Black mold is a rather sinister organism. It thrives in secret, private places where few people go. Hidden in dark corners, black mold multiplies and then finally takes control of the structure of the house. The greatest danger, however, is not to the house but the health of its owners. Those with allergies and respiratory problems are at serious risk. Black mold, also known as stachybotrys chartarum, generates a trichothecene mycotoxin known as Satrotoxin-H and airborne spores can cause major internal complications when inhaled. The dangers inherent in black mold are reason enough to take firm steps to control it.
Black mold thrives on damp and wet areas. As such, being able to control the amount of moisture in a house is a definite step in the right direction. There are a number of relatively simple ways to keep mold breeding moisture to the barest minimum. For instance, a bathroom’s wet atmosphere is easily controlled by opening a window for a few hours during the day. A ceiling exhaust fan can also be used to reduce humidity.
Like the bathroom, the basement is another area where black mold often collects. Because of this, the house’s drainage system needs to be examined for the possibility of rain water seeping into the lower levels of the home. If this does happen, the gutter systems may need repair or extenders added on to the downspouts to direct water away from the home.
Air flow is important as a drying medium and improving the circulation in a room can be improved by the use of a ventilation system and even simple floor or wall fans. The bathroom, for instance, is a prime location for mold to fester. Fortunately, most bathrooms have ceiling fans installed, which suck up the moisture caused by the steam from the hot shower. As such, it’s always recommended to turn this fan on when showering or leaving hot water on for extended periods of time. The floor of the basement can be heated by means of underfloor heating and that will keep the area dry, removing or at least reducing potential black mold breeding areas. Areas prone to spring flooding benefit from the installation of sump pumps that prevent water from reaching levels above that of the basement floor.
De-humidifiers have been recommended for controlling internal moisture. These are particularly valuable in houses where there is no air conditioning. The size of the de-humidifier is an important consideration. The appliance has to be large enough to keep a room relatively dry and still be energy efficient. A final means of eliminating potential breeding areas for black mold is using efficient storage strategies. Periodically airing out storage closets and making sure that damp things are not allowed to collect on the floor are good ways to control moisture. Open shelving that uses plastic wire is excellent because it permits air to better circulate among stored items than solid shelving. All of the above can help prevent black mold from gaining a foothold in a house.
Of course, it isn’t always possible to keep a house as dry as a bone, particularly in humid climates. Keeping moisture under control must be combined with routine inspections of places where black mold is likely to proliferate (e.g. bathrooms, basements, under kitchen sinks, etc.). Further, it can never be assumed that this fungus, once removed, will never come back. Still, if a homeowner is able to practice regular and proper due diligence, the odds are in that person’s favor that black mold will never become a problem that gets out of control.