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Mold

Q. My friends call me a neat freak. I’m obsessed to pick up even the littlest speck of dust. Lately, a strange thing has happened. My home has a terribly musty smell and I’m sneezing a lot. The stink won’t go away no matter how long I leave the windows opened. A neighbor said maybe I have mold. How can that be?

A. The only way to find out is to find a mold inspection by an experienced licensed mold specialist. You may have hidden mold caused by water or moisture problems that are not visible. Mold may occur in places such as the back side of dry wall, wallpaper or paneling, the top side of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and pads etc.

Do you have ventilation in your bathroom? Do you have any plumbing leaks? Do you see any condensation forming on windows or walls? Do you have rain gutters and, if so, are they clean? These are just a few possible sources. If you do have mold, it can be remedied but it will never go away unless you have the water or moisture problem fixed.

Actually, it is not possible to eliminate all molds and mold spores indoors. Every house has mold. It’s a question of how much and what kind. Mold naturally occurs in our environment. However, molds are not usually a problem indoors unless they come into contact with water or moisture and start growing. Controlling the water or moisture source is the key to controlling mold.

Mold has the potential to cause allergic responses like your sneezing. In the meantime, in order to alleviate this, you might consider purchasing a N-95 respirator that’s available from many hardware stores. Some look like paper dust masks with a nozzle on the front. Others are made from plastic or rubber and have removable cartridges that trap most of the mold spores from entering.