Home » Black Mold: The Definitive Guide

Black Mold: The Definitive Guide

by Amanda Demsky
black mold guide

What is Black Mold?

what does black mold look like*

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Hearing about mold can be scary, especially if it’s in your home or business and it’s making you and other people sick. It can poison your family, your co-workers, your friends, and even your pets. Most people think green when they think of mold, but black mold, or Stachybotrys, is actually a very common problem in damp or water-damaged areas (Stop mold after water damage) and it can be very dangerous. (7 ways to know if a mold is dangerous).

How Does Black Mold Grow?

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

The spores of black mold float in the air, and they’re too small to see. If you breathe them in and they start to make you sick, you should never assume that they will go away on their own. The mold will spread, and the problem will only become worse. Knowing what black mold is and what kinds of problems the spores will cause in the human body are both very important, so that the symptoms can be recognized and addressed in a home or a business.

Black Mold Symptoms

Symptoms of black mold* may include:

Symptoms of black mold include watering and irritated eyes, sneezing, runny nose, chronic fatigue, chronic coughing, and headaches. It can also produce nausea and vomiting, and extreme cases of exposure can cause bleeding in the nose and lungs. Most people are treated for the problem before it becomes too serious, but some people are more sensitive to black mold than others.

“I’ve got the symptoms! What do I do now?”

If you or your loved ones or coworkers are experiencing any of these symptoms on a consistent basis, you may be exposed to black mold without realizing it. If that’s the case, you should find the problem and have it taken care of quickly, before symptoms become any worse. A professional mold remediator (learn how to choose the right one) should be the one to treat the mold, and people with symptoms should be seen by their doctor, just to rule out any serious concerns.

How to Get Rid of Black Mold

How to clean black mold*

Black mold removal*

how to kill black mold on drywall*

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what kills black mold best*

Get It Cleaned While You’re Gone

Once a person with symptoms gets away from the black mold spores, the symptoms should clear up in a short amount of time. While that person is away, a professional mold remediation company can come in and address the black mold problem. The mold is often seen from water damage, but it can also appear anywhere that stays wet a lot, such as in a kitchen or bathroom, or somewhere that has a leaky pipe.

Under a sink is a common place for black mold (learn about where mold grows), or along the baseboard where a washing machine sits. It can also be found in the corners of bathrooms where the dampness from the shower lingers too long. Businesses can get black mold in the bathrooms (showers and toilets especially), around the water cooler, or in the employee kitchen.

Beware of Water Damage

If water damage has occurred on the property – if it’s been flooded, for example – black mold could be anywhere. A professional mold remediator may have to remove the drywall, treat the wooden beams in the walls, and replace the drywall with new materials in order to ensure that the mold problem is stopped. While that can be expensive, it is well worth the trouble to have it done, especially when the health and safety of a family or a business may be at stake.

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Kezia August 17, 2010 - 4:27 am


Im pretty sure my daughter who is 2 has these symptoms, we have just discovered that a previous leak in the ceiling that was apparently fixed has began leaking again and it is just across from my daughters head.

She has had chronic coughs and colds while we have lived in this house and I think this maybe the cause.

I live in New Zealand and cannot find any people in the yellow pages that are called mold removers.

I am also pregnant so am really freaking out about all this.

Please help!

