Black mould is a type of fungus that forms its conidia – or reproductive hooks – in dark slush or slimy strands. It can be found almost everywhere: in dry, warm soil; in decaying organic material, such as fallen trees and wood; in grain and feed bins; and in damp or moist areas of a building, such as basement walls, bathrooms, showers, and attics. It’s sometimes hidden in damp, humid conditions as a result of the building’s design or location. In other cases, black mold can develop on or near the surfaces it finds in even drier, healthier areas. Mold spores are very small and don’t show up to anyone when they grow.
Mold spores need moisture to survive, so the first place you might find them is in bathrooms. Black mould spores in bathrooms or other damp places can be invisible to the eye, so they can hide where no one will see them, such as behind tiles and shower curtains. If there’s little or no water vapour present, you might never know you have mold: if the walls and floors are wet, however, black mould can grow well.
One of the first signs that your walls may need cleaning are black patches on the walls. They’re not always a sign of mildew, because some mildew species can produce a darker shade on a dry surface than on a wet one. The colour may look like soot or mold; in fact, it could be chalk or calcium chalk (calcium carbonate) – a sign that you need to clean and treat for mildew before any major damage can occur. Mildew usually grows in basements, but black mould can grow in all kinds of damp areas. If you suspect mildew on your walls, take action immediately before the condition progresses.
Another common cause of black mould problems is condensation on your heating, ventilations or roofing systems. Black mould can grow on damp interior walls, ceilings, attics and windows, too, as long as the conditions are right. Some types of black mould can only grow where external condensation has dried off the moisture: this can happen on external walls, ceilings, attics and windows in the summer time, as the humidity increases and the air is pulled indoors. Even with external condensation, it’s a good idea to treat your internal walls and ceiling with a special solution designed to prevent black mould from growing on them.
Most condensation on a cold surface can be dealt with common sense and waterproofing solutions, and often, you’ll only notice it when it’s getting bad. However, condensation on the exterior walls of your home is often caused by condensation between painted surfaces (which can also lead to discoloured paint jobs) and external drainage pipes and ducts. These surfaces often get damp through lack of regular cleaning and are thus more likely to attract black mould. In addition, wood surfaces in your bathroom are often found to have condensation because they are less resistant to normal climate changes than tiles and other materials.
If you suspect that your home may have black mould, it’s important to get rid of the problem as soon as possible. Black mould will not disappear if it is allowed to get worse; in fact, it will spread rapidly if left untreated. The longer you leave it, the more difficult it will be to remove, and the more toxic black mould will become. In extreme cases, you may have to move to a different home – or risk death! Luckily, there are some simple ways to get rid of black mould if you detect it in your home before you need to call in the professionals.
If you discover black mould in your home and it is growing on a wall or behind a window, the first step is to check for leaks around windows and doors. Leaks are usually the most obvious places to look for, but there are other places to leak moisture. Common causes include cracked pipes, leaking pipes, faulty washing systems, poor ventilation, and poor insulation. If you find leaks around windows and doors, these will usually be easy to fix, but in case of bigger issues, it’s best to call in a professional. This is particularly true if the water is coming from an uncovered septic tank, which can cause serious damage to the property and may require completely removing the tank and replacing it with a new one.
If you have any concerns that your bathroom or kitchen might have mold, it’s a good idea to get it inspected by a professional as soon as possible. Black mould, although it cannot usually be seen by the naked eye, can be dangerous for you and your family if left untreated. Mild cases of black mould are not toxic but can still cause respiratory problems, and can cause allergies and other health problems. For this reason, it’s important to get mold testing done immediately when you discover it, as it could have gotten there much sooner. A professional inspection will let you know what the extent of the damage is and can help you find the best solution for removing the black mould from your home.