Black mold can be a serious problem in any inhabited home. Black mold often causes increased respiratory problems, allergy problems, allergic reactions, and even death or diseases in very serve cases. This makes testing for black mold, knowing the signs of black mold, and knowing what to look for very important.
The first thing you need to know before testing for black mold is where black mold is likely to occur at. Black mold is going to need moisture, a food source, and oxygen to grow. These things occur in dark and wet areas. Knowing these basic things will ensure that you sure the proper areas of your home looking for mold instead of wasting your time in areas that it does not grow.
This leads to the easiest way to check for black mold, look around. There are certain things you need to look for when searching for mold and the first is a weird smell. Black mold usually has a very strong smell that is very noticeable, and will probably smell musty and almost like urine. If you smell this, you probably have an outbreak of mold that needs to be taking care of.
If you let the spread of black mold get to far along, you are going to see it. It is often small black particles, but mold comes in many different forms, with many different looks, so identifying the type you have can be tricky. Often, a certified professional is the best way to test for black mold, because they will be able to correctly identify the mold, and test if for harmful properties.
If you have noticed a strange smell, and you can identify patches that seem to be mold, you are going to have two options to test for black mold. The first is the best thing to do, and this is calling a professional. The professional will be able to test where the mold has spread to, how dangerous the mold is, and how much of it you have. They will also be able to tell you how to get rid of it.
Another option is do it yourself test kits. These kits are available online and at local hardware stores. These tests often require you to get air samples and visual samples of contaminated areas. You end up sending these kits into a lab, and they test to see if you have mold, and normally for a little extra cost, they can tell you what kind of mold you have. This type of test is not nearly as accurate as hiring a professional, but if you do not believe you have a serious outbreak, it might be the best option.
Since you now know what black mold looks like and smells like, here are a list of the most common problem areas to check in your home: leaky basement areas, pipes in the basement, crawl spaces, anywhere flooding occurred at, any discolored walls, bathrooms, weakened or odd looking drywall areas, near appliances, and anywhere where there are high humidity levels. Just checking these places every month for odds smells and for the appearance of mold can help prevent the spread of mold in your home.
Cleaning mold is more difficult, and you will probably not be able to clean any area that is larger than 10 square feet by yourself. The first step to cleaning mold yourself is going to be washing the infected area with hot soap and detergent. This area than needs to be wiped dry and fungicide needs to be spread on the area. Hopefully this will clean the problem, but if it persists, or the area is bigger than 10 square feet, you are going to need to call a professional.
When you take these steps, you should be able to properly test for mold in your home. Always remember where mold normally occurs, check for strange smells, and visually check high risk areas every so often. If you believe you have found mold, you can test yourself, or call a professional. However, if the outbreak seems serious, always call a professional to help with the cleaning and identification.