of a leak and not from moisture or poor ventilation. Mold grows in the presence of moisture, and water damage creates the perfect atmosphere for it.
In this blog post, I will further explain what mold is, the relation between wood rot and mold, and between mold and mildew. I will also answer some frequently asked questions, like preventing mold and what colors mold can have.
- 1 What is Mold?
- 2 Black Mold vs wood rot
- 3 Mildew vs Mold
- 4 What prevents mold after a flood?
- 5 How do you get mold off a stone foundation?
- 6 Can water stains look like mold?
- 7 Water stain and mold on the ceiling
- 8 What does water damage mold look like?
- 9 Water mold on walls
- 10 How to prevent water mold from growing on the walls
What is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that naturally helps break down organic material, completing the cycle of decomposition. They appear as slimy pink, white, green, or brown patches. Mold may also occur in a black toxic variety that blooms in moist and wet places. Mold also gives a distinctive musty and damp odor. Common breeding areas for mold are moist, poorly ventilated, or hidden areas in a home, like under the sink, the doorways, corners, and the basement.
Mold is a health threat as it can cause chronic wheezing, coughing, sneezing, and irritation to the eyes. People with pre-existing allergies may experience worse symptoms such as rashes, blood in the lungs, and vomiting. Mold spreads quickly, eating all organic material on walls, cabinets, and furniture. Mold is a structural threat hence the need to handle any water damage quickly before mold grows in your home. Prolonged mold exposure may also cause long-term health risks. Mold can start in 24 hours under perfect conditions.
Black Mold vs wood rot
Fungi both produce black mold and wood rot. However, wood root is more dangerous than mold for a structure as it breaks down wood. Black Mold presents itself as black discoloration, while wood rot is decay.
Wood rot is often found in the wood of older houses that deal with water and moisture and generally can be avoided with proper maintenance. Wood rot may occur during any season. Window frames and doors are areas of the house that deal with water and moisture and are familiar places for wood rot. I recommend checking these areas yearly to identify wood rot before it becomes a severe issue for your home.
You may prevent wood rot by using these tips:
● Paint the wood
Paint the wood to act as a barrier against water and moisture. Wood rot will only be present where there is moisture. Painting the windows will prevent the water from seeping into the wood. But the paint should be such that the wood can breathe and that any moisture inside the wood can leave.
● Get rid of standing water
Remove water from your windows, particularly inside. There can be water pools on and around the windows, mostly during rain or condensation. Clean up your windows and remove any moisture caused by leaking ceilings or faulty gutters.
● Maintain Good Ventilation:
Ensure you have good ventilation and airflow in your home. This is important to remove moisture, and it ensures wood can dry and there is no moisture retention, leading to wood rot.
Mildew vs Mold
Mildew and mold are easily confused as these two are both fungi and require a lot of moisture to thrive. It would be best if you knew the difference between these two before treating the problem at your home. Mildew mainly grows in moist warm areas in white, grey, or yellow patches, and it has a fluffy or powdery texture. Mold mainly grows underneath wet surfaces and has a slimy or fuzzy texture.
Mildew is mainly found on items that have damp surfaces. Common household items that are likely to get mildew include paper, leather, and anything with fabric. Mildew may also be found on ceilings, walls, floors, or areas with lots of humidity, such as kitchens, basements, or bathrooms. It may also be spotted in agricultural products such as potatoes or grapes.
Mold is commonly found in previously wet places or places with lots of humidity. Mold may grow in garages, on walls and ceilings, carpets, and sheds that have been wet. You may also spot mold on food such as bread, meat, or cheese.
What prevents mold after a flood?
Any flooding in a home may cause the growth of mold. Mold can start between 24 to 48 hours under ideal circumstances, and mainly after the water has started evaporating into the air. It is essential that you clean up the water immediately after a flood to prevent mold growth.
The following tips can be helpful to prevent mold after a flood:
● Clean flooded areas immediately
The longer the water sits after a flood, the harder it becomes to clean up and prevent mold growth. First, fix the reason for the flood. Then try to remove the water within the first 24 to 48 hours of flooding.
Remember to check every room for any water leaks and spills. Remove as much furniture and other items from those areas. Start cleaning and drying the flooded areas. You can use a wet and dry vacuum cleaner to remove water, open windows and doors, and use fans to improve the airflow and ventilation. To speed up the drying process, you can also use a dehumidifier or your air condition system if you have one.
● Check the exterior of your home
Check the exterior of your home for any pooling water near the foundation. Pool water on the foundation may cause cracks and lead to mold growth.
● Watch the humidity levels of your house
Moisture in the air may lead to mold growth. Make sure your house is dry to prevent the growth of mold. You can use a hygrometer to check the humidity level. A hygrometer is a device that serves as an indoor thermometer and humidity monitor.
