Suppose you come home to water damage following a flood or pipe burst; you’d not only be in shock but also frustrated. But once you get past the shock, you’ll start cleaning up or get a professional to handle it.
However, the most pressing concern here is the much-dreaded mold. The microorganisms that form mold are always present in the air. They just need a trigger to grow, so you must take immediate action for mold prevention.
For any homeowner, the first thought is to know how long you have before mold grows. This helps you plan your clean-up and monitor the situation effectively.
This article answers the question, "how fast does mold grow after water damage?" We will also share some practical tips to prevent mold growth on your property.
How Fast Does Mold Grow After Water Damage in South Florida?
It takes just hours for moisture to spur mold growth. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), mold will start to grow in your home within 24-48 hours after prolonged water exposure.
Mold spores spread rapidly, and they can survive anywhere. Mold and mildew start growing in under a day until you remove or dry the objects that have absorbed moisture.
This is because mold is a fungus, and it's always present in the air. It thrives in warm and moist environments and reproduces quickly. It also settles on surfaces and travels fast, which helps it form colonies rapidly.
Mold spores will begin to colonize after growth. This can take 3 to 12 days. Between days 14 to 21 of water damage, you should be able to detect mold visibly.
Of course, the actual time varies depending on the condition of the house and the water damage extent. For example, you'll probably experience faster mold growth if a pipe bursts through a wall. This is because the line will likely have been leaking for a long period before you notice the leak. So, mold growth is also likely to have started before the visible water damage.
Additionally, mold growth doesn't rely on water alone. Asides from moisture, some other elements must be present for mold to grow.
Other Elements that Speed Up Mold Growth in South Florida
These elements are often available in cases of water damage, but the extent of their presence will determine how rapidly or slowly mold grows.
Here are some of them.
How fast mold grows depends on how long water has gathered in a spot. If the water has only been in a spot for a few minutes before you notice, the chances of mold growth are less.
So, if you clean up water from spots as soon as they form, you likely won't experience mold growth. Also, if you experience a terrible case of water damage but act proactively and call your local plumber, you can avoid mold.
The Temperature Level
Mold likes warm places. So, mold is likely to grow if your home is often warm or you don't open the windows often.
Even if you do, it may still be hard to prevent mold if the water damage occurs in a dark place. Dark spaces are colder, and a home temperature between 40°- 140° Fahrenheit will speed up mold growth.
This is why we often refrigerate food items to keep them below mold habitable temperature.
The Availability of Organic Surfaces
Molds love organic or carbon-containing surfaces. They latch onto these surfaces to feed and grow. Usually, homes have an abundance of that—for example, wall paint.
This is why most people often notice mold on their walls first. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), molds grow on paper products, glue, wood, ceiling tiles, and cardboard. You should also be careful of loose debris, fabrics, carpets, and other upholstery.
However, mold growth in your home will be slower if you use inorganic wall paint.
Adequate Ventilation/ Oxygen
If you keep your home dry and airy, moisture will likely dry up faster, meaning mold will grow slower. At the same time, mold needs oxygen to grow. The presence or absence of these other elements usually determines the role oxygen plays.
How Fast Does Mold Spread In a House?
Mold releases new spores as soon as it grows. These spores travel in the air and settle in other areas that meet the right conditions. Usually, mold grows at one square per inch. But as these colonies form around the house, the damaged areas can become significant.
The mold will latch onto surfaces with every passing hour and sage the structural integrity of these areas.
So, acting as soon as you spot mold is the only way to protect your home.
How Can I Prevent Mold After Water Damage?
You can take several precautions to prevent mold after water damage. Here are some practical steps.
- Fix the cause of the water damage. Fix leaks and pipe bursts and divert flood water outside your property.
- Dry with buckets and mops, or borrow a wet-dry vacuum from a hardware store.
- Remove all water-damaged items from the room. Take out carpets, rugs, and mattresses, and throw out unredeemable items.
- Open doors and windows to allow proper ventilation.
