Why It’s Important to Remove Black Mold
Black mold sounds insidious—because it is. When left untreated, it can grow rampant and cause serious damage to your health, your house, and your sanity.
Black mold can grow in damp areas in a house where condensation has accumulated or water damage has occurred. Black mold is toxigenic and needs to be dealt with right away.
However, not all visible molds that are black in color are dangerous.
Mold testing may be necessary to confirm toxigenic black mold and eradicate spores that release mycotoxins into your home.
Black mold is also called Stachybotrys chartarum or Stachybotrys atra.
Remember, black mold needs moisture to grow.
If you see black mold in your home, or if you smell a distinct musty odor, you need to first determine if water damage has occurred. Black mold will continue to feed and grow if its water supply is not cut off. Moisture will not only damage your home, but it will create a damp environment that can breed black mold growth.
You may see black mold growth in a damp space—in a basement or inside walls. Toxigenic black mold produces mycotoxins that can be ingested or inhaled in a poorly circulated environment, within the four walls of your home.
Leaking toilets and dripping faucets are the most common causes of household water leaks.
Short-term and long-term black mold exposure can cause a number of alarming symptoms, including:
- Allergy and asthma flare-ups
- Difficulty concentrating and memory loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Breathing issues
- Fatigue and headaches
- Weakened immunity
If you experience any of these symptoms without a known cause, black mold testing is imperative. Black mold growth can go unchecked for months or years to cause a number of seemingly random ailments.
One common health issue associated with black mold exposure is chronic sickness. Recurring illness could be the sign of a suppressed immune system caused by black mold mycotoxins released into the environment. Infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic health conditions are especially vulnerable to repeated health issues associated with black mold.
Toxigenic black mold can be found outdoors in agricultural settings. Black mold spores are likely to be transported indoors on shoes or clothing. New construction standards established in the 1970s make black mold growth in homes an even greater possibility—new airtight building requirements designed to cut down on energy costs reduce ventilation.
When moisture is trapped because of humidity or dampness from a water leak, mold growth is imminent.
Besides health risks, it’s important to deal with black mold growth head-on to prevent costly damage to your home.
Water damage in and of itself is expensive, costing more than $10 per square foot for initial repair estimates.
For a water-damaged area of
Repair costs could start at a
Mold needs moisture and a food source to grow.
Once moisture from water damage or condensation has been provided, any food source will do—in the form of:
Mold that begins to feed and
grow can cause property and
While most standard homeowners policies do not cover water damage caused by a maintenance issue, such as recurrent water leakage or drainage problems, sudden water losses may be covered. This may include sewer backup and burst pipes, in some cases. If mold growth occurs as a result of water damage covered by a policy, mold damage may be covered by insurance.
Water damage claims from burst or leaking pipes are one of the top contributors to rising property insurance rates.
How Professionals Get Rid of Black Mold
Unless you see black mold or have experienced exposure symptoms, it may be difficult to determine if you have an infestation. However, early detection is key to prevent potentially serious health issues, not to mention thousands of dollars in damage to your home.
When in doubt, contact the professionals for help.
Before you call for an inspection or seek out the mold yourself, consider common warning signs that may indicate a breeding ground for mold growth:
- Foggy windows
- Windowsill stains
- Eave/roofline stains
- Stucco stains
- Tile grout stains
- Stains under carpet
- Stains behind wallpaper/
- Dusty HVAC vents
These household “symptoms” could indicate water leaks, flooding, high humidity, roof leaks, condensation, or dampness found in basements or crawlspaces. Damp areas without proper ventilation will breed mold. Hidden mold can proliferate for years to destroy your home and health.
Here’s how the professionals deal with black mold growth once you call in reinforcements:
START with an inspection
Inspection prices can vary depending on the size of the property and the number of mold samples being taken.
If the source of moisture feeding mold growth has not been dealt with, a mold remediation company will recommend that water damage is addressed right away.
You may have to call a plumber to fix a leak responsible for undetected dampness. After flooding or a burst pipe, a wet vacuum may be used to collect and remove standing water.
CLEAR out the house
Mold inspectors will show up in the appropriate hazmat gear, including white suits, goggles, booties, and respirators, to protect against toxigenic mold exposure. You may be asked to clear out family and pets to provide safe access to areas of mold growth.
This containment step will include sectioning off mold” hotspots” with tape and plastic sheeting to prevent contamination from spreading to the rest of the home.
If multiple rooms have been affected, mold removal will commence room-by-room to contain airborne spores.
FILTER the air
Mold removal contractors may use HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration machines to remove mycotoxin particulates and mold spores from the air. Throughout the mold removal process, any occupants in the home must continue to wear respirators and goggles.
Visible mold on hard surfaces, like plastic and glass, will be easy to scrub down. Deeper mold infestations must be eradicated with the EPA-approved mold-killer biocide. A mold remediation company may treat a contaminated HVAC system with biocide to prevent the spread of airborne mold spores. Workers may allow biocide to sit and kill mold growth overnight.
