How has mold become such a hot topic over the last decade when it’s always been here? Black mold, or more commonly known as toxic mold, has become a media darling and receives a lot of press each year. It’s often presented in doom-and-gloom articles online or TV commercials, claiming to threaten families in their homes while they sleep. Mold Test USA is here to answer the questions: Is black mold dangerous, or has the hype machine made it a boogey man in the dark? Let’s find out.
What Does Black Mold Look Like?
There is no one species of mold. In fact, more than 100,000 mold species exist and thrive in countries across the world. It exists in many different colors, from brown and orange to green, blue and yellow. Although there is such a thing as black mold, there are several mold species with black coloring, and not all of them are toxic or grow where they can harm people.
So what does black mold look like? It’s not always black. In fact, it may appear slimy and dark green or gray in color and smell a lot like mildew. No matter the color, it’s important to remove mold from the area. It’s an indicator of an underlying problem, such as excessive moisture due to weather conditions or leaky plumbing.
Is Black Mold Dangerous?
Black mold can be dangerous if it’s a certain species and the conditions are right for development. Stachybotrys chartarum is the proper name for one species of mold that’s known to produce mycotoxins, which are harmful to humans. These mycotoxins can cause respiratory problems and may also have neurological and psychological effects in some people.
It’s hard to tell whether mold is toxic or not just by looking at it. Because there are so many different types, it’s a good idea to have a professional on hand to identify the species through a mold test. Only then will you know what you’re dealing with and how to eliminate it from the area.
The mold in your home is unlikely to be toxic even if it’s black, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it altogether. Numerous people are allergic to mold spores and can even develop asthma-related problems through indirect contact. That’s right – you don’t have to come into contact with mold to be affected by it.
Mold spores are transmitted through the air and can circulate through the ventilation system in your home. If the spores travel to other moist areas, they may take root and grow into mold, causing a much larger problem throughout your house. Therefore, it’s important to maintain dry and well-ventilated conditions inside to prevent mold from growing and spreading.
What Causes Black Mold?
Mold needs a few things in order to grow: food, moisture, oxygen and spores. Once all the conditions are right, the mold will grow and spread. Mold prefers moist areas in which to grow, such as a basement or a crawlspace. Black mold requires more water for longer periods of time when compared to other mold species. However, even with low moisture, it can still grow and cause problems for people in their homes.
Whether you’re dealing with mold or want to prevent it, you’ll need to know what contributes to mold growth in your home. It’s usually several factors that help mold to develop in certain areas of the interior, such as:
- Flooding: It’s a major contributor to mold growth as the water penetrates walls, floors and ceilings, including furniture and other items. It can take weeks for it all to dry out, creating a breeding ground for black mold.
- Leaks: Pipes are located throughout your home and can leak at any time. All it takes is a small leak to raise the moisture levels and to cause mold to grow in the area.
- Condensation: Air conditioners pump out a lot of moisture, which can become trapped on surfaces and materials. This excessive moisture raises the humidity and causes mold to grow.
- Poor Maintenance: Poorly maintained appliances can contribute to mold growth, such as faulty air conditioners and heating units. Performing routine maintenance will catch leaks before they cause mold to develop.
- Blocked Gutters: Gutters trap leaves and other debris, blocking water in the channels. The excess water will often seep into the walls and cause mold growth on both the interior and exterior of the home.
- Humidifiers: People often run humidifiers to balance the dry air in their homes. Little do they realize that the humidifiers are breeding grounds for mold, especially if they’re not refilled with fresh water daily.
Where Does Black Mold Grow?
Mold grows in areas where the conditions are right. It can be indoors or outdoors and on any surface. It thrives in moisture-rich environments, especially during the warmer months, and develops easily on porous materials such as wood and paper. Some of the most common places to find mold growth include:
- Ceiling and floor tiles
- Wood paneling
- Caulk linings
Most any area indoors or outdoors can attract mold if it remains moist. The mold can even grow on food if it’s left out for long periods; however, it’s not the same kind of mold that causes panic like black mold does. If you want to avoid mold in your home, it’s best to practice the art of prevention, such as keeping surfaces and areas dry and ventilated.
How to Prevent Black Mold
Once mold spores are present in your home, it’s very difficult to eliminate them completely. It’ll take extra effort to keep every area dry if you want to prevent another outbreak. Let’s take a look at a few ways to prevent black mold in your home.
- Dry wet surfaces as soon as possible. Mold will have a hard time growing without adequate moisture, so mop up and wipe up spills as they happen. Also repair any leaky faucets and pipes to keep mold from growing in out-of-the-way spaces like under the sink.
- Improve your home’s ventilation. Sometimes an energy-efficient home doesn’t allow moisture to escape, so open some windows to air out the place. If an appliance creates moisture, make sure that it has proper venting. The bathrooms should also have ventilation fans operating during and after a shower.
- Monitor the interior humidity. Although low humidity is what you want, you don’t want to go too low. Otherwise, it could cause dry skin and other negative effects. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests using a humidity meter and keeping the levels between 30 and 50 percent to reduce the air moisture and also to discourage pest infestations.
- Maintain the exterior of your home. Clogged gutters and leaky spigots are major causes of excess moisture around your home’s perimeter. Keeping the gutters free of debris will prevent overflows and water from seeping into your home.
- Understand your area’s climate. Even dry climates can spawn mold in the right conditions, especially during a rainy spell or from condensation buildup. Understand your area’s climate and how it’s affected by moisture to keep the humidity stable in your home.
Is a Mold Inspection Important?
A mold inspection is and isn’t important. Sounds crazy, but hear us out. If you see mold in your home, you don’t really need an inspection. You already see it. Now all you have to do is remove it.
An inspection is ideal for those times when you smell mold but can’t see it. Maybe you’re planning to sell your home and want to make sure that mold isn’t present anywhere in the house. Perhaps you have symptoms related to mold, such as frequent headaches, coughing and sneezing.
Other instances when a mold inspection could be useful include:
- Recent plumbing leaks
- Past mold issues
- Health concerns
Let’s say that you’ve spotted mold in your home and removed it using do-it-yourself methods. Just because you’ve found mold in one area doesn’t mean that it’s an isolated incident. Mold testing can identify other affected locations and help you to stop it before the mold spreads and further contaminates the indoor air quality.
Schedule a Mold Testing
Mold Test USA isn’t into scare tactics. We don’t want to alarm you even if there’s mold in your home. As we’ve mentioned earlier, not all mold is toxic, and chances are that black mold isn’t negatively affecting you or your family’s health. Regardless, it’s important to remove the mold when you see it to keep it from spreading and potentially causing problems down the road.
Contact Mold Test USA to receive a quote and to schedule an inspection with our experienced mold specialists. Mold, no matter the species, should be dealt with right away to prevent spreading and also contamination of the indoor air quality. Black mold causes allergic reactions in some people and will only get worse if it’s left to spread. Our specialists will inspect the interior, identify the mold and use proven techniques to remove it completely while helping to prevent future outbreaks in your home.