“Why Do I Have Mold?”

Out of all the questions people ask me about mold, the most important question to them is always, “How can I get rid of my mold?” Even though this is an important question, it’s not the question they should be asking, which is, “Why do I have mold?”

In the past, we’ve discussed things that might contribute to mold growth in a home or building. Some of these factors were high humidity, organic building materials, and air-tight building structures. But these factors alone should only accelerate mold growth, not be the root cause of it. The fact is, serious mold growth should only occur if there is something wrong with the building.

Serious mold growth only occurs when there is a lot of moisture. Correct building design allows for a normal amount of water vapor to ventilate through the building and escape outside. So the only reason mold should exist is if there is an abnormally high amount of water or the building is not doing its job.

When an abnormally high amount of water exists in a building it is usually because of a flood, a burst pipe, or a leaky roof (often the case with schools). Homes and buildings endure wear and tear over time and it’s hard to avoid some occurrences. So you should focus on what you can control. For roofs, keep the roof in good condition, routinely inspect for weaknesses, and fix leaks as soon as they occur. For burst pipes, shut off the water, repair the leak, and dry and remove the spilt water as soon as possible. If you have a flood then you need to focus on drying immediately and preventing further water from pouring into your home. Do not wait for the insurance adjuster to arrive first as it may take several days, more than enough time for mold to grow.

The reason why older homes and buildings may be moldy is simply because it is more likely they have experienced water leaks during their lifetime that were not repaired quickly or effectively.

But new buildings sometimes have mold too. When this happens it is because the building was constructed incorrectly and, by flawed design, either allows rainwater to enter the building or does not allow water vapor to escape through proper ventilation. This happens more often than it should. Oak Ridge Elementary, which was recently assessed as “the worst case of mold ever seen” by one inspector is only four years old. The 17-story Sam H. Gibbons courthouse is practically uninhabitable now because of mold, and it is only 12 years old.

What people need to understand is that mold isn’t the problem; it is merely the result of an existing problem. Any honest mold remediation company will stress this fact to you early on and work to identify the cause and source of water in a building.

Mold or Mildew ?

chart below shows some of the major differences.

Mold and Mildew

Mold Mildew


Mold is usually fuzzy in appearance. It can be many different colors, including blue, green, yellow, brown, gray, black, or white.

Mildew usually grows in a flat pattern and may appear either powdery or downy. Powdery mildew usually starts out white and may later turn yellow, brown, or black. Downy mildew usually starts out yellow and later turns brown.

Problems it Causes Structural damage to homes can occur over time. Mold can also cause numerous health problems, including respiratory problems, allergic reactions, migraines, inflammation and pain in the joints, mental status changes, and extreme fatigue. Mildew can cause damage to plants and crops. It can also cause health problems, including respiratory problems and headaches.
Beneficial Uses Some forms of mold are used in the production of food, like cheese, and some forms of mold are used to make medications, like the antibiotic penicillin. None.

Health Effects of Mold vs Mildew

Common health effects of exposure to mold (which vary depending on the strain of mold) include:

Mold vs Mildew
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throats
  • Migraines
  • Sinus infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Allergic reactions
  • Rashes or hives
  • Inflammation and pain in the joints
  • Mental status changes (depression, forgetfulness)
  • Extreme fatigue

Common health effects of exposure to mildew include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches

As you can see, exposure to mold is associated with more health problems, but exposure to mildew isn’t good for your health, either.

Elliot Evironmental

Michigan Black Mold Specialist – Mold Removal Michigan – RRP Certified firm, Certified Michigan mold inspection and removal company servicing both residential and commercial properties statewide