The simplest form of life on our planet is mold, and it responsible for decomposing decaying matter while returning vital nutrients back to the ecosystem. But as much good as mold does for the planet, it can lead to significant diseases in both animals and humans.
Table of Contents
Mold can get anywhere. Water damage is the main reason mold will grow, but there are other reasons it can grow as well. Whether you’re looking for how to get rid of mold on walls, how to get rid of mold in your attic, or how to get rid of mold in your basement, then this article is for you. Mold can get anywhere in your home if you’re not on the lookout for it. There are a few key ways to look for mold and we will tell you how to get rid of it here.
There can be mold in places that you least expect it. Once it’s in your home, it can be very difficult to get out. There needs to be a professional mold test done, followed by a mold inspection, and finally mold remediation. This is a big, expensive process that takes almost a week’s time, but it is necessary if you have it in your home. There are plenty of local professionals out there that can help you with mold remediation, so don’t panic.
What is mold?
Mold is a multicellular fungus that grows where the surface is moist and in a warm area. It is one of the oldest fungi known to date and there are thousands of types. These types range from mushrooms to tiny microbes invisible to the naked eye. Thankfully, there are only a few are actually toxic to humans. Unfortunately, those molds can show up in our homes as well. Getting rid of it is your top priority.
Homes that are in the south of the United States will find that they are more likely to get it. This is especially true since many old houses were built without ventilation. Therefore, it gives mold the perfect environment to grow. That doesn’t mean that all homes are safe. Humidity is prevalent in most areas and it can assist the growth of mold. Molds assist in breaking down organic matter, so you can understand why it is dangerous to have in your home.
Molds that are dangerous to humans usually produce mycotoxins. Black mold is one of the molds that produce this mycotoxin. This chemical has been linked to a few deaths around the world, signaling the need to study and research the effects of mold on human health. These toxins can also cause you to develop diseases and sensitivities to mold and other microbes like that.
What are mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins are toxic metabolite that is capable of spreading disease and, in some cases, death to humans and animals. It is a chemical that fungi produce when spreading and growing. This mycotoxin gets into our system and can arrange our DNA and change the very cells that are in our body. This results in immune system damage and respiratory inflammation.
Major cases of mold like Stachybotrys (black mold) have been linked to many deaths over the years. It can be a scary thing to learn that there’s black mold in your home. It is one of the worst molds to have and produces mycotoxins readily through your home. There are different ways to get rid of it, but first, you need to know how to recognize it.
There are many ways to find mold around the house. Normally, a monthly checklist and maintenance list can help you find strange irregularities your home may go through. Doing these things will catch any sort of slip that you might go through. If you keep your home in order, you’ll likely find trouble before it gets any worse. Doing this means that any sort of water damage, leak, or exposure problem can be fixed before it becomes a bigger problem.
The first and most obvious thing that can cause mold can be found from water damage. Water damage can be anywhere in your home. This is usually caused by a leak of some sort, whether it’s in the bathroom, kitchen, or basement. Sanitary water won’t spawn mold immediately, but if left alone, it will develop into a bigger problem. There are levels of water contamination, so it’s a good idea to keep it sanitary.
Even if it’s from a water faucet or from the rain, water damage will produce mold. Mold grows from moisture and heat, so it’s a definite way to have it grow on your walls. Water damage is a bit more extensive to repair, but there are ways to do it. Repair may have to be done by a professional carpenter, which extends further than mere mold remediation.
Some mold growth is visible to the naked eye. Mold has a very unique way of growing. It has many different colors and shapes. Some mold types are green, some are brown, and some are black. They are usually circular blotches that form on surfaces, extending outward while having a bit of a darker setting beneath. If it’s really bad, you’ll see thick black marks across whatever surface it is on.
While I don’t recommend touching it, if you get close to it, you’ll see that the surface has a hairy texture. It also feels slimy to the touch, so it will have a slight moist sheen to it. Touching it can have consequences, however, considering it can damage your skin. Those sensitive to mold can experience rashes and other blotches on their skin from mold.
Mold has quite a unique smell when it comes to growth. Other than mildew, there aren’t many things that smell like mold. It is a musty, gross smell. If you smell mold, it’s more than likely you have a problem in your home. It doesn’t have to carry out into the room, either. The smell can be situated in one area and the smell might not be that strong. This is a good sign, considering it might not have spread as far as it could.
