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Mold can cause serious damage to your home, as well as create issues with your health. Some kinds, like black mold, can be extremely dangerous to you if you come in contact with them. Because of this, it’s important to learn how to remove mold and detect the signs of mold.
Where Does Mold Come From?
According to the EPA, there is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in an environment. That’s because mold and mold spores are all around us. They won’t grow, however, unless they find a damp area. The only way to stay on top of mold prevention is to control the moisture in your environment. Control moisture, and you’ll control mold growth.
Important : When embarking on a home renovation project, it’s important to keep mold in mind. Detect the mold well in advance and get it removed, and do your due diligence when you hire a contractor to prevent mold infestation.
Signs of Mold
Pay attention to these signs of mold:
- Allergies, asthma, or other respiratory complaints. Mold can cause some people to have reactions like sneezing, sore eyes, a runny nose, and congestion. But these symptoms certainly aren’t always indicative of mold. Pay attention to how they manifest — do you experience these allergic reactions in your home, only to find they lessen when you leave your house? If so, you may have mold in your home.
- A moldy smell. Pay attention to your nose; it often knows what it’s talking (smelling?) about. Sometimes, you won’t be able to see mold because it can grow behind surfaces. If you notice a moldy smell, inspect for mold.
- Seeing mold. Yes, this seems obvious, but mold isn’t always the easiest thing to spot. Sometimes it can look like a patch of dirt. Some mold looks white and thread-like. It can be black, gray-green, gray-brown, or white. If it’s growing behind wallpaper made of vinyl, mold can even be pink, purple, or orange. If you notice any unusual patch of color, inspect it right away because visible mold can indicate there is a larger colony of mold growing outside your view.
- Water problems. Leaky spot in your ceiling? Discolored stain on your floor? These water problems could also potentially be mold problems. If you see any signs of water leaks, inspect for mold. You should also watch for peeling, bubbling, or crackling in your paint or wallpaper. Bowing, warped, or bulging walls can also indicate a hidden water problem.
- Condensation. Watch for areas of condensation in your home. These indicate you have an environment ripe for mold. If your indoor pipes are rusting, it could be an indication of too much condensation in your home.
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How to Test for Mold
If you notice any of the above signs, it’s important to test the area so you can understand how much area is affected and if you’re dealing with a dangerous type of mold. A professional mold tester will always give you the most accurate results, but you can also purchase a mold test kit, collect samples, and send them to a lab for analysis.
Read more: Buying a home with mold in the attic
How to remove mold?
Photo by Andrea Booher, via Wikimedia Commons (public domain)
Some mold is dangerous, or covers a large area, and should only be handled by a professional. If the moldy area is less than a 3-foot-by-3-foot space, you can clean the area by following these steps:
- Wear protective clothing, including a dust filter mask, goggles, gloves, and clothing that covers your whole body and can be disposed of.
- Seal off the room to prevent mold spores from escaping by covering entryways and vents with plastic sheets and duct tape.
- Create negative pressure by running an exhaust fan blowing out a window. Turn off any air conditioning in your home.
- Use a mold-killing solution, such as bleach, to clean all surfaces in the area.
- Get rid of items with porous surfaces that are damaged beyond repair.
- Vacuum the room with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner.
- Place mold, items you are disposing of, and the contents of the HEPA vacuum cleaner into a plastic bag and seal it. Remove it from your house and dispose of it. Do not carry the plastic bags through your house.
A professional mold removal specialist will know how to remove mold at its source, giving you peace of mind while allowing you to (quite literally) breathe easier. In severe cases, you may need to remodel areas of your home, and a professional can advise you if you’re facing that scenario.