9 Subtle Signs Your Home May Have Mold

Mold is a common issue in many homes and can cause serious health issues, as well as damage to your home, if left untreated. Many people are unaware that their home contains mold because they don’t know what signs to look for.

I lived in a moldy home for eight years, unknowingly. I was plagued with a constellation of bizarre and seemingly unrelated symptoms, but no one could provide an answer. Eventually, my partner and I figured out on our own that mold was the root cause of our ailments. Looking back, there were several potential red flags that we didn’t recognize. Now that I know, it’s my hope to share things I wish I had discovered sooner.

Without further ado, here are some subtle signs you should pay attention to when assessing your home for possible mold.

9 Subtle Signs Your Home May Have Mold

  1. Houseplants are dying. If you’ve always had a green thumb but notice the growth of your indoor plants stagnate, your home may have mold. Look out for leaves turning brown or yellow despite proper watering, sunlight, and growing conditions. If you attempt to transplant the sick plant and notice the root system has withered away, it may be due to fungal exposure.
  2. Indoor allergies. If you find yourself continually sneezing, particularly in certain rooms, your home may have mold. If you have never suffered from allergies before or if the sneezing is more forceful than it has been in the past, your body may be responding to mold exposure. Mold symptoms may include: coughing, sneezing, sore throat, itchy watery eyes, chronic conjunctivitis, irritated skin, congestion, runny nose, sinus headaches, and difficulty breathing. If your symptoms go away or get better when you step outside, there’s a good chance that your home has mold. 
  3. Musty smell. If you or your guests note a musty damp odor throughout your house or in a single particular room or cabinent, your home may have mold. Any whiff of a musty, earthy, or sour smell indicates that mold is present even if you don’t see visible signs. Seek out the source and figure out ways to dry the area out, if there is dampness.
  4. You always feel tired. A quarter of the population is sensitive to mold. For those individuals, mold exposure can damage mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells. When the body’s energy reduction is permanently reduced, daily activities can be taxing and lasting fatigue can set in.
  5. You have a basement. If you have a basement, you should be aware that they are breeding grounds for moisture because they are built into the soil. Vulnerability to mold invasion depends on several factors, including the water level of your geographical area and the type of soil present. It is common for basements to develop cracks in the walls where moisture can seep through. Be sure to check your “sump pump” to make sure it’s working properly.
  6. You live in a plywood construction. Homes across the country, particularly the arid southwest, are built around a plywood structure. The porous cellulose will foster mold growth if ever exposed to moisture. If your home is under construction during a rainstorm, the plywood will develop mold and the constructions workers will often build right over it.
  7. You have trouble concentrating. In severe cases, exposure to black mold can affect cognitive function. If there is a hidden black mold problem, you’ll notice that it’s hard for you to focus or that you’re often disoriented.The nasal cavity is adjacent to the forebrain, separated only by the spongy ethmoid bone. The forebrain is responsible for intelligence, memory, and will power. Damage due to mold can inhibit any of these abilities, and the impairment may prevent you from recognizing the problem.
  8. You have trouble breathing. Mold toxicity has severe effects on the respiratory system that can have serious short term and long term consequences. Those exposed to mold might find that they often have trouble breathing or suffer from “air hunger“. If you have asthma, you might observe that you’re having attacks more often. If you’re suffering repeat respiratory infections–such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or valley fever–when otherwise healthy, you may be unknowingly inhaling fungal spores.
  9. Your symptoms persist after professional remediation. You discovered mold, you hire professionals to remove it, and you have moved back into your home only to discover you still don’t feel well. You likely still have mold in your home. Run a HERTSMI-2 to verify.

If you do discover mold in your home, you may need a professional to investigate hidden colonies of mold in walls, crawl spaces, or along the home foundation. Most companies take a air sample so it would be my advice, as a sufferer of mold illness, to conduct your own HERTSMI-2 dust sample test a few weeks after remediation to verify the job was done completely. Mold is tricky and pervasive–if the spread is bad enough, you may not be able to return to your home.

You may also need to seek medical care if you are suffering from fatigue, respiratory issues, or cognitive problems. It’s quite challenging to find doctors that recognize illness due to mold. If you do suspect mold, I would recommend looking into working with a Shoemaker Certified physician and following the Shoemaker protocol. The physicians and treatments are very expensive and not covered by insurance, but can be life-changing.

8 thoughts on “9 Subtle Signs Your Home May Have Mold

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    1. You’re welcome! For years, I couldn’t figure out why my houseplants weren’t thriving. There were so many risk factors and red flags I would have never considered… I naively though mold only grew on old food. Now I know, and hopefully sharing could help someone else.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I never realized about houseplants! That’s so good to know about! I’m looking forward to buying a house, but the ones available in my price range are older and in need of work. Many have potential mold issues which is why I haven’t bought one. I’m thinking I need to save a much bigger down-payment to be able to get a place without those issues.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, we’re in the same position. While we own a home, it’s an old converted apartment so relatively low-value. To move someplace safer and with fewer issues is going to be a challenge. There are mold tests out there (we’ve used Envirobiomics), so our plan to is make an offer contingent on the home passing the mold test. It may cost a few hundred up front, but could save us from buying a lemon and the headache that would come from it. For others with budgetary restrictions, that could be a workaround.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I totally believe in spending a little more in the beginning to avid huge problems down the road. I wish you both all the best as you seek to resolve your home situation.

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