Mold Testing – How to test for mold in house

The problem of hidden and invisible mold

Mold that has grown into colonies is easily visible and is detected on time. However, there can be mold present in your house that is totally invisible and resides in air and leaves no visible traces anywhere. And still it would affect your health.

Mold Testing

Mold testing a process of analyzing the air quality in a particular area of your house, like a bedroom or bathroom. Specific chemical tests are able to test and detect mold spores that are present and thrive in just the air around without giving any signs of presence other than health problems to the occupants.

The test can tell if there is hidden mold in the place, the level of air quality and also identify the species of molds present.

Professional Mold Testing

Mold testing can be done by a proper mold testing agency or service provider. They will collect samples and send it for analysis to labs and get accurate reports on the mold samples. Hiring professionals gets you highly detailed and accurate reporting on the mold.

mold testing

Mold Testing

To find a suitable mold testing service in your locality search on google or some local classifieds site.

DIY Mold testing kits

The other way of testing for mold is doing it yourself with mold testing kits that are easily available in the market. You can find a good do-it-yourself mold testing kits on amazon.com.

This particular video shows how a mold testing kit can help you discover invisible mold that resides in the atmosphere without you having any knowledge of it.

Mold testing kits are a less expensive way of testing for presence of mold in your house, but with limitations. These mold kits can be used to detect active mold spores in the atmosphere or on a surface.

However they cannot give you detailed information about the species of the mold, or whether they are toxic or not. For a detailed analysis you better opt for a professional mold testing provider.

Types of Mold Tests

The three main types of mold tests, depending on how the mold samples are collected –

  • Air testing
  • Surface testing
  • Bulk testing

Air Testing for Mold

Air test checks for mold spores present in the air. The samples are collected from a particular room at a time and then the samples undergo examination. These samples under examination reveal if mold is present in the air and in what quantity.

This test helps to detect mold, even if there are no visible signs or symptoms. The test reveals the quality of the air that all the occupants of the house are breathing.

Surface testing for Mold

Surface testing involves collecting samples from somekind of a surface where there might be some signs of mold growing. For example a wooden surface. Samples are collected using cotton swab, tape lifting or other methods. Later on, its send for analysis to the laboratory.

Surface test can detect, if the moldy growth is actually mold or just soot or dirt. If its detected as mold, then you know its time to clean it.

Bulk Testing for Mold

Bulk testing is a more intensive way of carrying out the tests for mold. In the process, actual objects or pieces of affected material are collected from the home and take to the laboratory for examination under the microscope.

Culture Test

In Culture test, the mold sample is kept in a special environment where it can grow into large colonies. Then the colony can be examined to identify the species of the mold.

This method is used in many diy mold testing kits where in, after collecting the sample you have to keep it in a special chemical apparatus where it will grow into colonies in a few day. The culture test works only if there are alive mold spores in the sample that are capable of growing.

However, even dead mold particular can cause health issues. So even if the culture tests show negative signs of mold in the sample, you can go for other tests that can detect even the dead mold spores.

When do you need to test for mold

Like mentioned earlier, the main reason behind mold testing is to detect mold that is invisible or difficult to detect by human eyes.

However, you may want to go for mold test due to any or all of the following reasons –

  • You notice signs of mold and want to do a thorough inspection
  • Identify the mold species and get information of related health issues
  • Find the source and root cause of the mold growth
  • Test the quality of air indoors by measuring the mold spore density
  • To check if mold has been completely removed after treatment

Presence of Mold signs and symptoms

The foremost reason to go for mold testing and inspection is the presence of mold signs in your house. These can be visible mold growing in some part of the house or health problems being faced by some or all members of the house.

If you notice musty smell in any corner of the house, it is a strong indication of mold growing somewhere.

If any member of the house is suffering allergic symptoms, there could be mold present in the air or some surface that is often touched or comes in human contact. Mold in air will cause breathing or respiratory problems like irritation, sneezing etc. Whereas mold on surfaces will cause skin problems.

For more information on the health problems and symptoms caused by mold, check this post –

What are the health symptoms caused by black Mold

Identifying Mold Species

Another important reason to go for mold testing is to identify the mold species. This might sound insignificant. However there are scenarios where the mold the highly toxic and spreads rapidly due to climatic and environmental conditions. In such cases, the residents of the place need to exercise greater caution to be safer.

Some of toxic mold species are Stachybotrys (often called toxic black mold) and Aspergillus.

If there is mold infection somewhere in your house or even outdoors, which are unable to eliminate permanently and you are suffering toxic symptoms due to it, then its extremely necessary to get the mold tested. Such an examination can be done only by professional testing labs.

Finding the root cause of Mold

Sometimes, it could be difficult to identify the exact location where mold is originating in your house. You entire house might feel free of water and moisture problems and yet there might be mold coming in from somewhere.

