Are Microbes Growing in Your Walls?

By Kari Ripley, CCS Cleaning & Restoration

It may start as an odor, maybe a stain that you hadn’t noticed before, but before long you realize that there is definitely a moisture problem causing issues in your home.

Many times, the issue arises from water traveling to places it shouldn’t: a leaky pipe under the second story tub causing water stains on the main level ceiling below; a tub or sink overflow in another apartment unit that wasn’t dried properly and is now causing issues in a shared wall; a sump pump failure from last spring that you thought you took care of, but now see signs of microbial growth on the walls.

While there are certain types of mold spores commonly occurring in both air and on surfaces of any normal living space, an overabundance or the presence of certain kinds are the cause of health concerns, especially to the elderly, very young or health-compromised.

For this reason, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to make sure any water losses or moisture issues are dealt with immediately and professionally.

When choosing a professional, make certain the company is certified with the IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) and has the proper moisture meters to detect water trapped in ceilings, in between walls or under floors. Even though a wall, floor or ceiling may look dry and feel dry to the touch, the danger of allowing moisture to stay trapped behind these surfaces without air flow is costly and detrimental to one’s health. Without determining the source of the elevated moisture, stopping the source and drying out the affected areas, microbial growth is certain. Also, most insurance companies will cover the expense to dry down and repair a home after a water loss while many DO NOT cover mold remediation services. Even though it may seem like a headache dealing with home water issues now, it is far more stressful and costly to deal with mold concerns later.

An ounce of prevention. It is also a good idea to regularly check your roof for ice dams in the winter and your basement for any encroaching water during the spring. This will help keep your premiums down by catching issues before they arise and keeping your home safe from water and mold problems.

Kari Ripley is IICRC Certified for Water and Fire Restoration. You can contact her at or 507/334-1774.