September is Mold Awareness Month, a time to remember that we can sometimes be unaware of mold lurking in our homes. All mold needs to grow is a little moisture, air and the “food” of organic matter like paper, fibers and dust. And no matter how clean a home you keep, mold will find those little pockets where the conditions are ideal.
Here are just a few places where mold can sneak in and take up residence:
Leaky chimneys: An out-of-repair chimney not only releases dangerous carbon monoxide into a home, but can also hold mold. Moisture that collects in nooks and crannies leads to mold colonies that expand into nearby walls and ventilation outlets.
Lighting fixtures: Mold can develop in the insulation surrounding recessed lights, finding its way into living spaces through insufficiently sealed fixture housings.
Air conditioning equipment: Mold gathers on coils and other AC components that come in contact with moisture, then travels in your direction via the cooled air.
In-room humidifiers: Maintenance is key to ensuring a humidifier does your health good instead of ill. Elevating the relative humidity of a room is an invitation for the sneakiest forms of mold, and a humidifier that goes a long time between cleanings can both harbor and broadcast mold.
Kitchen refrigerator: Allowing leftovers to become molded-over science experiments is one thing, but if the mold spreads into the nooks and crannies of the fridge itself, you’ll have ongoing food safety issues.
If you sense the presence of mold in your home but can’t track it down in even the most extreme places, bring in a professional to find the source, remove the mold, and prevent it from returning. A great place to start is the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), which can help you find a local inspector trained in mold detection.