Mold or Mildew?

Mold is a type of fungus that commonly grows in humid environments. Its spores contaminate the air and once settled will eat away at organic matter such as wood, dry leaves, spoiled fruits, and even the carpets in your home.  Nearly any material in our homes are good nourishment for mold. 

There are health risks associated with the presence of mold indoors. These can include respiratory reactions such as sneezing, coughing, and wheezing.  Some individuals are more sensitive to mold than others.  Especially those who already suffer from respiratory diseases can have serious reactions to mold spores.  Red eyes, throat irritation, stuffiness and skin irritations are also common reactions.

Mold can be easily identified by the way it looks. It may appear green or black – or even blue. It begins to grow in fuzzy patches on its surface of growth. These patches grow and thicken as the organic matter in the body decays.  If there are patches of mold growing on your walls, ensure its replacement as soon as possible as quick-growing mold can rapidly deteriorate the structural integrity of drywall and spread to other organic materials in your home.  Mold spores travel very easily and will move quickly throughout the house. 

Mold grows in moist environments, such as near leaks, pools, in basements, showers and along heating/cooling equipment. Ensuring there are no leaks in your home is the best way to prevent mold growth.  Also, be sure to have proper ventilation, monitor humidity, improve air flow, and inspect indoor plants for signs of mold growth. 

Mildew is a surface fungus. It can be distinguished from mold by its colour, which is usually grey, white, or yellow. While mold is typically thick and slimy to the touch, mildew can be described as flaky and soft.  Like mold, it can have negative effects on your health but generally is not as severe as mold.  It can cause some breathing troubles, coughing and headaches. 

Mildew can grow on surfaces of food, usually produce items while mold tends to grow on items such as meat and cheeses.  Mildew grows on many types of surfaces that are damp.  You can find species of mildew on leather, fabric, paper as well ceilings, walls and floors in rooms that have a high level of humidity.  Mildew is quite common in basements, kitchens, and bathrooms.

One way to test whether you are dealing with common mold or mildew is by adding a few drops of household bleach on the surface of the fungus. After waiting for five minutes, the colour will have changed. A lighter colour change indicates that the patch is mildew. Darker shades indicate mold.

Mildew is easy to remove.  A store-bought cleaning agent and a scrubbing brush are enough to remove mildew from any surface. On the other hand, mold penetrates through surfaces and by the time it is visible, it is likely that enough damage has been done to warrant replacing the item in question. DIY solutions are not recommended for removing mold due to the health risks associated with breathing in the presence of mold and further spreading the mold spores.  Restoration Mate can assist you with mold testing and removal. 

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