You need to get rid of mold before it gets rid of you. I want to share my personal story of living with black mold in the house.
It is not a pretty story but one I think is important to share. If you think the dangers of black mold are exaggerated think again.
I hope others will learn from it and take black mold seriously.
But I want to share it because I think it is important for people to know what they are dealing with.
I was experiencing classic black mold symptoms without realizing it.
They can be acute or come on gradually without you noticing them.
So you need to educate yourself on the risks and symptoms of mold exposure and don’t take this lightly.
Get rid of mold if you find it because this stuff can not only make you sick but can actually kill you.
I put this article together after many hours of research and years of personal experience dealing with black mold.
Unfortunately, I lost all pictures of the house when my computer crashed, but that doesn’t make it less real.
What Is Black Mold
The scientific name for this fungus is Stachybotrys Chartarum and although there are other types of toxic mold, the toxins Stachybotrys gives off are the most damaging.
Stachybotrys chartarum is a fungus that has become notorious as a mycotoxin producer that can cause animal and human mycotoxicosis. Stachybotrys chartarum: The Toxic Indoor Mold (apsnet.org)
So here’s a bit of background:
I worked for a company called Dri-Eaz. Their specialty was manufacturing water damage restoration equipment.
The area in Western Washington where I live experiences frequent flooding and Dri-Eaz was started by Claude Blackburn who was a local carpet cleaner.
He was looking for a way to deal with water damage and the mold growth that soon followed.
He found out that if you could get a house dry fast enough after flooding, mold wouldn’t have a chance to grow.
He literally wrote the book on water damage restoration.
Flood Cleanup Is Just The Start Of A Black Mold Problem
Flood clean-up is not the worst problem though, that’s just messy, hard work.
The black mold that began growing afterward was because it made people sick and continued making them sick long after the flood waters were gone.
So coming from that background I definitely knew a few things about mold and the black mold removal process.
Flood water can make the air in your home unhealthy. This is because when things remain wet for more than two days, they usually get moldy. Inhaling mold can cause adverse health effects, including allergic reactions. Mold also can damage materials in your home. In addition, flood water may contain microorganisms, such as bacteria, or chemicals which may affect your health. Resources for Flood Cleanup and Indoor Air Quality | US EPA
Color Me Stupid I Should Have Known Better
All that knowledge went out the door when I decided I would buy a house in 2005.
I did not have a lot of money so I bought a fixer-upper. Housing was just starting to soar and so I couldn’t be too fussy.
It was a neat little 2 bedroom house built before 1900 and about 650 square feet. I was able to work out a deal with the owner so, at this point, I was a happy camper.
The house was a rental and there were far too many brothers, nephews, and cousins living in too small a space.
It was hard to really inspect the home very thoroughly with so many people in the house.
I did happen to notice some black on the wall just above the couch but I dismissed it, thinking it was from kids’ dirty hands.
Boy was I ever wrong. I was about to buy a house full of black mold and it almost became my coffin.
See the picture at the top of this article? It’s not from my house but that is what it looked like once the couch was gone.
Even sadder yet these folks took that mold-infested couch with them when they moved.
Black Mold In The House
After finally getting the occupants out I was ready to move in, or so I thought.
It’s funny how a house can look so different when it’s empty.
The black spot by the couch was black mold and it covered most of the wall behind it.
The 2-year-old, once royal blue rug the owners had put in was now black. I would never know it was once blue if the owners hadn’t told me.
I really don’t blame them for my problems. They were retiring and selling off their rental properties.
But it became obvious though that they were just collecting the rent and nothing more.
So they rented the house to a couple with 2 kids and there were probably at least 8 people living in a small house that was about 650 square feet.
The bathroom had a leak under the sink no one had ever bothered to fix or tell the landlord about.
Ditto for the floor in the utility room the floor behind where the washer was wet due to an unfixed hose leak.
I knew I was buying a fixer-upper but with so much mold in the house, it was really beginning to look like I’d bought a tearer downer.
Making Things Worse – Adventures In Carpet Cleaning
I decided to try to clean the carpet and rented a cleaner that was my first big mistake.
Not only did it not clean the carpet but the moisture kicked up the mold.
I can not describe the stench that greeted me and a friend when I returned home several hours later.
But I can say that when I opened the front door it nearly knocked us both over.
Black Mold Removal For Dummies
Well, the rug had to go so I rolled it up and took it to the dump.
Although the rug was gone the stench lingered in my vehicle several weeks afterward.
I knew how to dry a house down fast and prevent mold from growing but once it was there was another story.
I figured the best thing to do was bleach everything. Since I wasn’t moved in yet I had access to everything.
