What To Do If You Find Black Mold In Your Home
Experts weigh-in on removal and safety tips.
Mold isn’t always a bad thingbut it’s still not an organism you want growing unchecked in your home. “Some molds are very benign,” says Leslie Andersen, vice president of training and launch at restoration company Paul Davis. “And some are really good: Think about bleu cheese, or penicillin, or mushrooms, or beerall of those have molds in them.” But if you find a musty smell in your basement or see a patch of fungal growth in a water-prone area of your home, that indicates a mold you’ll want to removeespecially if it’s hazardous black mold.
“When people use the term black mold, they’re often identifying a type of mold called stachybotrys,” says Andersen. While many types of mold grow in circular patterns and boast a shiny finish, black mold differs in a few key ways: It grows in a patchier shape and has a much lighter tone. “It’s a dull, kind of chalky mold, reminiscent of if you looked inside your fireplacethat kind of a sooty look,” says Andersen. When disturbed, it releases mycotoxins which can cause irritation in the nose, eyes, and lungs. “People wipe it or they touch it, and they start sneezing, they cough, they get runny eyesit’s because the mold spores are off-gassing to make you stop bothering it,” Andersen says. “What makes it more dangerous to humans is how it affects our respiratory system. We breathe it in, it goes into our lungs, and folks get very, very serious lung conditions from that type of mold spore.”
Common Types Of House Mold
Wondering what types of mold are the most common in houses and which ones you should be concerned about? Lets discuss a few of the most common types of household mold now.
- Cladosporium Cladosporium is one of the most common household molds. It usually grows in a greenish-brown colony, but can also be nearly black in color. It is rarely harmful unless you have a mold allergy, but may cause minor issues like toenail or fingernail infections.
- Penicillium Penicillium is sometimes called green mold, as it is usually dark green in color. It tends to grow in large, consistent patches on the walls. As the name suggests, penicillin is derived from some kinds of this mold. However, some kinds of penicillium mold may be toxic to humans and animals.
- Aspergillus This type of mold is usually greenish-white in color, and may be more raised with a more cloudy appearance than other types of mold. It is not harmful, unless you have a weakened immune system, in which case it could infect the lungs or sinuses.
- Alternaria Alternaria mold is usually greenish-white, but can also appear in black patches, so its sometimes confused with black mold. Alternaria can be a factor in exacerbating asthma, particularly for those who may have mold allergies.
Products And Tools Youll Need To Test For Mold In Your Home
The only thing you need to test for mold at home is a test kit. In addition to the ones previously mentioned, there are several options available:
- Pro-Lab Mold Test Kit: This kit includes three tests. Your sample can be tested for an additional $40 fee, with results delivered by e-mail or via the companys app.
- MoldCheck Multi-Test Kit: This kit includes supplies to perform ten tests, which is great for an entire home or monitoring an ongoing infestation. However, there is no lab testing option, so you will need to find your own if you need identification.
- ImmunoLytics Mold Screening Test Kit: Perform eight tests with this kit. Each plate can be tested for $33 each.
- My Mold Detective: If you are looking for a more advanced mold monitoring option, the My Mold Detective is a reusable air sampling pump that collects samples in just five minutes. The device comes with four sampling cassettes that can be tested in a lab for $35 each.
- My Mold Detective Additional Samples: The My Mold Detective can be used again and again, so order as many samples as you need to keep tabs on your mold problem.
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Worth The Cost Of Testing
Mold can be a tricky problem to deal with. The first step in tackling your potential mold problem is to have a certified inspector visit your home to assess the mold damage or to bring a sample of your mold growth to an accredited lab for testing. At JSE, we specialize in laboratory and in-home testing to provide you with an accurate analysis of your mold growth.
Our mold lab offers quick turn-around times and has hygienists on staff to answer your questions. In-house lab services include mold spore analysis by direct exam for both bulk and air samples. Mold can be a pesky problem in any household. If you suspect you have mold growth in your home, contact JSE online or at to get your sample tested.
