Water damage is a serious problem when it affects a home. Whether it’s from a storm, a plumbing leak or even from water that was used to fight a fire, water damage can have a long-lasting effect, even after it has appeared to be cleaned up. When water gets into your home, it can seep into your walls, your upholstery, your carpeting and many other nooks and crannies. It may seem that it has all dried up, but if it is not cleaned properly and professionally it can be a breeding ground for black mold, which is a nasty substance that causes serious problems for you and your family.
What Is Black Mold?
Black mold is a toxic substance that feeds on organic materials. The organic materials it seems to like best are found in things around the house like your insulation, sub-flooring, carpet, drywall and upholstery. As it develops, it can release spores into the air, where it gets inhaled and ingested by humans. Ingesting black mold spores on a regular basis can lead to dangerous health symptoms. It especially thrives in moist, dark places, which is why standing water that’s left to dry in your carpets, drywall and other spots, is particularly dangerous. While it’s called black mold, it can look green as well, and has a musty odor that is quite noticeable.
Symptoms of Black Mold Exposure
While there are few definitive scientific studies that clearly demonstrate that mold negatively affects health, there can be no doubt. Studies have shown a clear correlation between certain health effects and mold exposure. Since so many other things can cause similar symptoms, such as overall health, stress and diet, it’s difficult to completely prove that mold is the culprit. Nevertheless, it is widely accepted that mold is detrimental to human health.
Some of the symptoms and health effects are mild, but they can become serious as well. Chronic wheezing and coughing are common symptoms, as are breathing issues. Sufferers have reported sneezing, watery eyes and sore throats. Some people can experience chronic fatigue and rashes. In the more serious cases, black mold is believed to be a primary factor in contracting pneumonia.
If you or a family member has any of the minor symptoms and there does not seem to be a reason, then you should probably consider that mold could be a factor. A professional can come to inspect your home and identify if you have a mold infestation.
There are certain people who are more at risk of having complications from black mold exposure. If you already have respiratory issues due to allergies or asthma, then black mold can exacerbate the symptoms. Babies, infants and children who are still developing are at more risk, even if they are otherwise healthy. In fact, children who are chronically exposed to black mold may be as much as 3 times more likely to become asthmatic when they get older. Also, people who have weakened immune systems are more susceptible to health problems from black mold. These people include those who are HIV positive, have cancer, have gone through chemotherapy treatment or have any other reason to be immunocompromized.
Reducing the Risk of Black Mold Exposure
There are several ways to reduce the risk of black mold exposure. There are also certain warning signs you can watch for so that you can take action if need be. The best way to prevent the development and spread of black mold is by controlling the moisture in all areas of your home. This means that you must remove moisture quickly and not let it sit. This includes spills on your floor or in your carpets. Make sure to clean out your gutters so that water is directed away from the foundation of your home. Your air conditioning drip pans must be kept clean, and your drain lines must be kept clear. The ideal humidity in your home should be about 40%, give or take. Use a dehumidifier if it gets too high. If condensation is building up anywhere in your home, such as on your windows or walls, then you must quickly dry them off and pinpoint what is causing the issue to correct it.
One of the biggest causes of mold is improperly repairing, cleaning and drying out a space after water gets into the home. This could be from a plumbing leak, a roof leak, or from the water used to put out a fire. Too often, people think that repairing the leak or putting out the fire is the end of the problem. This is just not true. If water is left alone then it can and will become a breeding ground for mold. The best thing to do after excess water has gotten into your home is to have a professional clean, repair, and restore the affected area. They have the right equipment and the know-how to make sure that every surface is completely dry and will not be a magnet for black mold.