Mold Knowledge Base

Can mold cause a smell in homes?

Yes! Mold colonies often create an earthy, damp, musty, stale odor that takes over the indoor space. 

Why Does Mold Smell?

There are over 100,000 species of mold identified by researchers so far. While all of them create spores, some species can also create microscopic toxins called mycotoxins when threatened. To make matters more complicated, there are various types of mycotoxins as well, and some species can create multiple variations of mycotoxins. When released, some of these particular microscopic particles produce gases called microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOC).

These MVOCs are what give off that strong, distinctive smell that mold releases. Again, though, not all species create the particles that give off this odor, so while some mold growth may smell, another may have no odor at all. Hence why the answer to “Does mold smell?” is, “Yes, but not all the time.”

What Does Mold Smell Like?

The MVOCs released by mold often create an odor that’s described as musty, earthy, and damp. When this odor occurs, it generally points to a mold issue in the surrounding area.

Many individuals have probably experienced this smell when food has turned rotten. One of the contributing factors to that yucky smell is mold growth. Mold in a home can have a similar odor, but it’s more clearly defined because there aren’t other foody scents getting in the way.

For more information on why mold smells, check out my blog post

What Should You Do If You Smell Mold?

If this odor pops up in your home, it’s best to hire a mold inspector to come in and assess what’s going on in that indoor space. That way, you’ll better understand the scope of the problem and have a plan in place to resolve it. 

This professional should: 
  • Use multiple measuring techniques
  • Assess the entire home (inside and out)
  • Test for all contaminants present including mycotoxins and bacteria 

For more information on choosing the right mold inspector, check out my blog post

For my list of mold inspector recommendations based on your home state, check out this map.