How Mold and Mildew Eats Away at Your Home

Mold and mildew damage fabric, carpeting and wood products while producing musty odors that create health issues for its victims.

To prevent mold growth in your home, reduce moisture by using dehumidifiers, air conditioners and fans to dry the air. To rid yourself of mold altogether, take steps such as disposing of moldy materials as soon as they appear and fixing any problems which led to their dampness.

High Humidity

Once humidity levels reach 60% or above, mold growth becomes possible. Humid air also promotes moisture formation that damages furniture, carpeting, draperies and interior surfaces – potentially leading to costly energy bills or system breakdown. Furthermore, high moisture levels overwork HVAC systems resulting in higher energy bills or system breakdown.

Humidity levels like with flooding play an integral part in determining the level of indoor allergens, making an outdoor allergy reduction and reduced humidity less effective at mitigating symptoms of asthma or allergy symptoms. When seasons change and people spend more time indoors, allergies often worsen as exposure decreases due to decreased exposure and relative humidity decline.

Moisture levels within the home create ideal conditions for mold and mildew growth, as mold reproduces via tiny airborne spores dispersed throughout. Germination occurs on surfaces which meet certain criteria including humidity, warmth, oxygen supply and food.

High humidity levels can foster mold growth on windows, walls and other exterior surfaces. Environix recently worked on an intriguing church project which had mold on pew cushions in its sanctuary but no signs of flooding; using Environix’s moisture index (RI) and RH chart we determined that the humidity in the room exceeded 60%; to address this, they installed a dehumidifier into their church sanctuary.

Water Damage

Mold can quickly spread in areas with sufficient water damage, quickly spreading its spread. Once in an affected space, mold has the power to consume organic materials in your home including walls, wallpaper, carpet backers and backing; rugs and draperies; wood products and papers – leading to musty odors as well as discolored surfaces and fabrics. The damage left behind often has lasting repercussions such as musty smells.

Mildew and mold are both types of fungi found in moist environments. While mildew tends to appear flat and powdery in appearance, with shades of gray or white usually dominant; mold can grow greenish-black spots on its surfaces that could later appear green, black, brown, or purple in hue.

Mold thrives in humid, warm and dimly-lit rooms commonly used as clothing closets. Mold may also develop in cellars or crawlspaces of houses without basements; bathroom shower stalls; draperies left rolled up for ironing; as well as fabric items stored in closets without an antimildew inhibitor treatment.

If a home experiences a major leak or flood, it is imperative that any damaged materials be removed immediately and replaced as soon as possible. Any longer that these materials remain exposed can do further damage to its structure and need professional evaluation and removal in order to avoid future mold growth issues. A professional should be hired to assess the situation and help decide the next steps needed in order to stop mold growth after water damage has taken place.

Food Sources

Molds are fungi, and as with all fungi they require food in order to grow and spread. When growing on materials they consume carbon-rich compounds in them and turn it into energy sources for them – discoloration occurs as a result, as does an earthy or musty aroma from them digesting carbon from them and producing mycotoxins as byproducts which may harm people through inhalation, ingestion and skin contact.

Mold spores can often be found floating through the air or on surfaces that do not appear damp, but these spores only become active when conditions such as water, food and temperature meet their ideal requirements for growth. Otherwise, they remain dormant until optimal conditions return and start growing again.

If you detect mold on your food or in your refrigerator, throw it away immediately. Even if only visible surface mold remains present, its roots remain hidden underneath and may spread quickly if left alone. Food with high moisture content should still be discarded, while denser foods like hard cheese, salami and dry-cured ham may be salvaged by cutting around and under the spot while keeping a sharp knife clear of the spot in order to prevent cross-contamination by cutting at least an inch around and below it before saving it.


Mold and mildew come in all colors, shapes, textures and sizes but all share two common traits: digesting organic material for sustenance and needing moisture for growth. While mold spores can form anywhere within homes – from basements, attics, crawl spaces to bathrooms and poorly ventilated kitchens – mold thrives best in humid and warm environments such as basements, attics crawl spaces bathrooms laundry rooms poorly ventilated kitchens as well as growing on surfaces such as wood, paper carpeting drywall wallpaper fabric fabric etc.

An unpleasant musty odor is often one of the first indicators that mold and mildew have established themselves in your home, and should serve as a warning that something needs to be addressed immediately, lest further growth spreads throughout. If this smell is detected in your home, immediately contact someone as it could spread throughout.

Non-porous materials like metals, glass and hard plastics that have mold but remain structurally sound may be cleaned using commercial products, soap and water or diluted bleach solutions. Porous materials like drywall, wallpaper, fabric upholstery furniture or carpet must be thrown out immediately as soon as their mold infestation becomes evident.

Mold spores can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, particularly infants, children and elderly individuals. People living with chronic lung conditions such as asthma are at an increased risk for severe symptoms and complications associated with mold exposure.