Mold is just a natural part of our ecosystem, and it can be beneficial in some ways. But the last place you want mold is within the home. Some types of mold can make you sick, and for people with allergies, asthma, and other conditions it can be particularly dangerous.

The following five things can cause mold in the home here in Southern California. Beyond their obvious risk for water damage, you want to prevent these occurrences because they can and do contribute to the growth of potentially toxic mold.

A leaking roof. Not all leaking roofs will result in water dripping onto your head. A very slow leak can mean water damage up in the attic or ceiling that you don’t notice for some time. Look for odd discoloration on the ceiling or walls, and inspect your roof for missing or loose shingles once per year. Clean out gutters regularly, too, because blocked gutters can cause water to back up into your home.

Leaking pipes. If you haven’t checked lately, it’s time to investigate whether you have leaking pipes somewhere in the house. Turn off all faucets and appliances that use water, and take note of your water meter. Check it again in one hour, and if the meter has changed at all, you should suspect a leak. Leaking pipes not only create moisture that mold loves; they also create slow, hidden water damage to your over time.

Basements. Basements are just plain humid, damp places. If you haven’t purchased a dehumidifier, it’s past time to do so.

Drainage. Drainage issues around your home can mean pooled water up next to the foundation. If you notice signs of erosion near your home, pooling water, or experience excessive mosquitos (they love pooled water), it might be time to consult a landscaping expert about the drainage around your house.

Flooding. And of course, flooding will cause extensive water damage and therefore mold issues. There’s not much you can do about natural disasters except research, learn if you’re in a flood zone, and purchase the appropriate homeowners insurance if so.

If the worst does happen and your home sustains water damage, remember we’re here to help you restore your home and remove all traces of hazardous mold.