How Do I Detect Black Mold Inside My Walls In The First Place
Peeling wallpaper can also be a symptom of mold. While some scruffiness and discoloration tend to eventually strike your wallpaper, unusual surface or peeling abnormalities such as crackling or bubbling can be a sign of wall moisture. And remember, a reliable precursor to mold is always going to be moisture. Make sure to pay attention to any warped areas that feel damp.
To keep mold from growing in your cooling or heating systems, you can have a specialist check them regularly. Another indication of mold in the house is dark grout between bathroom tiles. Even if this type is most likely the harmless type, there could be flooding in the adjacent room or a leak in bathroom plumbing that could produce a more toxic fungus type that only professionals can remove. A sample sent for testing will let you know whether or not your shower is harmless.
Mold could also be the culprit when you have pre-existent problems with breathing that after long periods at home seem to flare up. Many household species of mold wont affect persons that do not have issues with breathing. However, in individuals suffering from asthma, it could aggravate it. Consider a mold inspection and a doctors appointment if the problems with your breathing seem to get worse with no clear cause.
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How To Test For Mold In 6 Steps
Mold infestations can usually be seen or smelled, but they can also remain hidden behind walls or under carpets. Testing isnt necessary if you can see or smell mold that is confirmation enough to call a professional and begin the remediation process. Testing for mold in the house may be necessary if requested by a health professional or needed for legal purposes, such as a lawsuit with a landlord. Another reason to consider testing is if you arent able to see or smell mold in your home but are having unexplained symptoms associated with mold. Always follow the instructions provided with a test kit , but this is generally what to expect:
How Do Molds Affect People
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people with asthma symptoms in people with asthma and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.
In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould pdf iconexternal icon pdf icon. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies.
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What Mold Smells Like
Mold has a damp, musty scentsimilar to what youd smell after opening an old book. In general, smell is not a good way to determine if there is a mold problem, says Laureen Burton, a staff chemist and toxicologist for the Environmental Protection Agency . The smell of indoor molds can differ depending on the type of mold, the surface on which its growing, and its source of moisture. Plus, she says, some people dont notice a smell at all.
The mold smell is caused by microbial volatile organic compounds , which are substances that are naturally produced by molds as they grow. The health effects of inhaling mVOCs are largely unknown, says Burton, although exposure to some mVOCs has been linked to symptoms such as headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea.
Warping Or Paint Peeling
Warping or paint peeling doesnt mean you have mold but its another sign of moisture. If the moisture doesnt dry up, mold will surely grow.
If you see warping or paint peeling you may have to remove a section of a wall to see whats happening within.
Once you find the cause, fix it and repaint or replace the warping.
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Who Can Test Me For Mold Illness
You may wonder how to get these tests done, and in this age of insurance-based medicine it can be a challenge. Apart from the nasal swab, the bloodwork may be handled by a cooperative primary care physician, or by going to a facility such as Any Lab Test, which will run them for you. The best route is to seek care from a knowledgeable ENT specialist, such as Dr. Dennis, or from a physician trained in Environmental Medicine. Go to American Academy of Environmental Medicine for a list of practitioners by state.
How Can I Know If Theres Mold In My Carpet
The plush fibers of a carpet can be a thriving spot for mold spores. Its easy for the spores to stick to the surface and theres often a significant amount of dirt, dust and bacteria. Once moisture is introduced, mold will likely begin to grow.
Mold can grow inside the carpet or underneath. The padding or backing of carpets is likely to have mold if exposed to moisture.
A tell-tale sign of mold in a carpet is a musty or even sour odor. However, the best way to know whether or not theres mold growing in your carpet is to pull it up and inspect it.
If you do find mold, consider the severity of it and whether the carpet is worth trying to save or not. You can easily remove the area affected by mold and replace it with new carpeting. Adding additional waterproof padding underneath can help to keep mold and mildew at bay.
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How To Tell If You Have Mold In Your House
It can be hard to tell if you have mold in your house. Obviously, if you see mold somewhere, youve got a mold problem in your house, but mold can hide in walls, ventilation ducts, crawl spaces, and in other hard-to-see areas.
