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Mold exists in the outside environment naturally and spreads by sending spores into the air. When those spores land in your house mold growth can begin if conditions are right. Once the infestation takes hold the mold can give the dwelling an unpleasant smell. How do you know if your house smells like mold?

mold house smells like mold

What Does Mold Need to Grow?

Mold thrives on moisture and has the best chance to spread in areas that are often unseen on a regular basis. Damp basements are frequent incubators of mold but many are surprised to see mold in the attic as well. All the moist, warm air in a house tends to rise and collect in the attic. Cold roofs in the winter can provide a catalyst for condensation which promotes mold growth.


Like plants and humans, mold needs water to live. As long as moisture is present, mold growth will continue.

Food Source

While mold can grow on many surfaces, common building materials are highly susceptible to supporting outbreaks. Sheetrock, plywood, lumber, and insulation materials are common sites for growth.

Favorable Temperature

The common perception is that an area must be warm and damp for mold to grow. In fact, it grows well in temperatures from 40-100 degrees Fahrenheit. The lower range is much cooler than many expect.

What does mold smell like?

How do you know if your house smells like mold? You want to look out for a musty smell that doesn’t go away. A damp or wet smell is also cause for concern. Many homeowners first response is to cover the scent or try to disperse it with candles or fresh air but this a short term fix to a long term problem. If the scent comes back then mold becomes a prime suspect and an investigation into the source of the smell should commence.

My House Smells Like Mold. Now What?

Remediation begins with understanding what caused the mold in the first place. A thorough inspection should be performed by a professional. If a source, such as a leaky pipe or hole in the roof, is discovered it should be addressed. Homeowners should avoid DIY fixes as they are often insufficient or counterproductive. For instance, spraying the mold that has grown on drywall with household substances may appear to work but what about the mold behind the drywall? The homeowner assumes the problem is fixed but in reality the mold is now spreading through the walls.

Additionally, some mold spores can be hazardous to human health and all unknown mold should be approached with caution, by a professional wearing a respirator. Any areas of concern need to be completely removed and replaced if possible. If structures cannot be removed, they need to be treated and sealed properly. Any discarded materials need to be disposed of properly as it is potentially hazardous.

Don’t assume that just because mold was found in one location that is the only location with an issue. If the mold has taken up residence in the HVAC especially it can advance to other locations in the house quickly. In addition, if mold is lurking in the HVAC, it is possible to remediate a discovered mold cluster only to have to come back weeks or months later and need to remediate again after that undiscovered mold in the HVAC spread to other areas of the house. That is why every mold inspection should include and HVAC inspection.

Insurance Restoration Specialists, Inc. (IRS) is a premier provider of disaster recovery mitigation, environmental remediation, biohazard emergency response and HVAC inspection and cleaning in the New Jersey-Philadelphia area. IRS is certified by NADCA and have Certified Air Systems Cleaning Technicians and a Certified Ventilation System Inspector on staff. Services include mold removal, water damage restoration, fire damage restoration, flood damage cleanup, smoke damage remediation, and biohazard remediation. Insurance Restoration Specialists is led by Certified Industrial Hygienist Thomas Peter.