If you discover mold in your home, don’t panic. While all mold is disgusting, not all mold is life-threatening. Some just stink; others cause allergies. A few molds, such as Stachybotrys Atra, sometimes called “black mold,” cause serious health conditions. It’s important to assess the situation, then call in a professional, if needed.
Where mold occurs
Mold grows near water sources. In a house, mold is a possibility when water is found where it shouldn’t be. A roof leak can produce mold in the attic. A slow plumbing leak in a wall could allow mold to grow undetected for a long time. Ongoing moisture in a basement or crawlspace can foster it. Exterior insulation finish systems, also known as synthetic stucco, is a building material that traps moisture creating a haven for mold.
If you have a long-standing water leak in your home, your first clue may be a musty smell. By that point, the mold may be extensive. Other warning signs might be a water stain on a wall or ceiling, excessive moisture or humidity in a home or recurring pools of standing water in a basement or crawl space.
Mold testing kits, which are fairly reliable, can be purchased in home improvement stores. Call a mold professional, however, if you suspect you have a serious mold problem, especially if you or other household members are experiencing mold-related health symptoms. Mold professionals should be state certified. As always, get several estimates and check credentials and reviews before hiring someone to do work in your home.
If the mold infestation is small, say three feet in diameter or less, you may be able to clean it up yourself. Wear a breathing mask, protective gloves and use a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water. Some experts do not recommend bleach and prefer vinegar or borax. If using bleach, be sure to ventilate the area with open windows, doors or a fan. If the infestation is larger, or extends into spaces not easily accessible, call a professional.