Plumbing Systems and Mold: Signs of Problems and How to Avoid Them

Posted on February 14th, 2017


Mold can be a truly dangerous contaminant in a home where individuals have health problems like asthma, Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).


Mold is a common allergen and can have an effect on people with a variety of medical conditions, including CIRS, MCS, and asthma. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),  inhaling or touching mold and spores can lead to allergic reactions, like sneezing, red eyes, skin rashes, or as mentioned before, breathing issues, in those who are prone to that. The EPA notes that research on mold and its effects are continuing.

Signs of Plumbing Problems That Could Lead to Mold


Although plumbing systems are a concern because of the water – both clean and dirty- that flows through the pipes, some say it is rare that mold develops in the pipes, but it has happened. Even if you don’t see mold in your water, there may be nasty buildup in the system that you’ll want to take care of.  You may want to check to see if you have plumbing issues if you encounter any of these situations:


  1. A musty smell in the bathroom or sink drain. The smell may not be directly related to mold but may be related to a buildup of grime and dirt. If you haven’t used a sink in a period of time, it may be that the P-trap in the drain has dried out and there’s still gunk in there. Cleaning the drain may help to remove that stinky smell.

  2. Condensation.  Condensation creates moisture problems, and occurs on windows, metal pipes; sometimes even the toilet tank in a bathroom. Excess humidity can lead to a mold problem, especially if the humidity isn’t controlled.

  3. Water stains.  Water stains are a good sign that there’s a leak in your plumbing. Without a fix, a leak in a plumbing system can turn to mold and create big problems.

Steps to Remove Mold from Plumbing Systems


  • Clean out the drain. Cleaning out a drain is often the first step in removing a mold problem, and often, this is something a homeowner can do. If you haven’t used a chemical agent to clean the drain in the past, a treatment of white vinegar and baking soda can kill the nasty mold and scrub the drain clean.

  • Look for other signs of plumbing problems. Pooling of water around the base of a toilet, discoloration, peeling, or bubbling of the paint on a wall that has water pipes behind it are all signs that you have a problem.

  • Check for polybutylene pipes and have them replaced.  For a handful of years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, polybutylene pipes were installed in residential construction due to its lower price tag. In the years after 1985, people have learned that these pipes often undergo a reaction with bacteria and chemicals (chlorine specifically) that weaken the pipes. The weather-related contraction and expansion can also cause holes to form, which undoubtedly leads to water leaks.

  • Call in a professional when needed. Not all problems are easy fixes. Not every problem should be tackled by home improvement enthusiasts.


Tips to Control Mold


  • Control moisture in the home by controlling the temperature.  Keeping your home warm during the winter months actually, helps to improve the way your home holds on to the heat you’re using.

  • Increase air circulation in your home. Use fans when showering, soaking in a hot bath or doing anything that increases the humidity in the bathroom or kitchen, two rooms that are common places to find mold.

  • Vacuum, disinfect, and dust regularly. Regular cleaning will help to reduce surface mold before it gets a chance to take hold and become a problem in your home.

Talk to a physician to address concerns about mold-related illnesses

If you have concerns that you may be at risk of medical problems like CIRS due to mold exposure, we suggest that you reach out to a  physician certified in the Shoemaker Protocol to treat CIRS.

If your family physician isn’t in the know, we do encourage individuals to talk to their doctors about becoming a physician certified in Dr. Shoemaker’s Protocol. When doctors learn the protocol and obtain certification, it can help other patients who may be experiencing CIRS or a similar condition caused by mold.



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