Molds are a type of fungi – neither plant nor animal, they occur as part of the natural environment. Not all molds are harmful (penicillin is a mold). Outdoors they perform a useful function breaking down fallen logs and leaves.
Inside your house mold is another matter. Molds are destructive to the surfaces they grow on such as wood, drywall, etc. They reproduce through tiny spores which can become airborne where they can be inhaled, or they can get on the skin and cause allergic effects, irritation or infection. Some types of mold even produce poisonous mycotoxins which have much more serious health effects, and can even be life threatening for some individuals. Mold likes warm, damp, dark conditions best, but if that doesn't exist, the spores can become dormant for years until conditions are right for their growth.
Perhaps the best thing a homeowner can do about mold is to never give it a chance to get a foothold in the first place. Keep spills cleaned up, repair any leaky pipes or drips, keep your gutters in good repair so that your foundation doesn't become damp. Maintain good ventilation, especially in damp areas such as bathrooms and laundry areas.
Small areas of surface mold are easy to clean. Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup. After cleaning, keep the area dry. However these methods are not effective for porous materials. If mold has penetrated drywall or wood, these areas may have to be replaced.
Large mold clean-ups (larger than about 10 square feet) are best left to professionals that specialize in mold removal.
At Columbus Advanced Inspections, your home inspector will be a certified mold inspector and can provide expert advice on testing and clean-up. Read more about our Columbus mold testing services.