When you live in an apartment, there are specific challenges you might encounter. Noisy neighbors, for example, can make home life unpleasant. A broken elevator can make you late for work or worsen the lousy day you are already having. But, if there’s one problem you don’t want to grapple with within your apartment, it’s mold growth. Here, we’ll talk about what a mold problem looks like and explain what steps to take if mold shows up in your unit.
Mold in Your Apartment: What does mold look like?
Chances are, you’ve seen a piece of bread turn moldy at least once in your lifetime. In that situation, mold growth usually manifests as bright green spots that are easy to see.
But a mold infestation inside an apartment doesn’t always look like that. You may be more likely to spot black mold rather than green mold. That mold usually appears as clusters of black dots in your living space. It is often on your walls, ceiling, or underneath sinks. Mold growth can also take the form of discolored surfaces. It can appear like a section of your wall or ceiling that looks like water damage and doesn’t quite match the rest of it.
But, keep in mind that toxic mold isn’t always visible. You should suspect mold growth if your apartment starts smelling like stale air. Also, if you suddenly start experiencing health problems, mold issues may be to blame.
What causes mold?
Mold growth is generally spurred by excess moisture in your home. If you have a water leak in your apartment that goes untreated, you could wind up with a mold outbreak on your hands. That water leak may not be so apparent. A pipe beneath a sink can leak moisture into a cabinet you rarely access. It can contribute to mold growth without you being the wiser.
A leaky roof in your building can also cause a mold outbreak. Furthermore, water can seep through cracks in the building’s concrete. This problem is often made worse during rainy periods.
Poor ventilation in your apartment can also lead to excess moisture. Showering without running a fan for ventilation or cracking a window can lead to mold growth. An outdated, poorly maintained building HVAC system can also result in mold growth. This case can happen when condensation from that system leads to a moisture problem. Remember that mold spores can travel through your building’s ventilation system. It can make you sick even if the original mold problem originates in a different part of the building.
Why is mold dangerous?
If left untreated, mold can make you sick. Even if you don’t see mold in your apartment, spores can infiltrate your indoor air. It may cause breathing problems that mimic allergic reactions or bad colds. You may face problems like itchy, burning eyes, a stuffy nose, and wheezing. If you have a pre-existing lung condition like asthma, mold exposure could pose a danger. That’s why it’s essential to recognize the signs of mold growth and remedy the problem as soon as possible.
What to do as a renter if you find mold in your apartment
If you uncover a small mold problem in your apartment, you may be able to tackle it yourself. For example, if you see black spots forming, you may scrub them off with soap and water or a bleach solution. You may often find these spots in a cabinet where a sink flows into or a particular part of your wall. Remember to wear gloves and even a face mask if you go the latter route.
But if the issue is more widespread, you’ll need to loop in your landlord. There are cases where the source of your mold problem isn’t apparent. If so, it is more urgent if you’re not seeing signs of mold but are experiencing the health issues related to it.
It’s a good idea to inform your landlord of your mold issue in writing. That way, if your landlord drags his or her feet, you’ll have evidence to take actions in your own hands. If the problem goes unaddressed for too long, you can withhold rent or even break your lease.
At that point, your landlord should bring in a company to do some mold testing. If they confirmed a mold problem, then your landlord should pay for the mold remediation. It is only applied if it is not you who caused the mold. Meaning, you didn’t repeatedly spill water inside a wooden cabinet and fail to wipe it up. Your landlord should also take steps to prevent mold from coming back. They could take actions like:
- Addressing a leak in your building’s roof
- Repointing its bricks
- Addressing issues with the building’s HVAC system that result in excess moisture.
What to do as a homeowner if you find mold in your apartment
If you own your apartment, it may be on you to pay to have your unit tested for mold. Thus, if the problem stems from your unit, you may have to pay for mold remediation yourself. But, if that mold growth came traveling in the form of airborne spores, then there may be a problem to solve at the building level. At that point, your homeowner’s association or co-op board will need to address the issue at hand.
How to prevent mold from coming back
Whether you own your apartment or rent one, there are a few steps you can take to prevent mold problems in your unit. First, make a point of repairing leaky fixtures. This fixture includes pipes that run underneath sinks.
Also, be careful about letting excess moisture build up in your living space. Invest in a dehumidifier for your bathroom if it doesn’t tend to have excellent ventilation. Or be sure to crack a window when you’re showering. Be careful in your kitchen, too — that’s another area that could experience high humidity when you cook. So, if your apartment’s ventilation isn’t great, open a window when you’re using your oven or stove.
Mold is a problem you don’t want to ignore. If you think you have mold in your apartment, take immediate actions. Do not wait for your health to take a dangerous turn for the worse.