Mold Removal in Home: The Ultimate Guide For American Homeowners (DIY & Prevention)

If you’re planning to do mold removal in home, you must be careful.

Mold is a common household problem that many American homeowners do not know how to deal with.

At the end of this guide, you’ll learn everting you need to know about mold and how to handle safely. Mold can be found in damp areas and it can also grow on items left out in the open for long periods of time.

Some mold can release mycotoxins, so it’s important to have an understanding of mold awareness, mold prevention, and mold removal.

In this guide we will discuss some frequently asked questions about mold in your home!

What is mold?

Mold refers to a group of fungi frequently found growing on food, wet or damp building materials, and elsewhere in our natural environment.

mold on a wall in home

These organisms serve a critical purpose by acting as nature’s recycling machine to break down organic matter.

Outdoors, molds thrive in soil and on vegetation or decaying matter. 

How Did Mold Get in My Home?

Mold spores are present everywhere in our natural environment.

Outdoors they exist and thrive in almost any environment providing them food and a source of moisture. As a result, each time a door or window is opened, mold spores travel in and out of our homes.

However, indoors, mold only becomes a problem if ample moisture is present from issues such as flooding, leaks, elevated humidity levels above 60 percent, excessive condensation, and dampness.

Mold floating around in the indoor air is not usually an issue unless it lands on a wet or damp surface suitable for germination. 

How to Prevent Mold Growth?

Preventing mold growth is not a difficult task.

It is straightforward. If you eliminate the source of moisture, mold growth will not take place. The main points in controlling moisture are:

1) Reduce the Relative Humidity (RH) in your home. Humidity levels should be between 30 to 50 percent. 

2) Increase air circulation in areas with poor ventilation. Indoor humidity can build up where poor air circulation and ventilation exists. For instance, in a closet packed with items, airflow is restricted, behind furniture on exterior walls, basements with no venting or air circulation, and blocking vents.

To provide proper air movement in these areas, use fans to circulate the air or consider installing AC vents. In closets, avoid personal packing items flush against the walls, this will allow air movement.

3) Place items about 2-4 inches from the wall. Avoid placing furniture over floor vents or pushing furniture flush against exterior walls, especially in corners.

4) Service your heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems as instructed by the manufacturer. If the system does not function as intended, call a service provider. 

5) Do it Yourselfers can visually inspect the unit frequently for excessive condensation, ponding water, blocked drain lines, loose drain lines, and overflowing drain pans.

6) Locate and repair leaks as soon as they occur. Dry out any wet or damp building materials within 24 hours.

7) Vent excess moisture generated from cooking, taking showers, and using clothes dryers and other items to the exterior of the home or building. Avoid venting these items in attic locations.

8) Provide positive drainage. The grade around our home should be sloped away from your home’s foundation and crawlspace areas. Frequently inspect gutters and downspouts and clean them when they become clogged with debris.

How do I get rid of mold?

The key to eliminating mold growth is to remove the source of excess moisture. Once

the moisture has been eliminated, molds are unable to germinate and spread. Mold is a part of our natural environment, and, as a result, it is everywhere.

Eliminating all molds from the indoor environment is almost impossible. 

Can mold spores be toxic?

Yes. Some molds produce mycotoxins that can be dangerous to susceptible individuals.

It is recommended to visit the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for further information on this topic.

What is Black Mold or Toxic Mold?

The term “Black Mold and Toxic Mold” is not a scientific name for a species of mold.

The reference “Black Mold” refers to Stachybotrys Chartarum, a species of mold that is mainly associated with buildings that have severe water damage.

This species has a greenish-black color and is not easily dispersed like other lighter molds. Not every mold that has a black or greenish color is Stachybotrys. 

The only means of determining the species of mold found growing on a surface is through sampling and analysis by a certified laboratory. The known health effects of this species are like other common molds (AIHA).

How Concerned Should I be About Mold?

The concern about mold depends on how much growth is present and the health status and age of the exposed individual.

Small mold growth, such as small spots, is not a significant concern.

However, areas with gross contamination (large growth areas) and microbial growth caused by contaminated water, such as sewer backups is a health concern.

