Your nose may give you the first signal that black mold is present, especially as it grows in hard-to-spot areas. A musty odor can be an early indication of black mold, and if you or someone in your house develops sudden breathing problems, its growth can be even more serious. Sneezing, coughing, burning throat, headache, disorientation, and watery eyes are common signs of mold exposure. In addition, if someone has more serious breathing problems, such as asthma, it can lead to shortness of breath or a fever.
None of these signs guarantee the presence of black mold, but if the fungus is not dealt with, it can certainly lead to serious health problems.
It is vital to find the source of mold growth and get rid of it quickly before it causes more damage to your home and health. In some cases you may be able to do this yourself. In more serious cases, you should enlist the help of the pros.
This guide will help you find black mold in your home and teach you how to get rid of it.
Step 1: Look for mold
Mold grows in dark, damp environments, so the first places to check are under sinks, in basements, in interior corners of the wall, near exposed plumbing fixtures, and around your water heater. Use a flashlight when inspecting to help locate the problem.
Mold, along with musty smells, causes discoloration. Black mold can take the form of spots or blemishes. It often looks slimy and will be blackish, green, or dark gray.
If you find mold, you can use mold detectors to determine what kind of mold it is. Affordable detectors don’t replace professional inspection, but they are a much cheaper starting point. When using a fungus detector, make sure to put on a surgical mask to reduce the risk of breathing problems.
However, if you have trouble seeing anything even with a flashlight, there are alternatives. You can run a moisture meter across your walls as it determines saturation levels. A gauge higher than 17% indicates mold growth or other problems that require immediate attention.
Step 2: Determine the course of action
Chances are, if you smell mold in your home or have sudden breathing problems and discover mold, the mold has been growing for some time. If the growth is not widespread, meaning it does not include an entire wall, you can try to fix the problem yourself first. If it’s more comprehensive, skip step 8 with tips for hiring a professional.
Step 3: Gather supplies
To get started, you need the right tools for the job. Along with a face mask, get airtight safety goggles, elbow-length rubber gloves, a spray bottle, a scrub brush, disposable overalls to keep your clothes from absorbing and spreading mold, paper towels, and a trash bag.
Step 4: Prepare a cleaning solution
Once you have your supplies you will need to make a cleaning solution. Home improvement expert Bob Vila recommends making a blend of tea tree oil derived from Melaleuca Alternifolia and grapefruit extract. Each room is non-toxic and works well to eradicate mold and leave your room smelling fresh again. If you don’t have access to this, you can use bleach, vinegar, and baking soda or mold remover.
Then put on your gloves, mask and goggles. Make sure your glasses are tight and flat against your face, as exposure to mold can cause permanent damage.
To make the cleaning cocktail, mix the contents and let them set for a few minutes. If you are using essential oils, you will want to add a teaspoon per oil for a cup of water. For a cleaning solution for baking soda and distilled vinegar, apply one part baking soda to five parts water and vinegar. While you are applying the cleanser, you should also keep shaking the bottle so that the solution keeps mixing.
Step 5: Prep the area
Before you start, turn off your heating or air conditioner as this will prevent mold in the air and spread it. You can also use a tarpaulin to seal off entry points to other areas of your home to reduce the risk of mold spreading.
Take the spray and apply it liberally on the area of fungal growth. Make sure the section is well saturated and then let the solution work for at least five minutes.
Step 6: Remove the black mold
After the solution absorbs the area, take a sponge or brush to scrub the affected area. If it is difficult to remove the mold, you can apply the solution and clean it again.
After scrubbing, reapply the solution to allow the area to air dry. This gives the cleaner time to remove any remaining mold while deodorizing the room.
Step 7: Safely dispose of items
Once you get the job done, place the gloves, goggles, mask, tarps, and everything else in an airtight plastic bag. This prevents mold spores from getting into the air as you move around your home. Then throw everything in the garbage bag. Take the garbage bag outside and throw it away. Go back inside and wash your arms, hands, and clothing thoroughly.
Step 8: Hire a professional
You may need a professional to remove black mold due to its extensive growth – or if you are suffering from respiratory problems, as you should not try mold cleaning if you have severe allergies or asthma.
The benefit to hiring professionals is that they can quickly diagnose and determine next steps. Before you hire one, however, it is vital that you do your homework.
First, find some near you and then research their reputation. You can take advantage of the Better Business Bureau, which assigns grades from A to F, in part for its ability to resolve customer complaints.
You can also read Google reviews, which may give you a clearer picture of customer experiences with that company. Look for patterns with companies such as arriving late, failing to deliver on promised service, and other red flags.
Once you find a business that you are looking for, they should inspect your home. After that, they will create a plan for removing the fungus. Make sure you get everything, including a written quote, before they start. The more reputable companies will be happy to take the time to set expectations up front so that you feel comfortable with their services.
Ultimately, removing black mold will reduce damage to your home and reduce the health risks associated with living there. After you remove black mold, you can keep your air purifier by purchasing an air purifier. These systems work by removing pollen, pollutants, and pet dander so you can breathe more easily.
In the future, these guides can also help you reduce mold growth in other areas of your home:
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