How To Prevent Black Mold
Black Mold – is a phrase that makes most homeowners very weary and while not all Mold is created equal. We understand that as a homeowner, just the thought of Mold growing and spreading is enough to make any homeowner think twice about their daily habits. Believe it not though, there is good mold and bad mold. In fact, there are over 100,000 distinct types of molds. By the end of this article, you will have 10 different strategies on how to prevent black Mold.
All about Black Mold
Before we can talk about how to prevent black mold, we must first talk about the different types of Mold. Mold can be broken down into three categories:
- Good Mold
- Bad Mold
- Toxic Mold
Good mold is used for medicinal purposes like Penicillin, which originates from the mold Penicillium (Penicillium grows on bread and food.) Penicillium dates to 1928 from scientist Alexander Flemming. Flemming found mold because of his contaminated Petri dishes, he had discovered that the mold began killing the various bacteria that were found to have contaminated the Petri dishes.
Another form of good mold is used to make different foods. Foods like Cheese, Mushrooms, Tomato products, and even fermented beverages like wine and beer use mold to produce them.
Bad mold can be found in two types: Mildew and black mold
Mildew, while on the surface can seem harmless, can lead to other types of molds that are more serious. Mildew can often be found in places that are often damp)
Another type of bad mold comes in various colored ranges.
Bad Mold is tricky because they come in assorted colors (even black) and can often be confused for black mold. While they can be black mold, often this type of black mold is not toxic, though they do come with a higher health risk.
When around this type of mold, it can often cause:
- Sore throats
- Shortness of breath
- Cognitive function disease
- Skin irritations
This type of mold can grow on HVAC units, drywall, floors, subflooring, and other places within your home. These types of mold use material they grow on for food and breed at a faster rate.
Another danger related to these types of molds is they can go airborne.
Have you ever seen the same type of mold in two separate areas of a house or building? That is because the types of spores that are associated with this type of mold can go airborne and travel to various parts of your home where they can continue to feed on the material and breed at a faster rate. What is worse? When this type of mold does become airborne, the home can become overridden with mold growth which can have major health risks on pets and humans.
Toxic mold is the black mold that most people fear when they hear the word “mold.” This type of Mold is called “Stachybotrys Chartarum.” This mold is responsible for serious health risks such as:
- Memory loss
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic respiratory distress
- Trouble concentrating
- Nausea and vomiting
If you want to read about more Black Mold side effects and health effects of exposure, here is a great article that talks about the health risks of Black Mold exposure.
How does Mold develop?
Before we can get into how to prevent mold from forming, it’s best to understand where Mold can grow and how mold develops to give you a general idea of where to start.
Mold needs four conditions to be exactly right to grow:
Mold develops through minuscule things called “spores.” These spores are naked to the human eye and float through both indoor and outdoor air. As these spores travel, they encounter a wet or damp surface at a temperature between 77 degrees and 86 degrees. Once Mold meets this surface, it begins to feed off the material and breed to create a giant network called “Mycelium.”
What Can Mold Grow On?
Mold can grow on whatever it can feed on and because it can grow on anything, the better question to ask would be “what can Mold not grow on?” Simply put, Mold cannot grow on metal, plastic, and glass (unless there is a layer of grease.)
Conversely, any organic surface such as wood, food, dust, dirt, drywall, your kitchen sink, etc. Allows mold to grow and feed making it exceedingly difficult to eradicate completely.
9 Ways To Prevent Black Mold:
Because mold is extremely hard to eradicate, the best way to eliminate mold is to prevent it altogether. Now that we know what causes mold and how it develops, we can begin to paint a picture of how to prevent mold from taking over your home.
Here are the top 10 ways to prevent mold:
1) Identify problem areas in your home, and correct them
You cannot mold-proof your home, but you can make it mold-resistant. The best place to start is by identifying the problem areas. Most problem areas are going to be located susceptible to water puddling. These are places like basements, bathrooms, even a water stain on the ceiling from a persistent leak. These can all be problem areas s it is important to leave no stone unturned
Once you have found problem areas, correct them if you need to. This may include having to remove the carpet in damp areas, installing mold-resistant products, or even repairing damaged gutters. Now, this may involve having to spend a little bit of money, but it is a small price to pay if it means avoiding paying for more mold removal later.
Our team recommends: Remember problem areas in your home and make sure to check them regularly for any instances of mold growth. Pay special attention to these areas after a storm to make sure there are no leaks.
2) Dry Wet Areas Immediately
Remember when we talked about how mold can only develop through water? Well, mold cannot grow without moisture. A leaky pipe, a spill on the carpet, even puddling water in the basement after a storm is all cause for mold to grow. One overlooked area is everyday occurrences like wet tile floor after a shower. Everyday occurrences can add up over time and ultimately result in black mold growth.
Our team recommends: Look for areas of your home that may be of concern for building moisture, for example, a humidifier may be prone to moisture developing. If you have appliances in your home that are more prone to mold growth, check them regularly to make sure there is no moisture build-up, and if there is, dry it immediately.
3) Prevent Moisture With Proper Ventilation
At the beginning of the article, we mentioned how Mildew grows in high-moisture areas. Activities such as doing laundry and washing dishes can invite Mildew growth because of improper ventilation. To prevent this, it is ideal to provide these areas with proper ventilation. Applying vents to appliances like washers, dryers, and stoves aid in eliminating moisture that develops from these appliances. Another product to consider is AC Units and Dehumidifiers. So long as your AC Unit and Dehumidifier do not produce moisture or that you are checking them regularly for moisture production, these products will help alleviate Mildew and Mold growth. If you check your AC Unit and they have developed moisture, clean them immediately to lower the chance of Mildew or Mold spreading.
