Finding mold on the walls of your home is certain to give you a headache, whether you’re prone to mold allergy symptoms or not. The ugly patches of mold on the wall not only reduce the value and overall appeal of your property, but also suggest water damage to your home and pose serious health concerns for you and your family. If you want to avoid more severe troubles and preserve your good health and the integrity of your living space, you need to take quick and efficient measures at the first signs of mold growth in your home.
Small patches of mold can be easily cleaned with the help of common household supplies, so if you can fix the source of the problem (a source of excessive moisture, such as a leaky pipe or a leaky roof) and remove the mold spores before they have spread over a larger area, you have every chance to get rid of the harmful microorganisms before they have caused any serious damage.
To be able to do so, however, you need to control the moisture levels in your home (fix water problems and reduce indoor humidity levels) and know how to effectively clean mold off walls. Your first step is to recognize the first signs of mold problems on walls. Then, you need to remove the spores in a safe and efficient manner.
Signs of Mold on Walls
The earlier you discover the presence of mold in your home, the easier it will be to get rid of it. Mold often remains hidden for a long period after it has started developing, so by the time you notice the ugly black spots on the walls, mold may have already badly affected the building materials in your home (seeing small spots of mold on a wall usually means that there is a larger mold colony slowly growing through). Other, less apparent signs, however, will appear long before the actual mold patches and give you a timely warning – provided that you know what to look for. The most common tell-tale signs of mold include:
- Cracked or peeling paint;
- Discoloration and/or bulging;
- A musty smell;
- Allergic reactions that have no logical explanation.
Any of these signs may indicate that mold is actually growing hidden behind the wall. You need to take a closer look and carefully inspect your property for water damage.
Have in mind that mold is most likely to appear where there is (or there has been) a water leak or in particularly humid areas of the home, such as bathrooms, basements, and laundry rooms. Cupboards under sinks and areas where condensation usually occurs (in attics, near windows, on walls that form the perimeter of a house, etc.) are also very prone to mold growth. It’s only logical then that mold is commonly found on kitchen, basement, and bathroom walls (especially on grout lines and shower recesses).
How to Remove Mold from Painted Walls
If you notice mold on any coated or painted interior walls, you need to act quickly – the mold spores will be just on the surface. If you manage to get rid of them before the harmful microorganisms have spread over larger areas and compromised the structural integrity of your home, you should be able to prevent any serious problems.
So, roll up your sleeves and get down to work as soon as possible:
- Prepare the area. Take any decorative items, fabric materials, electrical equipment, and furniture pieces away from the affected area. Protect the surrounding surfaces – cover the floor, windows, and vents with plastic sheets (secure them with tape, to be on the safe side) – and keep an old towel at hand to catch eventual spills.
- Clean the wall. Use a sponge dampened with warm water and a mild dishwashing liquid to remove any dirt or debris from the wall.
- Apply the mold remover. If the mold spots are small and cover only a limited area of the wall, you’re recommended to try a “natural” cleaning approach first – mix white vinegar with warm water (you may add some borax as well) and apply the solution on the affected surface. Scrub well, rinse with clean water, and wipe the area dry with a towel. If this method does not yield the desired results, or if you’re dealing with considerable mold growth, you’ll need a stronger cleaner – use a commercial mold remover or mix one part bleach with three parts water. Apply the cleaning solution on the wall, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then scrub vigorously with a stiff-bristle brush until the mold spots disappear. Rinse the area and dry it with a clean cloth (it may be a good idea to use an electric fan to make sure the wall dries quickly and fully).
If necessary, paint over the cleaned area – use a stain-blocking primer before you apply the paint or opt for a mildew-resistant paint to inhibit mold growth in the future.
How to Remove Mold from Drywall
If you find mold growing on unpainted drywall in your home, you won’t be able to simply clean it off – the unpainted surface is porous which means that the mold will have threaded its way into the structure of the drywall and you’ll most likely have to replace the affected section.
- Cover the surrounding areas with plastic sheeting to prevent mold spores that may break loose during the cleaning process from finding their way into the flooring or other nearby household items and materials;
- Mark the affected area – make sure you mark a slightly larger section than the visible mold patch as unseen mold spores have probably already affected the adjacent areas;
- Use a utility knife to cut out the affected sections (make sure you cut out an area that covers at least two of the wooden beams behind the drywall);
- Carefully remove the affected patch of drywall and set it down on the plastic sheeting, mold-side up;
- Clean the room with a HEPA vacuum to remove any loose mold spores;
- Consider painting the wall cavity with a mold-resistant paint before replacing the drywall. It’s a good idea to paint the backside of the new section of drywall as well;
- Replace the drywall:
- Measure the length and width of the missing section of drywall;
- Cut a piece of fresh drywall with the exact same measurements;
- Fit the new piece of drywall into the hole and secure it with screws;
- Apply joint compound to the perimeter of the new section to help seal any cracks in between the segments;
- Let the joint compound dry for about 24 hours, then sand it to smooth out the surface.
Mold Removal Tips
To ensure efficient results and appropriate safety when cleaning mold off walls make sure you:
- Keep children and pets away from the affected area and the cleaning products;
- Work in a well-ventilated area;
- Wear personal protective gear – long sleeves and pants, rubber gloves, protective glasses, and a dust mask;
- Never mix bleach with ammonia, as this results in a highly toxic vapor;
- If you have experienced extensive water damage to your home, do not attempt to deal with the resulting mold issues yourself – the mold on the walls will most likely be toxic black mold that requires professional treatment.
You may need professional help to get rid of mold on walls in some other circumstances as well – if mold spreads over large areas (over 10 sq. feet), grows in places that are difficult to reach, or has affected household materials that cannot be easily cleaned or replaced, as well as in cases where the mold issue persists after all your cleaning efforts. Using professional mold removal services will help you get rid of mold for good and will save you plenty of time and elbow grease. The mold remediation process will be quick and efficient and the living environment in your home will be fresh and safe once again.