Black mold can be a homeowner’s worst fear. Black mold can lead to costly damage to your home, expensive mold removal and remediation, and serious health concerns for you and your family. The good news is that with smaller mold problems you may be able to effectively and safely get rid of black mold from your home.
Mold spores require moisture to thrive and grow, so if you are seeing signs of mold, either actual mold growth, mold stains, or moldy or musty smell in our home, you should act very quickly to address it.
Your first step should be to locate the source of the mold problem, which means to determine where the moisture is coming from. Mold spores can develop into mold growth within 24 to 48 hours of flooding or water leaks. If the source of the water is not identified and repaired or removed, the mold will surely and quickly return.
It is very common for mold to form after the water damage that frequently occurs with storms, flooding, a burst pipe, roof leak, or leaking appliance. But there are also sources of moisture that are more subtle and develop over time, such as condensation on your pipes or air conditioning, water penetration in your bathroom tile grout or very slow leaks in your water supply pipes or appliances.
What are the dangers of black mold?
Black mold exposure can cause a host of health hazards to human beings and pets, causing potential allergic or respiratory problems. Mold exposure is particularly dangerous to older people, those with compromised immune systems, or respiratory conditions. Black mold, also known as Stachybotrys chartarum left unchecked can release dangerous mycotoxins and must be addressed immediately upon its discovery in your home. Mold spores are common in every home, but mold growth and excessive mold must be addressed carefully and quickly. Symptoms of black mold include coughing and sneezing, throat irritation, and itchy eyes.
Black mold can also cause great damage to your home. Left unchecked it can grow behind walls and in ceilings and other places where it can grow undetected. Mold attaches to organic materials such as carpets, drywall, and furniture and can destroy your belongings and even lead to structural damage in your home.
Black mold removal – DIY or call the mold remediation experts?
If you see signs of mold or suspect mold infestation, you must immediately identify the source of moisture, neutralize that, and then assess the extent of the damage. If the damage is extensive and covers a large area, has caused structural damage, or will involve complex mold restoration, it is likely that a mold remediation and restoration company is your best bet.
Your home is one of your largest investments and you want to prevent further damage to your home and health hazards to your family. A general rule of thumb is that if the affected area is larger than 3 feet by 3 feet and involves porous materials such as sheetrock, you should consider calling a nearby mold remediation company.
On the other hand, if you are dealing with a simple bathroom mold that seems to be surface mold on non-porous materials that may be a household mold that you can safely and effectively clean up yourself. Black mold should be cleaned up immediately.
Black mold removal – DIY
If you decide to do the mold cleanup yourself, it is critical that you take all precautions. You will be working with mold spores and a mold infestation that could be dangerous to you and your family.
You should wear non-porous gloves, protective eyewear, and a face mask when working with mold exposure or performing mold cleanup or mold removal. If possible, wear coveralls or something that protects your arms and legs. Keep the area well vented with fans and open windows and doors.
- Mold removal and cleaning products
The CDC recommends cleaning with commercial mold cleanup products, soap, and water, or a bleach solution of more than 1 cup bleach to 1 full gallon of water. Do not mix any chemicals together! Any materials that can’t be cleaned or are saturated should be sealed in a plastic bag and removed. Be sure to contain the area with duct tape and a plastic sheet closing off vents so the spores do not move into the other parts of the house.
Black mold removal products are available in most hardware stores. Be sure it is EPA registered. There are many natural products that can be used to clean mold. Start by cleaning the area with a stiff brush and mild soap and water. Then apply one of the disinfectants below. Spray around the entire area to contain mold you can’t yet see.
Remember, never mix bleach and ammonia. They produce a dangerous gas.
Here is a list of some products that are commonly used to clean up black mold.
- Grapefruit Seed Extract – This natural and scentless antifungal can be mixed – 20 drops to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Rinsing is not required and this is one of the milder solutions.
- Tea Tree Oil – This natural mold-killer can be mixed- 1 tsp to 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. No need to rinse.
- Distilled white vinegar – This safe fungicide can be sprayed directly on the moldy area.
- Borax – Caution – Borax is toxic if swallowed but is effective on tiles, bit not carpets or upholstery.
- Hydrogen peroxide – This can be corrosive and hazardous in high concentrations. It is a bleaching agent and can cause the material to fade. Pour 3% concentration into a spray bottle and leave on the affected area for 10 minutes and then rinse.
- Ammonia – This is a toxic chemical and only effective on non-porous surfaces. Use caution and do not mix with bleach! Mix 50% clear ammonia and 50% water. Spray on and leave for 2-3 hours before rinsing.
- Bleach – Again, this is a harsh and corrosive chemical that can damage materials and emits dangerous and toxic fumes, leaving a toxic residue. Mix 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water, Spray-on, and do not rinse. You may want to test an area to be sure it does not discolor.
Toss out any sponges, scrub brush, or materials used in the clean up in a sealed trash bag.
Cleaning and covering black mold stains
Once you have completed the mold clean up and all areas are dry, paint and seal any wood with an oil-based primer or shellac. Cover with latex paint to prevent the recurrence of the mold infestation.
Black mold prevention
Mold spores are always present and are a threat to your home. There are a few preventative steps you can take to prevent black mold growth in your home.
- Clean and spilled water in our bathroom or kitchen promptly.
- Leave the bathroom door open and run fans after showering.
- Use a dehumidifier if the moisture count in your home is high.
- Check every fall and spring for gutter clogs, leaky pipes, signs of mold stains, or water stains on your ceilings, walls, and floors.
- Give your home, including the basement, closets, and attic the “smell test” for any signs of a musty or damp smell.
- Keep your kitchen appliances well maintained.
- Check your air conditioner for excess moisture.
Remember, mold damage can quickly spread and cause extensive damage to your home and mold exposure to your family. If you are confident you are dealing with a small area of surface mold you may want to DIY it. But don’t hesitate to call a mold remediation specialist to deal with your mold issue and any mold restoration that may be required to protect your family and your home.
Sources and more information:EPA – https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-remediation-schools-and-commercial-buildings-guide