Most homeowners are vigilant about repairing any water leaks that they discover in their homes. But on that rare occasion when you might be putting off what you suspect to be a costly repair or one that you think is too tiny to be an issue, think again. Not only can any water leak cause significant damage to your home, but it can also pose a serious health risk to you and your loved ones. And while it is not the water itself that is the issue, the moisture created by the water leak becomes a breeding ground for mold and mildew, which contribute to a variety of breathing issues.
What Are Mold And Mildew?
Both mold and mildew are fungi that require a moist environment, air, a food source, and temperatures between 41 and 104 degrees to grow. The air in your home and the temperature easily meet two of the main criteria these fungi need to thrive. Food sources are also plentiful in most homes as they consume wood, fabric, wallpaper, and even some paint. So when a water leak occurs in your home and provides the necessary moisture, mold and mildew growth can be spotted very quickly.
Mildew is considered to be the lesser of these two evils. It is a grayish-white and has a powdery texture. In most cases, it can be found in the corner of a tub or shower but is easily removed with bleach or vinegar. Mold is considered to be a much more severe issue. It can grow in 24-48 hours and ranges in color from black to bright red or green accompanied by a foul or pungent odor. In both cases, it is the spores of the mold and mildew that cause respiratory issues.
While mildew remains on the surface of an object, mold can penetrate the surface and become very difficult to remove. Left untreated, mold is known to cause structural damage by eating away at materials like wood and drywall because they are both porous materials. When mold is discovered on the outer surface of a wood or drywall panel, it is a safe assumption that the mold has also contaminated the inside of the wall or the back of the panel.
Health Complications From Mildew And Mold
Mildew is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. But some people are allergic or sensitive to both mold and mildew. Continued exposure to either or both fungi can lead to severe respiratory problems. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Nose and throat irritation
- Itchy, red or swollen eyes
- Skin irritation
- Coughing, sneezing and other breathing issues much like severe allergies
- Upper and lower respiratory infection
- Sinus congestion
- Runny nose
- Feelings associated with a cold or flu bug
In most cases, the person does not even need to touch the mold or mildew to cause a reaction. Merely breathing in the spores will cause breathing issues. Direct skin contact is typically required to see the rash or experience itchy effects. And anyone with existing breathing issues or complications such as asthma can experience much more severe symptoms.
The mold and mildew fungi cannot live without moisture. So, eliminating the water leak and moisture is the first step in resolving this issue. Next, the area needs to be cleaned to remove as much of the mold or mildew as possible. In limited areas scrubbing with bleach will eliminate the problem. When the contamination is more extensive, it can be necessary to remove drywall and other porous materials that are contaminated. Professional mold abatement companies offer these services and will remove the materials from your home in sealed bags to ensure that the mold spores are not distributed throughout your home.
If you and your loved ones have been experiencing more cough and cold symptoms than usual and appear to be experiencing an allergic reaction for an undetermined reason, there is a good chance that there is mold in your home. And in most cases, that mold is due to a water leak. To locate and repair any hidden water leaks in your home, call (806) 787-6501. Let the pros from Action Air & Plumbing help you eliminate this health hazard quickly and cost-effectively.