Have you ever dealt with black mold? A common trope is that it only affects older, abandoned rental properties.
The truth is a little more complicated. Ultimately, any commercial or residential building can grow black mold. The spores usually develop in damp areas—often in places with water damage, high humidity, or improper insulation. This is why mold is so common in basements and attics.
We’re here to tell you that anyone can fall victim to mold. Our team is also here to share that with the right group of licensed professionals, it can be properly remediated.
What Is Black Mold?
While no indoor mold is desirable, black mold is especially problematic. You’ll want to get it removed as soon as possible.
Black mold isn’t a single type of mold, but several kinds that are dark in appearance. Two types of mold frequently found in commercial and residential properties are Cladosporium and Alternaria fungi. Even more common is Aspergillus penicillium, which is a direct result of water damage.
Another type is Stachybotrys chartarum, which—when growing—can produce mycotoxin spores
, that then become toxic. This mold is usually a deep black color with gray or green undertones. It needs high levels of moisture to spread. Generally, it thrives in warm, dark places with high humidity. The spores may grow on wood, carpet, or other materials. Many property owners experience mold near window frames, in bathrooms and basements, or around leaks.
Mold can also grow in dust, insulation, and drywall. (You may have seen those damp patches on walls or ceilings. These are yet another breeding ground for mold.)
Now, mold in general is fairly common in homes and commercial buildings. Researchers believe some degree of mold may be present in up to 47% of U.S. homes. Another study identified mold in every public building that participated in the report, with an average of 14 incidents per structure.
When it comes to water damage, the key thing is to deal with any moisture problems you may have. Another priority is to understand how black mold grows.
How Does Black Mold Spread?
Black mold thrives in humid parts of a home or commercial property. Places with minimal air circulation are especially susceptible to mold growth.
While mold initially grows in moisture, it can survive without ongoing exposure to water. The main thing it latches on to is cellulose material—a type of fiber that makes up a major part of most buildings’ structures. mold spreads in areas that are high in cellulose and low in nitrogen.
And since mold spreads when you swipe at or disturb the spores, “treating” it yourself can exacerbate the problem. (In other words, it can release even more mold spores into the air.)
You should check for black mold if:
- Your property has a roof or pipe leak that hasn’t been repaired.
- Your property has experienced flooding or water damage and has not been dried properly.
- Your bathroom, attic, basement, or kitchen has poor ventilation (leading to high moisture levels).
- Your windows, walls, and ceiling show signs of excess condensation.
Any source of lasting moisture can cause black mold to grow. Property owners need to remediate the mold in their homes or businesses—and prevent those damp spots from occurring in the first place. You’ll also want to make sure you recognize the signs of mold.
What Are the Signs of Black Mold?
The signs of black mold are the same in commercial and residential buildings.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Visible mold spores
In some cases, you may be able to see a cluster of round, wet mold spores. If you notice these spots near your windows, on your walls, or in other areas, you should investigate them immediately. Remember that mold is often multicolored. It can look quite fuzzy, with a soft texture, as well.
- A musty odor
Black mold has a unique scent that most people describe as “musty.” It may even smell earthy, like wet paper or freshly watered plants. If you suspect mold but can’t quite nail down the odor, ask a friend or family member for their opinion.
- Circular rings and spots
Water damage doesn’t necessarily mean you have a mold problem. Rather, it indicates that you could have one. To reduce your risk of mold growth, inspect and repair any dark rings on your ceiling or walls right away.
- Paint blisters or bubbles
Have you ever seen pockets of fluid on your painted walls? These could be from moisture moving through your home—often from the kitchen or bathroom. Whether the source is leaky plumbing or high humidity, you’ll want to address it.
- Soft spots in your flooring
When moisture gets trapped, black mold can grow beneath your hardwood floors. Go into your crawlspace or basement and look at your subfloor if you notice a soft patch. You may need to pull up a section of the flooring instead.
- Uneven attic insulation
We often hear about mold in basements, but it can grow in unventilated attics too. If you’re concerned, go to your attic and check the insulation. Look for lumps or other uneven spots, and see whether the air seems stale or humid.
Now let’s talk about the physical symptoms of black mold exposure.
Is Black Mold Dangerous?
Black mold isn’t necessarily dangerous in the short term—but there are certain risks. Meanwhile, long-term exposure can be a major health hazard. The spores not only affect the structural integrity of our homes and businesses but also our physical well-being.
Breathing in mold spores is linked to allergic reactions, breathing troubles, and respiratory issues. mold also releases toxins (called mycotoxins) that can cause indoor air quality issues.
Here are the symptoms of black mold exposure:
- Coughing or sneezing
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Red, itchy eyes
- Sore or scratchy throat
- Post-nasal drip
Ongoing exposure to black mold can amplify asthma symptoms, including shortness of breath, wheezing, and tightness in the chest. It can also lead to more serious health issues in general. These include fungal infections, chronic fatigue, and more.
