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Fixing a Mold Problem


Does Your Home Have...?


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  • Stains or discoloration on your walls, ceiling or furniture?

  • A damp or musty smell?

  • Water problems like a leaky roof or water in the basement?
What is Mold?

Molds are alive. There are hundreds of thousands of different types of mold. They are living organisms that grow naturally, particularly in warm, damp, humid conditions where there is little air movement. Often called “mildew,” molds are related to mushrooms and yeast but are much smaller — we can only see or smell mold when there is a large quantity. Mold can grow almost anywhere: on walls, ceilings, carpets or furniture. Humidity or wetness, caused by water leaks, spills from bathtubs or showers or condensation, can cause mold to grow in your home.


Mold produces “spores,” tiny particles that float through the air. These can sometimes cause health problems. Mold does not affect everyone, and different people are affected differently when mold is breathed or inhaled.

People who are allergic to mold may get watery eyes, runny or stuffed noses, itching, headaches, and they may have difficulty breathing. Mold can also trigger asthma attacks. Some molds produce toxins (poisons) that may be hazardous if people are exposed to large amounts of these molds.

What Can You do?

You cannot eliminate all mold spores from a home, but you can take the following steps to prevent and get rid of mold.


Prevent. Keep your house clean and dry.


  • Fix water problems such as roof leaks, wet basements and leaking pipes or faucets.

  • Make sure your home is well ventilated and always use ventilation fans in bathrooms and kitchens.

  • If possible, keep humidity in your house below 50% by using an air conditioner or dehumidifier.

  • Avoid carpeting in kitchens, bathrooms and basements. Dry floor mats regularly.

Identify. Find mold that might be growing in your home.


  • Search for areas that have a damp or moldy smell, especially in basements, kitchens and bathrooms.

  • Look for water stains or colored, fuzzy growth on and around ceilings, walls, floors, window sills and pipes.

  • Search behind and underneath materials such as carpeting, furniture or stored items.

  • Inspect kitchens, bathrooms and basements for standing water, water stains and patches of out-of-place color.

Respond. Fix any water problems immediately and clean or remove wet materials and furnishings or mold.


  • Clean up spills or floods within one day.

  • Dry all surfaces and fix the problem or leak to prevent further damage.

  • Install a dehumidifier where there is high humidity.

  • Replace contaminated components, such as drywall and insulation.

  • Clean mold off non-porous surfaces with a weak solution of bleach and water.

  • Throw away moldy materials that cannot be cleaned, such as carpet, upholstered furniture, drywall and floorboards.

  • When cleaning mold, protect yourself by wearing long sleeves, pants, shoes and rubber gloves, as well as goggles and a face-mask.

  • If you find a large area of mold (larger than the top of a twin-sized bed) or are allergic to mold, consider hiring a professional to clean it and fix the cause of the problem. For a list of mold-removal professionals, look under “Fire and Water Damage Restoration” in your telephone book.


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The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


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Fixing a Mold Problem:  Created on February 17th, 2007.  Last Modified on December 23rd, 2009


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