If you find black mold in your home, don’t panic — but act swiftly and properly treat the mold.
There are harmful symptoms that can come from exposure to black mold for long periods of time.
Additionally, those who have an allergy to it or who are immunocompromised can experience heightened symptoms.
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Below is a guide to how black mold is identified, what to do if you spot it in your home, potential symptoms you could experience with exposure — and preventative measures you can take in the future.
- How do I identify black mold?
- What do I do once I’ve found black mold in my house?
- What happens if I breathe black mold in?
- How can I prevent black mold from growing?
1. How do I identify black mold?
Black mold, as the name implies, is dark in color. There is often a musty smell associated with the mold.
Even if you can’t visibly see it right away, but you smell something musty, it is worth checking around your home.
Black mold is a fungus that thrives in warm, moist areas, so you’ll want to check the places that fit that bill first. Think about your basement, boiler room, kitchen and bathroom.
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If you detect that musty odor but can’t find any black mold, it doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t there. It could be growing inside the walls. If you can’t find the mold directly, contact a professional for an inspection.
2. What do I do once I’ve found black mold in my house?
Once you’ve spotted black mold, the first step to take is make sure you are protected before getting close.
Wear clothing that protects your skin, plus get a pair of safety goggles to shield your eyes, gloves to cover up your exposed hands and a mask for your face.
There are a couple of determining factors you’ll want to weigh when deciding if this is a job you can handle yourself, or if you should get the help of a professional.
If you have a severe allergy to black mold, asthma or a weak immune system, it is probably best to have a professional deal with the problem to limit your exposure.
You’ll also want to take the size of the mold into account. If it is large, or you suspect more to be in your home than what you have self-identified, hire a professional to take care of it. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identifies anything less than 10 square feet as small.
Anything larger than that is best dealt with by professionals.
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If you have decided to get rid of the mold yourself, the most common at-home treatment is a bleach solution.
Combine one cup of bleach with one gallon of water, and apply that to the black mold to treat the area with your protective gear on, limiting your exposure. Once you have treated the mold, make sure to completely dry the surface.
3. What happens if I breathe in black mold?
Black mold affects everyone differently, depending on their sensitivity and the length of exposure. Many have an allergy to mold, and will quickly start to develop symptoms when they are exposed.
Those who are exposed to mold for a long period of time can also start to develop symptoms.
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Common symptoms associated with a mold allergy are sneezing, coughing, congestion and eye irritation, according to Cleveland Clinic. An asthma attack could also be triggered due to mold exposure. Those with a weakened immune system may also experience symptoms.
4. How can I prevent black mold from growing?
Since black mold grows in warm, wet environments, the best way to avoid it is to limit these types of settings in your home.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the one thing you can do is control the humidity levels in your home.
Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can help with this.
Additionally, fix leaky roofs, windows and pipes quickly; make sure to clean and dry thoroughly after a flood has occurred; and properly ventilate areas of your home such as your bathroom, laundry and cooking spaces, according to the source.
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