Common Mold Identification Guide

Checking for mold has never been easier. 

From the basics and beyond, it’s important to understand what mold is, why it grows in homes and how to prevent it from damaging your property. Additionally, in order to recognize mold, it can be helpful to know about the wide range of mold types. It may all simply look unpleasant to the untrained eye, but different molds pose different health concerns and can demand unique remediation techniques. 

Not all mold types are found in all climates and environments, and some mold types may be easier to spot than others. The AmeriSpec mold specialists have put together a short list of some of the most commonly encountered molds so you know what to keep an eye out for.

1. Aspergillus

Quite common in American homes, Aspergillus is an allergenic mold. Over time, if untreated, Aspergillus can become more toxic and potentially damaging to one’s health. Normally, a small level of Aspergillus fungus floats around in the air we breathe, but concentrated growths can cause illness in people with weakened immune systems. In fact, it can even cause Aspergillosis, a disease group related to infection. 

In the home, Aspergillus is likely to be found near air conditioning units and damp areas. This mold type can experience rapid growth and sometimes forms “walls” of mold in which long chains grow. Since there are so many different species of Aspergillus, it can present itself in a wide variety of colors and hues.

2. Cladosporium 

Unlike the overwhelming majority of mold types, Cladosporium grows in both warm and cold conditions. Cladosporium can be commonly found on wet building materials and usually appears after a primary mold species. 

While Cladosporium isn’t known for its toxic characteristics, it can provoke asthma attacks in those who have asthma. It can also cause allergic reactions in some people, such as lesions and rashes. To spot Cladosporium, look for mold that is brown, blackish-brown or gray-green in color.

3. Penicillium 

Chances are, if you’ve heard of a mold type before, Penicillium might be it. Penicillium has a unique appearance and color that can be characterized as blue-green. Humankind has had a long relationship with Penicillium, as the widely used antibiotic penicillin is derived from this mold type. However, not all Penicillium subspecies are safe and some can even cause dangerous health symptoms. 

If you leave food out too long and it begins to spoil, Penicillium might be the mold responsible. When you can visually see mold on improperly stored food on fruit, for example, it is likely Penicillium. It’s important to never eat spoiled food because some Penicillium subspecies can actually be toxic. 

If Penicillium grows indoors unabated, it can cause substantial respiratory harm. Because it grows so quickly, if you spot Penicillium developing in a water damaged area of your home, call a specialist immediately.

4. Trichoderma 

White, wooly, fuzzy and green, Trichoderma has quite the distinct appearance. Trichoderma is extremely common, but its most serious threat may not be to your health. The variety of enzymes and mycotoxins Trichoderma produces are capable of damaging cellulose. Unfortunately, cellulose is the primary building block of many materials found in our homes, like wood and textiles. Over time, Trichoderma can cause these materials to rot and crumble. 

Testing for Trichoderma early with AmeriSpec can save homeowners sizable amounts of money. If Trichoderma begins growing in a home’s HVAC system, the whole system may be compromised. Just like every mold type on this list, exposure to Trichoderma puts your health at risk. 

No matter the type, shape or color, the CDC recommends that mold be removed from indoor areas quickly. The way mold impacts different people can vary a great deal, so, depending on your individual health history, you might be at a higher risk for mold-related health concerns. 

Local AmeriSpec mold specialists are here to help identify mold early. In the end, catching mold growth before it spreads can save you money and give you peace of mind.