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The Basics of Black Mold Removal

Updated on February 21, 2012

When most people are talking about black mold removal, they are referring to what is called toxic black mold. The problem is, most household molds are black, but not all black molds are toxic. You will also have some dark green, white, orange, and red colored mold. A lot of it depends on what the mold is consuming.

Before we talk about toxic black mold removal, let's review what causes mold in your home. Because until you find and correct the problem in your home, you will continue to have mold even after you have removed it.

Mold is Everywhere
Mold is everywhere. There is realistically nothing you can do to stop mold spores from being in your home. As soon as a door or window is opened, mold spores come in. As soon as you enter your house, mold spores that were on you are now in your home.

The reason it becomes a problem in your home is that the mold spores are now in a rather confined space, rather than the open air. If they are able to start growing and releasing more mold spores and mycotoxins, there is now a much higher density of these spores and mycotoxins in your house.  This is where the health potential arises.

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What Mold Needs To Grow

Mold needs three things to germinate from the mold spore and grow:

  1. Food source
  2. Water source
  3. Correct temperature for that species

Food Source:
Mold consumes just about anything organic, and a few inorganic things as well, such as wallpaper paste and adhesives. But mainly organic items, including things like dust. And as clean as you try to keep your home, there will be some dust in it. So, other than keeping a relatively clean home, mold's food source is something that is very hard to control.

Water Source:
This is the most controllable source. Water sources can be actual water leaks, condensation, and even humidity. Without water/moisture, mold cannot even start to germinate. Control the water, and you control the mold.

Different mold species need different temperatures, but most are within the comfort levels we choose for our homes. Because we don't want to be freezing all the time, this is what I consider an uncontrollable source.

Black mold on wall
Black mold on wall | Source

Where Toxic Black Mold Grows

What has been labeled as toxic black mold in our homes is a certain genera of mold, Stachybotrys. There are other toxic black molds, but their food source is not something commonly found in houses, so we will concentrate on Stachybotrys.

Stachybotrys loves water-saturated paper to grow on. It is commonly found in places that have had flooding, fires, or pipe bursts. Paper items such as newspapers, books, magazines, and cardboard boxes are favorites. Remember, if drywall was used in your house, it is paper-backed gypsum, key word there 'paper-backed', meaning if the drywall gets soaked and it keeps the paper soaked, toxic black mold can grow there as well.

But it doesn't necessarily take an extreme event (like flooding) for Stachybotrys to germinate and flourish. In many homes, people use cardboard boxes to hold items of interest and store them on concrete floors in the basements. If the floor contains any type of moisture, mold can grow and flourish. And it doesn't have to be concrete floors, it can be up in attics and basically any room in your house – especially if you have very high humidity like in the south.

Toxic Black Mold Symptoms

Although there is not definitive scientific or medical proof that mold in homes causes certain health problems, there is enough circumstantial evidence to make people be cautious of mold and be on the look out for unexplained health problems.

Symptoms of toxic black mold as the same as numerous other health problems, which is why it is so hard to pinpoint mold as the actual trigger for the problems.

Of course there are the normal allergy mold symptoms, such as runny nose, congestion, sinus infections, coughing, and asthma.

But there are also many other toxic black mold symptoms, such as acne, bruising easily, recurring colds, depression, anxiety, dementia, diarrhea, nosebleeds, numbness in limbs, poor appetite, swollen lymph nodes, and tremors. And that is just a partial list of symptoms that have been attributed to toxic black mold in people.

If you see mold in your house, toxic or not, you always want to fix the problem and remove the mold.

Black Mold Removal

Don't freak out if you go down in your basement and see black mold growing on your cardboard boxes or on your walls! Remember, not all black mold is toxic black mold. What you should do is:

  1. Don't touch it, or cause any disturbance of the mold – that just causes it to release more mold spores.
  2. Figure out how and where the mold is getting its water. Correct the problem, whether that is you or a professional. There is no need to remove the mold if you don't first correct the problem, as it will just grow right back.

Although the basics of how to get rid of mold is essentially the same for all types, you may want to take more extreme measures for containment for toxic black mold.

Always wear Personal Protection Equipment for any type of mold removal. These include N95 respirator, eye goggles, and rubber gloves. Furthermore, you should wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, and shoes, all of which should be washed immediately after.

Contain the area as much as possible. This means creating barriers to keep the airborne mold spores as contained as possible to avoid spreading them in your house.

Fix/correct the water source. You may need outside help to do this. It may be a humidity problem, a condensation problem, or a leaky/busted water pipe problem. Until the water problem is fixed, your mold will come back.

Remove the mold. You do not need to kill it first with bleaches – just remove it. Depending on the amount of mold and your sensitivity to it, you may also need to hire professionals for this part. The general rule of thumb is, under 10 square feet of mold the homeowner can usually take care of. More than that, and you should get a professional.

Something to keep in mind: the mold you visibly see may not be the entire mold growth. There may be hidden mold that turns a small job into a very big one.

Bottom Line

Mold growth in your home needs to be taken seriously, but relax. Don't get bent out of shape because you find mold. Stay focused and

  1. find the water/moisture problem
  2. correct the water problem
  3. remove the mold


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    • profile image

      Mold Removal 3 years ago

      Great addition to another mold removal how-to that I came across earlier.

    • davesnell profile image

      davesnell 6 years ago from 5437 Cedarmint Drive, Charlotte, N.C. 28227

      Remarkable hubs. Very informative and presented in a very nice way.

    • profile image

      Mary Parks 6 years ago

      The black mold that climbs up the seams of the shower, is that the toxic kind? I use bleach and it helps for a while but it comes back. What should I do.