• Justin H. Joe, Ph.D., CIH, CSP, CPE and Paula Shearer

Does Mold Cause Structural Damage?

Yes, mold thrives by feeding off of its source. This can weaken a home's structural support.



Why is Mold a structural hazard?


Mold is a fungus. Actively growing mold feeds on organic matter such as paper and wood.

As it feeds and grows, the mold gradually damages the surfaces it inhabits, causing damage. That means mold can cause serious structural damage to a building because it feeds on and breaks down the organic matter in it.


Left unchecked, mold can cause damage great enough to lead to the collapse of ceilings, the caving in of floorboards, and the falling of walls. Given enough time, a home can be destroyed by mold growth. Think of the abandoned homes you have seen with caving roofs…that was mold in action.


Mold can be especially damaging to the floor joists in a damp crawl space. In just a couple of years, structural framing joists can be severely compromised by the effects of mold growth.



How Does Mold Cause Structural Damage


As a fungus, its purpose is to break down dead organic matter and release beneficial elements into the air and soil. Mold does this by secreting digestive fluids into the material it has colonized. These fluids decompose the material making their nutrients available. While the return of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorus to the earth and the atmosphere is a good thing, we do not want those elements taken from the building materials supporting our homes.


Mold can eat through wood, paper facing on drywall, and other materials that contain organic matter. Mold can digest some synthetic materials like paints, adhesives, and pastes too. It can also grow on inorganic materials like glass, metal, concrete, insulation, and carpet by feeding off the dust and dirt trapped in or on these surfaces.

The presence of mold can indicate another fungal presence, dry rot. This fungus, S. lacrymans, also needs damp, wet conditions and feeds off organic matter. Dry rot often accompanies mold but works more quickly to colonize and destroy materials.



Preventing Mold Damage in Your Home


The thought of mold can evoke deep dread. Homeowners worry about the extent of an infestation, the amount of mold damage caused, and how they can resolve the issue. Like with your physical health…check-ups and education are key, and prevention is the name of the game.


In the great words of Don Quixote, “Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.” Homeowners need to understand the conditions that enable fungal growth and take proactive steps to minimize or prevent it. Repair leaks as soon as they are discovered and take steps to start drying the area immediately. A home’s roof, windows, foundation, and pipes are all at high risk for developing leaks and should be checked regularly.


Water. It is the single most important factor in the ability of mold to grow. Limiting moisture in your home significantly diminishes the ability of the fungus to grow and colonize. This includes humidity. Monitor the humidity in your home, adding dehumidifiers and vapor barriers if necessary.



In Summary


Helping keep your home infestation-free and providing you with a road map to restoring it to that state should an infestation occur is our job. BNF has the experience in mold testing and inspections necessary to provide you with peace of mind. Let our team of highly trained and experienced experts that know the ins and outs of mold from detection to destruction provide you with a high-quality inspection.


Mold thrives by feeding off of its source. Allow us to help you prevent or stop mold from damaging your home. Contact us with questions or concerns at 914-297-8335 or support@askbnf.com



 

About The Author

Justin H. Joe, Ph.D., CIH, CSP, CPE, is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and a principal consultant of BNF Consulting, Inc. Dr. Joe graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with Ph.D. and MS degrees in nuclear engineering. Dr. Joe has provided industrial hygiene consulting as a core function with his diverse background of experience and education.



 

References

https://www.britannica.com/science/fungus/Importance-of-fungi

https://www.buildingscience.com/documents/reports/rr-0208-what-you-need-to-know-about-mold/view

https://www.epa.gov/mold/interactive-mold-house-tour

https://restorationmasterfinder.com/restoration/how-mold-affects-different-building-materials-in-your-home/

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