mikefromashburn March 1, 2011 - 9:35 pm

Mold Aid Helped With Our Serious Mold Problem http://www.moldaid.com thank you

On January 2, 2011 after taking a shower I noticed a rash on my feet and ankles. I also had sinusitis symptoms for the weeks preceding the noticeable rash. I went to the Dr. on January 3rd to address the sinus symptoms (also had a slight fever and sore throat). The Dr. didn’t want to put me on steroids to address the rash as he felt it would be detrimental to my body’s ability to fight the cold and fever. I began researching possible causes for the rash and recalled seeing what looked like mold on the dartboard in the finished basement. The more I looked into the symptoms of mold exposure, the more it looked like the possible cause. Between the two of us we had many of the classic symptoms, persistent sinusitis, rash, fatigue, burning eyes, headaches, shortness of breath, IBS, occasional sore throat, tremors, ear aches, difficulty concentrating and sputum. Based on my symptoms (more specific to the spreading rash) and the visible mold, we vacated the home on January 5th.
I immediately contacted Mold Aid in Gainesville, VA to schedule an air quality test and they were on site the very next evening. John Taylor and Glen did a complete inspection of the home, collecting air samples on each floor and samples of visible mold. John found visible mold on chair fabric as well as books in the bookcase. John and Glen also tested moisture levels in the home and found elevated levels at the front basement wall. Further inspection revealed a water stain on the carpet, rusty carpet tack strips and visible mold around the electrical outlet. John didn’t open up the front wall for a visible inspection as his nine years of mold remediation experience told him that would be where the highest concentration of mold would be. Mold Aid was able to view inside the ductwork and provide pictures of visible mold growth. As part of the home inspection, John discovered a pin hole leak in a washer hose, a water supply line leak above the hot water heater, a kitchen window leak and a condensation issue in the HVAC room.
Mold Aid provided the air quality test results Monday, January 10 and we were all very surprised. The mold spore count levels on all three floors of the home far exceeded acceptable levels. We had a very serious mold problem. John provided a comprehensive mold remediation plan, fully explaining the process with pictures of the known issues to include the mold killer (Benefect) they would be using. We were very happy to hear Benefect was not harmful to humans or pets and asked how soon they could start. At this point we were living in a cheap (in every way) extended stay and wanted our lives and home back.
Mold Aid was able to get us on the schedule for January 18 and 19. The entire house was fogged and negative air pressure was established with high volume, commercial air scrubbers venting to the outside. Mold Aid removed the drywall and insulation on the entire front basement wall and determined the sump pump was not able to keep up with moisture around the foundation allowing water to condensate around most of the basement perimeter. As part of the mold remediation plan and after fogging, all of our carpet and padding was removed from the home (the spore count was too high to remove from the carpet and pad), all items containing porous materials (clothing, shoes, fabric covered chairs, etc.) were bagged and placed in the garage. The items placed in the garage had dead mold spores on them and based on the mold sensitivity we had developed required HEPA vacuuming prior to bringing them back into the home.
We were able to move back into our home on January 20, only 15 days after we vacated. We were so happy to be home and quasi back to normal. Now the building back has started, with no more carpet (all hardwood), all of the area rugs and curtains cleaned, clothes cleaned and the items placed in the garage have been HEPA vacuumed and are now back in the house.
In regards to our overall health, within a few days of vacating the house, many of our symptoms were diminished, no rash, no fatigue, no shortness of breath, less sinus issues, less headaches and we seem to be doing better every day. We realize the health issues from living in a home with a moisture problem that turns into a major mold problem takes time to subside and hopefully eventually go away, but we see regular improvements as time progresses.
I can’t say enough about the quick and professional response we had after contacting Mold Aid. The Mold Aid team was very understanding and explained the nature of the issue and the process taken to resolve the problem each step of the way. John Taylor was very responsive when we had questions, even late into the evening.
In summary, this entire process from getting a rash which caused us to really look into the cause, identifying the mold issue, vacating our home for two weeks and then all the effort and expense to get things (life) back to normal really was an awakening of sorts. We could have gone years without knowing our home was making us sick. I feel very strongly that all homeowners or renters should have an air quality test done. Especially if they are suffering from any of the symptoms we outlined above. I would guess many homeowners are unaware that they have poor indoor air quality. The EPA states that 80% of homes have worse indoor air quality than what is found out doors. Many people go years not knowing their home could be making them sick. There are many companies that offer mold inspection services. We chose Mold Aid because of their certifications and experience. They are a true indoor air quality company and we were very happy with their knowledge and services.