Whenever you walk into a home and smell mold, you might not want to venture farther. The mold spores that they give off might get into your clothes. If that happens, it’s entirely possible to bring it into your own home. Make sure that you cover yourself up if you have to venture into a home with mold. If someone is unaware of it, give them the information on what sort of problems they can face it they have mold.
If you find yourself with allergies throughout the year, it may be a bigger sign of mold than you think. Mold has a lot of symptoms that comes with the territory. Allergies come around once a year, realistically. If you keep your house clean, dusted, and bug-free, then pollen should be the only thing you get respiratory problems from. If you’re suffering from it in other times of the year, then it’s likely mold.
There are a few other symptoms when it comes to mold:
- Runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Dry, itchy skin
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Constant headaches
If you find yourself suffering from any of these symptoms, then it’s very possible that you have a mold problem. Anyone in your family can suffer from these symptoms year-round—even children. Mold remediation is necessary when it comes to having mold in your home, but for you and your family’s health, test often. Get rid of all of the mold.
While this isn’t a problem for everyone in America, it’s entirely possible to get mold from humidity and formed condensation on your windows and surfaces. Water that gets into your home has a chance of growing mold if you don’t keep an eye on it. Dehumidifiers work wonders on this sort of thing and it’s always nice to have one running, considering it lowers the heat as well.
If you live in the south, near a body of water, or anywhere where there’s lots of rain, you may need to get a dehumidifier. This will be a big factor in lowering the condensation rate in your home, considering it takes the moisture out of the air. Mold around windows is more likely due to this humidity causing condensation on the glass panes. Never assume that you won’t get mold because there’s only a little water on the windows!
If your home has been subject to flooding in the past, it might have a mold problem. Insurance companies may send a water restoration services to fix your house up, and they should do mold preventative services as well. However, if they don’t, it’s very likely you’ll end up with mold growth in your home. This is especially true for your basement since it’s an enclosed area and it doesn’t have much ventilation.
Mold can grow on many surfaces and water only helps it along. It can grow along the bottom baseboards of your walls and even in your floor. Water restoration services should be able to provide things like antimicrobial liquids to wash surfaces with. It is mostly done to prevent mold and microbe growth, either way. If they don’t do it, you should get into contact with your insurance company and set up a mold prevention service.
When dealing with mold, you have to remember not to handle it directly with your body. You should never touch mold or breathe it in, especially if it’s close to the source. The spores and mycotoxins are more concentrated around it, so there are a few things that you’ll need when cleaning the mold areas. Safety is always the first thing you should have in mind before cleaning anything that has potential to lower your health.
When cleaning mold, you should have:
- A sawdust or doctor’s mask
- An apron or clothes you can throw away or bleach
- A hard hat if you’re cutting away areas
- For extreme cases, a hazmat suit
Whenever handling these mold problems, you’ll likely come into contact with microbial liquids. These liquids can also be dangerous to handle directly, so gloves are a good idea. The fumes from these liquids, usually bleach, wet wipes, disinfectants, and other things. It’s wise to read the label on the items to make sure they’re antimicrobial pesticide cleaners as opposed to cleaning or antiseptics.
Things That Can Kill Mold
There are plenty of antimicrobial liquids out there, but there are actually a few household products that can kill mold. It doesn’t have to come down to ruining the surfaces with bleach, although bleach is the most dependable when removing microbes like fungus or bacteria. However, bleach is a very vicious liquid that can not only kill those things, but also pigments. This means that it will discolor most things you apply it to.
Things that can kill mold include:
- Vinegar and Baking Soda
- Tea tree oil
- Specific detergents
- Hydrogen Peroxide
Applying these liquids or mixtures onto the surfaces will usually kill mold. Some mold species require a bit more than just a scrub down. At times, multiple coats are needed to kill an entire colony of mold, so make sure you go back after a few hours. The vinegar and other liquids may hang around for a while after using them, but they will clear after a while.
Getting Rid of Mold
While there are many ways to treat mold, we won’t beat around the bush. The best way to get rid of mold is to hire a local mold remediation service. Even though it can be costly, having it done for you is better and easier than doing it yourself. If you do it yourself, you run the risk of not getting all the mold that’s there. When that happens, the mold will only spread back to its original location and possibly get even worse.
