Black mold is just as ominous as it sounds. It is a dangerous fungus that can grow inside your home and cause serious health issues. It tends to proliferate in humid and warm areas like basements, crawl spaces and even bathrooms. If you’ve found something in your home that resembles black mold, it’s important to get it tested and removed immediately.
How to identify black mold
Stachybotrys chartum, or black mold, is dark black in color, but can also appear in a greenish or grey hue. What tips off a homeowner to black mold other than the dark appearance is the distinct earthy and musty smell. In some cases, black mold can grow out of sight, which makes it tougher for homeowners to detect, but the smell can be a dead giveaway even if you can’t see the mold at first.
At first glance, you may not be able to tell for sure what type of mold is growing in your home, which is why it’s important to test any mold growth and then come up with a plan to remove it. Luckily there are some kits you can use to figure out if you have black mold in your home.
Use these kits to test for the presence of black mold
DIY Mold Test: This kit includes a booklet that helps you look for areas in your home that may be growing mold even if you can’t easily see it. If the mold is clearly visible, you will collect samples and then send them into the company lab for testing. Once the testing is complete, you will get a detailed report identifying which type of mold is present in your home. And as a bonus included in the price, you will get an expert consultation on how to remove the mold.
Healthful Home 5-Minute Mold Test: This black mold test may work better for people are not seeing visible mold, but still suspect that it is present in their home. The test detects mold spores and allergens by simply testing the dust that is settled in the room. The kit also includes an option to send your sample into a lab for a professional examination, as well as an expert consultation.
Potential health issues
Black mold isn’t just unsightly and smelly. It can cause real health problems for people if it isn’t removed. These side effects include:
- Allergic reactions: You may think your sneezing and coughing, sore throat and stuffy nose is seasonal allergies, but prolonged symptoms like these that go beyond specific seasons or those that are unusual for you and your family may mean black mold is lurking in your home.
- Mood swings: If you’ve been experiencing mood swings, it’s possible mold could be to blame. Because it’s a neurotoxin, it can have harmful effects on your brain causing personality changes and even tremors.
- Weakened immune system: It can compromise anyone’s immune system, but it can have a larger impact on those with already weakened immune systems like infants and the elderly.
- Difficulty breathing: People who already suffer from allergies and asthma may experience more severe symptoms like difficulty breathing.
Side effects can be different for everyone. Black mold can also cause nausea and vomiting, skin rashes and muscle pain. If you are worried that you or a family member are experiencing a physical reaction to mold, make an appointment to visit your family doctor to discuss your concerns.
How to remove black mold
There are some tried and true DIY methods for black mold removal.
- First, clean the black mold. The CDC recommends cleaning mold with commercial products, soap and water or a bleach and water solution. There are lots of different commercial products to choose from that will all get the job done. Sprays are usually a great place to start. Sprays without bleach require more scrubbing, while commercial mold removers with bleach can be harmful to your clothing or finishes. Choose a remover that also combats mold from reappearing.
- Take safety precautions while cleaning. Make sure you are wearing glasses, gloves and a mask during any mold clean up to ensure that you aren’t further exposed to this harmful mold.
- Throw away porous materials that have been infested. Ceiling tiles, carpet and drywall are examples of materials you might want to throw away if black mold is present.
- Remove any source of moisture that might be causing the black mold. In order to make sure removal is permanent, take care of any leaks and alleviate any condensation issues in the affected areas.
In larger and more complex cases, you may want to enlist the help of a professional for black mold removal. Make sure you research the service you choose and confirm they are licensed and certified to do the work. Here is what you can expect when you hire a professional mold removal service.
- Mold removal is more expensive with a professional. It can cost upwards of $1,000 to have black mold permanently removed. The larger the mold infestation, the heftier the price tag for removal.
- Expect a detailed cleanup process. They will remove mold-infested items and clean and disinfect walls and other areas with specialized machines. In extreme cases of damage, you may even have to move out of your home during black mold removal.
Ways to prevent black mold from forming
Whether you’ve already removed black mold from your home or you’d like to just make sure it never appears at all, there are simple ways to prevent black mold from developing.
- Use a dehumidifier. Because black mold thrives on moisture, using a dehumidifier and increasing airflow in a susceptible space will help to keep it from forming.
- Prevent leaks. If you’ve suspected a leak or had a problem area in your home that has caused mold before, get it fixed. Keeping moisture at bay is the easiest way to prevent black mold.
- Increase air circulation. Air out affected rooms when possible. Open up doors and increase airflow throughout your home or susceptible areas like a basement or closet.
The key to preventing black mold from forming is controlling moisture and airflow in your home. Aside from taking preventative measures to keep your spaces mold free, it’s also important to know how to identify the presence of black mold and what you can do to remove it safely and permanently.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.