Who can get sick from mold exposure?

Currently, no established data is stating how much exposure to mold will cause adverse health effects. However, some individuals could be vulnerable to mold exposure.

These individuals include persons with a weakened immune system, infants, people with respiratory conditions, and the elderly (CDC).

What should I do if I smell or see mold in my home?

If you think mold is growing in your home, attempt to do an investigation to determine if there are any leaks or sources of excessive moisture look for wet or damp carpets, walls, and ceilings with water stains, sagging ceilings, or other indications of damp building materials or personal items.

Finding the source of the moisture is one of the first actions to take to help stop the growth of mold. If you are unable to find the issue, contact a mold assessor.

Also, depending on your situation and cause of the mold growth, check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if the damages are covered. The leak could be behind a wall or other hidden areas.

If this condition is left unaddressed, the cost to remove and restore building components could get high because of the extent of resulting damage.

Should I have my home tested for mold?

Whether or not to test for mold problems in your home can be a difficult decision because of the costs and the proposed benefits.

Generally, if you can see the mold growing, then there is no need to do a test.

However, if you want to determine the mold species growing on a surface in your home, a Tape Lift or a Surface Swab may be beneficial in this regard. If you want to determine the concentrations of airborne molds present in the indoor air then an Indoor

Air Quality Test can be performed. However, due to the absence of regulations, there are no established levels to use as a guide.

The air quality test can identify the types of molds present indoor compared to the levels and species found outdoors.

Can some molds cause an infection?

Yes.

Aspergillosis is a form of fungal infection that is caused by a species of the Aspergillus mold. (1)

Aspergillosis can affect the respiratory systems of individuals with compromised or weakened immune systems, or individuals that have underlying lung disease or asthma (Mayo Clinic, 2017).

Aspergillus spores are present everywhere, and we inhale them daily. For individuals with a healthy immune system, this is not an issue.

However, individuals with respiratory diseases and weakened immune systems can get an infection if certain species of the Aspergillus mold are inhaled (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). 

Where are high levels of mold found?

High levels of mold spores can be found in water-damaged buildings, farms, antique shops, greenhouses saunas, grain silos, mills, flower shops, and other moisture-prone areas. 

What type of medical provider should I consult with for mold exposure?

Consult with your primary care doctor or medical provider. Your doctor may then refer you to an allergy specialist for evaluation. 

Can chlorine bleach kill mold on porous surfaces?

Bleach is considered a biocide; that is, it kills living organisms. However, bleach is not recommended for routine cleanup of mold contamination.

The chemical properties of bleach include up to 97 percent water and 3 – 5 percent sodium hypochlorite.

Applying bleach to a wall with mold growth will worsen the problem because the biocide will remain on the surface of the material, and the water will become absorbed.

When water is absorbed in the affected material, the roots of the molds are provided with more moisture, which promotes more growth. The molds on the surface will be eliminated. However, the roots remain. 

Can I use vinegar to kill mold?

White distilled vinegar is a mild acetic acid which can eliminate 82% of mold species.

Using vinegar to remove mold also has the advantage of being a safer alternative to chlorine bleach and other toxic chemicals

What mold is not toxic?

There are many types of mold that do not produce mycotoxins, but still leaves a bad smell or discoloration on items near it because they thrive in damp areas and also grow on food left out for long periods of time.

These mold types include Penicillium, Alternaria and Cladosporium.

What should you do with moldy clothes?

If your clothes have mold growing on them because it’s been sitting out for a long period of time then you can machine wash them using soap or detergent to get rid of the mold before drying it in an outdoor area away from other clothing items so as to avoid cross-contamination.

Or throw the item away altogether.

You may need to air out moldy items for a long period of time before you can wash them because mold needs moisture to grow.

What are the symptoms of mold allergies?

Mold allergies may include things such as sneezing, red eyes, coughing and congestion.

If you notice these symptoms happening more frequently then it’s likely that they’re caused by mold in your home or office! Take steps to get rid of mold so that mold allergies will go away. 

What does mold smell like?

Mold has a musty earthy odor and can be found in damp areas.

How do I know if my home has mold?