The test can identify the exact location where the mold is originating from. For example damaged walls that are absorbing moisture from outdoors or wooden structure absorbing moisture from soil. Once you are able to identify the exact place the mold is coming from, treatment becomes easier.

Testing indoor air quality

Mold testing also reveals the level of air quality in places where mold spores appear even after repeated treatments.

Assessing the air quality becomes even more important if there are kids or pets in the house. They are more susceptible to health problems and symptoms and need more care.

Sometimes, there are no visible signs of mold growing anywhere in the house and still the members suffer breathing problems. This can be due to mold spores that are present in the air that might have come from outdoors. In such a situation, its better to get the air quality level checked and proper mold test done.

If the test reveals that there indeed are mold spores present in the air, you can be sure of what treatment needs to be done next.

Mold testing after Mold removal

If there has been a lengthy mold treatment process going on in your house, its a very good idea to do a mold test after the mold removal is done. This is useful to ensure that the mold removal process was successful and that mold was actually removed completely without any left over traces.

All the places affected by mold earlier should be thoroughly tested. Samples should be collected from air and surfaces. If the test shows residual presence of mold anywhere, then you need to carry out the removal process and cleaning again.

Once the tests show that the mold spores have been completely eliminated and that the air quality level is in a safe range, you can be sure that the job is done quite well.

Conclusion

That was some very basic information about mold testing. To learn more about the process you should contact some local mold testing laboratory.

Mold testing is becomes necessary in cases where its difficult to detect the mold by mere visual inspection. It happens when mold spores either originate from deep hidden places or are carried into the house from outdoors by airflow.

If the mold is visible, its easily detected and all you need to do is to prepare for the cleaning and removal process. Then you can just do the usual cleaning and skip the testing unless it seems necessary later on.

References and Resource

https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-testing-or-sampling – More information about mold testing and sampling at EPA

http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/mold/moldtest.html – Information on Mold Testing at Minnesota Department of Health

Mold Inspection – Detecting mold in your house

Mold Inspection

If you think there is excessive amounts of mold growing in some part of your house that you cannot check all by yourself, a professional mold inspection service can be of great help.

The mold inspection process finds where exactly the mold is growing in your house and also checks for water problems that is causing the mold to appear. So you can not only remove the mold, but also fix the root cause of the trouble.

If you see mold in your house, then there may be more of it somewhere underneath or out of view. This happens often with underground wooden structures or crawling spaces or some wooden roof structures. In these scenarios calling a mold inspection service is quite necessary as they can do a thorough check of the extent to which the mold has spread.

Signs of Mold in house

There are plenty of symptoms that can indicate a mold problem somewhere in your house. For example –

1. You are suffering respiratory problems or skin allergies or both.
2. You notice musty smell in some corner of your house.
3. You have water and damp problems which will potentially cause mold.

To learn more about the signs of mold problems, check this previous post here –

What are the signs of mold in house

Hiring a professional mold inspection service

There are plenty of mold inspection service providers that can make your job easier. They have the experience and equipment to accurately detect and test mold even in the hidden places of the house.

Mold testing services will also collect samples of the mold and send it for testing to collect more information on what mold was growing inside your house. This can help you detect and diagnose health problems of those living inside the house.

With their fine equipments they can not only find mold, but also check for water and damp problems that is causing the mold. If you think there is mold problem in your house that you are not able to treat yourself, its necessary to call in a professional.

Checking for water problems

If you plan to call in a mold inspection service, then make sure to recall all past water problems that happened in the house. This would be water leakage from pipes or even flood. You need to inform the mold inspection team about these past problems so that they can investigate in the right direction.

Even if you are trying to do the mold inspection yourself, you need to be well informed about past water problems so that you have some clue about how and where the problem began in the first place.

Check the house thoroughly for moisture or damp problems. While doing regular cleaning of the house you can easily discover areas like walls and ceilings that are having moisture problem or smelling bad.

Also check places that could have a water leakage problem. Check places where water pipes are installed in your bathroom, kitchen etc and see if there are any signs of water leakage. If you have a water reservoir on the roof then check its pipelines as well. Also check the roof structure for any cracks where rain water could potentially fill in.

Hidden Mold

Mold can grow in places that are completely hidden from view. For example, inside the cracks of a wall, under peeling walls or other areas that are not visible. If you are inspecting such areas in the basement or other crawling spaces, the make sure to carry a bright flashlight to be able to see clearly.

Other ways to detect hidden mold is by the musty odor they emit. If certain areas of the house smell very bad and cause sneezing or eye irritation, surely there is mold over there.

Identifying Mold Properly

Sometimes, what might appear as mold, might just be black dirt spots or soot sticking around for a long time. Look at spots closely but carefully and see if it appears like fungal growth or something organic. If it appears as a uniform dark patch it might just be dirt that you need to clean.

