The average home is made of a myriad of surfaces. One of the most common materials in the home is wood, and while it is attractive and strong, it is not impervious to potential threats. Black mold is just one of the things that can attack and grow on wooden surfaces in your home. How you deal with this invader might depend on how extensive the problem is, how much wood is affected and how deep the damage goes. Most people hope for a simple clean up, but there are cases where cleaning may not get the job done.
You Found Black Mold on Wood in Your Home….Now What?
Finding black mold is never a good thing, but it is not a cause for panic either. There are several steps that you will need to take once you stumble across this growth in your home.
- First things first: figure out why you have black mold in this location in the first place. Most mold growth occurs when the right conditions are met. Black mold loves moisture, dark places and warmth, so when these three things are present and black mold spores find a spot to grow, it is off to the races.
- Tracing the location of the mold from the spot you find it should be relatively easy. The harder it is to trace the source of the water or dampness, the more extensive the problem is likely to be. If you find mold on a wooden chair in the center of what you think is a relatively dry room, then that might be cause to call in a professional.
- After figuring out the source of moisture and eliminating it, it will be time to start the cleanup process. You can do this yourself or hire a professional.
- You will want to especially consider a professional to clean up the mold if there is anyone in the house with a compromised immune system, chronic lung conditions, or a severe mold allergy or if the mold is pervasive, extensive, or has spread to an area that you cannot adequately access.
- Cleaning the mold on your own with a commercial product can sometimes be enough. Some experts including the CDC recommend using bleach and water to kill the mold, but others disagree with this saying it is unnecessary and could potentially damage the wood. If you do choose to use a professional solution followed by bleach and water, make sure that there is no chance of the two products interacting with one another because the resulting fumes will be far more dangerous than the mold was.
Stains and Damage Left Behind after Cleaning the Mold
Once you clean up the black mold from your wood, you might be all finished or you might notice a slight stain that is left behind. In some cases there might be extensive damage to the wood caused by the mold and the water that made the mold grow in the first place. How badly the wood is damaged will determine what you do next.
- If it is simply a stain along the floorboards in the basement, it is likely to be nothing but a cosmetic issue. If you don’t mind the stain, there is really no need to do anything about it. If the stain is noticeable and you want to try to remove it, then sanding the wood might be enough to remove all traces of the stain. Once you have done this, you can paint or stain to match the other wood in the area. If the stain runs deeper than just the first few layers of the wood, you might have to consider something far more work intensive. Cutting out and then replacing a piece of damaged wood can be time consuming and expensive, but may be necessary.
- You can bleach the stained spot, but this will discolor the wood and will also weaken it. Extensive bleaching makes the wood softer and may leave it vulnerable to other damage. Termites, for example, love to find a good piece of weakened wood. Don’t trade a simple, cosmetic problem for one that could turn into a major, structural one.
- If you do replace pieces of the wood damaged by mold make, then sure that you are handling the old pieces with care. Even if you have used bleach, the mold spores can trigger an allergic reaction to someone who is sensitive to them. Bag the pieces at the site and then take the sealed bag through the path of the least traffic, preferably away from the kitchen. Once you add the new wood, you can paint it with a coat of specially designed paint or stain that inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, and other problems.
Prevention of Future Mold Outbreaks
You can never be fully free from mold – mold spores are everywhere. They aren’t a problem for some people, but can be a major, ongoing problem for others.
- Make sure that all sources of dampness are eliminated. Fix leaks, seal cracks, and watch for new problems. Humidity is often an overlooked source of dampness, especially in areas that are not used every day. Consider using a dehumidifier in areas such as the attic or the basement to cut down on airborne moisture. Install fans that will also help to dry stuff up and to keep air flowing.
- Get in the habit of visually inspecting mold growing hot spots every month or so.
- Once you have had mold in one spot, you might get it there again even if you think you eliminated all of the causes. Monitor those spots frequently as well.
If everyone in your home is relatively healthy, then mold isn’t likely to cause serious health problems. To learn more about what exactly the health risks and symptoms are from mold exposure, then check out our article on Warning Signs of Black Mold Exposure.
If you are concerned about your mold removal effectiveness, then hire a professional to have the mold taken care of and get the people who are susceptible to mold out of the home until the entire job has been completed to your satisfaction.