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Toxic Mold vs Mildew: What’s Lurking in YOUR Bathroom?

Scrubbing a Wall in a Blacksburg Rental PropertyMold and mildew are like fungus siblings. They can be quite similar in appearance and both prefer areas that are warm and moist. Despite this, there are important differences between the two. Distinctions that both your tenants and you need to be aware of to make your Blacksburg rental properties unpenetrable by these formidable foes. By educating yourself on how to spot the difference between toxic mold and mildew, you can prevent a small problem from growing into an expensive nightmare.

There are many different kinds of mold and mildew, most of which are not considered toxic or poisonous. Mildew, for example, is a common surface fungus that usually looks gray or white. It is fundamentally flat and powdery, primarily collecting in bathrooms or other areas that are frequently damp. It can begin to smell if left untreated for too long. The good news is, mildew can usually be removed quite easily with bleach and a scrub brush.

Mold, on the other and, is more invasive and a lot harder to get rid of. It loves to hide in walls and ceilings, especially those with high humidity levels or water damage. The first clue that you have a mold problem is usually the smell. Mold smells musty, foul, and is quite unforgettable. Upon further investigation, you’ll notice the color. Mold can appear in a variety of blacks, greens, and even reds, and may look fuzzy or sometimes slimy.

Toxic mold or Stachybotrys chartarum (also called Stachybotrys atra) is specifically a greenish-black mold that often grows on materials like fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, and lint. It requires constant moisture to grow and often emerges after notable water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, or flooding. While not everyone will get sick from toxic mold, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) notes that a handful of people may experience physical symptoms after exposure, including respiratory problems, headaches, dizziness, skin rashes, infections, and even asthma.

As soon as this type of mold has taken hold, it will be difficult and expensive to get rid of. Exterior surfaces can be cleaned with a bleach solution, but carpets, wallboard, cabinets, and furniture with mold growing on them must be completely replaced. Thus the importance of proactive vs reactive measures.

When it comes to mold problems, your first line of defense is your tenant and education is your strongest tool. As a property manager, landlord, or property owner, you should give a clear outline of your expectations and required upkeep while they reside in the property.

That being said, mold is tricky and you may not notice the early signs of a problem. This is why every rental home’s routine maintenance should include regular checks for evidence of water damage and mold. If any problems with water leaks, condensation, or flooding are detected, they should be corrected immediately to diminish the growth of mold. If mold is discovered in your rental home, the property most likely has a significant problem with water or moisture that needs to be addressed immediately. And remember, simply tidying up won’t help anyone if you haven’t remedied to the source of your problems.

When you hire Real Property Management Insight, you’ll be taking advantage of our many services, including regular evaluations and comprehensive checks designed to catch and identify problem areas before they become catastrophic. Our team of professionals can help you prevent the spread of mold and mildew in your Blacksburg rental homes, as well as ensure that you are informed every step of the way.  Contact us online or call us directly at 540-998-6917 for more information.

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