Black mold is every homeowner’s worst nightmare. No one wants to find this mold in their home. If you’re a new homeowner, you may not even know what this mold is or how to identify it. These are important facts to know to keep your family and your home safe. Keep reading for everything you need to know about black mold and what to do once you discover it in your home. Plus, if you’re a new homeowner or going through renovations, learn where to look for mold and how to tell if you’ve got a black mold issue on your hands.
What Is Black Mold?
Black mold, also known scientifically as Stachybotrys chartarum, can refer to several different types of molds. It’s most often found as a black-colored mold, although it can take on a green or gray hue as well. Like most mold growths, black mold thrives in humid, moisture-rich environments in the home. You may often find it on areas of tile, drywall, and carpet because it feeds on the organic materials found on these surfaces. You may have heard the term “toxic mold” used interchangeably with black mold, but the mold itself is not toxic—it’s the mycotoxins it produces that are. This production of mycotoxins is what makes black mold so dangerous.
How To Identify Black Mold
Black mold is easy to spot when it’s growing out in the open. You can characterize it by its dark color (though not necessarily black). Also, look for circular-shaped growth spots. Adding to the uneasy feeling it creates, this mold also has a slightly furry appearance, though it can also be shiny or wet in some cases.
Since this mold can grow in any damp area, you might not be able to see it growing in certain locations. In this case, you can distinguish black mold by its other characteristics like its smell. If you notice a musty or earthy odor while indoors, you may have a black mold growth hiding in your home. This mold has an especially strong smell, so you may smell it well before you discover it.
Where To Look for Black Mold
We can predict where black mold is likely to crop up due to its favored damp, dark conditions. Small, hidden corners of your home can make for the perfect habitat for mold. Any areas with high humidity or recent water exposure or damage are places to watch out for. You might see mold crop up often in your bathroom due to the moisture in the space. Other spaces that you can commonly find black mold growth in include:
- Behind walls
- Air ducts
- Plumbing areas
If your home has experienced any water damage recently, keep an eye on these areas. Leaking plumbing, overflowing fixtures and appliances, and floods are common precursors to mold growth in the home.
Symptoms of Black Mold Exposure
Black mold that is hidden in small corners or behind walls can be especially dangerous because you may start to experience symptoms of it before you even discover it. Symptoms of mild black mold exposure can feel like allergy symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, stuffy nose, and itchy eyes, skin, and throat. For most, these symptoms may be mild. Though, for those with mold allergies or asthma, black mold symptoms can be more severe. If you experience these symptoms, you should look into getting your home tested for mold, especially if you have a mold allergy.
Dangers of Black Mold
If you experience symptoms of mold exposure, don’t write it off as simple allergies or other factors. Black mold is dangerous, especially when you become exposed to it for long periods of time. On top of the above symptoms, prolonged exposure to black mold can cause nausea, vomiting, and even lung and nose bleeding. The effects are particularly severe for those who are allergic to mold. Those who suffer from weakened immune systems should also take caution around mold-prone areas or places you suspect mold growth. These symptoms can be more serious for such people, even leading to trouble breathing or organ damage.
What To Do
Now that you understand the dangers of black mold, the next step is deciding what to do about it. First, for mold that you have identified by sight or smell, make sure to separate yourself, your family, and any pets from the affected area.
The next step would be to decide if you want to tackle the cleanup process yourself or call a professional mold removal service. If the affected area is small and contained to a few square inches or feet, you could try using a mold removal kit or home remedy. However, you will need to make sure you have the proper protective equipment, including a respiratory mask, rubber gloves, goggles, and clothing that provides full skin coverage. Always approach any type of mold removal with caution.
Why Hire Professionals?
Even if you discover a relatively small area of black mold, it’s never a bad idea to call a professional. Black mold is especially dangerous due to its toxic spores, and mold experts know the safest ways to approach removal and cleanup. If you discover a large area of mold growth or you can’t spot the location of the mold to begin with, call your local mold removal company right away.
How To Prevent Black Mold
Once the professionals are finished with the black mold removal process, they may recommend some ways to prevent mold growth in the future. If not, here are some guidelines for preventing mold growth:
- Keep your home’s humidity levels between 30-50% humidity. Invest in a dehumidifier for especially damp areas around the house and to monitor humidity levels.
- Make sure your home is well-ventilated and keep air circulating.
- Minimize plumbing and other leaks as much as possible to prevent water damage and ensuing mold growth.
- Consider not using carpets in areas like bathrooms, basements, and other areas that experience a lot of moisture buildup.
- Regularly clean your bathroom shower or bath with mold-killing products.
Now that you have everything you need to know about black mold and what to do when you find it, you can keep your family and home safe. You also know when it’s time to call the professionals for help. You won’t even need to look far for the help you need! Reach out to reach our team at Aloha Restoration Co. for professional mold removal in Arlington Heights or the Chicagoland area, or when seeking an expert opinion on your mold issue.