Does black mold exist in the UP? Unfortunately, yes. I’ve even spoken with county building inspectors in the region who have had to condemn buildings for black mold. So if you suspect black mold in your UP home, a mold assessment is definitely in order!
What is Black Mold?
“Black mold” is the common term for Stachybotrys chartarum, a type of mold that grows readily in indoor environments under certain conditions. It is perhaps the best known type of mold because this mold species has captured public imagination as the most dangerous “toxic mold” out there—perhaps because it looks so scary!
However, it is important to realize that black mold is only one of many types of household mold, any of which can cause health problems. In fact, according to WebMD, “there is no reason to believe that black mold is any more dangerous than other types of mold.”
Why a Mold Assessment is Critical If You Think You Have Black Mold
That said, black mold—or any mold for that matter—in your home is something to be concerned about. Nearly any type of mold can cause unpleasant and even dangerous health conditions when inhaled or ingested.
Black mold in particular is a very fast-growing mold. In under a week, it’s possible for a single spore to colonize an area of your home and spread several feet under ideal conditions.
Once mold is established in your home, an active mold colony will continue to generate spores that float around in the air you breathe and land on the food you eat. Mold exposure can cause many types of health problems, including but not necessarily limited to:
- Respiratory symptoms, including sneezing and asthma
- Irritation of the mucous membranes such as eyes
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Skin conditions such as rashes
It’s important to note that mold toxicity can look very different from one person to another and doesn’t always follow the same pattern. In fact it’s a common cause of “mystery illness.” Some people are more sensitive to the effects of mold exposure, often due to mold allergy. So even if just one person in your household is experiencing adverse health issues with no known cause, it’s worth having a mold assessment done to determine if black mold (or another type of mold) is causing the problem.
What Does Black Mold Look Like?
Black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) looks exactly like how “toxic mold” might look in a Hollywood movie. It shows up as dark green to black, clustered or spotted clumps clinging to surfaces in your home—and once established, it spreads like mad. In its dormant form (where it has no source of moisture to help it grow), black mold may look dry and powdery.
3 Step Mold Assessment: How to Determine If Black Mold is Present
If you think you may have black mold in your house but can’t find the source, a mold assessment is critical so you can locate and get rid of it, if any is there. This simple 3 step protocol will help you determine if mold is an issue in your home:
1. Use your nose.
Black mold has an unmistakable “moldy” odor. If you smell this anywhere in your home, you know you have an issue.
2. Do a DIY visual mold assessment.
If you can actually see mold growing in your home, you know you have it! Mold needs moisture to survive and grow, and can live in temperatures between 40° to 100° F, so walk through and inspect your home with that in mind.
Black mold is commonly found in or near the following indoor areas:
- Near water sources in the home, such as around sinks, bathtubs, and toilets or in bathroom and kitchen under sink areas.
- Anywhere moisture condenses, such as window frames or ducts.
- Anywhere that has high humidity, like bathrooms or basements.
- Any area that has had a water leak or where flooding has occurred.
- Keep in mind that mold thrives on any cellulose material such as wood, particle board, drywall, or fabric.
3. Get a Professional Mold Assessment
Professional mold testing isn’t necessary if you know you have it. But you may want to schedule a professional mold assessment under the following conditions:
- if you haven’t found evidence of mold using the first two measures and still think mold may be causing your health problems,
- if you just want to know the exact species and level of infestation you are dealing with,
- if you need proof of mold infestation for legal reasons, or
- if you are purchasing a home and want to rule out the presence of black mold before you buy
Our mold assessment includes both a visual inspection with our certified home inspector to look for mold, and professional mold sampling and analysis. We test for the 17 most common species of household mold, including Stachybotrys chartarum. Our mold test will also tell you exactly how high your mold count is for each species tested at the time of inspection, so you’ll have a better idea what you’re dealing with.
In case you’re wondering if you really need our mold inspector to inspect your home if you’ve already done your own visual inspection: there’s a reason we’re professionals. Our inspector routinely finds issues that even highly educated and experienced homeowners miss. In addition, our mold inspector can help you determine what structural features of your home may be contributing to mold growth, so you can address the problem at the root.
What To Do If Your Mold Assessment Shows You Have Black Mold In Your Home
If your home tests positive for mold, don’t delay in getting it cleaned up as soon as possible. Because black mold is so aggressive, you will need to engage in a full blown seek-and-destroy mission to get rid of it.
- First of all, you will need to find and remove the water source that is enabling the mold to grow.
- You’ll need to remove and destroy or thoroughly disinfect and seal any materials or surfaces that have been infected with mold.
- It’s also a good idea to reduce humidity in your home, such as with a dehumidifier.
- And you may want to invest in a HEPA air filter to reduce mold spore count in your air and discourage black mold from colonizing your home again in the future.
If your mold infestation is extensive or you don’t want to do it yourself, we encourage you to hire a professional mold remediation company to help. (That’s not us, though. We can help you find it, but as a mold inspection company it would be a conflict of interest for us to offer mold remediation services!)
Looking for a Mold Assessment Professional in the UP?
If you’re in need of professional mold assessment, give us a call! We’re friendly, knowledgeable, and available for mold testing throughout the central and western Upper Peninsula. Call us at (906)360-3879 or schedule your mold assessment here today!