Household Mold: How to Identify and Remove it
Types of Mold
Aspergillus – This mold likes areas that are moist and grows on surfaces like food, air conditioning systems, fall leaves, dust and clothing. It takes on colors of brown, yellow, green or gray. The symptoms of this mold are typically allergic reactions and it can also cause issues in people with weakened immune systems.
Cladosporium – It is found in environments that are darker and more damp and on surfaces such as toilets, food, painted surfaces, wood and insulation. It is powdery with colors black, green, gray or brown. Allergic reactions are the most common symptom of Cladosporium.
Penicillium – It grows in mostly organic matter such as food, paper and insulation. This mold will have a fuzzy, blue, white or green appearance. Stomach upset and coughing/congestion are the two big side effects when being exposed to this mold.
Stachybotrys (toxic, black mold) – Black mold needs a very moist area to thrive. It will have the characteristic slimy film and be a dark black or green color. This mold has a more severe set of symptoms such as breathing issues, headaches, joint paint and more.
Alternaria – This is found in damp areas and on surfaces like carpets, textiles, window and trim. It has a unique look as it has longer hair-like features that vary in shades from green to black. The symptoms of this mold are respiratory problems and allergic reactions.
Bonus! Paul Sian (Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Realtor) shares an article about the importance of air quality tests in the home.
Where You Will Find Mold
Though each mold has their own specific type of environments that they thrive in, the general characteristics are more moist and dark. Homes with areas prone to flooding, condensation or excess dampness should periodically do checks to seek out any mold so that it gets treated promptly. Many types of mold spread quickly.
Bonus! Bill Gassett (MA Realtor) has provided this article on how mold affects the home from a real estate perspective.
How To Remove Mold
Treating and removing mold depends on its toxicity and size. A mold that is very toxic like Stachbotrys (toxic black mold) should almost always be handled by a professional. For surface mold that is less toxic, they can be treated with various cleaning products that many hardware stores will carry.
If treating with more natural remedies is preferred, household vinegar can kill the simpler forms of mold. Essential oil sprays with tea tree oil are also reported to work well. Smaller patches of mold are easier to treat but when it has taken over entire walls or rooms it may be best to leave it to a professional. When mold is being cleaned, spores can become airborne and wreak havoc especially to those with allergic reactions.
Professionals are able to protect not only themselves but the entire room to prevent that from occurring. In some cases, complete areas of the home may have to be taken out and rebuilt such as dry wall or wood.
If the mold has set onto clothing or fabric, it can be washed in the washing machine with normal detergent and a cup of vinegar will help with removal. No matter what item you are treating, a homeowner should always use gloves and masks.
Bonus! Michael Roberts Construction (Coastal Georgia Home Builder) has put together a nice article about using natural remedies for common home issues.
How to Prevent Mold
Since molds thrive in moist environments like basements, one good tactic is to install a dehumidifier in the area prone to humidity. Using an air filter is another good product to purchase because they actually trap the mold spores and prevent them from getting into the home occupants’ respiratory systems.
Finally, homeowners as part of their normal home maintenance schedules, should also inspect for any unexpected leaks that may be contributing to the moisture levels of the rooms. Water damage in the home is one of the most common reasons for mold growth. Those need to be repaired promptly or the mold cycle will continue to occur.
Bonus! Royal LePage Chatham Kent has written an excellent article about additional homeowner information on mold and how to prevent it.
Bottom line, mold is much more than gross. It can wreak havoc on people and pets in the form of allergies and other nasty symptoms. If there is any question of mold being present in the house you want to make an offer on, my advice is to get a mold inspection should that offer be accepted. If you are selling your home and are aware of mold present anywhere in the home, you should take the necessary steps to remove it before listing.
More Homeowner Advice
- Toxic Mold Awareness – Mike Chamberlain (MC2 Home Inspections)
- 5 Tips to Help You Nail a Top Home Service Pros – Wendy Weir
- DIY or Hire a Pro? – DIY Network
- 13 Symptoms of Mold in a House – Landlord Station
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