You know to check the back shelves of your refrigerator for long-forgotten food that has sprouted mold. If you detect a musty odor near your refrigerator even when the door is closed, then the mold problem could be on the outside. Mold can grow behind your refrigerator, damaging your wall and creating a health hazard for your family.
Mold grows easily in moist environments with poor air circulation. If you live in a humid climate, your home is at risk for mold growth. A refrigerator near a stove where water is boiled or close to an in-kitchen washer and dryer unit is near sources of moisture in the air. This moisture can build up behind the fridge, where it will encourage mold to grow. Because the refrigerator is rarely moved, the mold growth can become extensive before you notice it.
A damaged refrigerator can cause mold growth. If your fridge has a cracked or disconnected hose for its ice maker or water dispenser, water will leak out behind the fridge. The leak can flush food particles out from under your fridge, which mold can feed upon. The mold then grows up the wall behind your refrigerator, nourished by the water leaking from the broken appliance.
The walls surrounding your kitchen contain electrical lines and plumbing pipes. If there is a leaking pipe behind your fridge, eventually the water seeping into the wall will soak through to the outer layer of drywall. Mold can feed on damp drywall and as long as the leak goes unsealed, the mold will flourish not just behind your refrigerator but deeper inside the wall as well.
Mold growth behind your refrigerator can be prevented by reducing humidity in your home. Run vent fans when boiling water or running laundry appliances. Install a ceiling fan in your kitchen to improve circulation throughout the room and behind the fridge. As part of regular home maintenance, pull your refrigerator away from the wall every six months. You can vacuum and wipe away dust buildup, which can help your fridge run more efficiently. At the same time, check for leaks on the wall from pipes or water puddling on the floor from a broken water line in the fridge.