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Question DetailsAsked on 2/1/2018

who do I call if I think I am smelling mold but cannot find any dampness in the room? How do I know it is mold?

Over the last 3 days we have noticed a mold-type smell in a small bedroom and adjacent bathroom. The house is on a cement foundation with no crawl space underneath. There is no dampness under bathroom sink or around shower drain, nor is there any dampness around bedroom window (this is a seldom used guest bedroom and bathroom).

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1 Answer


1) crawl around and sniff at the flooring all around - checking for dampness from possible window or wall leaks, high water that came in on top of the slab (especially if you had a lot of rain or melting snow about 3-6 days ago), pipe leak, etc. Look around outside for water ponding, snow drifting right against house, damaged siding, etc. which might have let water in.

2) smell in closet - if you have been having the real cold weather (usuallyi sub-zero) or the closet doors are not ventilated and stay closed, if clothes are against the outside wall (within about 1 inch of it) they can insulate it enough that the interior surface of the wall condenses household moisture from the air (in extreme cases even frosting the wall up with it), which can then cause mildew/mold in those clothes adjacent to it. Ditto if clothing is stuffed up against the ceiling under a cold attic.

3) smell at windows - condensation on the windows in the cold can cause mildew/mold at the bottom of the window frames or on the back side of drapes/curtains.

4) close door to bathroom and stuff a towel under it to trap the air in there, leaving bedroom door open - if bathroom does not have noticeably stronger mold smell when you walk in after say 4-6 hours of it sitting closed up (with fan off), then problem is in the bedroom (or in a bedroom wall - check back sides of walls for wetness).

5) if smell is stronger in bathroom after that test - check for a wet towel somewhere - in cold weather especially, and most certainly in seldom used bathrooms, a wet towel (especially if touching cold wall) can go moldy before it dries.

6) also if bathroom source - wipe down all walls (and ceilings if not textured) with a mold-killing solution (check if safe for use on shower doors and acrylic surrounds) - a specific mold killer or 50% household chlorine bleach solution (use hand and eye protection and have door open and fan on and window open)

7) check under vanity in bathroom - possible leaking pipe there, possibly dripping on stored toilet paper or towels or such which is then molding - or bottom of cabinet is weet and molding

8) look for staining on ceiling from leakage above - if an attic is above, check that for the smell - could be air leakage from the attic bringing in mold smell from an attic with leak, or one which frosted up in the cold and has now thawed out, which will commonly put a light mildew/mold coating on wood surfaces and organic insulation

9) if you have teenagers or such, look for possible wet clothes/towels thrown in a corner somewhere, or in laundry basket

10) if you have pets or small kid, check mattress for possible pet-napping bed wetting incident

11) check ceiling for any sign of leakage from above

12) if water bed, check for leakage

If these did not tie it down, Mold Testing and Remediation is the Search the List category to find well-rated and reviewed vendors for this type of work. Just bear one thing - testing with a mold detection kit is pretty useless, because there are mold spores all over everywhere just floating in the wind, so pretty much any test will "detect mold". That is a great business-getter for that type of contractor. But if there is not noticeable wetness (like in carpeting or drywall) or visible mold, you generally will not smell it. The kit "testing" is pretty useless - visible detection (especially with a black light - about $10-15 at box stores and Amazon and such) is what you really need.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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