HOW TO DETECT MOLD GROWTH EARLY JUST BY ITS SMELL
One of the most mischievous qualities possessed by mold is its propensity of hiding in closed, dark place, way out of sight. It can be commonly found hidden in the nooks and crannies of the home, where most people won’t bother to inspect unless when absolutely necessary.
This is one of the reasons why most people fail to see it in its early stage and quickly fix the mess. Before its effects become more obvious to the visible eyes, it is usually after it has wreaked a lot of havoc and made an ugly mess that the homeowner now has to clean up.
For this reason, we have to look beyond looking and employ another powerful sense we possess – the sense of smelling. While mold loves to hide from our eyes, fortunately for us all, it can’t hide its smell from our nostrils. Its smell is enough of a sign to inform us of its infestation, and this might be all you need to save your building from a major structural damage.
So, the question is, how does mold smell like? How can we recognize the smell and swing into action in time?
The first thing to note is that there are many ways to describe the smell. So, trying to describe the smell in one word will not be so easy or accurate. Let us look at a few descriptions that you could work with.
The Mold Smells In A Number Of Ways
If you have ever been to the forest, especially if it is wet, you would note that there is a particular smell in the air that you can’t shake off. This smell, which is damp, humid, earthy and loamy, can be smelt whenever you walk by a decaying wood.
Do you know that smell? That is the closest way to describe a mold smell. You would smell something similar when you pass decaying leaves as well. The difference, though, is that it would smell less stuffy since it is outside and there is more fresh air in the forest. The same can’t be said for the indoors.
Other words that some people have used when describing it are “wet” and “dank” – the kind of smell you would get from your dirty socks when they are wet. Smelling this while taking your socks to the laundry for a wash is one thing. When that smell starts coming from unlikely places, like the kitchen cabinet, something is definitely amiss.
Another way others have described the smell is that it smells aged or old. This is similar to the dusty, powdery and nose-tinkling smell you’ll get when you sniff through an old book you retrieved from an abandoned or poorly-treated library.
You could find this particular smell in places like your attic or storage room if it has been infested with mold. This will be more likely if you have things like unused books, cardboard box and other paper items abandoned there. In this case, you won’t find the smell wet and damp, but dry and dusty.
Apart from “old”, another description for how mold smells is “stale”. This will explain why you would find mold on your stale bread.
There is another one, and this is potentially toxic and dangerous, is the rotten, pungent smell. This can sometimes be detected from slimy mold. In fact, some people describe it as “cat urine smell”. While the name sounds funny, its effects are not. If you notice this smell, don’t sniff. It is very likely a toxic mold. It is recommended you call the professionals immediately.
So, there we have it – a number of varying smells from mold. Why is this so?
There is a volatile substance released by mold into the air. This substance is known as microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC). When MVOC is released, it quickly fills up the air because of its high rate of diffusion. Because MVOCs vary in species, they possess varying smells as well.
The environment also seems to play a role in the creation of the mold smell. Things like the substrate in which the mold resides, the room temperature, the water source, sunlight, and humidity play a role in the way the mold smells.
Another factor that may play a role is the interaction by other microorganisms around the mold. If another microorganism present around the mold produces substances which interact with the volatile compound produced by the mold, this may make a difference in the mold smell. This is one of the reasons why it can be hard trying to define the smell of the mold in exact words.
They Don’t Always Smell
While mold has been known to smell, not all molds actually smell. This has to do with the substance we mentioned earlier known as microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC)
There are molds that do not produce MVOC. Besides, there are conditions that make even molds that normally produce MVOC to stop. For example, for MVOC-producing molds to release the gas effectively, the temperature and the humidity have to be right. The condition has to be suitable for the production of the substance.
Because of this, it is possible to have a mold problem without actually smelling anything.
Effects Of Mold Smell On You
While the mold smell can quickly help you identify the growth of mold in your house, the smell itself is not always dangerous. The exception will be some molds known to produce a toxic chemical known as mycotoxin.
However, one thing the mold smell might suggest is that there is a high likelihood that there are spores in the air. These spores which are released into the air by the mold can be much more hazardous to your health than the smell itself.
There are cases where some people are hypersensitive to the smell. Such people may experience watery eyes, dizziness, or sneezing when exposed to it. There have even been cases of migraine and some neurological symptoms.
As you would expect, the greatest harms come directly from the mold itself. Side effects can include allergic reactions, sore throat, pneumonia, digestive problems and even skin inflammation.
Because of how stuffy it can feel, people who live in mold-infested houses may feel better outside the home than inside. This is usually because the mold spores level is usually higher indoors than outdoors. It is easy for such people to dismiss it as nothing serious; not knowing it is the mold in action.
This can be useful for you in some cases. The nose is known to adapt to a smell it has been exposed to for a long period. Therefore, people who stay indoors mostly may have got used to the smell, thereby failing to note the signs.
For such people, spending some time outside in the fresh air may be all they need to detect the smell afterward.
Don’t Follow The Smell
One of the first lines of thought that people have when they detect the mold smell is to sniff around and follow the smell. This is not recommended for a good reason. You see, while you may detect the presence of mold by smell, you can’t detect its toxicity.
If you want to sniff around it is best you get a professional mask for the job. An N95 mask is an excellent example. This mask can help you filter the spores while trying to identify the area where the smell is strongest.
You should bring a flashlight along to inspect dark corners as well. As stated earlier, mold loves to hide in dark, humid places. You may find them behind your kitchen cabinet or even under the carpet. Check around the shower or sinks.
Look inside your store and crawlspaces. If there is a place where you left unused books and the likes, make sure you check those places as well. Just note that mold will love it if it is dark, moist and warm.
Removing The Mold
When the mold is detected, the next thing is to remove it. It is recommended to call a professional mold remediation company, since you may not know how toxic it is. In case you want to remove it yourself, make sure you get the right protective gear.
After removing the mold, please note that the smell may persist. This can be due to how much the smell had been able to permeate other items in the building, from furniture to books. In that case, you may sprinkle some talcum powder on them overnight and clean off the excess talc the next day.
Drying them in the sunlight may also help. Apart from sunlight, what the building also needs is a lot of fresh air. Allow adequate ventilation into the building to push out the stuffy air and bring in new ones. You can also use air freshener to get rid of the smell.
On a last note, please note that getting rid of the mold smell is not the same as getting rid of the source of the mold. Something started the growth of mold in the first place, and that has to be fixed to get a lasting result. This can be tough to identify and fix, and that is where a professional mold remediation company comes in.
At Mold and Mildew Solutions LLC, we won’t just help you inspect and fix the mold, we help you identify its source and prevent its growth in the future. We believe in quality services and take the safety of your family seriously. Please, feel free to contact us today at:
Mold and Mildew Solutions LLC
908 13th St. N. Birmingham, AL 35203
AKA the #Mildude, Lee has for decades