Try not to dust away the mold

If you find large areas of mold during the inspection, be careful not to dust away using some kind of broom stick or wipe. Doing so, can spread the mold in air and also release mycotoxins (toxic chemicals released by mold) in the air which will be harmful to those breathing around.

Do the cleaning after complete inspection using proper cleaning solutions and other necessary preparations. For more information on cleaning mold yourself, check out this previous article here –

Mold removal guide - Removing mold with common household cleaners

Mold treatment

After you have managed to find out the mold in your house, its time to get some remedy to remove it completely. If its small in quantity and size you may want to consider cleaning it yourself.

However, if the mold affected area is very large, like an entire room or a large ceiling or entire wall, then you should definitely consider consulting a professional. Large quantities of mold indicate a more severe underlying problem that will be difficult to fix all by yourself.

Furthermore, if the mold affected area is large, there are chances that a variety of mold species have grown over the place, including some toxic mold. Then it becomes even more important to get the experts to work on it rather than risking your own health and safety. In short, hire a professional or agency.

Mold Testing

Mold testing can identify the species of the mold that has been affecting your house and provides further information about possible health concerns. Many of the mold removal agencies will also provide mold testing services if you opt for it. Of course it will have additional cost.

Mold testing involves collection of mold samples from the affected site and then sending them to a laboratory for testing and analysis. Later on reports would be made available that would contain detailed information about the mold.

Mold Remediation

The final goal of all the effort is to do a permanent remedy to the mold problem so that it does not appear again in the house or at least stays out for a long time.

The first part of the process is to clean all the existing mold by yourself or hiring a professional. Once the whole place is clean, the next thing would be to do permanent treatment to the underlying problems that caused the mold to appear.

Fixing water leakage problems is the most important step towards eliminating moisture and damp problem from the house, which will prevent further mold growth. Depending on the nature of water problem you may have to call in plumbers or similar services to fix it. This will involve repair cost and labor charges depending on the scale of the work. You might have to collect quotes from multiple agencies before selecting one. This again could be a daunting task if you are doing it for the first time.

Conclusion

Mold inspection becomes necessary when it becomes a recurring problem inside the house. Merely wipe out is not the solution. Proper treatment of underlying problems is necessary to prevent mold from growing again and again.

Mold inspection becomes all the more important if the place has seen severe water damage in the past, like a flood. Water damage can cause water to permeate deep into the walls and basement, making it very difficult for the house owner to tackle himself.

Do make sure to call in a professional mold remediation service if you feel it necessary. Removing mold is necessary for your good health and of your family.

What are the signs of mold in house

Sign and symptoms of Mold in House

There are several signs that become visible if there is a mold problem in your house. The major signals are health problem and bad smell. Excessive mold growth can cause allergic symptoms to those staying around.

Allergic Symptoms from Mold

If you are suffering unusual respiratory problems or skin allergies then there might be a mold problem somewhere around. Some of the most common allergic reactions to mold include sneezing, irritation in breathing or nasal congestion. However these symptoms may not necessarily confirm the presence of mold.

For example if there is a damp problem in your bed there are chances that mold could grow somewhere underneath it and start causing health problems like skin allergies or respiratory allergies.

If the environment indoors feels heavy and musty whereas you feel better when outdoors, this could indicate a mold problem inside the house. If the allergies get worse inside the house then this would strongly indicate a mold problem indoors.

To learn more about health symptoms caused by mold check this previous post here –

What are the health symptoms caused by black Mold

Toxic Symptoms from Mold

If you are suffering symptoms like headaches, dizziness when inside the house it could indicate a mold problem.

Certain toxic species of molds like release chemicals called mycotoxins into the air which can have adverse affects on humans and animals both. The symptoms can be more severe than minor allergies. If you suffer any such problems then check for mold immediately.

Mold smell

Apart from health problems and allergies the other sure way of detecting mold is by its musty smell. When mold starts growing in significant quantities somewhere, it will give out chemicals in air that will produce a very foul smell that is difficult to tolerate.

The moment you notice such odors anywhere in your house, take action right away and go for a thorough inspection before it gets worse.

You can either check the whole area yourself or call a professional mold inspection service to do the job better.

Visible Mold

This is the most obvious evidence that you have been hit by mold. Black ugly patches spreading in some corner of the house like bathroom or kitchens are sure signs of mold. Do not make the mistake of thinking it to be dust or soot, and do not ignore it. Its time to clean.

Small mold patches like those in the bathroom, under the wash basin or between the tiles or on a vinyl door are much easier to clean yourself. Follow this previous post to learn more about cleaning mold yourself –

Mold removal guide - Removing mold with common household cleaners

Although small amounts of mold do not pose a direct risk to your health initially, but it can slowly grow larger and larger over time. Therefore in the interest of your own good health, you should take immediate action.

Other species of mold

Sometimes you might come across mold that looks unusual or does not look like mold at all. For example the kind of mold that grows on rotting food items often have a different color like white or pale blue. Such mold appears somewhat like cotton from distance.