Mold is very difficult to get rid of by yourself. While scrubbing and washing with antimicrobial liquids, it’s possible to miss some. Fungus can live through a lot of stuff. It’s almost like a cockroach moving through your walls or your floors. You have to make sure to get rid of it and the spores that are in the air. Otherwise, you might not get all of it. There are multiple steps to removing mold, but it really depends on the surface that has it.
Let’s start off with the top part of the house. The attic is usually a place where you put those extra boxes or Christmas decorations whenever you’re not using them. While not the most comfortable place to live in, some people make a loft or livable space out of it. Unoccupied attics should be ventilated for the sole purpose of keeping microbes from growing in it. It is often padded with insulin to keep the warmth in and the cold out.
Because it is a room separating the roof and the livable space below it, it is exposed to rain and moisture more than other rooms. If it’s not well ventilated, it is a prime area to get mold growth inside of it. Not only that, but it can weaken and even rot the wood around the area. This is a perfect area for mold to grow and thrive, so the attic must be checked relatively often if you don’t have any ventilation in it.
Most of the mold you’ll find in the attic is scent-based. It’s usually pretty dark in an attic if you don’t have any lights there. A flashlight will only illuminate so much, so you may have to rely on scent alone. Wiping down walls and occasional spraying of antimicrobial liquids will assist in keeping everything clean. Keep in mind that you should dry off the area as well, considering any sort of moisture will eventually lead to what you’re trying to prevent.
In the attic, there are a few places that you should check for first. The roof is the first thing to look for mold whenever there’s the smell of mold around. Whenever looking along the slants of the roof, there may be black spots or even stains if there is any mold. It can sometimes be white, stringy material that spreads almost like a spider’s web. There are different types of mold, so you may want to get it tested before getting rid of it.
If you have a window in your attic, that’s one of the first areas you should check for mold. Since the attic is exposed to the most temperature fluctuation and moisture, mold will grow wherever it is warmest. With the absorptive properties of wood, it’s easy for moisture to get into the wood. This can make it difficult to get rid of, but it can also absorb things like bleach or vinegar.
Another good place to check is ventilation. Even though vents are there to help keep air flowing, moisture is known to get through the vents. It’s a good idea to wipe around the vents with some of the listed antimicrobial liquids to make sure that mold has no chance of growing. Air flow is important for mold prevention, but you must make sure that no moisture is getting in.
Cracks or Shingles
Other areas you may want to check are cracks or around lifted shingles. Water damage is the leading cause of mold growth and the roof is prone to getting water leaks. A mere lifted shingle can cause moisture to spread through the wood of the roof, so be on the lookout. If you’ve ever had a roof leak, you’ll most certainly want to clean around its area.
After you’ve identified the area (or areas) where the mold is, you can start remedying the situation. Using the antimicrobial liquids above, you can mix some and get ready to spread it. Coating these surfaces with paintbrushes or some other spreading tool can show positive results. You may have to go through a few coatings over a matter of hours, but this usually works well enough for wood.
If all else fails, use a brush or some sort of scrubbing cloth. Rigorously wipe the surface and make sure to get in as deeply as you can before moving on. You will have to bleach the brush and cloth afterward to make sure that you don’t spread the mold and so that it doesn’t stain it. There are mold spores still in the area, most likely. That means you’ll have to use a high-strength air purifier to get rid of it. There’s more on that at the bottom of the article.
While moving down through the house, you may find that mold is somewhere else. Another surface that you can find mold is a wall. Walls are usually made up of drywall or plaster. Drywall is composed of calcium sulfate dehydrate, which is actually quite absorptive to moisture. This leaves it completely open to mold growth if you’re not careful, especially in the bathroom.
Removing the mold from the wall is a bit more difficult than pure wood. Wood can be treated, but drywall is pretty much ruined if you get mold inside the porous material. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to cut out the areas of the drywall and replace the area with a new piece. Then again, you may have to get a carpenter to assist you with this process.
While walls span the majority of our homes, there are a few places where mold is more likely than others. For starters, you should always check around your windows. Windows are prone to weakening over time and possibly losing seal strength. Moisture can get through this and get onto the walls around it. This will cause the green or black spots to form around the area, especially with water damage.
Corners are a good place for warmth to gather. In these corners, you will likely find mold along the drywall or down toward the floor. If there is moisture, it will run down and collect near the floor, so you will find that mold will grow close together. It is easy to spread through the corners, collecting together and building on itself to go farther through the home.
