Odor Investigation and Removal: When to Call in an Expert

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Odor investigation and removal

Your nose is incredibly attuned to your environment. Believe it or not, it’s often the best chance you have of identifying a serious home danger before anyone is hurt or affected by an illness. Trust your sniffer – a bad smell should never be ignored, especially when it sticks around.

Some long-lasting foul odors in the home are nothing more than the lingering smell of burnt popcorn or an overflowing trash can. Sometimes, though, a bad scent is indicative of a serious issue – one that likely requires the attention of a professional, not just a trusty can of FeBreeze.

At Greenworks, we’ve seen our fair share of clients report a bad smell, only to discover it’s stemming from something dangerous: mold growth.

That’s why we’re sharing this article. We want to remind you that bad smells can be signs of a more threatening presence lurking in your home. Let’s talk about when it’s time to call in a professional and what you can do to safely treat mold within your house.

Always Pay Attention to Strange Musty Smells

“Must” isn’t just the scent that accompanies your grandmother’s closet – it’s the odor of mold

Mold doesn’t have a strong scent, but it does smell like something kind of earthy, old, or dusty. Some even report that it unpleasantly reminds them of wet socks or damp wood. Either way, you should take note of any mold-like smells and start to search for the source.

If the smell is not very pungent, the mold spores may have just recently started to form – which gives you the chance to quickly address the problem and prevent serious long-term issues. You can find the root of the mold and eliminate it before people experience health effects.


On the other hand, if the smell is very pungent and consistent, you might be facing a more serious problem. The worst the smell gets, the longer the mold is wreaking havoc in your home and causing long-lasting damage to your health and house.

At GreenWorks LLC, mold/mildew is the villain we most often encounter in customer’s homes. Whether it’s growing in the damp basement or appearing in the bathroom, mold growth is serious and requires professional treatment ASAP.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into mold odor, its threat, and the steps you need to take to eliminate it.

Mold: The Underestimated Culprit of Bad Smells

Mold is arguably the most commonly ignored smell with harmful side effects. Many homeowners wait until it’s too late to quickly and easily remediate mold. They assume the smell is harmless, and they hope that the occasional spring cleaning job will keep the growth at bay.

Insect odor is a real problem

Our team at GreenWorks wants to educate more people on the true dangers of mold, as well as its causes and fixes. 

What Causes Mold?

Mold and mildew thrive in damp, warm, and moist environments. In most cases, mold spores spread in a house after a water incident – perhaps a burst pipe, a slow leak, or even a bad spill.

Mold sampling of tack strip

The longer wet conditions are left untreated, the more the mold can grow and the more toxigenic varieties it attracts. Although the growth usually begins in hidden places (like under your sink or behind the toilet), it can spread throughout the house within a matter of weeks.

How does mold get inside? Well, it can enter via doorways and windows, but it can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, and pets as they come indoors. New research now suggests that they are already there. The non-aerosolized molds are embedded in newer building materials (like wallboard). You won’t always know when spores enter your house, but you will notice when they begin to grow and cause health problems as there is often a weird smell and ugly discoloration.

The Most Common Spots for Mold Growth

  • In the shower/bathtub
  • Behind or under the sink or toilet
  • In the walls
  • On the floor
  • Near refrigerators
  • In the pantry
  • By the stove or microwave
  • On windows/window sills

The Side Effects of Mold Growth

Mold growth in your house is unsightly and smelly, but more than that, it can cause health issues. Exposure to certain types of mold – even just through inhalation – can cause symptoms such as:

  • Sore throats
  • Coughing
  • Runny noses
  • Congestion
  • Eye irritation
  • Skin rashes
  • Headaches
  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Lung irritation

These symptoms are especially prevalent in people who already have conditions such as chronic allergies, asthma, COPD, compromised immune systems, or cystic fibrosis.

The side effects of mold don’t just manifest in humans, though. It can compromise your home. This is especially true when mold and mildew are in your ductwork. Your HVAC system will have to work overtime to keep air flowing, and unfortunately, the air it is circulating is likely harming the residents within.

Eliminating the Mold Smell

When you call a mold remediation company, like ours, you can quickly remove the growth and prevent it from returning. This should also eliminate the foul odor that’s permeating the air within your house.

Our home mold inspection begins immediately upon arrival. We’ll clear the area so we can properly assess the situation without furthering the spread or compromising your health. Then, we’ll prepare the space accordingly depending on the extent of the growth, the type of mold, and other factors.

We will also suit up in protective gear to keep ourselves – and others – safe. Mold spores can spread via touch and cause further contamination, so we’re extremely professional about wearing the right PPE.

