The most common questions that would bug a homeowner is what is Mildew is the first place? and what is exactly the difference between Mildew and Mold? While Mildew and Mold both belong to the fungi species and need a porous and organic material to grow on, there are quite a number of notable differences between them.
What is mildew?
Mildew is a disease that generally infects plants which causes huge damage to them. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the United States, Mildew is considered to be early-stage Mold and it is definitely much easier to treat compared to the later-stage. While Mildew can cause damage to a home, the damage is usually more cosmetic compared to Mold. There are two types of Mildew, Powdery and Downy.
Flowering plants are mainly affected by Powdery Mildew and it first appears as white or grey patterned blots that gradually become yellowish-brown or black as the Mildew grows.
Downy Mildew is more commonly found in agricultural products, such as Oranges and Capsicum. Its appearance varies depending on the type of surface it grows on, but usually, downy mildew starts as yellow spots that eventually turn brown.
What about mould?
On the other hand, Mold is more commonly found in households and there can be more than 10000 species of Mold in your house! Most of the Molds found in a typical household belong to one of the following five variants: Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Penicillium and Stachybotrys Chartarum. Mold is significantly more damaging to a house as it is difficult to remove and it can cause structural damages to a house.
Alternaria can be located on walls, in showers, around windows, under sinks or in other various damp places. Buildings that have suffered some kind of water damage usually will have Alternaria growing on them. Alternaria can appear as black, grey, or dark brown and has a woolly or down-like texture. Prolonged exposure to this kind of fungi can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks.
Aspergillus is the most common type of Mold found indoors. Aspergillus can take in the form of many colours ranging from grey, brown, yellow, green, white and black. Aspergillus usually grows on walls, insulation, paper products, and clothing. Prolonged exposure to this type of Mold can cause lung infections, allergic reactions and immune responses including fever, asthma attacks, and coughing up blood.
Cladosporium is a unique case as it can grow in cool areas unlike many other types of Mold. It usually appears on fabrics, such as carpets or curtains, and on wood surfaces, like cabinets and floorboards. It has a distinct black or olive-green colour and can cause a range of respiratory problems as well as infections on the skin and the nails.
Penicillium can be found on various materials that have been in contact with water, including carpeting, wallpaper, insulation, and mattresses and is often attributed to food spoilage. Its physical appearance is in blue or green colour and produces strong musty odours.
Penicillium spores spread very easily and often result in allergic reactions. In addition, penicillium is also used in the production of cheese and penicillin.
Stachybotrys chartarum, which is often referred to as “black mold” is the most perilous kind of household Mold. It produces toxic compounds called mycotoxins that can cause severe health problems, such as breathing problems, asthma attacks, chronic sinus infections, fatigue, and depression.
Stachybotrys chartarum has a particularly musty odour and usually grows in areas that are constantly damp which are areas around leaky pipes, the insides of air conditioning ducts where there is a lot of condensation.
If you are not sure whether you are having a Mold or Mildew outbreak in your home, you can conduct a test through dripping a few drops of household bleach on the affected area and wait for about five minutes and then inspect the spot.
If the colour of the affected area has become lighter, you having Mildew growing in your house, otherwise if it remains dark, some Mold has grown in your home. You can also buy the various Mold and Mildew testing kits that are available on the market.
If you suspect that there is considerable Mold growth in your property or if you aren’t sure about the best course of action to take, your best course of action is to request for professional assistance. Ring up a trustworthy Mold removal company in your country for inspection, testing, evaluation, and Mold removing service that will help you get rid of the potentially harmful fungi in your home.
How to prevent mould growing in your home
If you can prevent Mold and Mildew from growing in your property in the first place, you will save yourself a considerable amount of time and trouble. If you’re in the process of building or renovating a home, Mold resistant products will help reduce your risk of encountering Mold.
The most efficient and proven way to prevent Mold and Mildew from growing in your home is to keep all areas as dry and moisture-free as possible. Attempt to maintain a humidity level of about 40-50% inside the house through a dehumidifier, have your heating and cooling systems regularly inspected, keep your air ducts clean and in good condition, ensure good air circulation inside the premises, fix any leaks in the bathroom, kitchen or other areas.
Dispose of any mildew-affected plants and weeds as soon as you notice them in order to prevent any mildew related infestation. Open doors between rooms to increase circulation, which carries heat to cold surfaces. Increase air circulation by using fans and by moving furniture from wall corners.
Air conditioners are also an effective tool for removing moisture and heat from the humid warm air. The coils of an air conditioner cause moisture in the air to condense on them, eventually losing this excess moisture through a drain and placing it back into the environment. They can also inhibit Mold and Mildew growth by lowering indoor temperatures. In order for the air conditioning units to be effective in inhibiting the growth of Mold/Mildew, air conditioners must recirculate the existing indoor air and must not be exposed to warm and humid outdoor air. Some energy efficient air conditioners may cool a room so quickly that they do not have an opportunity to also effectively collect and drain significant ambient water vapor to prevent the growth of Mold/Mildew.
Mildew is a surface fungus that can be efficiently treated with a commercially available cleaner and a scrubbing brush. You must ensure that you work in a well-ventilated area and wear a mask, preferably a good cartridge-type respirator, available through a medical or safety equipment supplier. One good mask is a triple-seal respirator with a P100 filter cartridge to prevent inhaling mildew spores, as well as to avoid breathing in fumes given off by the cleaning product you use. Putting on rubber gloves will help you protect your hands from the mildew and from the cleaning agent. Clean all the surrounding areas carefully as well, to ensure that all the fungi have been removed. You must handle mouldy materials carefully as careless handling of them will not only stir up spores and spread them even farther around your house but also launch zillions of spores into the air, where you’ll inhale them.
Mold, on the other hand, attaches to the affected materials with microscopic filaments that penetrate beneath the surface. When mold growth is heavy, you may find that the material underneath is rotting due to the mold breaking down the material.
Mold spores spread very easily and can survive in harsh conditions, so they can quickly affect large areas of your property and result in permanent damage. Moreover, despite its characteristic musty smell caused by Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOC), mold is only visible when mold colonies grow to large amounts, so early detection and prevention can prove very challenging. Worst of all, Mold can have a very detrimental impact on your health, so attempting to use DIY remedies to remove Mold is not recommended. Besides, DIY remedies have proved to be rarely effective because the fungus usually grows in areas that are very difficult to access and to remove.
If you have mould growing on a surface such as furniture, don’t paint over or caulk over it. It is a band-aid treatment which is ineffective at addressing the root cause of the problem. Surfaces such as walls or tiles that have been painted or caulked over won’t take paint or caulk very well; paint or caulk will simply peel off because it doesn’t have a clean surface to adhere to.
Besides using a commercial mould and mildew remover, the safest and best way to get rid of a mold problem is to call a mold remediation company. An experienced professional will come to your home to assess the situation and determine the type of mold in your property, as well as the extent of the damage. Afterwards, the best course of action deemed by the professional will be taken to remove the Mold and prevent its reoccurrence in the future.