It's the start of the summer, and the rains are falling. The overcast weather means that it's cooler outdoors than usual, and you decide to spend the weekend at home. The rain dries up by Monday, and the sun comes out, with some warm days ahead.
The following weekend you go away to the lake for some family fun. Arriving home on Sunday evening, you open the garage and unpack the car, chasing the kids indoors. Before locking up, you can't help but notice a faint musty smell in the air.
The following day, it's there again. What's causing that odor?
This situation is a common scenario across humid climates in the United States. Mold spores get into the air during the start of the summer, brought to life after overwintering in the lawn, soil, and old garden debris like piles of leaves.
Mold spores are lightweight, and they travel through the air for hundreds of yards, entering your home through open windows and doors. It begins to spread if the spores land in the right spot where it's dark, damp, and warm.
The garage is the ideal place for mold to establish and spread. It's dark most of the time, and there's potential for moisture to spread through a leak in the roof or flooding of the floor during heavy rainstorms. Dark, damp, and warm conditions are just what mold needs to thrive, and your garage is a risk.
Most mold species are harmless, and they won't cause a lethal infection in most people. However, varieties like the dreaded black mold contain mycotoxins that create a toxic effect in humans when ingested.
Breathing in the mycotoxins starts to cause adverse interactions with the nervous system and respiratory system as levels to accumulate in the body. The affected individual may begin to experience fatigue, coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness, and confusion. Left untreated, the person may experience seizures and possibly death.
Mold isn't something you can sit by and fail to pay attention to. When it starts to grow in your home or the garage, it sets up shop quickly across your property. When mold starts releasing spores into the air, it infests walls, roofs, ceilings, and any corner where it's dark, damp, and there are low levels of ventilation – just like the garage.
While most species won't cause severe health issues from limited exposure, it's always advisable to wear respiratory protection when around the mold. With overexposure to these pathogens, some strains like aspergillus can result in severe lung infections requiring antifungal medications to help the patient recover.
If you suspect mold is growing in your garage, we recommend you locate it immediately. After finding the mold, remove it and sterilize the area to ensure it doesn't grow back. If the mold covers a size greater than 10-square feet, EPA guidelines recommend calling a professional mold removal service for assistance.
If there's a musty smell in the garage after not opening it for a few days, chances are you have a fast-growing mold problem on your hands. Since you have no way of assuming what type of mold species it is, you need to assume the worst and that it could be black mold.
Make sure your family doesn't enter the area and prepare yourself for your mold hunt by using a respirator mask. We recommend using a KN95 respirator mask, as this mask blocks 99% of particulate matter; it's sort of like a HEPA filter for your face.
Respirator equipment is important for your hunt. It might take you an hour or so to find the mold, and that's a lot of exposure time if there are high levels of mold spores in the air. Breathing in the spores will cause sensitive individuals to choke, cough and sneeze, presenting symptoms of an allergy attack in affected individuals.
Wearing a respirator protects your lungs, but you also need to protect your eyes if possible. Wearing a pair of goggles ensures the spores don't get into your eyes. If the spores accumulate in your eyes, they can cause redness and itching and teary eyes.
After sorting out your personal protective equipment, it's time to find the mold. Start by opening the garage completely to air it out as much as possible. Give it a few minutes for the wind to move the spores around and out of the garage as much as possible.
Look in the corners and dark spaces first. If you don't have success, check the walls and the roof or under cabinets and parked cars.
When you find the mold, remove it using a diluted light bleach formula. Add the bleach to a spray bottle, and spray it on the mold. The bleach kills the mold instantly, and you can dry it up with a mop and bucket. Make sure that you thoroughly disinfect your mop and bucket after use.
If your search doesn't bring you any results, and you can still smell the mold in the air, it might leave you scratching your head. Mold spores can get into the tiniest spaces, and that includes between walls. Chances are the spores landed inside the walls where there's a water leak you can't see.
The dark, damp, and warm conditions inside the wall provide mold with the perfect conditions to thrive. The worst part is, you can't see it happening.
Eventually, the mold will get so big that it ventures outside the wall hiding spot and starts colonizing other areas of the garage. It may even spread inside your home since the wind can carry mold spores for lengthy distances.
If you can't find any mold in the garage, but you can still smell it in the air, then you need professional help. MI&T offers you a mold detection service for your garage and your home. We'll visit your property and set up our state-of-the-art equipment to find the infestation.
If there's mold in your garage, we guarantee you we'll find it. However, if the mold isn't there, we'll also let you know. We give you a full report on the air quality inside your garage, letting you know what's going on in the structure.
If we do find mold in the garage, we'll show you where it is and make recommendations for DIY removal. We can walk you through the process of removing it yourself without the need to call the removal experts.
However, if the mold is larger than 10-square feet, we'll recommend that you find a mold removal company to handle it for you. As a mold inspection company, we don't recommend any removal companies, and we have no contracts with anyone.
As a result, you get an impartial and unbiased review of the air quality in your home. If the mold isn't there, we'll let you know. We won't deceive you into hiring a company to remove the mold, even though there's nothing there in the first place.
We value our reputation as an impartial industry authority helping the community stay healthy.
After removing the mold from the garage, you'll need to remediate the air inside the garage. We recommend you don't close the doors for a few days to let the structure air itself out.
However, if you live in an area where there is plenty of dust in the air, it's raining hard, or you have a high crime rate, you might not be able to leave the garage doors open at night.
If that's the case for you, we recommend you follow these remediation and prevention tips.
Increase the ventilation in the garage by adding vents to the ceiling or walls to allow more air to enter the garage. If mold spores enter the garage, they are less likely to grow and spread if there is plenty of air moving in the structure.
Air movement inside the garage also speeds up evaporation. Therefore, damp conditions are less likely to persist, giving less opportunity for mold to settle and start spreading through the garage.
Add an industrial air fan to the garage. Hook it up to a timer and set it to run every other hour for ten minutes. It's a great way to boost ventilation in the garage and enhance evaporation.
Sealing the room and investing in an air management system is the best solution, especially if you have an expensive property.
Extending your home's air-con or HVAC system to cover the garage helps to keep the air moving inside the room, changing it out for purified air with no particle contaminants.
However, HVAC and air-con systems are expensive. If you're on a budget, you can consider adding an evap cooler or "whirly curly" system to the roof of your garage.