Mike from Ashburn

Cfromwoodbridge March 4, 2011 - 10:51 pm

Mold Aid Was Wonderful To Work With
We had the unexpected opportunity to use Mold Aid two times in 2007.  The first time was for a simple job of a small amount of mold by the master shower.  I had noticed discoloration in the floor and caulking.  I looked at many companies that were listed in the internet that said they would treat mold.  Mold Aid seemed the most informed, trained and they promised to come back within a year and test levels in my house.  While my renters were on vacation for spring break, I had the mold treated.  After the mold remediation, I had new tile and cabinets put in by an independent contractors.   I was very happy with Mold Aids efficiency and thoroughness.  Months went by and our military renters moved that summer and new renters were moving in.  After a hot moving day with doors open, the house passed my move out inspection and my renters moved out.  My new renters moved in the next day.  The wife got sick within a few hours of being in the house.  She was taken to the hospital where the ER physician said she was having an asthma attack.  She doesn’t have asthma.  When my renter went back to the house, he noticed a big black spot on the garage ceiling.  He moved out and called my husband who then called me.  My husband was in Iraq at the time.  After a long talk with my husband that Sunday morning, I called my contractor and John Taylor.  They both agreed to meet me in a few hours at the house.  When I walked into the garage there was a large black spot on the ceiling that was not there two days earlier.  My contractor and I went into the house and to the master bathroom.  When my contractor sat on the toilet, it moved.  He was in shock.  His subcontractor had set the toilet months before.  If the toilet wasn’t sealed it would leak water.  That is exactly above the spot in the garage.  John Taylor arrived at my house with family in tow.  He changed his family plans on July 4th weekend to help solve this problem.  He told us the area of mold is concerning.  The next day he had someone test the house and mold level.  It was extremely high “toxic” level.  That is why my renters wife got sick so fast.  He put me on the schedule as soon as possible to treat my house.  They did a great job moving quickly so I would have time to get everything rebuilt and painted so I could the house ready to rent again.  I love the guarantee that they will come back before the year is out to retest the levels.  The levels were normal.  That gave me so much peace of mind.  Rusty was extremely helpful and knowledgeable about his work. 
I hope this helps you with your decision to treat your mold problem.  They were wonderful to work with. 
Thank you Cheryl

laura November 27, 2011 - 10:00 pm

Hi. I feel nausea, headaches, runny nose, and bad headaches, I recently found black mold in my room(right beside my bed), could that be why I’m having these symtoms?

Louise June 5, 2013 - 12:18 pm

My son is a plumber of 22 yrs.He has been diagnosed with SARCOIDOSIS.His boss sends him to places where there are molds & weird scents.One time they opened a wall & there was black mold & the scent was so strong that he began coughing up blood , had headache, had difficulty breathing.He called the boss & his response was: do the job anyway.The next 2-3 days he couldn’t go to work.Now, because of his Sarcoidosis he looses a lot of work days.He can barely breath.His boss doesn’t care about his condition.He only cares about his business.My question is: Do you think that he can win in court due to all the years he worked in those infested places.Do you think his Sarcoidosis is due to all the environmental agents, molds, plumbing products etc…Thank you for your FREE site & Iwould appreciate an email from you.Sincerely yours.

Kimberly Flick January 24, 2014 - 10:17 pm

I have had a mold problem since my kids n I moved in the rental trailer,I have told my landlord he does nothing.Last year my trailer was flooded underneath,the water was three feet deep.There is only insulation under the trailer no boards to hold it up.The black plastic on the ground under the trailer in not there.I am getting mold coming through the floor leaving the inside walls wet n moldy ,I have cleaned the walls repeatedly with bleach it keeps coming back.I have been sick with all the symptoms since,Sept.I don’t have money to move or pay a someone to clean n fix the problem.Nor get a lawyer,what can I do? Please anything would help me,thank you, Kimberly

Amanda Collins July 30, 2014 - 8:15 pm

If u get black mold only on a bed can if just be caused by a spill in a basement floor at the bed and someone never cleaned it up

Cynthia Goodie January 29, 2015 - 2:10 pm

Hello my Name is Cynthia Goodie I was exposed to mold in my apartment in 2014 I have moved a year ago the mold had me very sick with spots on my lungs I have proof on a catscan I have gotten alittle better I paid for a mold specialist to come to my apartment I and have the test results back them I was living under 460 levels of mold and it also showed in my blood work I would like to sue the apartment complex but three laywers would not take me.