Note that the amount of time it takes to be affected by mold depends on how sensitive you are. Those with allergies may experience symptoms as soon as they come into contact with mold spores. Conversely, if you aren’t allergic to black mold, you may not experience symptoms until much later.
Infants and children, the elderly, and immunocompromised people tend to have a more severe reaction to black mold.
Can Black Mold Cause Property Damage?
If you catch it quickly, chances are black mold won’t cause major property damage. However, structural issues can occur if you don’t address the mold promptly. This is because black mold can grow on a number of surfaces used in construction, including wood and drywall. The toxic spores can weaken or even break down parts of the home or business over time.
Potential problems aren’t limited to your actual property—black mold can also damage your personal belongings. Some people notice mold growing on items with porous surfaces like mattresses, books, and clothing. That isn’t fun for anyone.
There’s another invisible problem you’ll want to consider. Black mold can spread through your HVAC system with relative ease, which can affect your indoor air quality. Here again, by letting it spread over time, you risk contaminating your entire heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system.
These are just some of the reasons why mold prevention is so important.
Can You Prevent Black Mold?
The best way to prevent black mold is to keep the property free from moisture or humidity. If you do experience water damage and mold growth, take action as quickly as possible to contain the spread.
Here are some tips for preventing black mold:
- Address water leaks and spills quickly.
Generally, mold will not grow if wet areas are dried in 24 to 48 hours. Do what you can to limit water exposure during this critical timeframe.
- Reduce your indoor humidity.
- Use fans to prevent condensation.
Run the bathroom fan while you shower and leave it on for a half-hour afterward. You’ll also want to use an exhaust fan when cooking or running the dishwasher.
- Replace wet carpeting.
If your carpet is soaked, the carpet padding can’t be dried due to the way it is made. Avoid installing carpet in high-moisture areas like basements.
- Divert runoff away from your building.
Make sure the ground slopes in the opposite direction of your foundation. This will keep water from entering—or collecting around—the property.
If you already have a black mold problem, you can save these tips for the future. In the meantime, let’s discuss the black mold removal process.
What Does the Black Mold Removal Process Look Like?
Once you suspect black mold, you’ll need to have the spores professionally removed. A quick online search will offer some DIY tips—but water damage isn’t always so simple.
A professional black mold removal service typically includes the following steps:
- Initial assessment
A licensed third-party remediation company will conduct a thorough inspection of your property. This will help identify the extent of the mold growth and any potential sources of moisture. Experts may also use humidity meters, thermal imaging, and other tools to detect hidden mold.
- Mold Remediation
Most professional mold removal services rely on high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to capture and filter mold spores from the air. Technicians will safely dispose of any materials that can’t be salvaged, including compromised building materials like drywall or flooring.
- Disinfecting and dehumidification
People trained in black mold removal know how to disinfect the entire affected area. They’ll also clean non-porous surfaces using powerful antimicrobial solutions. There’s also a focus on drying and dehumidification, with the goal of eliminating long-term moisture.
- Final inspection
After removing the black mold from your property, the remediation company will complete a detailed final inspection. This will confirm the removal process was successful—and that your residential or commercial building is now free of mold. They may test your air quality during this time as well.
Finally, most remediation companies will document their process. Documentation may include before-and-after pictures and a report outlining the steps taken to remove the black mold from your building. This report can help you navigate insurance claims and future property transactions.
Black mold is a major cause of stress for property owners. Though minor mold issues can sometimes be treated following general safety guidelines, complex cases should be handled professionally.
Why Hire a Professional Black Mold Remediation Company?
So you think you have black mold in your home or commercial property? You may be wondering why you should hire a professional to remove it.
The truth is that as a property owner, you may not have the tools, equipment, or knowledge to do a safe and complete job. For instance, anyone handling black mold needs to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like an N-95 mask, a full–
In our view, it’s important to leave your black mold removal to the professionals. Remediation is almost always worth the investment.
Contact Ram Restoration if you:
- Discover a water leak or long-term moisture issue.
- Smell mold in your residential or commercial property.
- Notice black mold spores on walls, ceilings, or other areas.
- Are experiencing possible symptoms of mold exposure.
Here at Ram Restoration, our mold removal service includes eliminating all signs of black mold. We’ll also take important steps to prevent it from reappearing.
Trust Ram Restoration to Remove Your Black Mold
It’s no secret that black mold spores need to disappear. Left untreated, they can cause health issues and lead to structural problems. Yet the mold removal process can be stressful. This is where the certified remediation professionals at Ram Restoration come in.
Available 24/7, our goal is to completely eliminate our customers’ black mold in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the surrounding area. We offer emergency services as needed and work with all insurance carriers to get the job done right.
If you prefer to forego insurance, that won’t be a problem. Ram Restoration will gladly touch base with you and offer a custom quote. Please contact us for more information on our black mold remediation services.