Utter the words ‘black mold’ in front of anyone living in student accommodation, a mismanaged apartment, or a water-damaged house, and they’re guaranteed to respond rather passionately.
Black mold is a real nightmare to deal with.
Read on to learn all you need to know about black mold, including how to get rid of black mold in the house, the symptoms of mold sickness, and how black mold exposure actually impacts our health.
10 Symptoms of Black Mold in House
While there are commonly held beliefs that black mold causes serious health conditions over the long-term, research-based evidence to support these views is limited.
Black mold symptoms are instead largely caused by allergic reactions to the mold. People with existing respiratory conditions or other vulnerabilities will also be more susceptible.
Symptoms of black mold include:
- Asthma attacks
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Nasal drip
- Nasal stuffiness
- Skin rash
- Fungal infections
What is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in moist, warm environments with plenty of oxygen. Like most things, it has its purpose in nature (to break down dead leaves, for instance), but it’s far from ideal when it appears in your home.
Unfortunately, there’s actually hundreds of different types of mold. Know what you’re facing by finding out more about the most common species and how to identify them.
Causes of Black Mold in House
Wet, damp, or humid environments are perfect for mold colonization in a house.
Because of this, flooding is a significant cause of black mold in the home.
Even a small leak in the roof can create the perfect environment for mold to thrive in; once wallpaper and wooden structures get wet, mold will appear rapidly.
Black mold is caused by condensation, so it can appear around skirting boards, corners, ceilings, or on other cold surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens.
Naturally, black mold also thrives on a broken AC unit or the back of a freezer, where there is a contrast between the heat caused by the appliance and the cold, wet air it creates.
How to Get Rid of Black Mold in the House
There are a number of ways to get rid of black mold in houses. These can be categorized as short-term and long-term solutions.
For short-term removal, cleaning products marketed as black mold removers will get instant results. These are an affordable option for mold removal. The Spruce independently researched the 6 best brands.
If they are out of your budget, covering a cloth or kitchen towel in bleach and sticking it to the affected area will have a similar effect.
This is particularly useful for bathroom sealant, which is a commonly affected area. Check out the video below to see the bleach cleaning hack in action.
Always make sure to wear gloves when using bleach and bleach products, and be wary of breathing it in too much.
Leave the area that is being treated and make sure it is as well ventilated as possible by leaving windows open.
It’s also worth noting that putting bleach on colored surfaces or objects like carpets alters the color.
If you don’t want to risk damaging color, a gentler solution may be required, but won’t be as effective as bleach-based products.
Mold returns pretty rapidly in the right environments.
Cleaning black mold isn’t necessarily dealing with the root cause of the issue, which is likely structural.
Structures impacted by a flood or leak will need replacing to completely eradicate the presence of black mold, particularly wallpaper and carpets that have gotten wet.
Professional mold removal services may also be limited in effectiveness if the cause is a structural issue. Other fixes to the home can be recommended by the professional.
Professional mold removal doesn’t come cheap. It can cost anywhere from $458 to $6,333 for a large-scale remediation. Expect to pay between $13.33 and $28.33 per square foot.
5 Essential Ways to Prevent Black Mold
Black mold adores a wet, warm environment rife with condensation. Homes without proper ventilation are therefore at far greater risk of black mold colonization than those with.
So ensuring your entire home is ventilated properly is the most important factor in preventing black mold. Bathrooms and kitchens should take priority.
Condensation occurs when warm air hits a cold surface, so keeping your home warm and dry is another major factor in preventing black mold, since it appears where condensation occurs.
Other than putting the heating on, structural fixes, like insulating the roof and double-glazing windows, are effective ways of keeping the temperature of your home more constant (and saving money and energy in the long run).
3. Structural repairs
If your home has been damaged due to flooding or leaks, proper structural repairs will be worth the hassle in the long term. Damaged drywalls, carpets, and ceilings will be next to impossible to get the mold off permanently unless they are replaced.
This can be costly, but for the sake of safety and hygiene, we would recommend getting the appropriate structural repairs where possible. Professional mold removers should advise as to this.
4. Mold resistant products
If you’ve ever attempted DIY in your home, you might have come across various products that market themselves as mold resistant.
Products like mold resistant paint and mold resistant drywall will help prevent the occurrence of black mold through anti-microbial properties—within reason, of course.
If your home floods, these products won’t be sufficient, but they are worth looking out for if you intend to carry out any work in your home.
A good habit to get into is occasionally monitoring the humidity of your home. You can then use either a dehumidifier or an air conditioner to alter the air quality as needed.
‘Industrial’ dehumidifiers are loud, but will draw out a lot of water from the air.
Subtler, more stylish options are available as ‘air purifiers’, and there are various other kinds of dehumidifying products available, like packs that you can place near windows or in wardrobes to keep clothes dry.
Is Black Mold Dangerous? Debunking the Myths
Black mold is likely no worse for our health than any other type of mold exposure.
So, how long does it take for black mold to kill you? Mold spores are in fact everywhere around us at all times—if they could kill us, they would have done it by now.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no sustained evidence to suggest that adverse health effects like memory loss or lethargy are caused by mold.
Mold exposure may cause a cough or wheeze in otherwise healthy people. People with existing respiratory conditions are more at risk, so should be vigilant about mold inspection and removal to avoid health complications.
From a scientific perspective, symptoms of mold sickness are allergy symptoms. Of course, no one wants to live burdened by a constant running nose and watery eyes.
Mold is unhygienic and smells, and it will inevitably attract other pests, like mites, roaches, and flies, so it is never a good idea to put off mold removal.
Can I remove black mold myself?
Yes. Contrary to popular belief, exposure black mold won’t kill you, so it is worth attempting to remove it yourself before seeking the help of a professional, since there are plenty of products available that should help.
However, black mold is known for recurrence. Seek professional mold removal services, and consider structural repairs or amendments that need completing.
How long can you live in a house with black mold?
There isn’t a set time you can live in a house with black mold. Mold spores are everywhere, constantly. Those who suffer from allergies or existing respiratory problems should treat it quickly. It is also unhygienic and will attract other pests. The longer you let it spread, the harder it will be to deal with.
Can black mold in your house hurt you?
Black mold can ‘hurt’ you by causing allergic reactions, but unless you have existing respiratory issues or a compromised immune system, you are highly unlikely to get sick from it.
Do you have to get rid of everything if you have black mold?
If you have experienced flooding or leaks, a professional will recommend removing and replacing what is damaged. That doesn’t mean the entire contents of your home, though. Making the structural changes necessary to improve the internal environment of your home is what will help keep mold from returning once removed.
How to check for black mold in your house?
Check for black mold in the house by testing for its presence. Black mold smells earthy, like dirt or leaves, and damp. It also has a very distinct pattern and shape; you’ll notice black, inky patches.
You can breathe a sigh of relief. The horror stories surrounding black mold are, in reality, exaggerated. Still, it’s a nuisance to deal with, and it will have an impact on air quality in the home, bringing on severe allergies in many people and attracting pests.
By dealing with structural concerns, you can permanently remove black mold from the home.
Otherwise, shorter-term solutions, like applying bleach-based products, can rapidly reduce the presence of black mold and provide peace of mind over the hygiene of your home.
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