Mary March 31, 2015 - 4:59 pm

how long after mold is removed how long does it take for symptoms to go away? Can chronic throat clearing be a sign of mold exposure? Also how can I remove the mold if I can’t have it removed professionally? What type of dr can I go to see for help? Thank you

cristie horton May 7, 2015 - 8:57 pm

Hi I have been getting black mold on the bottom of my mattress. What can I do. I have a one and a half year old daughter we have tried everything.

Benjamin Wilson June 26, 2015 - 2:53 pm

My girlfriend is worried about mold in the walls of the house we just bought.
I removed sheetrock and siding, crawled under the house (the crawl space is very small)looked under receptacle and light switch covers but have not found any evidence of black mold. She insists the smell of the old house is musty. Is it possible that we have mold but don’t see it or cant find it. Are the hosts of this website mold abatement experts or just trying to scare up some business?

Dawn Weiss November 14, 2015 - 4:48 pm

Hi-My 2 daughters and myself attend a co-op for homeschoolers-We are there every Thursday for at least 9 hours-we just found out there is black mold in the school.They said as long as it is untouched we are not in danger-they are looking into getting it removed-
Also in our unfinished basement on the rock walls I have seen black splotches-y
they look a little furry-is this black mold-this is in our home…My 9 year old has respitory issues and my 13 year old has terrible sinus problems-please help-THankyou so much-Dawn Weiss

leslie fox November 29, 2015 - 9:53 am

the home i live in has black mold in four years i have lost two dogs?

Lauren March 15, 2016 - 2:00 pm

Hi i have black mould and yellow patch in my bathroom, i am the pine end and need new roof cant aford 1, all my windows are drafty and have to wipe every morning, i also have bad athsma, my sons have black mould all around thair window and cealing, prity much howl house has black mould

Kayle April 8, 2016 - 4:38 pm

Black mold is serious health risk, 25% of the population is seriously allergic to it. Even I wasn’t I would never live in house with mold ever. I get these symptoms, one is a
I get this creepy crawling skin, then wheezing heart palpitations, brain fog.
blurred vision, tremors , eye inflammation rash weakness, and forgetfulness fatigue it effects your mind a psychiatrist that knows about black mold poisoning there are tests that can tell . Then it can worse , coma seizures, heart attack be fatal, I’m not kidding .
By the time you get diagnosed well you might be in bad shape since most doctors have no idea of what tests to run, how diagnose it or cure it.
We did remediation, we did all the right things, as soon as we move back in less than thirty days I was getting this very odd feeling, My mind was not functioning the way it should. I was shaky and I knew exactly the cause time to move, Saw over fifty doctor until one told me what he thought and we had not discovered he mold in our house, but he thought it was mold !Our doctor told us to buy a new house that was built in the summer time with dry wood!Or have one built with a big out building to put our stuff in and throw out all cloth furniture, clothes, and papers that you had to keep put in away in the outbuilding until needed . At that point if your completely recovered go through stuff and throw most of it out. Do not cross contaminate your stuff .

steroids April 13, 2016 - 11:45 am

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HD Restoration June 11, 2016 - 7:21 pm

Black mold symptoms include respiratory problems, immune system problems, skin problems, circulatory symptoms and other health and illness effects. If we want to be safe from this dangerous disease them we must have to check our home that whether it is properly maintained or not, any leakage which can cause fast growth of mold. Keeping an eye on these things can easily safe people from a big loss.

Alex edward July 1, 2016 - 11:52 am

Black Mold causes dangerous side effects. I have suffered alot because of this mold which is one of the annoying for me. I have once gone through the post where i have read about different types of mold that can cause health sickness http://www.floodaz.com/types-of-mold/ . I have also concluded both of the articles yours and this one and i have found both of the articles useful for me that increase my knowledge about the molds.

Cody August 24, 2016 - 7:41 am

I had to recover something in a puddle of black water from black mold damage could I get sick? I was exposed to it for at least an hour. I was wrist deep in it looking for my ring that fell in.

emergency services blog August 7, 2018 - 3:55 pm

I culd noot refrain from commenting. Well written!

Michelle Catapang April 16, 2020 - 4:28 pm

Well said and very helpful guidelines. Thank you! :)


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