Mold usually grows on surfaces in humid environments, so check for mold under carpets or wood furniture that are near sources of moisture such as a leaky pipe.

mold growing on leaking pipe

You may also find mold growing behind wallpaper after it’s been wet by sudden flooding from an overflowing sink.

Other common places where you might see mold include the bathroom (near the shower) and kitchen (behind appliances).

If there is no visible mold but you’re still experiencing symptoms then chances are high that your house contains hidden pockets of mold spores which require professional cleaning to eliminate them permanently! 

How can I prevent mold growth inside my home?

mold can be prevented by making sure that the area is well ventilated and dry, cleaning up any spills or leaks as quickly as possible and getting rid of moldy clothes.

Keep food items out of damp areas like your basement to prevent mold growth on them.

Mold prevention should be an ongoing process because you’ll never know when mold will grow if it’s left unchecked for too long.

What do I need to do about mold in my home?

If there is visible mold then you should take steps such as throwing away all materials near where the mold was spotted.

Thoroughly clean the area with soap or detergent and water, check for sources of moisture (such as leaking pipes) which caused the problem and use mold removal products to make sure that mold doesn’t come back.

If you have mold allergies then it’s important to find and remove the mold in your home because this is probably causing your symptoms!

What do I need for mold prevention?

You should use a water-based cleaner (soap or detergent) with any of these items so as not to release toxic chemical fumes into the air – dishwashing liquid, borax powder, chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar. 

What are some reasons my house may be getting too damp?

Some good examples include leaking pipes, condensation on windows from nearby sources of moisture like bathrooms or kitchens which affect ventilation rates inside the building itself.

High relative humidity in the air can also cause mold growth in your home so make sure that ventilation rates are increased. 

How do I get rid of mold?

If you have mold inside a building, remove all sources of moisture from its surroundings (such as leaky pipes) and use mold removal products to kill it off completely.

Make sure to pay attention to high-risk areas like bathrooms or kitchens where condensation on windows may increase relative humidity levels.

You should always keep these rooms well ventilated because they’re more likely than other parts of the house to suffer from mold growth. 

Where do I find professional help with removing mold in my home?

Check online for companies which offer services such as cleaning carpets, upholstery, and mold removal.

You can also call a mold remediation company to come inspect your home for mold growth or to get rid of it if there is visible mold already present!

How does mold spread in your home? 

Mold can be found almost anywhere including in your home and mold may grow where it is not wanted.

Mold spreads by producing spores that are carried through the air or on people’s clothes, shoes or pets.

Mold grows best when there is moisture such as from water leaks (in a window), condensation (on windows) or high humidity (caused by improper ventilation).

What do I need to know about mold? 

Mold often starts small but without prompt detection and remediation, may spread quickly given the right conditions.

If you suspect mold growth has occurred, consult with a qualified specialist promptly for assistance assessing its impact and making recommendations for how to proceed based on specific case circumstances while minimizing risk of exposure to occupants like children who might have a mold allergy.

What can mold grow on? 

Mold can mold grow on almost any surface where there is moisture and a food source such as wallpaper, carpets, paint or subflooring.

Is mold a plant? 

Mold is not a plant but mold can grow on plants and other organic materials.

How long does mold take to develop? 

Water-damaged mold begins growing as soon as the moisture has been present for 24 hours or more.

Mold will stop growing when it dries out, which may be after one day or up to several months depending on its food source and environmental conditions.

When dry, mold becomes dormant until water returns.

How do mold spores enter my home?

Mold spores can come from outside sources and also from inside the house.

Things like: an open door to a humid area, water coming into contact with moldy materials, or someone walking through mold while wearing damp shoes.

Are ways how mold can enter your home.

Can I eliminate mold spores from my home?

Mold growth can only be eliminated by removing the moisture source.

Many people undertake mold removal projects because they have mold in their home and want to eliminate it, but mold spores are all around us, inside and outside of your living area.

Mold is a part of our natural environment and mold spores are everywhere. So no you can’t eliminate all mold spores from your home

Conclusion

Mold removal in home is something that must be done with extreme care. Make sure to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself during the entire removal process.



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