If you live in an area with high humidity, then you should always be on the lookout for potential mold problems. Naturally, the outdoor humidity affect indoor humidity levels, creating a perfect environment for toxic mold growth.

A relative humidity (RH) level of greater than 55% promotes the growth of mold and other fungi. Although relative humidity remains fairly consistent outdoors, it fluctuates drastically inside as a result of being altered by the artificial heating and cooling (i.e. climate control by the HVAC system).

Water/Pipe Leaks

Mold needs moisture in order to grow and thrive. Many mold problems originate as a result of some kind of water intrusion, especially those that are not resolved quickly. In which case, water and pipe leaks are common culprits, since they provide plenty of moisture, and are often undetected for days, months, or even years if minor enough.

When leaks are discovered, appropriate steps are not normally taken to minimize potential mold growth problems.

By the time they are discovered, it is often too late, since the mold will have had ample opportunity to grow in the same hard-to-find places where water leaks occur, such as in wall cavities.

Mildewy/Musty Odors

Odors can often be the first or only sign of a potential mold problem, since mold commonly propagates in places not normally in view. This does not necessarily mean that you definitely have a mold problem, but it should prompt you to look for the other signs, or to look for the mold growth itself.

In some cases, mildewy smells will only be evident when the air conditioning or heat is turned on, or it may just be much more evident when the HVAC system is running. If this is the case, then it is very possible that you have significant mold growth within the HVAC system.

Increased Allergy/Respiratory Symptoms

If one or more people living in a house, or working in a building (especially if it is an unusually high percentage of occupants) begin suffering allergic reactions that seem to be associated with your home or building, then it could be due to the presence of high levels of mold, especially if other signs are also present.

This may mean that people began experiencing much more allergic and respiratory-related symptoms after moving into a home, or after beginning to work in a building.

Remember, that according to a 1999 Mayo Clinic study, nearly all chronic sinus infections are a result of mold.

Leaky Roof

Like other types of water leaks, water intrusion through the roof is difficult to find until it is too late. If you suspect a leaky roof, check in the attic for signs of water damage or mold growth. Also be on the lookout for signs of water damage or mold growth in ceilings on the uppermost floor of the home.

Discoloration of Walls (Water Stains)

Yellowish stains on walls and ceilings are a sign of excessive moisture. In more obvious cases, where mold growth may already be in full swing, the wall or ceiling may have a greenish, brownish, or blackish discoloration to it. You may also notice places where the paint is coming off due to moisture, or where it is “bowing” out. One way to check for mold growth is to move a medical grade, flourescent tube (“black light”) around walls, ceilings, and even carpets while it is dark. A yellow glow is a sign of mold growth.

Blocked Gutters

Gutters that are blocked can cause water to seep into walls, through the roof, and can cause water to collect at the base of the foundation, which will result in further water damage in the home or building.

Warped Wood

Naturally, moisture is going to cause wood to warp. If wooden materials in your home have been infiltrated by enough water to actually warp, then sufficient levels of moisture are probably present to accelerate mold growth.