I grabbed a garden sprayer and mixed a super-strong bleach solution.
I sprayed every nook and cranny down with bleach, even opening kitchen drawers and cabinets.
The solution was so strong I had to go out for air several times.
Does Bleach Kill Black Mold?
You may have heard bleach kills mold. Does bleach kill mold?
The answer is yes and no. It did kill all the surface mold.
The house looked nice and clean and the walls were the whitest they had been in a long time.
Foolishly I moved into my house. I had a nice clear tight fir floor that was hiding under the carpet.
Easy to clean and mold-free. But this was an old uninsulated house with wood sheathing on both the inside and outside.
They had pasted some kind of heavy paper backing over it and then wallpapered the inside.
Can you say condensation?
There would have been no way to get inside the walls without gutting the house and damaging its structural integrity.
All I had done was kill what was on the outside. What was in the walls was happily growing away.
There was no way I was ever going to be able to get rid of mold in that house without undertaking a full-scale mold remediation project.
No matter how much I swept, vacuumed, and aired that place out there was always a gray layer of dust.
Mold Was Settling Down As The House Dried Out
It must have been coming out of the woodwork as the house finally started to dry out.
At first, I thought it was from my little gray cat shedding. But there is no way 10 gray cats could make that much fluff.
That house had been overcrowded and poorly ventilated and had stayed humid for a long time.
The renters, I was told, never opened any windows, although half were painted shut anyway.
They did not thoroughly heat the home with the gas heater but instead used the oven in the electric range, at least until it burned out.
I met someone who had lived in that house years before and they told me the roof leaked, especially in the kitchen.
I noticed someone had slapped particle board over the old floor and covered it with vinyl.
I never got far enough to see what was underneath, but it wasn’t really any mystery at this point.
Over the course of time that old house had seen plenty of moisture from leaks and had constantly high humidity with poor ventilation.
So now that everything was finally drying out and it was becoming airborne.
Black Mold Symptoms
The danger is that mold symptoms may not show up immediately but that doesn’t mean that black mold is not slowly undermining your health.
I am a pretty tough cookie and I didn’t notice any health effects.
But my friends would come over and within minutes one would start sneezing and getting a runny nose and the other would have his eyes start bothering him after he was there for a while.
I was just fine except for a hacking cough I developed after 2 years of breathing in that black mold all the time.
I thought it was because I was a smoker but that wasn’t what it was.
Well in an environment like that there’s black mold everywhere. You breathe it and you eat it.
Black mold exposure has a variety of effects. I had dark circles under my eyes, and was fatigued a lot, but wrote it off as working too hard.
But it also has effects on your nervous system. I was having a hard time concentrating and was starting to make dumb mistakes at work.
Black mold can also cause digestive problems. After 3 years in that house, I developed diverticulitis.
It got worse over time and caused me to miss work. Combine that with a lack of focus on a production job and eventually, I was let go.
I am adaptable and found work where I would always be near a bathroom if I needed it.
But things were about to get much worse. In July 2009 I was hospitalized.
I Was Circling The Drain
The diverticulitis had created a blockage and my colon ruptured. I was unconscious for a month and not expected to live.
The nurses in the hospital I was in refer to someone ready to die as circling the drain.
They told my friends there was nothing else they could do and now it was up to me.
But I guess it wasn’t my time. I spent a month in the ICU. Fortunately, I was unconscious most of the time. Talk about crazy dreams.
I spent a month learning how to walk again after that and since I had nowhere else to go I returned to my moldy house.
My job was gone and I was disabled. With no job and no money coming in that house went to foreclosure.
But losing that house was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.
How To Get Rid Of Mold
I have a novel way to get rid of mold and it was by losing my house. Good riddance too!
I am thoroughly convinced black mold exposure was responsible for my illness.
Even if it wasn’t the direct cause it certainly was a contributing factor.
Surprisingly within 2 weeks of moving into a new apartment, my cough was gone.
Get Rid Of Mold Before It Gets Rid Of You Conclusion
Can black mold kill you? I would have to say yes. This is not something to mess around with.
I have lived with and survived the health effects of black mold. Others are not so lucky.
I want to provide accurate and useful information about black mold removal and the health risks of mold exposure here on Black Mold Mold Removal.
A lot of time and research went into this project. I wish I had known what I was up against back then, but I know more now, especially in hindsight.
If you think black mold might be affecting your health don’t avoid dealing with the problem or apply half-assed solutions as I did.
See a doctor if you have been exposed and don’t skimp on black mold removal and remediation if you plan on staying there.
Do your research and get rid of black mold before it gets rid of you.