Mold is bad news no matter what color it is. But for many homeowners, black mold is considered to be the very worst of all.
Officially known as stachybotrys, it is this greenish-black variety of mold that has been most closely associated with the most serious health effects. However, the reality is that not all black molds are toxic, and not all toxic molds are black. And while you’ll probably be headed for a mold removal project of some kind, the only way to be absolutely sure exactly which kind you have is to have it tested.
If members of your household are having persistent health problems that do not seem to be responding to treatment, have them check with their doctor about whether black mold could be a contributing factor. If it is, this will help justify the cost of bringing in a professional to do a black mold inspection, especially if no mold has been seen during a regular visual inspection.
Until the results are known, however, the best strategy is to treat all mold as if it were potentially toxic and to take all necessary precautions to avoid excessive exposure.
Home testing kits are available and are relatively straightforward to use in helping you identify exactly what kind of mold is present. The kits cost between $10 and $15 and can provide much needed assurance about just how dangerous a particular patch of mold is. Where home testing kits fail, however, is that they cannot tell you exactly how big a mold problem you are dealing with.
All mold needs moisture in order to survive which is why it is particularly common in humid areas like kitchens and bathrooms or areas that can be susceptible to damp like basements and crawl spaces.
Mold also requires a food source. This can be dirt, wood, paper or even the detritus of everyday life like pet dander, dead skin cells and deceased insects parts. This means that mold that appears on floorboards may well have penetrated down to the subfloor and joists. It means that patches that appear close to window sills could also be eating away at the nearby wallpaper. A professional mold inspection will allow you to identify such problems as early as possible and allow them to be dealt with long before the remediation costs spiral out of control.
Black Mold Inspection
If you’re intent on doing the black mold inspection yourself, ensure you are as thorough as possible. Move pieces of furniture, peel back the edges of carpets and examine ventilation ducts and wall cavities as carefully as you can. Even if you can’t see any mold, it may be worth taking samples to send off so that your findings can be confirmed.
If black mold is present, there is no need to panic. Provided you wear the proper safety gear – gloves, goggles, a respirator and ideally a disposable pair of paper overalls – you can tackle the removal of small patches of black mold yourself. But this should only be done if you are completely confident that the mold is confined to this one small area.
The biggest danger during the clean-up operations is that you may spread spores elsewhere in the house so that eventually mold will begin growing in other rooms. And even if you do manage to kill all the mold, inert spores can continue to cause health problems for all those who are allergic to them.
If possible seal off the room where you are working and once you have cleaned away the mold, go over the area with a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter which will trap any airborne spores before they can spread.
A thorough black mold inspection followed by an equally thorough clean up can ensure the problem quickly becomes a thing of the past.