There are even more varieties of mold that appear greenish or orange in color. Such molds can be found on ceiling edges that have water leakage problems. These kinds of mold may be difficult to spot if the underlying color of the surface acts as camouflage.

Signs of Water Problems

Long term moisture and damp problems are the primary causes of mold infestation inside houses. Even if you don’t have any visible mold signs like the ones described above, you still need to be vigilant if there has been water problem in the house in the past.

Mold growing on wall

Mold growing on wall

Sometimes mold could grow in concealed areas within the walls or wooden structures and can be difficult to spot. They will become visible or start smelling only when they have grown massively in size.

Moisture often causes damage to wall surface like peeling and cracking or swelling like bubbles. If any part of a wall is bulging abnormally it indicates moisture problems on the inside.

So if you are dealing with water problems, make sure to go for mold inspection and treatment as well.

Water Leaks

Water leaks are not very uncommon. Faucets, under sink pipes or ordinary taps, anything can leak if the structure becomes weak or gets damaged over time.

If there are such leakage problems in your kitchen or bathroom, the surrounding walls would often get affected by the water. The walls absorb water and provide a favorable place for mold to grow. Such mold is best visible on walls that are painted bright white. Black patches would become visible the very moment they appear.

However, the problem gets complicated if the leakage is somewhere inside the wall or on the other side (exterior) that is not easily reachable. Such places are hidden from view and mold growth can often go un-noticed until it becomes large and visible. Then it becomes very important to do a thorough inspection on all sides of the wall to ensure that no mold goes undetected.

Flood and water damage

If your house has seen floods and large scale water damage in the past then there are strong chances that mold has started infecting your house along with many other kinds of pests. Particular areas of the house like basements might have been badly affected by overflowing water for a very long time causing excessive damp problems.

In such a scenario you would actually need to inspect the entire house basement and even the foundation structure of the house to accurately assess the level of water damage caused. Even if the flood water has drained out, it will potentially leave behind damaged structures with cracks and crevices where moisture and damp can easily fill in. Such places will again breed mold rapidly if left untreated.

To learn more about prevention of health problems in the aftermath of a flood, check the following link –

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5508a1.htm – Mold Prevention Strategies and Possible Health Effects in the Aftermath of Hurricanes and Major Floods

Condensation

High amounts of condensation could result from high humidity in the atmosphere. This happens more during rainy seasons. Condensation causes moisture to accumulate and settle on surfaces like windows, pipes and wooden structures in and around a house.

This could again lead to mold. Such kind of condensation occurs mostly on the exterior sides of the house walls. This is what causes the greenish mold to grow on the outer sides of a building which is very common.

Mold that grows on the exterior parts of a house can eventually start creeping inside. That is why it becomes important to stop it right away.

Tackling such a condensation problem can again require some investment. You need to get your walls painted with water resistant paints so that they stay protected under the effect of high humidity or heavy rain or both.

Conclusion

That was an overview of some of the most basic signs and symptoms of mold being present in your house. We would recommend that you do not ignore mold problems and do proper remedies on time to avoid any health problems to you or your family.

In small quantities you can clean the mold yourself. If the mold infestation is massive or affects at least about 100 square feet of area, then its best advised to call in a professional mold inspection service immediately and get it treated.

Not only should you treat the mold growth, but also the underlying cause that has helped the mold to grow. Water problems, leakage and other moisture and damp related problems should be given a permanent treatment to ensure that the mold does not reappear.

References and Resources

Check the EPA website to learn about mold and how to control it in your house –
https://www.epa.gov/mold

http://www.cdc.gov/mold/

Mold removal guide – Removing mold with common household cleaners

Mold Removal Products

There are several common household cleaning items that can be used to remove mold from your house. Some of these cleaning agents are quite strong while others are moderate. Depending on the mold quantity and the underlying surface on which the mold has grown, you need to select the right cleaning solution.

Here is a list –

  • Vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Bleach
  • Ammonia
  • Detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Borax
  • Tea tree oil
  • Grapefruit seed extract

1. Mold Removal with Vinegar

Vinegar contains acetic acid which is a mild acid, but is capable of killing most mold species that are commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens. Vinegar has the advantage of being a natural cleaner that is non-toxic and safe for any kind of use.

Vinegar works quite well on tiles, vinyl and porcelain surfaces. If there is mold on the tiles or on the vinyl door in the bathroom then you can clean it with just vinegar.

Fill a spray bottle with plain white vinegar and spray vinegar on the mold affected area. Leave for a few minutes and then wipe using a sponge. The mold would easily come off along with the dirt and water stains. Its as simple as that.

Keep cleaning till all the mold is gone and the whole surface is looking bright and clean. Vinegar also acts as a disinfectant which kills other kinds of germs and microbes as well. It should be your first choice when cleaning mild and regular molds in kitchen and bathroom.

