How to Tell If Your Apartment Has Mold, and What to Do About It


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Whether you’re about to sign a lease or you’re already in an apartment, you need to know the telltale signs of mold. Mold can lead to property damage as well as a range of health issues, so you will need to deal with any mold issues as soon as you discover them. By learning the signs and symptoms of mold in apartments, you will know when you need to take action.

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What is mold?

Understanding the difference between mold and mildew is essential when you think you have a problem. Although you also don’t want to be in your apartment, you will have an easier time getting rid of mold. Both mildew and mold are fungi. Unlike mold, mold only grows on surfaces. Downy mildew is usually white or gray, although it may turn black as the fungus grows. If you find mold, you can contain the situation with a deep cleaning.

Mold is usually fuzzy and can come in many shades, including green, white, yellow, and black. Mold becomes embedded in materials, making it difficult to remove mold infestations. A mold infestation can lead to infected areas, such as sections of flooring and walls, requiring physical removal.

Signs of mold in an apartment

Watch out for these signs of mold in an apartment:

  • An “off” smell: If you notice a musty smell in your home, it could very well be due to mold. Look for other signs. Even if you don’t see anything obvious immediately, a musty smell means you’ll want to investigate further.
  • Dirty stains: Mold isn’t always visible, but people can mistake it for stains like soot or dirt when it is. Keep in mind that mold can come in many different colors, sizes, and shapes, so don’t just assume you’re clear if this odd place isn’t black. A small patch of mold could mean that you have more mold behind your walls or in other areas.
  • Leaks: Since mold needs moisture, a leak in your device can lead to mold growth. Mold often exists around pipes in front of and behind walls. If you have a leak, repair it immediately and check for signs of mold afterwards. The main causes of mold are leaks from another unit, clogged PTAC units, and broken washing machine hoses.
  • Condensation: Again, a lot of humidity creates the right conditions for mold. Condensation builds up when there is a lot of humidity in the air. High humidity can worsen condensation and, by extension, further improve conditions for mold growth.
  • Flood: Likewise, flooding often leads to mold. Even though the flooding happened some time ago, you may have mold that was not detected and has just started to appear.

If any of these issues exist in your apartment, you should start working it out with your landlord immediately.

Check for mold if you have these health problems

In addition to the signs around your unit, such as odors, water damage, and stains, mold can impact your health. Common reactions to mold in apartments include respiratory health issues like asthma, although sometimes this can also lead to rashes, itchy eyes, and headaches.

Symptoms of allergy

If you can’t get rid of allergy symptoms like red eyes, sneezing, and runny nose regardless of the season, the problem can lurk inside your home. The mold that grows in your unit can cause serious allergic reactions if you touch or inhale it, especially if you have a mold allergy. If you have allergy symptoms that seem worse at home than when you are outside, you will need to look for a mold problem.

Headaches or memory problems

When you have mold, mycotoxins are a big concern. Mycotoxins come from toxic mold strains and can cause serious health problems. Symptoms of exposure include:

  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headache.
  • Memory loss.
  • Limited attention span.

As with the allergy symptoms that non-toxic molds can cause, these symptoms can mean the presence of mold in your unit if it gets worse when you are at home.

What to do if you find mold in your apartment

You must act immediately if you discover mold in your apartment. Notify your landlord immediately and consider asking them to turn to a professional mold inspector. Mold tends to grow in hidden places, such as behind appliances or walls, and professionals have the right equipment to detect it.

Once you or a mold inspector detects a problem, your landlord should fix the problem immediately. They can clean the mold themselves or hire someone to do it. Properly sealing the barriers and preventing further leaks, spills or flooding, then replacing, removing or laundering the affected areas can solve the mold problem. However, toxic molds may require a professional mold removal service. Toxic black mold can be a hazard to people and spread easily if not properly handled.

If you find mold on your personal property, you can discuss the damage with your landlord. However, depending on the terms of your rental agreement, you may need to replace your personal effects. You can file a claim with your tenant’s insurance company.

There are a few steps you can take to prevent mold from growing in the first place. Dry off any moisture you see as soon as possible and make sure you don’t leave standing water anywhere. Whether that water is coming from something you spill in the bedroom or around the kitchen sink, drying it out will help stop a mold problem before it starts.

If you suspect a mold problem, you should contact your landlord at the first sign. This way, you can work to fix the problem and preserve your health right away.