Wondering if that odd discolored patch in your bathroom is something to worry about? If you’re wondering about the chances it’s mold, it’s more likely than you might think: some experts estimate that the majority of homes—a whopping 70%—have some type of mold in them.

Even if you haven’t seen an obvious black patch thriving on your wall, there’s no guarantee that this sneaky nuisance hasn’t made its way into other areas of your home. If you’re worried about possible mold growth, here are a few key signs you have mold in your house.

Dark Spots or Discoloration

One of the most obvious signs that you need mold removal services is visible dark patches in your home.

Though it’s often easy to identify mold once a colony of it has begun to spread in earnest, it’s not always obvious in the early stages. Different types of mold may appear in small spots, which may look black, dark brown, gray, or green, around your home. Mold can also appear fuzzy or textured, slick or oozing, or even like a patch of brown discoloration on a wall or ceiling.

One place you’ll want to pay particular attention to is your grout. The grout of your bathroom and floor tiles can become dirty or discolored over time, but if that grime always seems to reappear fast after a cleaning, you might be struggling with mold growth, not dirt. A thorough cleaning of your grout with proper mold cleaner can stop the mold in its tracks, killing it before it has a chance to release more spores.

Too Much Moisture

If your home starts to feel damp, or if you’ve noticed more moisture than usual, it’s always a warning sign that you should check for mold. Most types of mold love moisture, and they spread faster when you have more of it hanging around your house.

Though there are countless factors to consider when you’re on the lookout for moisture, here are a few worth noting:

  • Water marks and discolored rings on your walls or ceilings, which are a sign that moisture is collecting in the area
  • Condensation around your windows, which is more likely to happen on older windows with outdated designs
  • Roof leaks, which can bring added moisture into your dark attic, creating the perfect breeding ground for mold growth
  • Cracks in your basement walls, which can allow moisture to seep through
  • Previous flooding within your home, which can cause moisture to collect in areas that are hard to dry
  • Leaking pipes, which can create the ideal environment for mold growth if left unchecked
  • Outdoor humidity, especially in wet climates, which can play a major role in mold development

Note that moisture issues and mold damage always become worse if your home has little or no ventilation. Fans and air conditioning can help circulate air throughout your home, which can keep the air and moisture moving, reducing the chances of mold growth. If needed, a dehumidifier can sometimes help as well.

Moldy, Foul, or Musty Smells

Strange odors can be a great indicator that mold has started to creep into your home. Keep your nose peeled for musty or funky odors and foul smells of decay.

Following these smells can sometimes help you identify which room or rooms the mold has started to grow in. Unfortunately, molds with strong smells are often more dangerous than molds with no smells at all, so it’s important to reach out to a professional for mold remediation as soon as possible.

Peeling or Warping Walls

Along with moisture issues come warped walls. Moisture alone can cause your walls to deteriorate and distort, but these issues can get worse fast if mold becomes a part of the problem.

If you’ve noticed peeling wallpaper, bubbling paint, warping wood, and other common signs of deterioration in your walls, be sure to pay attention. Along with other issues on this list, it may be a sign that mold is growing in your home.

Health Issues

Your indoor air quality plays a huge role in your physical health. When something causes that air quality to decrease—such as mold growth—it can cause a number of health problems.

Be on the lookout for the following mild to moderate symptoms, in both yourself and the people in your household:

  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • itchy eyes, nose, or throat
  • congestion
  • runny nose
  • dry skin

In most cases, mold exposure won’t do much more than make you feel as if you’ve come down with a cold that won’t go away. If you find yourself breathing with more ease when you’re out of your home, you can probably chalk it up to a mold problem in your house.

Note that the health-related dangers of mold are often worse in people with existing conditions like allergies or asthma, as well as very young or very old family members. For these members of your household, get medical attention if you notice severe coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath.

Be Aware of the Signs You Have Mold in Your House

Because mold is so common across the U.S., knowing the signs you have mold in your house is crucial to protect your health and the health of your family. Once you’ve noticed any dark growth, getting rid of mold fast should be your top priority—but don’t do it alone! Reaching out to a professional is the best way to protect your health while ensuring that the mold is gone for good.

Want more of the tips you need to protect your home and real estate? Be sure to take a look at our other guides for additional advice.

By Manali