Around air conditioning vents
Similarly to the vents in the attic, air conditioners are prone to gathering condensation. This moisture can be pushed around the vents if it is installed incorrectly. Another reason his might show signs of moisture is an HVAC air conditioning unit. While homes may not have an HVAC unit, moisture can still get through.
Similar to windows, doors are a moving separation from outside. They swing open and allow you entry or exit. However, because of this, it also requires seals around the edges. If these seals fail, moisture can easily get through. It’s also not a good idea to keep your door open for long periods of time. Aside from the insects that could get in, moisture and humidity can easily go through the doorway and get on your walls.
Wall mold is a bit difficult to get out regardless of what you do. Where attic and roof mold can be scrubbed away, drywall is absorptive. Whenever mold grows on the wall, it is likely deep inside of the material as well. Drywall is quite porous in consistency, so moisture will go deep and possibly into the support beams behind it. If the mold has gone completely through the wall, you’ll have to remove the drywall completely and replace it with new drywall.
A good tool to keep around in this instance is a moisture detector. A moisture detector will do exactly that—detect moisture. Whenever there is moisture in the drywall or wherever you want to check, it will tell you if it is there or not. This is a great tool to find leaks or potential mold areas on your home. However, that is only the first step in removing it.
Remember to use safety precautions!
If the mold is just on the surface of the wall, it’s possible that scrubbing with one of the mold-removal solutions can kill it. However, if it has been there for a while, replacing the drywall will likely be your only option. Whenever you’re replacing it, you’ll have to cut out the affected drywall. Afterward, you will need to wipe down the inside area of it. That means any surface that may be behind the drywall could be contaminated, so use the antimicrobial liquids to clean them.
Cutting out the drywall results in having to install a new slab of drywall in its place. For some people, this can be difficult, especially if they have no building knowledge. There are guides out there that can help with this process, but never try to do it if you don’t know how. Professional carpenters and builders are out there that can assist you so you don’t hurt yourself or damage your home.
While not the most common form of mold, mold can get into the floor. It is more common in carpet than any of the other types of flooring, but wood is subject to mold growth as well. The bottom line is that mold can grow on any surface, so it doesn’t matter what type of flooring it is. However, since carpeting is more prone to moisture absorption, it is easier for mold to grow there. This is especially dangerous for your pets.
Not only is it easy for mold to grow, but it is most likely on the under-side of the carpet. Carpet is a little bit harder to replace specific sections of and will likely result in replacing the entirety of a room. If it’s a small area, it may be possible, but it can be difficult finding the matching carpet for replacement. It might be better to simply replace it all.
In some cases, there is padding or a subfloor beneath the affect areas. When cleaning mold from your flooring, you must make sure to get to the area beneath the flooring. The subflooring is important because it is a perfect environment for mold to grow. It is warm, unventilated, and can cause a lot of problems. The spores and mycotoxins can get through the carpet and wood even from the subflooring beneath, so you'll have to get rid of it from there too.
Similarly to the above mentions, windows are a common area where you can find mold. Since condensation slides down the window, it has the possibility of dripping to the floor. The floorboards or carpet beneath will certainly get mold if you aren’t paying attention to possible condensation on the window. Dripping down the wall will also cause mold to be beneath the window sills.
Much like the corners of the walls, heat and condensation can collect in the corners of floors as well. This usually goes hand-in-hand with the wall contamination. If you find mold in the lower corner of the wall, it will have likely spread toward the floor as well. If you see any spots on your floor, it’s likely you’ll have to get down and replace the area.
Seeing a trend here? Anywhere moisture can get through seals, you’ll likely see mold growth there. While you shouldn’t have carpeting near doorways, it can still get into wood or in tile that you have beneath. Replacing it is a matter of cutting away the area or disinfecting the tiles and beneath. Always get the subfloor too.
Getting rid of mold from flooring is less difficult and a bit more expensive. Regardless of the type of flooring, you may have to deal with mold beneath whatever it is. Wood, ceramic tile, and carpet can see mold grow relatively quickly if water damage isn’t tended to. If you have laminated or sealed tile, you likely won’t have to worry about the mold getting in between the tiles. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t get into the areas around the edges.