To lower the humidity you can:
- Fan: Use fans to improve the airflow
- Doors and windows: Open all the windows in your home
- Dehumidifier: Using a dehumidifying machine to clean, dry, and cool the air. You can use a residential dehumidifier, but I always recommend renting commercial dehumidifiers. They can remove a lot more water per hour than a residential dehumidifier.
- Air conditioner: If your home has an air conditioning system, you can use that to lower the humidity.
● Sanitize all areas
Sanitize everything affected by the flooding after cleaning. You may use a steam cleaner or a dry vacuum cleaner for your furniture, beds, and sofa. Clean floors and walls using soap and water and use a water-chlorine bleach solution to sanitize them. Mold does not thrive well on clean and sanitized areas.
● Dispose of things that can’t be cleaned
Materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried should be disposed of. Some things, such as damaged electronics, may be beyond repair if they are waterlogged. Keeping them in the house may encourage mold growth, which may spread to other areas.
How do you get mold off a stone foundation?
Stacking up items against your foundation may encourage water collection. The water may seep into your basement walls, and this will provide a perfect growing atmosphere for the mold. Cracks on the stone foundation may also mean that water can enter your home from outside.
If your foundation is prone to moisture, I recommend a proper drainage system. This will help get water and moisture away from your foundation.
Use oxygen-based bleach instead of chlorine-based when removing mold from an exterior wall. This helps in protecting the environment since the oxygen-based bleach is nontoxic. Apply the solution directly to the problem area the scrub the solution into the stonework using a hard-wired brush. Let it sit for half an hour before you rinse it off.
You may also use Borax to remove mold from the stone wall foundation. Borax contains natural plant nutrients in its list of ingredients making it an ideal solution to use outside.
Can water stains look like mold?
Water stains may be confused for mold. However, water stains often show there is a leak close to or above the discolored area. The leak could result from a leaky roof plumbing issue or the water drain or supply. A leak going on for several days may lead to mold behind the drywall. If you do not know how to check or to deal with that, I recommend asking a professional for help.
Water stain and mold on the ceiling
Mold growth on the ceiling can be caused by excessive humidity and poor ventilation. The growth pattern can help you identify if the mold is due to moisture. A water stain on the ceiling is often the result of a leak and not from moisture or poor ventilation.
A water stain can result from a leak from a heating appliance, the roof, or faulty plumbing. It often leaves discolored mineral deposits where water seeps through the ceiling. Use a bleach solution to remove most of the water stain from the ceiling. If you plan on painting the stain, first use a stain primer. This primer forms a layer between the stain and the new paint. If you paint the stain directly, it will be visible again quickly.
What does water damage mold look like?
Water damage due to a floor or leak can result in mold. Water damage may lead to the growth of different types of mold depending on the moisture available. And they can have a wide variety of colors and even change their color over time:
- White Mold: Fresh mold is often white.
- Green Mold: The most common mold color, but it does not always have to be mold. Other fungi are green as well.
- Brown Mold: Common mold color, both indoor and outdoor.
- Gray Mold: Common mold color, both indoor and outdoor.
- Yellow-Green Mold: Common type of mold
- Pink Mold: This is a bacteria, and not really mold, often found in the bathroom
- Orange Mold: Found near rotten wood. Normally not found inside
- Black Mold: Seen as the most dangerous type of mold. But do not underestimate the other types.
Under ideal conditions, water damage caused by flooding or a leak may lead to mold development as quickly as 24 hours. This makes it essential to clean up immediately after the flooding to prevent mold growth and damage. You may not see any visible mold, but you can smell an earthy or musty smell that indicates mold growth in your home.
Water mold on walls
Early Detecting of Mold on walls helps fix the issue before it can spread further and become more serious. If the mold is on the outside of the wall, you can clean it. But if the mold is also on the inside of the wall, things get much more challenging.
Signs that your wall has mold are:
- cracking or bubbling: You may notice unusual surface or peeling abnormalities such as cracking or bubbling.
- Peeling wallpaper: You may also spot the peeling of the wallpaper. Pay attention to any warped areas that may be damp. Check out for dark green grout between bathroom tiles, which could indicate mold in the house.
- Spots: Mold may also appear as spots in your walls that are peeling away. A regular high humidity may also lead to mold growth in your home. Water damage in your home guarantees that mold will grow, especially if the cleaning is not done correctly.
- Smell: Mold has a sort of rotten smell. It is a musty odor, like old books.
How to prevent water mold from growing on the walls
Generally, the best way to prevent mold growth is proper ventilation. Ventilation ensures there is no or limited moisture in your walls. Ventilation can be as easy as opening your windows to circulate fresh air or using other methods.
If you are unsure how to improve your ventilation, ask a professional for help. I also recommend asking a professional if you are afraid you already have mold in your home. Never underestimate the problem. Generally, it does not fix itself and can even extend to other areas.