How long after a leak before mold growth starts?

January 6, 2008

A lot of people ask us how long it takes mold to grow after a recent water
incident; this is the most common question that arises in a persons mind
after a leak.

I am preparing this information for home owners, realtors, and future potential clients
who are looking for a mold specialist to answer such questions.

If you have the water extracted and the moisture properly dried out by
professional remediators or carpet drying specialists in the first 24 to
48 hours after a leak you may likely be ok. It takes mold a 24 to 48
hours to start to grow under ideal conditions. As you know carpets get
moldy very quick, many older carpets with dirt as a food source start
smelling moldy after being wet just a short time. The above refers to small amounts of mold growth, and the mold may only be at the microscopic levels after a few days. It may be a week or two
before it grows to the extent that it is visible to the naked eye as spots
on drywall or carpet pads. Of course, mold being a living organism with it’s own agenda
is not going to follow what I say in this bolg and thus their will be exceptions.

Proper drying is important.
What is most important is how fast and how well the flooded areas are
dried. Many times a person will think that moisture was removed when in
fact enough moisture was left behind to allow mold to start growing.
If a minor amount of moisture is lingering inside the wall cavities, behind the baseboards, in
the carpet, or under the carpet padding it will likely be weeks before it
all dries up, by that time the mold starts forming as visible sports on your walls.
Many mold remediators and carpet cleaning companies will focus efforts on drying the room that flooded and neglect nearby rooms where water flowed hidden inside wall cavities and under carpet or even tile.
Before you realize that dry out was not done properly you may have white, green, or black mold spots showing
up; you may also detect mold odors and  you will likely have mold
capable of causing allergy or asthma reactions in persons who are prone to
such reactions.

How to properly dry out a property.
Proper drying often involves discarding wet carpets and carpet pads
they trap moisture and hamper drying. If
the flood was extensive, it may be helpful to remove the baseboards
because these baseboards can trap water and prevent proper drying; in more
extreme case a few holes can be cut in the walls to allow wet air to
escape and dry air to enter the wall cavities.
The use of wet vacs to remove standing water, fans to move air, and
dehumidifiers to dry the air are helpful. Without dehumidifiers to dry the air you are
simply moving wet air with fans
and this is of little or no benefit. If you can dry your air with
dehumidifiers and maintain humidity levels between 30%RH and 50%RH it will
help everything else in the area dry faster. Please be advised that I am not a remediator, we at A Accredited Mold Inspection Service, Inc. provide inspections and written reports on mold and moisture problems for you, your attorney, your buyer, or your insurance adjuster. For more info on proper drying consult with a specialist in remediation or carpet drying etc.

About mold inspections.
It is best to have a mold inspection done by a mold specialist prior to
doing any work like removing moldy drywall. A mold
specialist can try and determine the extent of possible mold spread and
what needs to be done prior to remediation. If more that a very small problem exists it is recommended that a mold removal specialist be called.
We have no conflict of interest and inspect only. We do not do mold
removal nor do we provide drying services. The fee is $300.00 to $1000.00
for a mold inspection in the Miami Ft Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach areas. Prices are likely similar in other areas of the nation. An inspection will also include moisture testing, and a detailed
inspection and written report. In cases where mold may be hidden behind walls it is almost always very
important to have some samples taken from inside walls to determine if
hidden mold is in your walls.  If an inspector tells you they will take
one or two indoor samples from the center of a few rooms your best course
of action may be to keep calling inspectors until you find one who knows
to take samples from inside walls when hidden mold from water intrusion is suspected.

Daryl Watters is president of A Accredited Mold Inspection Service, Inc. He provides home, mold, and indoor air quality investigations in South Florida. He is also the creator of MIR forms designed to aid inspectors in the production of computer generated indoor air quality and mold inspection reports.

6 Responses to “How long after a leak before mold growth starts?”

  1. Jack said

    I agree it is best done by a specialist

  2. Erifx said

    I was wondering something? I live in an apartment complex and I think they are not inspecting first before any repair.

    Is this legal?

    An if not what can I do about it?

    P.S. We have some one highly allergic to mold. how fast can this be harmful to High allergenic people?

    • April said

      I am having similar issues with our apartment complex. We had a minor leak from our bathroom that made it’s way into our closet carpet and it probably wasn’t caught for weeks… They took their time and I don’t feel comfortable with what little they did. which was send in a heavy duty carpet cleaner service who specializes in water damage. They never sent in a mold specialist first which I thought they should have.

  3. Cassandra Silva said

    My apartment in RI where I live on the lower level recently became flooded for 2 days and I have a carpet here and I was just wondering how long it take to detect the mold on it after 24-48 hours and it smells really bad right now and I was just wondering can my sister save the carpet or shouldwe throw it out and get a new one ASAP?

  4. wanda perry said

    My apartment flooded in Sept. No one came back to check for mold. They havent painted the ceiling nor cleaned the carpet.

  5. […] concern among residents affected.         It takes mold anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to begin to grow even after a small, contained leak. Many homes had an intake of at least 12 feet of water during […]

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