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 Where to Look for Mold
  Mold likes to keep a low profile and not be disturbed. It is usually not found growing out in the open. Half of the time mold is hiding. The other half of the time you may find it but you have to know where to look. Fortunately it is not that hard to think like mold and discover its hiding place.  According to data complied by Allstate Insurance Company and the Insurance Council of Texas, the three most common sources of water damage in a home are wash machine hoses, shower tile grout and water heaters1.  Look for mold in the following places:  
  • Under Kitchen & bathroom sinks
  • Around hot water heaters
  • Behind wash machines and dishwashers
  • Behind the toilet near the water shut off valve
  • Under carpeting that has become wet and around bathroom showers and toilets
  • Behind and under boxes and personal contents stored in closets
  • Crawlspaces and attics
  • Air conditioning drain pans
  The Air Conditioning System  
  Mold, bacteria and other organisms can grow inside the air conditioning system and ductwork for a variety of reasons. A common one is the condensate pan is not draining properly. This may be because itís not sloped down, is clogged or was never installed.  
  When water accumulates in the pan, standing water can be lapped onto the air filters and lining inside the unit by the blower. This results in mold growth. Air filters coated with anti-microbials are not the answer. They will grow mold if they get wet. Identify why the pan is not draining properly and correct it.  Inspect the air-conditioning system, drain pan and duct work at least once per year in the summer when itís is running at maximum with the most potential for problems to occur and to be noticed.  

Attics and Crawlspaces

  One can find some mold in nearly all attics and crawlspaces, usually on lumber that was damp when it was installed during construction. Wood used to frame a house is generally not kiln dried and often delivered to the construction site damp. Lumber may have also have been stored on site uncovered and got wet in the rain.  
  If only one piece of plywood or framing is affected, and the staining abruptly stops on the neighboring wood, it is likely that the wood was damp before it was installed. Testing of these surfaces commonly indicates Cladosporium, a common outdoor mold. Sometimes it indicates there is no mold growth. It may just be staining.  
  If a small amount of mold growth is identified is it a problem? It may just be cosmetic. Air sampling may indicate the air quality inside the living space is normal. But there may be a stigmatism attached to the presence of water damage wood and potential mold growth. Technically, mold growth shouldnít be there. Building materials should be dry and free of mold when they arrive on site. You may need to have it all cleaned up just to sell your home even though it is not a significant health hazard.  
  There are genuine mold problems in crawlspaces and attics that are not obvious or easily visible. There may be leaks around plumbing causing mold growth on the sub flooring which may be hidden by fiberglass insulation. There may be roof leaks or high levels of humidity in attics causing mold growth behind vapor barriers and insulation.  
  Following Cockroaches, Ants and other Insects  
  If you have bugs, follow where they go and check for moisture there. Often you will find a plumbing leak or leaky exterior wall or window. Identifying and repairing moisture problems are not only good for preventing mold. Structural damage and rot can occur from moisture problems. There are also non-mold irritants associated with moisture problems. New evidence suggests that coach roaches are an important source of allergens3.  
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Revised: July 05, 2017.

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