A common way to check for mold is to smell for it. A musty smell in an area of your home is often an indicator that there is some kind of mold present. Symptoms like a persistent runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing and throat irritation could also be indicative of mold.
In addition, anywhere that has been exposed to a significant amount of moisture such as water damage from flooding is a potential area where mold may be growing. Look for water where it shouldnt be, and check areas which may have flooded in the past.
Mold Doesnt Have To Be Scary
Mold is more common than many people realize. It does have health implications, especially if you have other health issues or mold is present in your home in large amounts, but theres no reason to panic if you spot a patch of mold growing somewhere in your home. There are a lot of reasons mold can form, and it can be dealt with quickly and safely.
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Treating Black Mold Poisoning
If you suspect youre suffering from symptoms associated with black mold exposure or poisoning, there are some things you can do to improve your health.
In conclusion, the best way to avoid the negative effects of black mold poisoning is to minimize your exposure to black mold.
You can do this by preventing its growth in the first place. If its too late to prevent it and you suspect theres black mold already in your home, dont wait to book black mold removal, completed quickly and efficiently by the industry experts.
Black mold, typically green or black, in your home can be extremely hazardous to your health. Learn about black mold poisoning and start preventing black mold growth today.
Identifying Mold In Your Home
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How To Identify And Treat Mold In Your Basement
- Working Time: 3 – 4 hrs
- Total Time: 3 – 4 days
- Yield: 80 square feet of basement wall
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Estimated Cost: $30 to $60
If any place in the house will grow mold, it’s the basement. Basements collect and trap moisture, and moisture is one factor that leads to mold growth. And because basements have less natural light and airflow than other parts of the home, that mold will not die off on its own.
Some strains of black mold can be a health hazard. Plus, mold can quickly decay organic materials such as wood, leading to structural failure. This means that identifying and treating mold in the basement should be a priority as soon as you believe that you have it.
Cleaning Up Black Mold
The processof cleaning up black mold is much more complex than most people think. If youtry to clean it up yourself, your symptoms of black mold exposure may worsen. Additionally, if you are not careful thecleanup process may cause black mold spores to become airborne and crosscontaminate other parts of your home.
Instead ofputting your health at risk, we recommend that you meet with a mold removalspecialist. Most mold removal specialists will give a free home inspection andevaluation, so even if you are thinking of doing the cleanup yourself you canstill get some free advice. They will inspect your home, help you find hiddenmold, discuss the best techniques for removing the mold in your particularcase, recommend prevention strategies to make sure the mold does not return,and give you a price quote. For a list of mold removal specialists offeringfree home inspections in your area, just follow the link
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Getting A Mold Checkup
Getting rid of the mold in your home is your first priority. Since CDC guidelines don’t distinguish between different types of mold and recommend the prompt removal of all mold in your home, testing beforehand isn’t a priority if you’ve already decided you have a problem. Testing can be useful when you want to make sure your property is free of mold after a cleanup, though.
There are a couple of ways you can arrange for a test. You can purchase an in-home test kit, follow the directions and submit the resulting sample to a lab. The costs for this can vary quite a bit, anywhere from $40 to more than $200, and the results might not be reliable. Consumer Reports conducted an evaluation of home mold testing kits in 2006, and none of the four kits they looked at received a recommendation. The problems ranged from the kits having no expiration dates, potentially compromising the results, to being difficult to use .
There is a third choice. After a cleanup, you can make periodic, careful evaluations of the infected area yourself and monitor your family’s health to see if the problem recurs. The time and effort you take with the clean-up and the extent of the mold damage may have an impact on how comfortable you feel with this option. If a foul smell alerted you to a mold problem in the first place, using your nose to check the area periodically might be a good way to gauge the success of your cleanup efforts.
How To Spot Mold Growing In Your Home
What does black mold look like? Is that brown spot mold or just a stain? Although you dont have to identify the exact species of mold to know theres a problem, its a good idea to know how to spot mold growing in your home. The quicker you identify a potential problem area, the smaller the problem will be, and the easier it will be to resolve.
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