Note that the EPA does not recommend chlorine bleach as a biocide for mold remediation, unless indicated by a professional.
In areas where mold has destroyed household materials completely, porous materials must be removed and disposed of carefully.
SPRAY with encapsulant
Any remaining mold spores that can’t be removed will be sprayed with encapsulating whitewash or paint to prevent future growth. In most cases, an entire room will be sprayed in this manner to contain black mold as residual spores may not be visible.
To get to the source and protect your family’s health, professional mold removal is recommended. However, not all mold remediation companies are created equal. Some companies have been known to treat mold as a surface issue, using only a HEPA vacuum and air scrubber.
When removing mold from a residence, safety is the utmost concern. Cutting corners is not acceptable.
The EPA provides the following guidelines to ensure that mold has been remediated:
- Water or moisture problem has been completely fixed.
- Mold has been professionally cleaned and removed— there is no longer a moldy odor.
- After cleanup, indoor mold and mold spore concentrations match those found outdoors, if mold has been sampled.
- There is no visible water damage or mold growth.
- Health complaints and physical symptoms associated with mold exposure have subsided.
DIY Black Mold Removal Options
If you want to handle your mold problem on your own, you can take action with these helpful tips:
Wear protective clothing/gear
During the mold removal process, it is critical to protect your airways from airborne mold spores with an N-95 respirator, available at local hardware stores. Gloves, goggles, and long-sleeved shirts and pants are recommended. All other family members should evacuate the house during mold cleanup.
Find the source of the moisture
Mold grows in damp, wet environments; cut off its source by fixing pipe or roof leaks and addressing flood damage.
Seal affected areas
Seal rooms with water damage and potential mold growth using heavy-duty plastic sheets to contain airborne spores. Force mold spores out of window openings with negative pressure from an exhaust fan.
Discard water damaged materials
Once water damage has been contained, allow materials to dry for up to 48 hours; porous household materials like carpet, drywall, and fabric may retain moisture. Throw out water damaged materials that show signs of mold growth.
Scrub hard surfaces
Visible mold can be scrubbed off hard surfaces using water and detergent; allow surfaces to dry thoroughly. If mold has dried, lightly spray the area with water before cleaning to prevent the release of airborne spores. Commercial mold removal products can be used; the EPA discourages mold remediation with chlorine bleach. Natural mold removal agents include hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, tea tree oil, and baking soda.
Clean all surfaces
To prevent mold from returning, all surfaces in a room must be cleaned thoroughly to remove residual spores. Spores can grow into mold later if moisture enters the area again.
Dispose of mold-cleaning equipment
Place clothing, sponges, and other cleaning materials in a heavy-duty, sealed garbage bag. Discard mold-cleaning equipment by exiting through the affected room, if possible, as to avoid the spread of spores through the house.
Clean all surfaces
After an area has been cleaned and disinfected, allow all surfaces to dry. As a final step, dry vacuum the room using a HEPA filter vacuum to remove embedded spores.
Professional versus DIY Black Mold Remediation
How do you decide between DIY and professional mold remediation?
Here are a few important factors to consider when weighing your options:
not 100% free
DIY mold remediation is not technically free as you will have to pay for mold removal gear, cleaning supplies, and cleaning chemicals; also, factor in the cost of a plumber to fix water leaks and a contractor to remove moldy/damaged housing materials.
$500 – $6,000
Professional mold remediation costs will vary by company and region, as well as size of infestation. Mold remediation is estimated at $500-$6,000; extreme cases could cost tens of thousands of dollars. Separate mold inspector costs are estimated at $200-$600, which you may need with either route. Expenses may also include plumber and contractor costs.
days to weeks
It is difficult to estimate the time and efficacy of DIY remediation, as it will depend on your skill level. Factor in time spent researching online, gathering cleaning materials, and physically scrubbing and removing mold damage. DIY remediation could take days to weeks.
1 to 5 days
Professional mold remediation is estimated at 1 to 5 days. Complete mold removal by a professional service can be confirmed with third-party testing after remediation is complete. You can call 855-201-5630 to talk to a professional about removing your mold.
safer than diy
Professional mold remediation is generally considered safer than DIY mold removal since it employs a qualified contractor who will bring specialized equipment.
A professional contractor is required to follow National Center for Healthy Housing standards and use recommended mold cleanup equipment. Examples include industrial mold remediation cleaners, wet vacuums, HEPA filters and vacuums, and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
Ultimately, the mold remediation decision is up to you. It’s possible to remove visible mold from your home if you are confident in your cleanup knowledge and ability.
However, one of the main deciding factors in professional versus DIY mold remediation is safety. If mold is removed improperly, it could distribute airborne spores throughout your house, creating new and equally dangerous mold issues.
- “Cost to Repair Water Damage.” homewyse.com.
- “RespirNet Associate Indoor Air Quality Professional.” RespirNet Associate Indoor Air Quality Professional.
- “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings.”epa.gov.
- “How to Hire Professionals to Eliminate Mold.” houselogic.com.