To make the cleaning even better, try adding lime or lemon juice to the vinegar.

If you are using it in the kitchen then make sure not to spill it on granite or marble floor or countertops. The acid in vinegar can corrode stone surfaces.

Vinegar can also be used to clean mildew from clothes. Clothes left wet for many days often develop a musty smell and mildew growth. Simply wash the clothes with warm to hot water with laundry detergent and a cup or two of plain white vinegar.

2. Mold Removal with Detergent and Water

Usual laundry detergent can also be used to clean up mold from a variety of surfaces. Prepare a solution detergent and water and use it to scrub the mold. This will work on wooden surfaces, ceramic tiles, porcelain and vinyl surfaces.

If you are cleaning mold on walls, then prepare a stronger detergent solution with more detergent and less water. Walls will also need more time and effort to completely clean away the mold.

3. Mold Removal with Baking Soda

Baking soda is a very common household cleaner that is natural and non-toxic. Though it is not a very strong cleaner, it can still be used to clean small amounts of mold in the house. Baking soda in solution is alkaline (pH 8.1) in nature so it can be used on surfaces that need an alkaline cleaner. Moreover its safe for humans and pets.

Add about 1 tablespoon of baking soda in 1 spray bottle and fill it with water. Add 1 teaspoon of liquid dishsoap. This will enhance the cleaning power of baking soda. Shake and mix the solution well.

Now spray this solution whatever mold surface and scrub and wipe with a sponge or scrubber. Repeat the process till all the mold is gone. Baking soda solutions are good for use on stone surfaces like marble and granite and also polished wooden surfaces.

For tiles and vinyl doors, vinegar and lime juice will always be more effective.

4. Mold Removal with Borax

The next mold cleaner we are talking about is Borax. Borax is a natural cleaning agent, but is toxic if consumed. However borax is still safer as it does not emit toxic fumes like bleach or ammonia. In water solution borax is alkaline with a pH level of 9 (higher than baking soda). So it has a similar cleaning effect like baking soda.

Borax is quite useful for cleaning toilets and drains. It has disinfectant properties and acts as a insecticide, herbicide and fungicide. This makes it a good cleaner for mold as well. It is cheap as well.

Using borax to clean mold

Prepare a solution of about 1 cup borax in 1 gallon of water. Add 2 tablespoon of liquid dishsoap to the solution.

It is advisable to vacuum the area before cleaning with borax solution. Use a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner to pull out all loose mold and mold spores in the air. This will make cleaning easier and better.

Now apply this solution on the mold area in plenty and then rub with a scrubber. The mold should start falling off.

After cleaning, let the surface dry completely. Vacuum once more to make sure that no particles or mold spores are left behind. If it is indoors, then ventilate the place well with open windows and fans.

5. Mold Removal with Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is yet another effective cleaner that can be used to remove mold. It has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties which make it a good disinfectant. Hydrogen peroxide acts as a mild bleach but is a lot safer that chlorine bleach. It does not give out any toxic fumes and is much safer on humans and pets. It can be used to remove mold from floors, walls, tiles, fixtures etc.

You can purchase hydrogen peroxide from your local drugstore. Most of the commercially available hydrogen peroxide has 3% concentration, which is safe for household usage.

Fill a spray bottle with 3% hydrogen peroxide. You can also use 5% hydrogen peroxide.
Spray it on the moldy surface in plenty to make sure that all the mold is covered by the hydrogen peroxide. Leave it for around 10 minutes so that the peroxide can do its job of killing the mold. Then scrub away the entire surface with a sponge or scrubber.

Repeat the process till all the mold is wiped away. After cleaning you can vacuum the surface to ensure that all the mold spores have been eliminated away and there is none left.

6. Mold Removal with Bleach

Bleach is perhaps the strongest chemical that you can use to kill and remove mold. It completely eliminates mold from whatever surface it is applied to.

However, bleach is a toxic and strong chemical that needs to be handled with great caution. Bleach should be used only as the last resort when all other cleaners fail to do the job. If you are cleaning mold from some outdoor wooden structure that is large in size and does not clean well with vinegar or detergent, you may have to use bleach.

Bleach comes in two different variants, namely chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach. For indoor usage like bathrooms, oxygen bleach is a safer options. Oxygen bleach is less powerful than chlorine bleach but is effective in cleaning mold.

Precautions when using bleach

When using bleach, make sure that you use hand gloves and face masks to protect yourself from the fumes. Also keep in mind that never mix anything with bleach without proper knowledge. A number of chemicals like vinegar or ammonia react with bleach and produce highly poisonous gases which can be fatal if inhaled even in small quantities.

How to Kill Mold with Bleach

First prepare a solution of 1 part water with 10 parts water, or about a cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Preferably use a medium sized tub or bucket that can be carried safely without spilling.

Now use a large sized sponge to soak the solution and then apply it on the moldy surface. Rub as much as you like till the mold is completely gone. Repeat the process as necessary.

