Yikes! Why Is There Mold In My Apartment?

Discovering mold in your apartment is alarming. Not only does it look and smell gross, but it can also impact your health. Determining the possible causes of your apartment mold infestation may help prevent it from returning in the future! Learn about signs of mold, common causes, and what to do if you find mold in your apartment. 


How Do I Know I Have Mold in My Apartment?


Mold can be sneaky, and you might not always physically see it. You may be feeling or sensing the effects of mold long before that giant dark spot appears on the wall. So, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a mold problem.


Signs of Mold in Apartments


Sometimes, there are physical signs of mold that you can see or smell. Keep an eye out for the following. 


  • Weird Smell: If a room or general area of your apartment smells musty, it could be mold. Start hunting for a source and continue looking into the problem even if you don’t find anything at first. Mold won’t always be visible and can be hidden under carpets or behind walls. 
  • Water Damage: Flooding and other water damage create the perfect environment for mold growth. You could have mold if you see signs of water damage on your walls, floor, or ceiling. Even if the damage happened a while ago, mold could be quietly growing where you can’t see it.
  • Dirty Spots: Most people expect mold to be black, but it can come in different colors, too — mold color doesn’t necessarily mean that a certain type of mold is more or less dangerous than another type. Don’t immediately dismiss that dark or dirty stain you see on the ceiling or wall, especially if you notice other signs or symptoms of mold.


Mold in Apartment Symptoms


When mold grows in your apartment, it can affect your health. Both toxic strains of mold (varieties containing mycotoxins) and normal mold can cause health issues, and mold sensitivity can lead to allergy symptoms. If you experience the following symptoms, you might want to start looking for physical signs of mold.


  • Sneezing
  • Runny Nose
  • Coughing
  • Irritated Eyes
  • Headache
  • Wheezing
  • Sore Throat
  • Memory Problems


How to Test for Mold in Apartments


If you’re experiencing signs or symptoms of mold growth but don’t actually see any mold, you may want to call a professional to come test. However, if you find visible mold growth, CDC guidelines advise against testing. Different molds can affect people differently, and some molds are more harmful than others. Mold type doesn’t really matter — any mold can be harmful, and it’s best just to remove the mold and work toward preventing future growth.


What Causes Mold in an Apartment?


Mold needs a moist environment to grow, so any cause of mold in your apartment will boil down to one thing: water. Whether it’s from an irresponsible neighbor, a faulty appliance, or shoddy construction, water has found its way inside your home. Here are some common reasons you might have mold spreading in your apartment.


Leaky Appliances


Leaky kitchen appliances might be the most common cause of mold in apartments. Refrigerators, ice makers, and dishwashers all have water supply lines, which tend to be hidden behind the appliance or by cabinets. So, if one of these water supply lines has a leak, you might not notice until it becomes a mold problem. 


Burst Pipes or Bad Plumbing


Plumbing issues and burst pipes can wreak havoc on an apartment building. One burst pipe can send water gushing through multiple apartments. Or, if someone upstairs floods a sink, toilet, or bathtub, it can rush down to your apartment. 

Extensive water damage from pipes and plumbing often calls for drywall, dry structure, and floor removal. If the apartment upstairs floods, repairs should be handled immediately to help prevent mold growth. 


Flooding might have happened before you moved in, so performing a thorough move-in inspection is important. If there hasn’t been recent flooding but you’ve discovered mold, it could be from old, unaddressed water damage. 


High Humidifier Settings


Using a humidifier in the winter comes with tons of benefits, but you need to make sure you have yours on the right setting. Running a humidifier properly won’t cause mold, but using the wrong water, setting it too high, not cleaning it, or placing it right next to a wall can put you at risk. 


Ensure the humidity levels are set between 30% and 50%. If you go above 50%, you might create an environment moist enough for mold to thrive. Avoid using mineral-rich water and regularly clean the humidifier. Mold can grow in the humidifier itself, and that mold can disperse throughout your room and land on the walls. Finally, keep the humidifier a good distance away from the wall. When it’s too close to a wall, the water mist can land on the wall and stay there, breeding mold over time.


Compromised Building Materials


Rainwater and moisture from outside can make its way indoors if your building has compromised materials. Water can seep through old brick facades, get caught in exterior walls, or make its way in through cracks around window seals. If you find mold on an indoor wall, there’s likely a whole bunch more hiding on the side.


HVAC Moisture


Your air conditioning creates condensation while running in the summer. Pair that with the dark conditions of an HVAC system, and you have the perfect breeding grounds for mold in apartment air vents. 


Since you don’t normally spend time looking at the HVAC system, you may only notice strong musty odors or allergy symptoms because of the mold. However, once it spreads enough, you might see mold spots around the air vents.


How Do I Get Rid of Mold in My Apartment?


If you discover mold in your apartment, contacting maintenance is the best course of action. Your property management and maintenance crew are responsible for ensuring your apartment remains livable, and removing mold is part of that. Cleaning even a small spot of mold requires care, so it’s best to bring in someone experienced — and never use bleach. Instead, a water and hydrogen peroxide solution should be used.


Leave Mold Woes Behind: Find a New Apartment With ApartmentSearch

The first sign of mold may be an indication that it’s time to move on. Work with your property manager to find a solution: in less severe instances, your apartment manager may hire a professional mold removal company to clean your home. In more severe cases with extensive mold damage, they may allow you to move before the end of your lease.

If moving is on the horizon, ApartmentSearch can help you find a new place to live! Start exploring new apartment communities near you that meet your budget, size, and amenities requirements. Goodbye, mold. Hello, fresh new place. Start browsing available apartments today!


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