Once, when working on replacing a floor at my old home, we came across a dark, smelly, unhealthy problem that affects millions of Americans: mold. What is household mold and when is it too big of a problem to fix by yourself?
What Is Mold?
Mold is classified as a fungi (like mushrooms) that grow in colonies of millions of cells. Fungi reproduces by releasing spores into the air. This can cause people to become sick when these spores enter the airways and affect the body. Just like mushrooms outside, mold grows well in dark, wet places. In your home, your main areas of concern include basements and bathrooms. Water-damaged houses after flooding tend to attract mold as well.
However the mold got there, it has to go. But what exact type you are dealing with will change the best course of action to remove it. Four main types of mold grow in homes in the United States:
- Alternaria – Often found in carpets and textiles, causes hypersensitivity and allergy-like symptoms.
- Aspergillus – Very common in our atmosphere, breathed by most people with no side effects. It grows indoors in very wet and humid conditions.
- Cladosporium – An abundant outdoor type that rarely causes hay fever-like symptoms, often collecting in porous, wet areas like damp wood.
- Penicillium – A very common indoor type that will grow on wallpaper and decaying fabrics.
None of these molds listed are called “black mold.” Although often a worry of homeowners, the dangerous “black” Stachybotrys is fortunately rare. However, if you have long-lasting unexplained allergy-like symptoms, you should investigate to find the cause. Check up on your basement and bathrooms regularly to ensure that you haven’t been infested without your knowledge.
What do I do if I have mold?
If you do have one of these species in your home, won’t know until someone tests a sample of the fungi. You should call a local professional to perform these tests. The inspector can tell you the type as well as the health implications and removal process for whatever biological enemy you are up against. If the tester can advise you how to remove the problem, and the infestation itself doesn’t take up a large area, it could be a good choice to save money and remove the problem yourself. This is easily done if the material is easily cleaned or replaceable.
If the infestation is very large, caused by flooding, or inside your heating, cooling, or ventilation systems, leave the problem to professionals to handle. Additionally, those with autoimmune disease or negative health effects from the mold should seek outside help. Our best advice for owners involves preventing mold altogether. Remember to check up on the hidden, dark, wet, or underground parts of your home regularly. Keep air moving and humidity as low as you can throughout the year. Also, check for leaky pipes and fixtures to keep your house spore-free.
Once you get rid of the culprit, our experts here at Great Expectations Painting are happy to advise you in the best next steps for recovering what was lost. Mold can rot or destroy paint if left untreated. For all of your follow-up repainting needs, we are here to help!