For outdoor structures, do not rinse with fresh water. Let the bleach remain on the surface so that it has effect for as long as possible.

7. Mold Removal with Ammonia

Like bleach, ammonia is also a very strong chemical agent that can up mold. It can be used on glass, tiles, countertops etc. Ammonia is strongly alkaline in nature.

Ammonia is a harsh, toxic chemical that should be handled with great caution. Also make sure to never mix anything else with ammonia like bleach or vinegar. This will result in highly toxic gases to be released that can be fatal if inhaled.

Additionally, although ammonia can kill surface mold, dead mold and dead mold spores are still allergenic so you will need to make sure to remove them afterwards.

How to Kill Mold with Ammonia

To kill mold using ammonia, create a solution of 50% clear ammonia and 50% water in a spray bottle and spray it on moldy areas.

Make sure the ammonia you use says “clear ammonia” on the label.

Leave the area for a few hours before wiping and rinsing.

Often detergents or mold cleaning products will contain ammonia. In that case just follow the directions on the label and be sure never to mix it with bleach.

Mold Control with Tea Tree Oil

So far we have discussed some of the most effective way of cleaning the mold away. Now its time to apply something that will hold the mold back from growing again.

Tea tree oil is a natural and effective solution to hold the mold from coming back for some time. It may not be the best solution to clean large amounts of mold, but after you are done cleaning using bleach or vinegar, try applying tea tree oil to prevent mold growth for some time.

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is mostly safe on the skins of humans and pets. However it is toxic if consumed. When used sparingly in diluted form it has strong antimicrobial and antifungal properties.

The best quality tea tree oils are derived from a plant called Melaleuca Alternifolia which is very commonly founds in Australia.

Applying Tea Tree Oil

First of all you should clean away as much mold as you can using vinegar or lime juice. Use a little baking soda if necessary.

Now prepare a solution of 1 teaspoon tea tree oil with 1 cup of water. Fill it in your spray bottle.

Spray the solution on the moldy surface very generously. Saturate the whole area with oil solution. Do not rinse or wipe the area, let the solution sit over the mold surface so that it can keep doing its work and hold the mold from returning.

However, bear in mind that natural remedies like these will work only on small places that are otherwise well ventilated. For outdoor structures that are more exposed to water and moisture you better call in professional service.

Mold Control Grapefruit Seed Extract

Grapefruit seed extract is another oil extract similar to tea tree oil that has anti-fungal properties. It is inexpensive and safe on humans and pets. Unlike tea tree oil, it does not have any
odor.

The citric acid in the grapefruit seed extract acts as a strong disinfectant that kills microscopic molds and spores. It also deodorizes the whole surface.

Again, just like tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract is also not a cleaner. First you should clean the mold with cleaning solutions of vinegar or bleach and then apply grapefruit seed oil.

Also this technique is useful only for indoor areas that are small in size. For a large scale mold treatment you would need to use commercial mold inhibitor solutions or call professionals.

Applying Grapefruit Seed Extract

Prepare a solution of 10 dropts grapefruit seed extract in 1 cup of water. Fill your spray bottle with it.

Shake the bottle well and then spray the solution onto the mold area. Spray in plenty to fully cover the whole mold ridden area.

No need to wipe or rinse. Let the solution stay on the surface like that. It will do its work and hold the mold from coming back for several weeks. Depending on how soon the mold reappears, you can spray the solution again after a few weeks to keep it in effect continuously.

Conclusion

Tackling mold can be a grueling task. If you are doing it for the first time then you need to first cleanup the mold completely using all possible measures.

Next you have to take necessary steps to control the mold from reappearing soon. Although this is not easy and there is probably no solution that will hold the mold forever. Most mold control solutions stay in effect from few days to few weeks, after which you have to treat the surface again.

Using the above mentioned methods you can get rid of mold pretty easily using common household cleaning supplies that are not very expensive.

If you have any questions or feedback then do let us know in the comment box below.

What are the health symptoms caused by black Mold

Mold and related health symptoms

Although most forms of indoor mold is kind of harmless in small quantities, they can cause serious health problems if allowed to spread beyond limit. If you have or had mold in your house and are suffering health problems then you may want to investigate further to check if it has been caused by the mold.

The major health symptoms that mold cause include the following –

  • Allergic and irritant symptoms
  • Toxic symptoms
  • Infections

Allergic Symptoms from Mold Exposure

The most prominent symptoms caused by mold are those affecting the respiratory symptom or breathing. When you breathe in air that is contaminated with mold spores, the immune system responds to it by creating allergic reactions. These reactions are the immune system’s defense against foreign particles that enter the body through the respiratory system.

If the person is sensitive to such allergies, the reaction could be more than just mild allergies. Prolonged exposure to mold spore contaminated air can also increase the allergy levels. This can cause the reactions to reach a severe level requiring medical attention.