If it shows in your flooring, you will have to get mold removed professionally. If it’s wood or ceramic tile, it’s a matter of pulling up the area and cleaning beneath it. Replacing it with new strips of wood or tiles is relatively easy and easily obtained. Remember to clean the cement or subflooring beneath the material to get rid of the mold.
Carpet is a different story. With carpeting, you can’t really replace a small portion of the carpet. It’s extremely difficult to get the exact same material, design, and color to not look bad. As such, you may have to replace an entire room’s carpeting to get rid of a mold problem. Carpet comes with padding to cushion beneath it and is even more absorptive than the carpet above it. Make sure to replace what you can, but if you can find the same material, you can always give it a try.
Finally, we come to the bottom of the house. Similarly to the attic, there can be a lot of issues in this area of the house. The biggest problem that people face is lack of ventilation in the basement. On top of that, many people put water-based appliances down here like a cloth washer or sink. Because of these things, moisture can be introduced into the room if you don’t have a dehumidifier or some sort of moisture preventer in the room.
Basements are especially susceptible to mold considering moisture usually goes down with gravity. Because of this, things like flooding and water damage will show up more readily here. Water will show up in this room more readily than anywhere else. It can be tough to deal with, but more often than not, basements are usually earthier than other rooms.
Basement walls are usually made up of brick or cement. This is good because mold can’t really get deeper into the walls than the surface. It’s relatively easy to clean, but you have to be thorough since there’s not a lot of ventilation in the basement. Make sure to wear your safety gear before doing a cleaning job, though.
Near pipes or water connectors
This is likely the only area you’ll need to check for mold, considering it deals with water. Running water over time may eventually erode the pipes and cause leaks. Otherwise, moisture in the basement may cause condensation to appear on the pipes due to temperature changes. It may drip onto the floor below and cause mold growth there, but this is usually pure cement.
If you do have windows in your basement, you’ll likely need to check around these for mold issues. Mold grows around these areas because of the possible moisture coming through. These windows fall under the same rules as the other ones in the house, so if it isn’t sealed enough, water can get through. The moisture that might come from the washer or a sink will also cause condensation to form.
The mold in the basement can be removed with relative ease. It simply needs a hard, thorough scrubbing if you have bricks or cement in different places. If you have drywall or wood, you’ll have to do the same things you would do as above. You’ll likely have to replace the drywall with a new piece. If it’s wood, you’ll have to occasionally coat it with the antimicrobial liquid.
You may have to clean it more than once, considering mold can regrow if you don’t get rid of all of it. Going over it a couple of times will ensure that the mold will be killed. Make sure to take care of any leaks or repair any pipes that may need it, however. Leaving moisture to continue coming from the pipes will result in new and possibly worse mold growth.
Regardless of where the mold is or what the mold is growing on, you have to make sure you get every bit of mold from the area. Even if you clean it off completely or repair drywall, there’s still a possibility of it growing back. That’s because there are still mold spores in the air. From these spores, an entirely new mold growth can occur. You have to make sure you purify the air afterward.
Using a powerful air purifier is what you want to do next. An air purifier like an ozone generator or a HEPA air purifier will be perfect to remove those lingering mold spores. Remember that ozone is dangerous to be around, however. That is why it is so good to get rid of and destroy mold spores with—the ozone will kill the spores and make your room better than before. Since that is the case, make sure to run it while the room is unoccupied of people, pets, and plants.
Mold not only gives off a disgusting smell, but it is dangerous for your health. It can give you a lot of health problems and respiratory issues. These include difficulty breathing, allergic responses all year long, and more. Never assume that you can’t get mold—anyone can get it. You need to get rid of it as soon as possible. Even if you don’t suffer from water damage, there’s a possibility from humidity, household water, and more. Don’t panic, though. There have been others that have gone through mold problems as well.
Whenever you’re looking for mold, be sure to keep an eye out for water damage. Along with that, mold gives off a unique smell that can cause anyone to be wary of entering your home. Mold can come in different colors, including white, green, brown, and black. There are thousands of types of mold, but some household ones can produce mycotoxins, which is what causes your health to degrade.
Depending on the surface it is connected to, there are different ways to get rid of the mold. Whether it’s wood, drywall, tile, or others, there are special liquids that can be used to kill mold. After you get rid of the mold, it’s a good idea to run an ozone generator for a while in order to remove the lingering mold spores from the air. If you’re ever unsure, however, call a local mold remediation specialist.