Molds typically occur naturally and pervasively in most substances and in different forms. While some types are non-toxic, others can affect people with asthma and allergy. However, unlike all types, black mold is a serious offender that causes mild to severe respiratory issues.
Scientifically known as Stachybotrys chartarum, this type of mold grows and matures faster if it finds the right conditions. Therefore, as a homeowner, you should take immediate remediation actions by learning how to remove the black mold before it becomes a benign player in your home.
Why does Black Mold grow in Houses?
As mentioned, black mold grows alarmingly if it finds the right conditions. Like other types of mold, it requires mold spores, a source of food, oxygen, darkness, warmth, and moisture. Apart from moisture, all other factors are naturally present in your home.
Therefore, the main determining factor to the growth of mold is if there is a moisture problem. The factors below can promote the growth of black mold;
Black mold might start appearing if there is excess humidity in the air. You might start noticing mold growth on walls, benches, and other surfaces due to wet air. Similarly, if you live in areas with naturally high humidity, such as along the coast or areas close to large water bodies, the growth can be a recurring issue in your home.
Evaporation of moisture inside your house also increases indoor humidity. Drying your clothes indoors and HVAC systems are a common cause of excessive indoor moisture. Similarly, if you use humidifiers in your home, ensure that humidity levels don’t surpass 55%. However, this can be solved by ensuring that your house is properly ventilated.
NOTE: Additionally, puddles of water and damp materials that do not dry out quickly can encourage mold growth.
2. Leaking Pipes
Water leaks are another common factor that propagates the growth of mold. Serious pipe leaks are those that go undetected or cannot be noticed, such as those inside walls. Before you discover such leaks, mold will have already grown.
3. Leaking Roofs
Like leaking pipes, identifying leaking roofs through the attic may be difficult. Therefore, it is best if you check your attic regularly for leaks and inspect the ceiling below. If there are signs of water damage or mold has already grown, your roof is probably leaking.
Water condensation from cold surfaces at home can also lead to the growth of black mold. This can occur on cold concrete floors, metal pipes, and walls, even if there are mats or carpets. Such places are prime spots for the growth of mold.
5. Poor Ventilation
Black mold can also grow in your home if poorly ventilated. Poor ventilation creates pockets of stagnant and humid air, which mold easily thrives. To avoid this condition, open your windows to level moisture levels from steam and evaporating water. Specifically, watch out for ventilation in the kitchen and bathroom.
The growth of mold is almost inevitable if your home was recently affected by floods. Flooding means that your house will be wet for several days, and it may take more days before drying it out completely. Interestingly, while common types of mold can grow on a surface that has been wet for 24 hours, toxic black mold requires growing on surfaces that have been wet for several days. Floods create such conditions, putting your home at high risk.
7. Damp Basement
Naturally, a damp basement contains high moisture and humidity than other rooms due to poor ventilation. They are also colder, which promotes condensation, further making basements humid and damp. Water leaks from other parts of your home often end up running into the basement. That aside, mold growth in the basements often goes unnoticed, only to be discovered when it’s too late.
How to Remove Black Mold?
As mentioned, black mold is dangerous and can take a toll on your health. Therefore, immediate removal is important if you suspect your home has been infested by black mold. While hiring professionals is prudent, any skilled DIY homeowner can easily learn how to removeit with the right tools.
1. Identify Black Mold in Your Home
Before you embark on killing black mold from your home, begin by identifying the presence in your home. Below are indicators of black mold growth in your home.
Generally, mold has an earthy, pungent, unpleasant, musty smell. Even if the growth cannot be seen, you will notice the weird smell in the room. If you can’t notice anything at first, thoroughly inspect your plastering, tiles, and wallpaper as they might have grown underneath. Since you may be accustomed to this smell if you live in the room, have a friend come over.
Visible Dark Spots
The appearance of dark spots on walls and ceiling is an early sign that black mold is lurking in your home. Even if the spots don’t resemble mold, they indicate pooling water or water damage, which promote mold growth. If such appears in your home, clean the area immediately using disinfectants.
Constant Respiratory Irritation
Itchy skin, watery eyes, headache, skin irritation, and sneezing are also early signs of black mold exposure. If you experience these symptoms, have your home thoroughly inspected.
Visible growth is probably the most obvious sign of mold growth. However, while the black mold is typically black, there might be several variations, with some presenting as furry growth, black stains, or orange/white/brown/green specks. As a rule of thumb, it is best to have everything treated regardless of the color.
2. If you don’t think you can handle it yourself, hire a professional
If you are not sure about the signs of black mold infestation, it is best to call professionals who offer mold removal services. Most professionals offer a free inspection. Therefore, you won’t incur anything if there is no mold. If they find signs of mold infestation, they can help with removal.
3. Protect yourself
If you engage in any DIY home improvement activities, you know that proper protective clothing and equipment are essential. Handling black mold is dangerous, and you should protect yourself from imminent exposure when removing it.
Below are safety precautions to follow when removing black mold.