Some of the symptoms that are caused by mold allergy include the following –

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Cold or flu like symptoms
  • Blocked nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Irritated, itchy throat
  • Sinus congestion
  • Sinus headaches
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Skin irritation or rashes or hives
  • Watery eyes
  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Itchy ears
  • Hair loss, baldness
  • Hay fever symptoms

Check the wikipedia page on mold health issues to learn more –
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold_health_issues

Toxic mold and related health symptoms

There are about 16 mold species that are toxic to humans and animals. The release toxic chemicals call mycotoxins in the air which if inhaled can cause serious health problems. Stachybotrys chartarum is one such black mold that releases toxic chemicals in air.

The health symptoms caused by such toxic molds can be much more severe than minor allergic reactions. Some of these symptoms include bleeding, damage to respiratory organs and system, and in extereme cases even cancer. They can also affect the mental health of a person.

However, such cases are rare given the fact the most individuals are conscious enough to detect theme and take action on time.

Infections caused by Mold

Sometimes mold spores that enter a person’s respiratory system through breathing, might begin to grow or cause infections to the sinus, skin or digestive system.

Mold infections usually don’t occur in young healthy people with a strong immunity system. Elderly people or those having weak immune systems are more prone to such infections. Species of mold that cause infections include Trichoderma, Penicillium marneffei and Aspergillus fumigatus.

Medical examination of mold symptoms

Physical Examination for Mold Symptoms

There are a number of tests available to determine if a patient is suffering mold allergies. Such tests can be performed by yourself or a medical professional.

Doctor’s would conduct a simple physical examination to identify the mold allergies. They will study and discuss the visible physical symptoms and be able to tell if the reactions are caused due to a mold allergy.

Skin tests for mold symptoms

In case of skin complications, there are specific skin tests to tell if its a mold allergy. The test involves applying purified mold allergens to the surface of the skind and observe the reactions. Then the doctor will diagnose if the symptoms have been caused due to mold allergy or not.

Skin tests are believed to be more reliable than blood tests though neither may be very accurate to detect all types of mold allergies.

Blood Tests for Mold Symptoms

Apart from physical examination and skin tests, the other most effective way to diagnose mold allergies is through blood tests. Sample of blood is taken from the patient’s body which is then analyzed.

One such blood test is the MELISA – Memory Lymphocyte Immunostimulation Assay test. The MELISA test can detect allergies to chemicals, toxins, and mold, including toxic molds like Aspergillus and Penicillium.

The MELISA test does not measure the amount of mold’s toxin or allergens present in the patient’s body. It can only tell if the patient is allergic to mold or not.

Besides MELISA, other blood tests that can detect allergies include ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) and the RAST (radioallergosorbent) test.

Treatment for Mold Symptoms

Avoid and get rid of Mold

The best way to eliminate mold related health issues is to completely avoid exposure to mold and mold spores to the best possible extent. At home, you should do a careful inspection and cleanup of all mold affected areas to remove the mold completely.

Mold commonly appears in the wet areas of the house like bathroom, kitchen, and walls that have moisture or damp problems. Clean mold using proper chemical agents and also use vacuum to fully dry the affected place.

If necessary, repeat the cleaning process regularly to ensure that the mold does not come back. Call a professional for proper removal and mold treatment. It will cost money but save on medical expenses in the long run.

Avoid mold on food items

Besides walls and furniture, another place where mold grows is rotten and decaying food items. Though the mold species that grows on food items is different from the one that grows on walls.

Food items catch mold quickly during humid climates like rainy season. Certain food items like bread, cheese catch mold even faster than others. It is very important to take care of your kitchen and the food during the humid and rainy seasons.

Avoid eating anything that is too old or shows the slightest sign of rotting. Rotting food generally smells bad. Do not keep food in open for too long. Keeping food inside the refrigerator can keep them free from mold and germs for a longer time.

Medication

If you have been affected by mold and symptoms are becoming prominent, you might consider taking medications to keep things under control. There are several prescribed drugs and pills for controlling allergies. However you should always consult a doctor first and take medicines only as recommended by the doctor.

However, keep in mind that most medicines and drugs will only counter the allergy symptoms and not the root cause of the problem. Ideally you should work towards improving your immunity as well as the hygiene of the environment.

Conclusion

By now you should have a good idea of what health risks are caused by mold and how you can deal with them to save yourself from any complications.

The best treatment of mold is to clean and remove it. Atleast inside your house, you should take utmost care to make sure that no mold infestation occurs anywhere and treat them at the first sign.

In some places, mold might occur more than usual due to climatic conditions or construction problems. Then you should definitely call a professional to get a proper mold treatment for your house.

If you have any other questions, let us know in the comment box below.

What is Mold

What is Mold

Mold (also called mould) is a fungus (microscopic plants) that grow on various things like damp places, food items etc. Ever noticed those scary looking growth on rotten fruits, vegetables or the black spots in the bathroom. That is mold.

