How to tell if black mold is hiding in your walls

Photo Credit: SF Gate

Black mould is not something anyone wants to find in their home. But once you do, you have to go to the lengths to kill it before it spreads any further. While not all mould and mildew is harmful, it can cause allergic reactions for some people, and it's not favourable because it's telling you that there is too much moisture in a particular area of your home. Even though we say black mould is toxic, it doesn't necessarily mean that all black coloured mould is dangerous. The type of mould to worry about is called Stachybotrys chartarum or Stachybotrys atra. And actually, this type of mould isn't even actually very black; it's actually fairly green in colour. The other thing to keep in mind is that the mould itself may not be toxic. They are what is known as toxigenic which means that they can produce toxins called mycotoxins. When these spores are inhaled, they can end up causing pretty serious health issues. The good news is, usually, the mould only releases spore when it's been disturbed by air, vibration or by something brushing up against it.

So how do you tell if you have this toxic black mould growing in your home? The easiest way to locate mould is by scent and sight. You might notice a musty odour in your home that would signify the growth of mould. Apparently, Stachybotrys has a particularly strong odour. Also, you will almost always see mould growing in damp, dark places. Mould loves moisture, so it's common to see it in basements, bathrooms and attic spaces. Stachybotrys can also survive on wicker, cotton, drywall, wood, cardboard and even on dust believe it or not. If your home has flooded and there is a pooling of water anywhere in your home, you will probably have the perfect breeding ground for more mould. You can have your mould tested to see if it's the damaging, toxic mould. The only way to find out what species of mould you're dealing with is to have it looked at close up, under a microscope. There are professionals who can test the mould for you to see what you're working with, but this testing is expensive and not really necessary. The thing is, no mould is good to have in the home, and it is trying to get your attention for other issues throughout the house.

A mouldy ceiling could indicate that you have a leaky roof or a leaky pipe somewhere. You can have a look yourself and see where the leak is coming from. A pipe leak might stop when you stop the water, but a roof leak could only come around when it rains or when snow is melting. So keep an eye out for this. In your shower or bathtub area, mould can be present because of pipe leaks or old grout or caulking. Sometimes you have to replace the caulking or grout if it's mouldy to prevent it from growing back. Since mould will have a way harder time growing in dry, light places, make sure that you keep your shower area dry until the mould clears up and even after as a habit. You can also use natural cleaners to kill mould too. Plain white vinegar is a great natural cleaner to use on mould of any kind. Just put some in a spray bottle and spray the affected area until it's completely saturated. Allow it to sit for a while and then scrub carefully with a brush. There are also cleaning tips that use baking soda or Borax as natural cleaners to kill mould.***

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