There Is Mold in My Apartment! Now What?
There’s Mold in My Apartment! Now What?
You’re enjoying your day in your apartment. You just love it! Great location. Great neighbors. Great rooms. Great everything. And then a shock one day! You just found this weird colored stuff on the bathroom corner wall!
Ewwww… is that MOLD??
First off, don’t freak. Regardless if it is in fact mold, not all mold is the toxic kind we hear about in the news. Mold spores simply exist in the air and they need moisture and water to grow, and in places like the bathroom or kitchen, it is easy for mold to start growing.
The recommendation, if you begin seeing strange markings of stuff on walls or anywhere in your home, is it best to just get rid of it and not worry about testing to see what type of mold it is, as any mold, if left untreated can cause severe allergies and make you sick if the spores accumulate into your lungs.
Who's Responsible for Mold Removal?
Now, if you are living in an apartment the obligation for removal does not rest solely on your shoulders like a homeowner. It’s one of the benefits of being a renter. You have someone to carry the responsibility of repairs, replacement, and in this case, mold removal. So first things first. Call your landlord the moment you notice something suspicious.
Take some pictures to document what you are seeing and note if there are any noticeable smells coming from the black marks. Once your landlord does their own inspection, they can do the grunt work of finding the best solution to remove it.
Here are steps to help get you through eradicating mold!
Step 1) Contact the Landlord
As mentioned, immediately notify your landlord you have found something suspicious. You can then assess if the discolorations started after you had the bathroom closed up and things got very humid without airing out after the fact, and you weren’t able to remove the markings with white vinegar or traditional disinfectant, then you can move to step 2.
Step 2) Determine if it is Mold
Mold is a fungus, a mushroom if you will, requiring moisture to grow. They particularly like dark and warm temperatures too, so humid bathrooms or kitchens that heat up from the oven are perfect places for mold to grow. Molds are common where water is, so if in your home, you have poor ventilation, you have a leaky pipe, or flooding happened, mold growth is probably going to occur.
Know the Difference between Mildew and Mold
Although each of these resemble one another and are both fungi, mildew grows on the surface and with some scrubbing and a good cleaner typically is removed. Mold goes deeper and gets embedded into surfaces. Mold tends to be fuzzy and has a smell to it. Similar to the stuff you found in that forgotten food tupperware dish at the back of the fridge. Yeah, that is mold. Mildew is predominantly found on the surface of shower walls and windows, whereas mold gets into ceilings, walls, wood, paper, and natural fabrics that have had long-term exposure to ongoing moisture. If you have tried to clean your bathroom using regular cleaner or white vinegar and the discoloration isn’t going away, the fungus could be deeper.
Step 3) Determine the Scale of the Mold
A small bit of mold will probably go away with proper ventilation and a white vinegar treatment. Vinegar is a powerful cleaner and can kill up to 80% of mold species. Treat the area with a spray of white vinegar and let it sit for an hour to penetrate and get to the roots of the mold. Don’t use bleach as white vinegar is what will get below the surface. Bleach will only treat the surface. Plus, if you don’t get to the roots and kill all the growth, the mold essentially is still there and will just keep returning, and bleach can actually encourage more growth, so stick with white vinegar.
Step 4) Locate the Source of the Mold
Here is where you enlist the help of your landlord, as they will be the ones needing to determine the source of the mold. Is there a water leak behind the wall? Is there water accumulating somewhere on the floor? These are all things the landlord is going to need to find out, as not finding the source can lead to significant problems. If the cause of the mold is not by your action, they will get to work on resolving the issue.
Step 5) Are you Experiencing any Changes in your Health?
One notable outcome of mold exposure is changes in your health. You may notice headaches, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes. Remember mold are spores in the air, so you may start feeling like you have allergies indoors.
If you are experiencing health changes, check with your doctor, and if you have asthma or children, it is even more important to get a health check. Laws around mold vary by state, so if your health is in danger from the mold, you may have to consult with an attorney on how to proceed if your apartment becomes uninhabitable. Hopefully that will not be the case.
Step 6) Become Familiar with Mold
Whenever you tour a rental property or when the time comes when you are looking at buying a property, make sure to inspect for mold. Look for obvious signs of water or discolorations that are bright white or yellow, as they may be attempts at combating a mold problem. Check for discolorations in dark corners or behind things, where mold likes to hide.
And you can do the tried and true ‘sniff’ test for noticeable signs of musty odors. If you can smell musty scents, but don’t see anything noticeable on the walls, floors, or baseboards, there may be some mold hiding in the walls. Cracking, bubbling, and bowing of walls or obvious condensation on pipes or windows are all red flags alerting you to do a deeper inspection for mold.
Not the End of the World
Mold is everywhere. It's a part of life as it’s part of nature. Of course mold can stay outdoors and not live inside our homes. So if you discover some suspicious dark color changes in rooms or become seen in places where moisture accumulation is a regular occurrence, take the necessary steps to rid yourself of the stuff and get back to enjoying your day and your apartment - clean, clear, and free from mold!