How to Get Rid of Black Mold
The absence of mold has become one of the most important aspects of a healthy living environment. I have experienced the presence of mold in my homes and have seen its effect on my family members, especially my wife. The severe respiratory issues that can be attributable to the presence of mold within the home can have a devastating effect on the lives of the homes inhabitants. I personally am not overly susceptible to the presence of mold in my environment, which indicates to me that this is an individual issue that is responded to differently by various individuals. However, the negative effects on anyone in the family, is sufficient reason to take the presence of mold in the home as an extremely important aspect of providing a healthy living environment for the entire family. Mold can be a very toxic substance and can affect the breathing and the entire wellbeing of your homes inhabitants.
What is mold?
Mold is the result of a warm and moist environment that has allowed the growth of mold spores within the walls, ceilings, floors or elsewhere in the home. There are various different types of mold and their effect on individuals is different for each type of mold. In addition, the susceptibility of the individual inhabitants of the home must be an important consideration to the comfortable and healthy living environment of the home. I would recommend that additional research and investigation be performed to fully understand the different types of mold and its effects on the health of individuals.
How can you detect mold in the home.
Normally the presence of mold is a relatively easy visual or olfactory identification. Mold can be a green, brown or black spotting on the surfaces within the home, or even an almost furry growth of spores on the surfaces of interior or exterior structures. In many homes the north side of the home has a green mold that has grown on the surface due to the absence of sunlight on the north side of the structure. Boy scouts are educated that you can identify the direction of north in the woods based upon the presence of mold growth on the north side of old tree trunks in the woods.
Mold can also be located in the ductwork or interior framing of the home, which makes this detection extremely difficult to discover.
All hardware stores as well as the big box stores have mold detection systems that can be purchased for the individual homeowner to use in determining if the air they are breathing is contaminated with mold. These testing kits present a mold growth medium, that will promote the growth of mold spores, if there are any present in the environment of the home. These kits are relatively easy to use and will provide relatively accurate mold readings in a short period of time.
If mold is present in the home, what are the steps that can be taken to minimize the mold exposure as well as reduce the additional growth of the mold spores within the home?
- Mold is only present if there is ample moisture for the mold to occur and to grow. Therefore the elimination of any type of moisture within the home is a necessity.
- Review the roof structure and the exterior flashings to ensure that all waterproofing components of the home are intact and properly maintained.
- Each toilet room, laundry room or any other area of the home that is subjected to increase moisture due to showers, or laundry areas, should have ventilation fans installed that remove the moist air directly to the exterior.
- The vapor barriers within the home construction should be maintained and their placement determined to be correct. Unfortunately the installation of vapor barriers on the wrong side of the wall, or in the wrong plane of the walls, ceilings, and even the floors, can cause moisture to build up in the insulation instead of keeping the insulation dry. The only way that the proper installation of all the vapor barrier membranes can be determined would be to hire a professional construction consultant to actually perform an investigation of the walls, ceilings and flooring construction in the home. This inspection will probably require the removal of sections of walls and ceilings to determine the placement of the vapor barriers.
- If the vapor barriers are placed on the incorrect temperature surface of the structure, then the moisture contained within the warm conditioned air could be condensing within the insulation of the home of within a confined area of the walls, ceilings, or floors. Moist air has water molecules suspended in the warm air. Upon contact with a colder surface, the water molecules will condense out of the warm air due to the cooling effect and cause a buildup of water on the cooler surface. If this accumulation is within the insulation of your home, the insulation becomes wet and moist, losing its insulating properties as well as promoting the growth of mold.
- Dehumidifiers located in the proper areas of the home will substantially minimize the presence of moisture within the environment of the home. Dehumidifiers will remove the moisture from the air and deposit this water in the containers within the dehumidifiers. In this manner, gallons of water can be easily dumped on a daily basis, down the drain, instead of saturating the interior environment of your home. I personally have a dehumidifier in the basement of my home and must dump over 50 quarts of water twice daily in the middle of the summer months. This amount of water, if suspended in the interior environment, will promote the growth of mold and mildew.