Then, we apply a biocide to kill all of the existing spores. We will let this sit to eliminate the spores and their resulting smell, eliminating the problem at the root. The next day, we will return to whitewash or paint the remaining spores with encapsulates.

The goal isn’t just to deal with your current mold odor or symptoms – it’s to prevent it from happening again. When you partner with GreenWorks, we’ll do everything in our power to ensure conditions aren’t prime for immediate mold return. We’ll also educate you on ways to prevent future growth and spread.

Why You Shouldn’t Deal With Mold Alone

When you realize you have mold in your home, either because you smell it or see it, you might be tempted to try some DIY removal tactics right away. In reality, that’s not the best strategy for a number of reasons.

You don’t know what kind of mold you’re dealing with. 

The first big reason to avoid DIY mold remediation methods is that different kinds of mold require different tactics. Whether it’s black mold (the worst of the worst) or something less serious, you’ll want to identify the spores and learn exactly how to deal with them.

A mold remediation expert will help you do that. They’ll be able to determine what kind of mold you’re facing, what caused it, and how best to remove it for good. If you don’t ask for professional help, you could very well be throwing random removal tactics at the mold and just waiting to see what works, rather than quickly eliminating the problem.

Odors and vapor inrusion sampling

You could jeopardize your health. 

The second reason to avoid handling mold spores on your own is that you need to protect your health. Touching mold spores and breathing them in is extremely dangerous, and even if you’re wearing gloves and a face covering, you still risk exposure.

A mold professional will come to your home equipped with the proper protective gear to stay safe while removing the mold. Additionally, they are well-trained to handle mold in the safest possible method, both to protect themselves and to protect your family.

You might miss a spot – or make things worse. 

Lastly, remember that it’s difficult to remove every single spore in an area experiencing growth. If you use a DIY mold removal tactic, you could very well miss a few spores – and that’s not good. Before you know it, you’ll be facing another growth and experiencing even more health symptoms in your family.

By hiring a mold remediation team, you’ll ensure everything is done correctly the first time. You’ll keep your family safe, and just as importantly, you’ll prevent the mold from returning time and time again.

Next Time You Smell a Foul Odor, Call Us

Whether it’s a musty scent emanating from your carpet or a “wet sock” smell circulating the bathroom, don’t hesitate to give the GreenWorks mold removal and remediation experts a call. We’re always happy to help local clients handle their mold problems.

Time is always of the essence when it comes to mold growth. Our expert environmental advisors will arrive at your doorstep quickly to assess the problem within the building. Then, we’ll eliminate the moisture source, eradicate the mold, and prevent it from returning.

All of our mold and odor elimination techniques are EPA and US FDA Approved. When we work in your home, you can trust that our tools and procedures are 100 percent safe. We want to protect your family, and we’ll ensure that all of our methods contribute to a safe and healthy household.

Contact GreenWorks today to schedule your mold inspection. If you are dealing with mold growth, we also offer a coupon for full remediation services – just ask! Call 732-223-2073 or send us a message online to get started.

Remember: the longer you wait to treat mold growth, the more expensive and dangerous the removal process will be. Act quickly to save yourself pain and money in the future.


Originally published: September 21, 2016

Last updated: May 12, 2021

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Avatar for Victor Coppola

Victor Coppola

Victor Coppola is a Building Biologist with decades of diverse environmental experience spanning natural resource management and contaminated sites to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and building hygiene matters. He focuses on the three most prevalent issues degrading today's built environment: Moisture Odor & Mold (M.O.M.). Mr. Coppola and his Team are sought out by individuals and professionals concerned about IAQ to those actually suffering from Biotoxin Illness. His hybrid blend of environmental interests and services enable him to give a unique perspective into today's changing environment. Think your home is killing you, better call Victor and his Team at GreenWorks.
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An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality Testing for Homeowners
An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality Testing for Homeowners
6 years ago

[…] Hire an air-quality testing consultant. A consultant can run several tests in your house—from the basement to attic—to find the quality of the air you are breathing and suggest ways to improve it. For more information on your home or office’s air quality and how you can get it tested and improved, consult Green Works. Nothing is more important to us than the health of your family. […]

Deb Pearl
Deb Pearl
6 years ago

I didn’t know mold was such a common problem in a home. I have been smelling some weird smells in my bathroom lately, maybe I do have mold. That is good to know that if I spot it, I should call someone right away to see about it. Thanks for the tips!

Gerty Gift
Gerty Gift
6 years ago

I appreciate what you had to say about making sure to pay attention to complaints of indoor air quality. This is a great way to tell if something needs to be looked into, especially concerning something like mold. I will be sure to keep this in mind if I smell something along these lines.

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