- Use dehumidifiers and fans to bring in dry air. Please, don't plug your fan into water-affected socket walls.
- Use towels to dry surfaces and wash soaked or soggy fabrics.
Following these steps will significantly reduce the possibility of mold growth. However, they aren't fail-proof. The problem is usually with areas you can't see or reach.
You may not be able to reach moisture trapped between the walls or under the floorboards, and mold will latch onto these spots to build colonies. This is why it's often best to call in professionals. Professional water damage restoration companies know what to expect. So, they usually have the tools to access these hard-to-reach areas.
What Happens If I Ignore Mold in My Home?
Many people ignore mold growth until they are ready to deal with it. This can be a costly mistake, as mold grows fast and becomes problematic quickly. When you experience water damage, your whole house becomes susceptible.
Here are some consequences of leaving mold to grow.
It Causes Health Problems
Mold can cause mild to severe health problems. Mold usually produces allergens, irritants, and at times, some potentially toxic substances.
As you inhale or touch mold, you may experience allergic reactions. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- running nose
- red eyes
- fever-type symptoms
- rashes (dermatitis)
Mold can spur asthmatic attacks in people with asthma. It can also irritate the nose, ears, eyes, and skin of sensitive people. When toddlers inhale mold for an extended period, it can cause fatal consequences.
It Makes Your House Unlivable
First, you'll notice a moldy and musty smell. This smell will permeate the air in the affected areas and make you uncomfortable.
Asides from this, the stains on infected areas will be noticeable. This is usually unsightly. The mold growths will continue to feed on the surfaces, thereby destroying the structural integrity of those areas. This can include drywall, carpet, sofa, pillows, and even fabrics.
It Can Devalue Your Property
In the worst-case scenario, mold can reduce the market value of your home. The smell and the look can make your home a real estate liability. So, finding buyers or tenants at a reasonable price can be challenging unless you conduct extensive repairs.
Can Mold Dry Out and Die By Itself?
Mold is a living thing and is always present. It will show up and continue to thrive as long as the conditions are favorable. So unless you remove the favorable elements, it will continue to thrive.
Sometimes mold becomes dormant during specific periods. For example, you may notice mold stains fade during winter. But they will get stronger once it’s summer and the season is warmer.
Even when a mold colony dies, the spores will remain. They will form new colonies as soon as the right conditions present themselves. So, unless you act proactively and keep your home dry and well-ventilated, there are limited chances of mold just drying out.
Should I Call a Mold Professional?
Removing mold yourself puts you at risk of contamination. Most people use a mold HEPA vacuum, gloves, and mask, but you'll still likely be exposed to mold at an unsafe level. Calling professionals is your best option, as they have the training and necessary equipment.
Moreover, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using professionals if you have more than 10 square feet of visible mold. After water damage, the truth is you are likely dealing with hundreds of feet of mold growth. Therefore, using a professional company to assess and remediate the problem is best.
Do you know what's even better? Professionals work fast. When it comes to post-water damage mold prevention, time is of the essence. With only 24-48 hours, you'll be overwhelmed if you handle clean-up yourself.
But when you call in professionals, they use high-quality tools and biocides to fix the source of the water damage and kill molds and other possible bacteria from the dirty water. Professionals won't give mold enough time to build into colonies.
Contact Erica's Plumbing, Air Conditioning, and Restoration
Mold growth happens fast. It can take 24-48 hours after water damage, and you'll start to see visible colonies in 18-21 days. This leaves you with little time to act.
Mold prevention and removal requires the right team of professionals to do a quick and effective job. If you are in South Florida, our team of licensed technicians at Erica's Plumbing, Air Conditioning, and Restoration can help you get rid of dangerous mold levels in your home.
We also provide HVAC cleaning services and repair all kinds of water leaks. We are a women-owned business in Boca Raton, and we respond 24/7. Contact us here to get a quote immediately.
Related Content: How to fix a Water-Damaged Wall in Florida