In our last article, we mentioned different kinds of toxic molds. One of them had the intimidating name of Stachybotrys. Its more common name is “black mold.” Whether or not black mold is truly “toxic” is highly debated (based on the technicality and use of the term). However, both camps acknowledge that black mold can release airborne mycotoxins, which are toxic to your health. In this article, we’ll help you learn how to deal with black mold in your home so you can get rid of it safely and effectively.
How do I know if I have black mold?
Every time you go through that part of the house, sit in a certain room or walk through an infected doorway you probably get a wif of something that you know is out of place. That lingering smell can be an indicator you have a mold problem on your hands. One scent to look for is an earth odor, assuming your house doesn’t usually smell like the “deep” woods out back. Another way to describe the mold smell would be rotten wood. Depending on the individual sniffer, black mold could smell like cedar or wet socks; but the stinky theme is always the same, it smells of something wet.
Perhaps you’ve followed your nose to detect the areas where mold has grown. Or maybe you happened to spot it after moving things around. What are the visible signs of black mold?
Black mold is spotty and black or dark green. When wet, it will have a shiny, slimy surface. But when it dries out, it will become gray and powdery. Different molds can match this description, so you won’t know for certain unless you have it tested. However, a visual confirmation is enough to know you need to complete a mold remediation.
We’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating. If you or others in your household have headaches, sneezing, fatigue, itchiness at home and the symptoms seem to disappear when you’re away, then it’s likely you have mold in your home. It may not be black mold. But if it’s making you sick, then you should still take it seriously. Mycotoxins are produced by various kinds of fungus, so removing any mold is always advisable.
If you suspect you have mold but want confirmation, you can hire a professional company to come and test it for you. Some remediation companies will test before and after the mold removal so you can rest easy knowing that the mold is gone. Read our previous article for more information about mold inspections.
You can also complete the testing yourself. First, you’ll need to purchase a mold testing kit from the store and collect samples. Next, you’ll send those samples to a lab for analysis. Finally, wait for your results.
How to deal with black mold in your home
Okay, so now you know that you have a black mold problem. What do you do?
If the mold problem is severe and causing health issues, we recommend that you move out until it is taken care of. The spore count in the air will only increase during remediation. As a result, you may notice your symptoms worsen.
Assuming you’ve caught the problem early enough, here’s how to deal with black mold in your home:
1. Identify the source.
Black mold needs moisture to thrive, so look for areas with high humidity or where leaks may or have occurred. Be careful as you look around! You don’t want to disturb the mold and release more spores. If you had a professional test your home, they might have already found the source during their procedure. Two birds with one stone!
2. Get rid of the mold
Now that you’ve found the source, it’s time to get rid of the black mold. Again, it’s debated whether or not you can do this yourself, depending on the extent of the problem. If it’s black mold, there is a high probability that it is producing mycotoxins which means you’ll need specialized equipment to remove it. Don’t attempt black mold remediation unless you can do it safely.
If you’re still not sure, here are some guidelines to help you decide:
– How big is the problem? If it’s smaller than your computer screen, then you may be able to tackle it yourself. Anything larger and we strongly recommend you hire a professional.
– Is the black mold affecting a cleanable surface? If not, and the black mold has infected your drywall or another area that is difficult to clean, then the remediation process will be a challenge. The drywall (or other affected material) will need to be removed safely and then replaced. Even if it’s a small area, it’s better to call in a professional in case the job becomes more demanding than you expected.
– Are you healthy enough to complete the removal? If you or your loved ones are allergic to mold, then it’s best you don’t remove it yourself. Consult your doctor if you have any concerns about your health and how to deal with black mold in your home.
– Does your insurance cover mold removal? If so, talk to your company about filing a claim and working with an approved mold remediation company.
DIY black mold removal
Maybe you’re set on removing the black mold yourself. If so, here are the basics:
Gather up the necessary supplies:
- heavy plastic,
- duct tape,
- black mold cleaner,
- spray bottle with water,
- scrub brush,
- garbage bag
Wear proper safety gear, including a respirator that is approved for black mold. Cover your entire body (arms, hands, legs, and feet) to prevent mold spores from touching your skin.
DIY Step 1: Eliminate moisture
Fix the source of the problem whether it is a leaky pipe or excess humidity. Also, remove any moisture from the affected areas.
DIY Step 2: Block off the area
Using heavy plastic, cordon off the area. Tape the plastic over doorways and other openings where mold spores might travel to other parts of the house. In addition, lay down plastic from the area where you’ll be working to the nearest exit. When you carry out the contaminated waste, this will reduce the likelihood of mold spores spreading further or getting into your carpet.
DIY Step 3: Get rid of the black mold
If the black mold is dry (not slimy-looking), then spray it with water to keep mold spores at a minimum. Scrub visible spots with a sponge or scrub brush and the black mold cleaner. As you clean, look under and behind fixtures. Clean the mold all the way back to the source.
Carefully place the cleaning supplies and plastic sheets in a garbage bag and carry it out.
Maybe you’d prefer to be safe rather than sorry and are going to hire a professional service to remove the mold. Make sure you do your research carefully. A good mold remediation company will test before and after. They will make sure to take care of the source of the mold. Furthermore, they will inspect your entire home for mold. Go the extra mile and read customer reviews. If mold remediation isn’t done properly, there’s no getting around it, you’ll have to have the entire process completed again.
3. Test again
After you’ve completed your mold remediation, you’ll want to test again to make sure all the mold is gone. If you hired a professional company, make sure they test once the job is complete. Otherwise, you can use a DIY test kit to see if your unwanted guest is gone for good.
4. Prevent mold from coming back again
Now that you’ve tackled your mold problem, it’s important you keep it from returning. Because black mold loves moisture, use the following tips to take care of wet areas:
- Make sure to fix leaks right away and repair any damage that’s been caused.
- Don’t use excessive amounts of water when you’re cleaning.
- Reduce the humidity in your home and wipe off condensation from your windows.
- Install exhaust fans in areas with moisture (laundry room, bathroom, stove, etc.)
What NOT to do with black mold
1. Leave it alone
Black mold is toxic and can have many negative effects on your health. The longer you “let it lie”, the more you are putting you, your family, and your house at risk.
2. Take care of it on the surface
A surface treatment for black mold is a not advised. The surface is not the source of the mold, so if you only deal with what can be seen, the mold is only growing under the surface, and it won’t be long before it rears its ugly head on the surface once again.
3. Cover it up
Covering up black mold may work cosmetically, but it doesn’t help with the fact that you have mold spores. Plus, whatever you use to cover the black mold, it will not be too long before the mold works its way through it as well.
Now you’re ready to get rid of your uninvited guest
Don’t feel bad when you’ve said good riddance to black mold! It can be dangerous to your health, so be glad when you can say goodbye and don’t look back. We hope this article has helped you learn how to deal with black mold in your home with confidence.