You have to act fast when you see mold in your home. By the time you see a colony growing, mold could have completely infiltrated an unseen area of your home, such as the basement, crawl space, or attic.
It’s hard for homeowners to tell how fast mold grows and spreads because it likes warm, dark environments, so it mostly grows without being seen…until there’s a major mold issue.
As mold remediation specialists, Pure Maintenance of St. Louis can answer this question and many more — including the common reasons homes develop mold — to help you prevent mold and remove it if necessary.
How Fast Mold Grows
Mold needs water and food to grow. Most homes have these in abundance. A dark, warm environment is an added bonus, but it is not necessary for mold to begin growing in a home.
If mold spores find the right conditions (which isn’t very hard) its lifecycle looks like this:
- 24-48 hours – Germination
Within just 2 days, mold spores can settle in a new place, put down roots, and begin germinating new spores. Although you can’t see it happening, this is a crucial part of mold growth. If you have ever experienced severe flooding in your home, you know that the insurance and health inspectors deem the home dangerous in this window due to mold growth.
- 3-12 days – Colonization
Sometime during this window, the rooted mold spores spread out hyphal, a web-like substance that will result in the production of more mold spores. Remember that each rooted mold spore is growing hyphal, so they will eventually begin to intersect.
- 18-21 days – Visible Growth
By this time, the individual spores have reproduced enough times that they are becoming visible. A colony that is well fed will continue to grow in this manner without limitation.
This timeline is eye-opening for many people. They don’t realize how fast mold can spread throughout their home undetected. Because of that lack of knowledge, many of them end up with extensive, expensive mold damage to repair.
Now you don’t have to be one of those people.
How does mold spread? …and how fast?
The timeline above is for the initial mold growth. After a colony is established, mold can spread through your home in just a few hours.
Here’s what we mean:
A mold colony releases newly made spores as it goes through the 3 stages above. These new spores float freely throughout your home and greatly increase the chance of mold in other parts of your home. Then the cycle starts all over again.
Mold spores are so small that they can float on the air for a long time before they settle. They can travel through your HVAC system, and, while the filters may catch a lot of the spores, they won’t stop them all.
For this reason, any mold problem should be taken seriously. A home that has mold one area is very likely to develop it in other areas. We highly recommend mold inspection for your whole home even if you have only had a small mold issue.
Causes of Mold in a Home
The amount of time each stage of growth takes depends on the specific conditions within the home.
Water is the main ingredient of mold growth (besides the presence of mold, obviously). Mold is in the air around us all the time. Indoors and outside, mold spores are present at some levels, even if very low and harmless.
It’s when mold finds moisture, food, and the perfect temperature that it actually settles, grows and spreads.
Some of the most common causes of mold include leaks, flooding, and condensation in your home. Not only does water give mold spores a place to land, but it also washes up dirt and other particles that mold loves to feed on.
If your home has experienced any water damage, you should also have a mold inspection done. Excess moisture in any form can (and often does) result in mold.
Food is the other thing necessary for mold growth. Like moisture, this is also found in abundance in our homes. Mold feeds on everything from dust to organic materials, making your entire home subject to mold growth.
Mold can also ingest materials in your home like upholstery, carpeting, and wood. Mold is very hard – often impossible – to remove from organic materials like these.
Finally, temperature is another consideration for mold growth.
Unfortunately, our homes are the perfect temperature for mold all year long. Most mold species prefer warmer climates, but all can survive at 65-77°F — the most common thermostat settings for American homes.
How to Prevent Mold
Getting rid of mold is a complex job. It’s dangerous for your health without the right equipment, and it’s very easy to spread mold unknowingly while removing it from its original area.
Preventing mold is much easier than getting rid of it. Flooding and water leaks often lead to mold (as we just discussed), so here are a few tips for preventing mold after a water leak:
- Don’t let water stand – Remove excess water as soon as you can after a water leak…even after your shower or bath if water got on the floor!
- Remove humidity
- Repair leaks ASAP
Mold Removal in St. Louis
To remove mold, you have to first secure the area so no spores are able to spread to other parts of your home once they are released. Then you have to properly wear the right PPE so you don’t inhale spores during cleaning.
Finally, you would move on to the actual mold removal phase, which is comprised of multiple steps.
Some small mold colonies can be removed pretty easily with household cleaners and antifungals, but colonies larger than 10 square feet should be trusted to professionals. Trusting in Pure Maintenance of St. Louis is the safest and most thorough way to remove mold from your house.
Remember, prevention is preferred, but if you can’t prevent mold, find a professional who can completely rid your home of dangerous, unsightly mold.