As Halloween draws near, it's time to pull out the scary decorations and costumes. But October is also a good time to look for a real fright in your home -- black mold -- and eradicate it forever.
Why is Mold Sometimes Scary?
Black mold is scientifically known as Stachybotrys chartarum, and because it can cause respiratory illness, coughing, headaches and eye irritation when it's inhaled, it's a bigger threat than any ghost or goblin.
And because mold is a common issue, as it can grow in damp areas of most homes, it's important to be on the lookout for it, especially if you have people in your home who have weak immune systems, are elderly, are very young or are pregnant. October typically marks the beginning of inclement weather in the U.S., so it's the time when people start spending more of their time indoors. That makes them more susceptible to the side effects of mold spore inhalation.
Mold of all types, not just Stachybotrys, likes to grow in moist areas. Drywall that's not properly treated or that gets wet and isn't correctly dried is particularly susceptible to mold growth. You might also find mold in carpeting and other flooring, sub-flooring or the insulation in your walls.
Why Does Mold Like to Grow on Drywall?
Drywall is a porous material that is covered on both sides with paper, so it is an ideal area for moisture to collect and for mold to grow. At some point, most homeowners will need to deal with mold growing on their walls.
Cleaning the walls is rarely good enough to eradicate mold. If paint is chipped or there are scratches in the walls, mold can gain access to the drywall underneath and wreak havoc. If you can see mold on the surface of your drywall, it's likely there is some mold growth throughout a larger section of the wall.
How Can You Fix Your Mold Issues?
If the mold has gotten into your drywall, you'll need more than a cleaning -- you'll want to have a qualified contractor examine the wall and consider drywall repair or replacement. There are few other options for getting rid of mold in drywall once it has started to grow.
You'll also need to make sure that you eliminate the sources of moisture in your home so that mold cannot regain a foothold. If you've had a plumbing break or flooding, you have a specific incident to trace the moisture to -- you'll probably be fine once you address the necessary repairs from that problem. You should also:
- Make sure bathrooms and kitchens are properly vented so moisture can escape.
- Properly vent your clothes dryer to the outside.
- Fix any leaks under your sinks or in your walls.
- Check your roof for any issues. A leak may have let water into an attic area or crawl space without showing any signs in the rest of your home.
- Look for breaks in your siding. Sometimes deck, window or door installation can cause small gaps in the siding that let water in.
- Keep your home clean. Wash walls and eliminate any mold with a bleach solution.
Talk to your contractor for information on repairing or replacing areas of your drywall that show signs of mold, before any visible mold growth becomes truly scary.