How To Inspect For Signs Of Mold After Water Damage: 3 Steps

Are you worried about how to inspect for signs of mold after water damage in your home? These problems commonly happen one after another, and dealing with one has to proceed to the other.

Water damage can happen to every item that isn’t water-friendly and not coated with a protective layer. It can happen at various degrees depending on the durability of the item and how long it got in contact with water.

how to inspect for signs of mold after water damage

Testing for the severity of water damage also depends on those factors, and commonly, the worst level of damage invites further problems, especially for organic materials. Water is one of the main perpetrators that invites rot, and another musky and pesky being molds!


Steps For Inspecting Against Mold In Water Damaged Things 

Molds require specific amounts of moisture to help grow their spores into colonies of reproducing organisms. When something from your house, a piece of furniture, wall panels, the floor, and even wooden beams, gets wet and allows moisture to stay for some time, you can expect molds to sprout.

It takes approximately two or three days for an observable colony mass to be seen from spores. If recent flooding and storms are causing your worry about mold, you should come to check the next day or whenever it is reported safe to return home.

After being sure of water damage, here are some steps you can follow to inspect if mold has started growing in your home correctly.


Step #1. Smell the area

One of the characteristic points that indicate thriving mold colonies is the scent. Molds are typically musky, with the smell growing worse, the more of them present.

Molds emit a particular odor regardless of their color, and they can be your guide in the inspection. When you’re inspecting the entire house, you can start your search by following the possible source of the smell.

This can also be applicable if you’re only suspecting certain places, for which the next step is highly advisable for inspection.


Step #2. Open up and look over all possible growing surfaces

After you’ve found mold colonies following the odors, the next thing is to check all places that commonly get inhabited. These are the places that are typically wet, poorly ventilated rooms, or rooms with excessive moisture and condensation.

Especially in cases when the water damage is caused by unnoticed leaking or problematic plumbing and roof sealing, molds can be pretty persistent. Since these areas have been wet for a long time, the molds can be thick, and rot is probably setting in.

You must also go through covered areas that show even slightly above normal wetness. Molds in these areas are commonly already in an observable state, meaning that the spores were germinated some time ago and have already spread.


Step #3. Check every other possible place

After the most suspicious areas, you can expand your search for the mold masses to every other space in your house. You should check all the furniture, anything made of wood or has upholstery, and anything organic.

Molds can grow on anything that contains biomass or where that can stick in together with the moisture. You should look through all the spots that fulfill those requirements to be sure.

Other than the smell and visual cues, there are also other ways to test for the presence of molds. DIY packs and homemade solutions allow determination if a particular speck is a mold.

One of which is mixing a dilute solution of bleach with water. Dip a piece of a cotton swab into the solution and tap it to the suspicious speck; if it immediately lightens, then returns to the initial speck color after a while, then it is mold.

Without the cues and access to the area, you can suspect an area if it remains wet for days. If an area made of wood starts denting and becoming soft on the touch, it’s also a possible infestation of different fungi causing rotting.

Check this article next to find out how long does it take for mold to rot wood in your home.


How to clean after water damage

After you find all the mold spread, the next step is to kill them to stop their spread, clean the mass they left, then apply preventive measures and substances, so they don’t return anymore.

You can clean the molds with the usual methods. Vacuum the fiber-like masses, clean the water-damaged item, disinfect it, then dry.

It is best to use an appropriate wet vacuum for home items like carpet and upholstery, then steam to clean the water-damaged surface. For disinfection, mix and spray a diluted solution of bleach and water.

For drying, you can put it out in the sun and air-dry. Vacuum as much water as possible, then use a fan and dehumidifier to hasten the process.

You can buy appropriate products from stores and apply them after drying to prevent mold recurrence.

Read this article next that answers how do you treat water damaged wood.


Which surfaces commonly get molded after water damage?

Mold, as mentioned, typically follows any water damage; however, they are more frequent in specific spaces than in others. Here are some of such surfaces that readily get molded:

  • Bathroom tiles
  • Grout
  • Paper 
  • Cardboard
  • Wood
  • Wallpaper
  • Paints
  • Drywall
  • Insulation materials
  • Fabric
  • Carpet
  • Rubber toys
  • Upholstery

After flood concerns, you can combat mold infestations by drying everything well afterward. Clean them to remove any possible clinging mold spores and other bacteria. 



It takes more than our common sense to know how to inspect for signs of mold after water damage, especially the first time. You can always find out through others’ experiences and then try and master it yourself while asking for professional advice.

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