Black mold is a serious home wrecker. Black mold, stachybotrys chartarum, thrives in damp areas and nourishes on cellulose found in wood and wallpaper. It is a health risk, particularly for young children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems, and the cost of eliminating it is not cheap. Clean up can range from $300 to as much as $30,000 for severe infestation. Black mold can even result in a house being condemned and destroyed. Early black mold detection is consequently very important.
Where can this house hazard be found? An immediate area to look is any place that is both dark and damp. High humidity is a condition for substantial mold growth, and those who live in areas of high humidity need to be constantly on guard for mold growth. A rule of thumb is that relative humidity level of more than fifty-five percent creates an excellent environment for toxic mold growth. The humidity of interior rooms can vary and it is possible that black mold will initially grow in one area and not touch an adjourning room. Because of a combination of darkness and high humidity, basements, and crawl spaces are both very likely breeding grounds for stachybotrys chartarum (de-humidifiers can help reduce the risk of moisture build up in a given space).
Moisture is the medium that spawns black mold and leaking pipes are a common source of the required wetness. Since piping is not routinely inspected for leaks, the mold can grow undisturbed for a long period of time until the problem has reached near crisis state. Blocked gutters can cause rain water to seep into walls and through the roofs, permitting moisture to collect in areas not immediately noticeable. Hidden spaces are not the only areas where black mold can grow. Due to moisture and the porous nature of tile grout, bathrooms are also common places for black mold with the spores generating between and behind the tiles on the floor. When it comes to black mold detection, warped wood and loosened dry wall tape are evidence of a degree of moisture suitable for black mold to grow, and because of the volume of water and the length of time it takes for drying out; flooding is a common cause of stachybotrys chartarum proliferation.
Physical identification of a black mold problem comes in various ways. Smell is ordinarily the first means of black mold detection. It is a dank, musty smell. Interestingly, the odor is at times first detected when the heating or air conditioning is on. Individual black mold spores are not visible to the naked eye, so visible signs are usually of a colony of mold. This can appear as yellowish stains on walls or ceilings. Green, brown, or black stains will show advanced stages of mold accumulation. A final means of detecting black mold requires the use of a black light fluorescent tube. This is moved over the suspected area of mold accumulation in the dark. A yellow glow gives evidence there is mold growth. Cracked or peeling paint will hint of moisture collection that has grown to the point where mold is being produced.
Black mold becomes visible only when there are colonies of spores, and simple precautions can prevent the fungus from becoming a serious problem. It’s important to remember that high humidity is a breeding ground for this type of fungus. De-humidifiers and routine checks for leaky water pipes can prevent mold from generating and unclogging gutters stops water from accumulating between the walls. Immediate removal action after the initial detection of black mold also keeps the problem from growing into a major disaster.