According to one report, 54% of homebuyers are willing to pay more for a home that has hardwood floors. If your home is fortunate enough to have this feature, you understandably want to do everything you can to keep the planks looking their best. 

While some issues may affect the surface of your wood, there are also silent problems that can lurk in the background, such as mold. Unless you’re carefully checking your floors every day, it’s easy to miss some of the early signals that something’s wrong. 

Today, we’re sharing some of the key signs of mold under hardwood floors. This way, you know what to look for and when to take action. 

What Causes Mold Damage on Hardwoods?

Before we dive into the different causes of mold damages, let’s take a step back. How does this problem begin in the first place? The simple answer is just one word: moisture.

If your floors are exposed to an excessive amount of moisture (or even a small amount of moisture for a prolonged period of time), they can become susceptible to damage. Mold grows best in humid, damp environments, which can be created by a variety of issues, including: 

  • Condensation
  • Water leaks
  • Household spills
  • Humidity 
  • Steam 

Of course, it’s unrealistic to assume your floors will stay bone-dry all of the time, especially in a high-traffic area like the kitchen or laundry room. However, it’s important to act quickly if you notice any kind of water on the floor, wiping up spills and leaks as soon as you notice them. 

If your floors don’t have the opportunity to dry quickly, the water can seep between the planks and travel underneath the floor. Once it starts to grow, it could be a while before you notice the physical changes. While other types of flooring materials, including tile and luxury vinyl planks, are typically waterproof, real hardwoods tend to absorb and trap any moisture they encounter. 

Signs of Mold Under Hardwood Floors

If you suspect your floors might be affected by different types of mold, it’s important to know what to look for. Let’s take a look at some of the most common signs that it might be time to call a mold remediation team as soon as possible. 

Musty Smell

Has your room started to smell musty lately? If so, this could be a sign of mold. Mold contains certain compounds that smell strongly and are volatile in nature.

Known as microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs), they give mold its characteristic odor. If your wooden planks have mold damage underneath, this scent could be wafting its way through the cracks and into your home. 

Of course, this isn’t the only reason why you might smell a funky odor. Other issues that could make your home smell a little musty include inadequate airflow, soiled rugs/carpets, or even dust in your HVAC system.

Buckled or Warped Boards

Even in older homes, hardwood floors should lay flat and uniform. If your planks have started to buckle or warp in certain areas, this could be a sign of water damage. As the planks get damp, they become softer, which allows them to constrict and change shape. 

Creaky Sounds

A slight amount of creaking is normal in real hardwoods. This happens in a few different instances, such as:

  • When the floorboards or structural elements rub against one another
  • When the bridging elements between the floor joists flex under foot traffic
  • When the floorboards are not been properly nailed to the subfloor

If your planks are older or you know there was an issue with installation, mold might not be the culprit. However, if they’ve suddenly started squeaking and creaking for no apparent reason, it’s worth hiring a mold cleanup crew for peace of mind. 

Discoloration or Water Stains

Think about what a water stain looks like on your ceiling. Even though the water itself is clear, it can change the texture and appearance of the paint above you. The same holds true with water damage on the floor. 

In areas where there’s a significant amount of water damage, you might notice that the wooden floorboards appear darker or stained. Even if they don’t feel wet to the touch, this could be a sign that water is pooling underneath. 

Health Issues

If mold is treated and removed immediately after discovery, it may not lead to any adverse health issues. However, if it’s left to fester, it could damage the indoor air quality of your home. 

Routine exposure to mold can lead to a host of health risks, such as: 

  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Eye irritation
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Skin rash

Individuals who suffer from asthma or have a known mold allergy may express more severe symptoms. In addition, immuno-compromised people or people with chronic lung disease are also at a higher risk. 

What to Do If You Find Mold

If you think you might have mold underneath your hardwood floors, it’s best to hire a mold abatement team near you. These experts know what to look for and how to identify signs of mold in your home. They can also advise you on effective ways to safely and successfully remove the mold so it doesn’t return. 

If the mold has damaged your floors or surrounding areas, you may also want to reach out to a property damage lawyer. This legal expert can help you understand your rights and help you get the settlement you need to make necessary repairs. 

Keep Your Home Healthy and Safe

A key part of being a responsible homeowner is paying attention to the surfaces throughout your home. If you’ve noticed that something looks, feels, or smells different about your floors, don’t hesitate to seek a professional opinion. Most of the signs of mold under hardwood floors are easy to miss, especially if you don’t know to look for them. 

Left untreated, this issue could snowball into other, more serious concerns. It’s best to take action as soon as you notice the first signs of a problem. 

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