Our five senses are very useful for protection, and our ability to smell often alerts us to things we cannot see or feel. Smoke is an obvious example, but the nose is also useful in detecting mold. What does mold smell like? Well, it’s important to understand a few other things about mold before you go sniffing it out.
The beginning of a mold problem is typically not visible. Mold spores are tiny and can be a small as 3 microns in size, so they are invisible to the naked eye. Because they occur naturally outside, they can easily enter the home on clothing or shoes. It is nearly impossible to keep mold spores from entering a building, but they don’t have to set up a community.
The way to control mold is by controlling the environment. Mold likes temperatures above 70 degrees, but they will thrive in normal household temperatures. Mold also likes humidity above 60 percent, and homes should be kept below 50 percent if possible. Lastly, mold likes stagnancy, and homes without proper ventilation are at risk for mold problems.
Because mold needs moisture, it is common for it to grow in rooms that have water fixtures such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. Places at-risk for stagnation such as basements, attics and crawl spaces are also often places for mold growth. This is why using your nose can be so important in detecting mold. You may not see it during the normal use of your home or building.
Mold smells earthy and musky. It’s a bit like mushrooms or moist basements. Some may find it difficult to inhale, as it seems like it thickens the air. You’ll know the smell of mold once you experience it. It’s not a vulgar smell, but it isn’t nice.
If you smell mold, don’t go around sniffing for it once it is detected. Mold can cause respiratory issues, and breathing mold should be limited as much as possible. It is important to identify where the mold is located and get it cleaned appropriately. Finally, it is important to remedy whatever environment was conducive to mold growth and change it to one where mold will not grow.
What mold smells like is less important than knowing what conditions are favorable to mold growth, but it is nice to know that you can detect moldy environments sometimes even before you can see them by knowing what mold smells like.