- There are special chemicals available to wash surfaces that contain mold. These chemicals can be found in local hardware stores as well as the big box home stores. These chemicals should be carefully used to ensure that they do not harm the inhabitants of the home. I recommend additional research regarding the various products available to control the mold within your home.
- In addition to the special chemicals available for washing, due to the importance of mold removal and management, there are now several new and ever changing procedures for mold control. There are hanging canisters that can be opened and the medium in the containers will absorb the moisture in the air. There are also special air purifiers that are specifically designed to catch the mold spores in the air and trap them in special filters.
- Manufacturers have joined the fight of mold in inhabited structures with chemical, mechanical as well as special membranes designed to specifically control the amount of moisture in the home and the growth of mold within the home.
Mold is a serious issue with the interior environment and the health of the structures inhabitants. The following considerations should be taken if an older home is being considered for purchase or rental.
- Visually inspect all the interior surfaces for the presence of mold on the interior walls, ceilings or floors. It is important NOT to move into a structure that has mold issues until this mold issue can be eliminated or controlled.
- Visually inspect for any moisture issues, water damage or water marks on the basement walls or the attic flooring or roof structure. Water running into a structure will cause mold to develop. Do not allow anyone to claim otherwise!
- Visually inspect the chimney flashings on the interior of the attic space. If water has been present, there should be a staining of the masonry or the walls in the attic, indicating the presence of water and moisture.
- Request that a mold test be performed on all levels of the home or the apartment. These tests are not expensive and can be individually purchased at the local hardware or big box stores.
- Request the status of any ductwork cleaning and the need to have any ductwork professionally cleaned, prior to purchase or occupancy, especially if a rental unit.
- The presence of a hot air system for heating is conducive for mold distribution throughout the structure. Mold is not as readily distributed throughout the home if there is no forced air system for heating and or cooling.
- The basement area is an important area of the structure for mold propagation. This area should be carefully monitored and visually inspected to ensure that there are no inherent water issues or moisture issues within the basement spaces.
- The worst condition for individuals that are subjected to mold inspired health issues, is to move into an environment that already has mold issues. Once the individual is suffering from symptoms, the correction is much more difficult to accomplish. Correct the mold issue prior to moving into the structure!
The absence of mold within a structure starts with an environment that is clean, moisture free, bright and airy. Unfortunately most existing structures do not offer these characteristics. The majority of renovations, or fix it uppers, have moisture issues as well as old and moldy conditions. The mold in this type of environment must be eliminated. The following procedures must be taken, no matter how intrusive to the entire structure they may seem.
- Assurance that the structure is moisture protected. There cannot be any ability for moisture to enter the structure, or invade the basement area as moisture, humidity or running water.
- Assurance that all existing mold and wet conditions are totally removed from the structure.
- Assurance that all existing mold has been totally removed from the structure.
- Cleaning of all closed environments, such as the ductwork of the home.
- Processing of all mold spores and accumulations of mold or mildew that are present within the structure.
- Testing results that clearly indicate a mold free environment.
- Highly recommended, the hiring of a competent professional construction consultant that is capable of investigating the structure and evaluating its condition in terms of water tightness and moisture elimination.
Whether the structure is being newly constructed or renovated, the following procedures to ensure that mold does not invade the structure must be taken.
- Complete and total moisture protection by the installation of a proper roof, gutters and leaders.
- Complete and proper flashing installation around the entire perimeter of the structure.
- Proper window and door flashings at sills, jambs and heads
- Proper window and door selections, ensuring that the doors and windows tightly close and provide waterproof seals.
- Consideration for moisture in all the places inherently problematic to the accumulation of moisture and water. Areas such as the basement windows, basement perimeter, any bilco or basement doors, the garage door entry, a sloping driveway down into the garage, low or improperly pitches exterior landscaping or hardscaping.
- The proper placement of all vapor barriers to ensure that the condensation of moisture is controlled and on the correct side of the vapor barrier.
- Proper ventilation of all spaces in the attic, the roof soffits, the basement or any closed areas of the structure that are susceptible to the accumulation of moisture and the propagation of mold growth.
The bottom line for mold elimination and control is moisture and water protection!
Keep the water out of the structure!