Mold exposure and mold poisoning can cause many different health issues, and it impacts everyone differently. Some symptoms of mold exposure may be simply a nuisance, and others may be more serious. If you have black mold in the shower, mold in the crawlspace, or you suspect mold is hiding behind your walls… chances are you have an issue that needs to be addressed. Mold is very common to find in homes and it is able to grow anywhere there is moisture.
What Is Black Mold?
Black mold is a variety of mold known as Stachybotrys. While it is typically dark black, it can also present as green or gray. It typically has a distinctive, musty odor. This variety of mold produces a toxin called Mycotoxin, and can lead to a number of symptoms. If you are exposed to mold in your home, you may experience:
- Eye Irritation
When It Comes To Finding Black Mold In Your Home, Here Are The Places To Look:
Crawlspaces are one of the most common areas we find mold, especially here in Georgia. Dirt floors act as a wick and draw ground moisture into the crawlspace. Your house then draws this moist crawlspace air into your living spaces through HVAC systems and unsealed gaps. Most vapor barriers we see are torn and have large holes, rendering them ineffective in keeping out the ground moisture. You can tell if you have mold in your crawlspace by pulling back the insulation in several spots and looking at the floor joists.
While you can clean a molded crawlspace, the problem will return if the humidity level is not corrected. While expensive, the #1 solution is to fully encapsulate and condition the crawlspace. If you need a more economical solution, you can repair your vapor barrier and add a few circulation fans that operate a few hours a day on timers. Anything that will keep the stale air moving will help.
Last, check to be sure water is draining away from your house when it rains, and you do not have any plumbing leaks that are sending water to the crawlspace.
The moisture levels in a bathroom make it an ideal place for black mold to grow. Check your shower heads and curtains. Look inside the cabinets and behind the toilet. If you see mold here, you know that the room is staying a little too moist. The good news about bathrooms is that most issues can be addressed with a good cleaning. Stay away from bleach, and use a dish detergent solution or hydrogen peroxide to clean and kill any visible mold.
Once the mold is clean, figure out how to control moisture in the room. Running the exhaust fan each time you take a show is a simple step that can make a big difference.
3) Air Conditioner
Your air conditioner has two jobs: to control the temperature, and to dry the air. We find time and time again that HVAC systems are not properly drying the air and produce moisture levels high enough to allow mold growth. Start by identifying where your air ducts are located. If they are in the floor, you have a crawlspace system and you should pay extra attention to it.
Start by removing a vent cover and looking inside with a flashlight. Do you see dust and debris? If so, there is a good chance mold is growing here as well. Inspect the vent cover closely and try to identify any mold spores growing on it.
Last, if possible, head down to your crawlspace and look for any ducts that have fallen or come loose. We often find old HVAC ducts with gaps in the crawlspace, allowing that musty air directly into the home.
If you do suspect mold is in your HVAC system, it’s a good idea to call out the pros. Our Indoor Air Quality Assessments include a thorough evaluation of HVAC systems and ductwork to determine if they are drying air properly and if the ducts are in good shape. You can vacuum out the dust and clean vent covers yourself, but a professional duct cleaning will be necessary to clean the entire system.
4) Doors & Windows
Doors and windows are prone to leaks and could be allowing water into your home. These leaks are generally small and slowly let water in over time. If mold is growing inside the wall or under the floor around a door or window, it can be hard to identify without removing material. Look for anything out of the ordinary that may indicate a water leak is going on.
5) Inside Walls & Under Floors
Slow water leaks can go undetected for long periods of time and lead to damage far from the original source. If you have ever had a roof or plumbing leak, there is a possibility mold is growing somewhere inside your home. Finding it takes a thorough investigation and comprehensive evaluation of your home. An experienced mold inspector can put together the clues and often arrive at a conclusion without tearing into the walls.
If you have ever had a water leak, or if you have any reason to suspect mold is hiding in your home, an Indoor Air Quality Inspection is the best way to find it.
Black Mold Prevention
The best way to prevent black mold is by controlling the moisture in your home. If you have a water leak or flooding, correcting the source of the water is essential prior to investing in mold remediation. If your mold issues are in bathrooms or basements, exhaust fans can be effective ways to control humidity.
Keeping the humidity level inside your home down will help you stay on top of any mold issues, especially here in the south. While they are not corrective solutions, dehumidifiers can do a great job of getting control of mold. Running your air conditioner during the warm seasons will help keep the air dry and humidity down as well.
Last, regular cleaning, especially in areas like the bathroom and basement, will help keep mold spores from ever being able to grow in your home.