Mold grows in places where there is moisture (or damp), lack of fresh air and moderate temperatures. They cannot grow under direct sunlight. Bright sunlight inhibits the growth of mold.

Mold survives and draws nutrition from the very surface it grows on. It grows most commonly on decaying and rotting organic matter like fruits, vegetables, wood etc. Inside the house mold grows in many more places apart from just organic substances.

Where does mold grow

Mold appears quickly on damp ridden walls, ceilings, wooden structures and all places in the bathroom for example. Where-ever there is water contact or moisture staying for long time, mold finds a conducive environment to thrive.

Apart from walls and wooden structures, mold can even grow on clothes, carpet and similar things. If you leave the carpet wet for long and do not give it a wash once every few days, it would start smelling bad and eventually develop mildew growth.

Mold on walls

Mold on walls

Mold appears even on the outdoors. Just like the inside of the house, wooden and wall structures on the outside of the house also develop mold growth when there is too much damp or water contact persisting for a long time.

What causes mold to grow

Most species of mold need moisture and moderate temperature to grow. You would rarely see mold growing in dry places. Moisture or damp problem is fundamental to mold growth. There are a number of reasons why moisture may become a problem inside your house.

Some of the common reasons include, humidity, water leakage through water pipelines or from faulty roof ceilings.

Some mold species are Xerophilic in nature and can grow in places with little or no moisture by only humidity. For example the mold that grows over bread which has been left to rot. However most of the mold species need accumulation of moisture to be able to grow.

Mold growing on fruit

Mold growing on fruit

Besides moisture, the other key factor that favors mold growth is moderate temperature. Apart from very hot and very cold temperatures, mold can grow under all other temperatures. There are some mold species that can even lie dormant under cold climates and start growing again when the temperature is right. Mold can grow at temperatures as low as 2 degree celcius. However very hot conditions generally inhibits the growth of mold and kills it.

Mold Biology and cellular structure

Mold grows in colonies. A mold colony is considered a single organism. The main body of a mold colony is called mycelium and it is made of a network of multi-cellular filaments called hyphae. It is only when the mold colony becomes large enough, does it become visible to the naked human eye.

The tips of the hyphae release enzymes that breaks down the compounds present in the underlying surface on which the mold is living. The mold then absorbs the nutrients from the underlying surface and continues growth.

Mold spores

Under favorable conditions of temperature, oxygen levels and available nutrients, the mold produce spores at the end of the hyphal cells. These spores act like seeds, and reproduce the mold elsewhere.

The spores are carried away by air flow elsewhere and if they land on a surface that is suitable for growth of mold, the spore will germinate into a new hyphal cell and begin the growth of a mold colony.

If mold starts growing in one corner of the house, the spores originating from it can float to other parts of the house and spread pretty fast. Since they are not visible it can be difficult to clean and remove them completely without proper inspection. More over some of the spores are resilient enough to stay dormant for years before they find suitable environment to grow.

What is Toxic Mold

Now that we have understood the basics of mold, it is now important to learn about it toxicity and what it is dangerous to humans. There are thousands of species of mold and about 16 of the are known as toxic mold which release mycotoxin, a toxic chemical that can cause harm to humans and animals.

Some of the toxic mold species include –

  • Aspergillus
  • Fusarium
  • Paecilomyces
  • Penicillium
  • Stachybotrys
  • Trichoderma

However, not all black mold is toxic. If you suspect that mold somewhere in your house is causing your health problems, then it is advisable to get proper inspection done, to identify the mold species.

Toxic Black Mold Problems and Sick Building Syndrome

Mycotoxins produced from toxic mold is considered to be a major cause of sick building syndrome in places that have unhealthy working conditions. Work places and offices receive less of cleaning attention compared to homes and as a result mold infestations persist for a long time. If you are facing similar problems in your work environment then it might be time to take necessary steps.

The increasing problem of Mold

The problem of mold inside homes is increasing over time. This is partly due to the construction of the buildings and also due to the maintenance done by the home owner. Newer buildings focus more on compact designs and layouts and focus less on ventilation and letting sunlight inside the house.

This causes stagnant air and moisture getting trapped easily inside such constructions leading to favorable conditions for mold growth. Furthermore, home owners are resorting to air conditioners for fresh air instead of their windows. Air conditioners tend to spread the mycotoxins and spores even more indoors and the quality of air is never the same as natural air.

More over the life style of home owners, is becoming busier by the day and people put in lesser time on cleaning their homes.

Conclusion

So the above article should have given you a fair idea about what mold is and how it affects your house and your health. Any kind of organic growth is seen as a symptom of decay and bad energy and should be eliminated from the house at the earliest.

In upcoming articles we shall talk about how to clean and remove mold from your house. If you have any questions or comments, then let us know.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycelium
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycotoxin

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