- Launder or discard clothes and shoes worn during the cleanup
- Wear the P-100 or N-95 respirators, gloves, and goggles
- Use a cheap or old box fan to ventilate the room. Throw away the fan once you are done cleaning, as most spores that are impossible to clean will be trapped
- Tape cardboard or plywood around window openings to ensure that spores can’t be blown back
- Moisten moldy surfaces to avoid release of airborne spores
- Switch off and cover air conditioners, furnaces, and other surfaces that can trap mold spores
- Keep your dry/wet vacuum outside when vacuuming
4. Buy Appropriate Products that Kill Black Mold
There are plenty of commercial and natural products that can kill black mold from surfaces. They include;
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Distilled white vinegar
- Baking soda and borax
- Essential oil
- Lemon juice
- Chlorine bleach
- Tea tree oil solution
- Grapefruit seed extract
5a Removing black mold from Interior Walls, Flooring, and Carpet
If black mold on interior walls and flooring appears fuzzy and black, the situation may be worse than just being unsightly. Therefore, open the area to check for possible structural damage. If your interior wall or flooring is made from porous materials, such as drywall or wood, add a detergent to bleach/water solution.
- Prepare a solution with one part of dishwashing solution, 20 parts of water, and ten parts of bleach.
- Apply the resulting solution using a mop or sponge, ensuring that you don’t oversaturate the surface.
- Allow the surface to air dry, then use a dry/wet vacuum to clean the area thoroughly.
5b Removing black mold from Exterior Home Surfaces
Black mold rarely grows on exterior surfaces due to the presence of sunlight. Nonetheless, if there are hidden dark areas that harbor mold growth, chlorine bleach is an effective cleaning agent. It works on concrete, brick, stone, and all types of house siding. However, chlorine bleach can harm your plants and lawn vegetation. Therefore, ensure that you cover vulnerable plants before you begin the removal process.
- Mix a cup of chlorine bleach with one gallon of water.
- Pour the solution into a power washer or garden sprayer for easy application.
- Begin by wetting the moldy area using plain water before applying the bleach and water solution.
- Give it some minutes until the black mold lightens.
NOTE: If the mold doesn’t lighten, scrub the area and apply more bleach and water solution. Allow the solution to dry completely before rinsing down with plain water.
5c Removing Black Mold from Leather Shoes, Furniture, Coats, and Accessories
Black mold in shoes, leather coats, and furniture should be removed outdoors.
- Wipe down the surfaces of these items using a cloth with distilled white vinegar followed by warm water and leather soap.
- You can then dry using a soft cloth and allow the items to air dry before treating them with a leather conditioner of your choice.
5d Removing from Books and Papers
Black mold can destroy your books and papers but can be removed successfully. It is best if you consult professional curators if the books are expensive or historically significant. Also, don’t attempt to treat damp papers as mold will smear, making it impossible to remove.
- Allow the papers to air dry in the sun or place them in moisture absorbent materials, such as silica gel or cornstarch.
- Once the book dries, use a soft cloth or paintbrush to remove loosened mold independently from each page.
- You should then use a sheet of waxed paper to protect the pages behind and wipe every page with a cloth dampened in hydrogen peroxide.
5e Removing from Household Appliances
Household appliances, such as coffee makers, refrigerators, and washers, have sufficient moisture, food, and favorable temperatures for mold growth.
Besides inspecting these appliances regularly, clean them with chlorine bleach or use distilled white vinegar to prevent mold growth.
5f Removing black Mold from Tile and Grout
Bathroom and kitchen tiles are the most affected due to the dump conditions of these rooms. You can use several commercial cleaners, but a mixture of chlorine bleach and water is effective and less expensive.
- Mix one part of chlorine bleach with 16 parts of water and apply to the affected areas.
- Leave the solution for 15 minutes before retreating or scrubbing.
- If mold comes off, rinse thoroughly with water, dry, and open the windows until it is fully dry.
How to Prevent Growth of Black Mold?
Having eliminated black mold, consider the following best practices to prevent them from recurring.
- Reduce humidity – inspect highly humid areas in your home regularly and install a dehumidifier to maintain normal humidity levels in your home
- Improve ventilation – if you don’t have a dehumidifier, ensure that your house is well ventilated.
- Watch for possible leaks – be on the lookout for leaks from ventilation ducts and appliances.
Why Should You Be Concerned About Growth of Black Mold?
Most mold species that grow commonly in homes release irritants called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins released from black mold cause several health problems and symptoms, ranging from mild irritation and hay fever to potential nerve damage.
These pollutants can be fatal to small children and elderly people with some sensitivity to mold. Other hazardous mold species, such as fusarium, aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium, cause discomfort and illnesses but not fatal.
Wrapping things up
Black mold is among the most common indoor molds with high toxicity levels. Therefore, you should do everything possible to keep your home free from the growth of this mold and minimize exposure.
The best way to avoid black mold growth is regularly cleaning and maintaining a moisture-free indoor environment. Squeegee your shower doors after use, repair leaks, and keep your tiles and grout clean to keep them at bay.
Unfortunately, even with regular cleaning and disinfecting, black mold can sneak into your home. If such happens, use the tips above to keep this dangerous mold at bay.