Do you have an energy-efficient home? You are not completely out of the woods with Mold growth. A lot of energy-efficient homes may be holding moisture inside. If you have an energy-efficient home, it may be a good idea to open a window or run an exhaust fan when cooking, washing dishes, or showering.
Our team recommends: Check the appliances in your home to make sure they are being properly ventilated. Opening windows, installing exhaust fans, and cleaning your ac unit or dehumidifier after moisture develops are all great ideas and help to minimize mold growth.
4) Equip Your Home with Mold-Resistant Products
Most people do not know this, but you can purchase mold-resistant products for your home. These products work especially well if you are building a new home or renovating your current home. Products like mold-resistant drywall are great for preventing mold from forming on drywall. You can also get mold-resistant paint which helps for new homes and renovations just to be sure mold does not grow.
Mold-resistant drywall and sheetrock are especially useful in areas that are prone to moisture such as basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. Traditional drywall is more susceptible to mold than paperless kind, it is also much harder to get rid of and removal of the drywall after mold has affected it can become expensive.
Another option for preventing mold in your home is to make use of a mold-resistant gypsum board. What makes a mold-resistant gypsum board so useful is how the board is developed, a mold-resistant gypsum board is developed in such a way that the core of the drywall absorbs moisture which prevents mold growth.
Our team recommends: Consider making use of mold-resistant products such as mold-resistant drywall, sheetrock, and even paint when making renovations to your house or building a new one.
5) Direct Water Away from Your Home
As previously stated, you need water, temperature, a surface, and oxygen in order for black mold to grow. So, if you want to prevent black mold, it makes sense to minimize the ability for that to happen. One of the best ways to do this is by redirecting water away from your house! There are many great ways to accomplish this, but some of the more common ways we see this is by cleaning gutters, cleaning downspouts, extending downspouts, and installing a rain barrel.
Our team recommends: Take advantage of whatever tools and resources necessary to redirect water away from your home. Ideas such as rearranging landscaping architecture, cleaning gutters and downspouts, and even extending downspouts.
6) Clean or Repair Roof Gutters
Yes, we sound a little bit redundant with cleaning your gutters, but it’s true. In a previous blog, 10 Ways to Prevent Water Damage, we make note of the idea of cleaning gutters for preventing water damage. We know that puddled water causes mold and promotes mold growth, so it makes sense that if you want to prevent black mold growth, then you should take actions to prevent water damage from taking place. One of the best ways to prevent water damage is to clean or repair gutters.
A mold problem can be simple or complex, so to make the most cost-effective decision, start with fixing a mold problem that is simple. Make sure that you regularly have your gutters cleaned and any roof leaks repaired. For a deeper dive on gutter cleaning, you can read our blog 10 Ways To Prevent Water Damage here:
Our team recommends: Clean your roof gutters! We recommend every 3 months, or as the seasons change. More specifically around the start of fall and early spring as more debris is likely to get caught up in your gutters.
7) Keep Mold Off of Household Plants
We know, your English Ivy is gorgeous, and you love it, black mold loves it too. This is why we are trying to help you prevent black mold so your house plants can stay looking beautiful! Remember earlier in the article where we mentioned that mold needs a surface to grow on and can grow on any service? Your house plants are one of those surfaces. Even worse, your houseplants help keep your indoor air clean. A very often looked-over area of your home that is prone to mold growth is the moist soil of your plant. Additionally, because mold can travel through the air and your houseplants use the air for photosynthesis, a moist bed of soil can circulate mold throughout your home and cause mold growth at an exceptional rate.
Do not be too quick to remove your plants from your home, instead, keep them in your home looking beautiful but add a little bit of Taheebo tea to the water that you use for your houseplants. Taheebo Tea is produced from a Taheebo tree which possesses an oil that is very commonly used to withstand fungi in areas that are dense with fungi like the rainforest. Using this tea helps to inhibit mold growth in plant soil and can be found at natural food stores.
Our team recommends: Utilize Taheebo tea when watering plants. Taheebo tea inhibits mold growth in plant soil as it possesses an oil that withstands fungi.
8) Improve The Air Flow in Your Home
While this is more of a seasonal tip, it can apply year-round if you want to prevent black mold. As temperatures in your area begin to drop, the air is not able to hold as much moisture. With the air holding significantly less moisture, that excess moisture needs to go somewhere. If you remember from earlier in the article, you may have guessed where this excess moisture goes…to mold growth!
When the temperatures begin to drop, it’s important that you improve air circulation. Some ways to do this is by opening doors in between rooms (example: leaving the bathroom open when unoccupied or bedroom doors open when no one is in the room), moving furniture away from walls, and even opening doors to closets that may be colder than the room they are in.
Our team recommends: Taking measured steps to improve the airflow within your home. This could include leaving doors open in-between rooms (for example, when unoccupied leaving bathroom doors and bedroom doors open.)
More than anything else, the best medicine for prevention is preparation, and the best way to prepare yourself is through education! When it comes to mold prevention, there is no singular method that works. Mold prevention is dependent on you and more importantly your area.
Our team recommends: Spend time studying mold growth and how your area can affect the mold growth in your home. Every area is different so mold growth will vary based on your atmosphere.
Preventing mold growth is no simple feat as the root cause is often overlooked or misunderstood, that said there are some general best practices that when taken advantage of can reduce the chance for mold growth.