I need help finding source of and removing mold from walls

Anna Schultz
by Anna Schultz
It is an older home, not much crawl space. There is mold growing in almost all of the rooms up to about 18 inches or so. The back rooms of the house were flooded about 10 years ago but the mold was there before. How do I clean it all up and find the source?
This is just one wall in one room. The mold is in every corner and some along the wall, as well as hall walls and other bedroom walls
  28 answers
  • William William on Apr 21, 2016
    This is going to be a headache and a major project! I have done this before. You can hire professionals that do mold abatement. Any possibility homeowners insurance may cover at least some of the damage? If you choose to do it yourself make sure you are fully protected. Protective coveralls, goggles, respirator mask (not dust mask), gloves, duck tape (to tape around sleeves and feet), exhaust fan in the window. You will need to cut out the bottom of the drywall out about 24" high. There may be mold on the back of the drywall. Remove all insulation. May be mold on that and still be wet. Bag everything as you remove it. Check for for any underlying moisture. If the studs are wet, they need to dry out. If they have mold on them they will need to be treated to kill the mold. Scrub the surface mold stains from walls and wood with a mixture of 1 qt. water and 1/2 cup bleach to kill the mold. Use a soft brush and work until signs of the mold disappear. Wipe off, but DO NOT RINSE these surfaces. When you're sure the mold has been eliminated, seal the wood surfaces with pigmented shellac like BIN or an oil-based primer like KILZ. And keep in mind that if the moisture returns, mold will return. When everything is done, you can reinsulate, put up new drywall patches, and finish.
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    • William William on Apr 21, 2016
      @Anna Schultz If it's black mold, it's dangerous. Spending time in damp/moist environments can contribute to such respiratory illnesses as allergy, asthma, cough, runny nose, and sinus conditions. Especially affected are children and older adults. Cleaning the surface is futile. Mold grows from inside out. I have opened walls and found insulation, wood saturated. Since there is no air movement in walls they really don't dry out.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Apr 21, 2016
    I had this in my master bathroom. The entire room had to be gutted, including the wood studs. Be careful of this situation as breathing in the fumes from the mold could potentially cause human damage. I think you should look into the possibility of having the mold removed from a professional.
  • Anita Elaine Anita Elaine on Apr 21, 2016
    IF the problem is the drain tiles around the exterior of the home, then fixing the walls may not be of help in the long run. Check to see how the water drains in the property. Is everything going TOWARD that corner of the house? Are drain tiles missing or broken? And remember to be very careful in disposal of mold. Black mold can cause epileptic seizures, especially in small children.
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    • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Apr 21, 2016
      @Anna Schultz As stated previously I do not think you should tackle this situation with out a professional.
  • Anna Schultz Anna Schultz on Apr 21, 2016
    Thank you William I appreciate all your help
  • Ruby77 Ruby77 on Apr 21, 2016
    I would listen to William. If its stachybotrys (toxic black mold) he has a major problem. Its very dangerous to humans. Can cause all sorts of problems including mental impairment, central nervous system and internal organ damage, etc. I would not personally touch it myself. Unfortunately mold abatement companies are very expensive. My sister had to hire someone to do her crawl space and I think it was close to $15,000. Of course it could turn out to be a less dangerous strain of mold. You can have it tested to find out. Good luck!
  • Anna Schultz Anna Schultz on Apr 21, 2016
    Thank you Janet, that suggestion appears to be the consensus, but I don't see it happening. Due to factors beyond my control I just have no say in that area. I guess since I have had it in the house so long I was hoping that I could put "Kilz" on it or something to keep it from coming back.
  • Ela Igra Ela Igra on Apr 22, 2016
    do not do it your self. this thing is killer my 8 years old cant wright her name any more or hold sizers do to toxic mold we had in our house. find professionals to remidiate properly. don't risk your family
  • Ela Igra Ela Igra on Apr 22, 2016
    you can kill mold but mycotoxins will stay and poison you for next 6 years they are dead so you cant kill them . we had to live all our possessions in previous house get rid even of our car because it was contaminated. now out of mold for 1 month and when ever i get in touch with mold i want to die from pain in my bones, head, lungs.... and i don't need to touch it just be near it even shopping is nightmare . don't do this to your self or your family
    • Anna Schultz Anna Schultz on Apr 22, 2016
      @Ela Igra, Thank you, I appreciate the information. I really have no alternatives at this time.
  • Marcia Marcia on Apr 22, 2016
    I I was
  • Cecile Whyte Cecile Whyte on Apr 22, 2016
    Hi Anna Schultz, I know you've heard many great advise. I've read them all including those that got real sick. My daughter slept in a basement for about 2 months on and off and became very ill. It was only a small section at the bottom of the drywall in the laundry room that she just ignored. However, I'll say this - the mold was there before the flood and the flood was over 10 yrs ago. So here are the facts. (1) You have no idea how long before you had the house that there may have been a flood (which could also include sewage; that's contamination). (2) Everything behind those walls are still wet, that is why you have mold. (3) I can and would bet my last $ that you have black mold....get a piece of red cloth and put it up in front of the entrance to that space, allow no one to enter. Now, look up online or in your yellow pages (if they still have those) for an abatement company, then pick up the phone and call. DO shop around for the most qualified - not the cheapest. Try the "Better Business Bureau" in your area for reputable references. Believe me, the last thing you want is for it not to be done right the first time. They will do a complete abatement and test the air quality afterward to make sure it is good before giving it back to you. **It is not worth it to try and do it by yourself (I mean the abatement) because you still wouldn't know what the air quality is and you would get sick in the process. After it's all done, then you can worry about putting it back together slowly if funds are an issue. As for the insurance, it's worth a call to see if there's any coverage, even if it's enough to do the abatement. I thought I would interject a bit of humor, so smile. I am glad you reached out to the blog community....you guys are awesome!! Please let us know how this is going
    • Anna Schultz Anna Schultz on Apr 22, 2016
      @Cecile Whyte , Thank you so much, it's a bit overwhelming. I am so glad I had a place to voice my question and get normal and helpful assistance. It means a lot.
  • Cecile Whyte Cecile Whyte on Apr 22, 2016
    Anna Schultz, I have found 2 in and around your area. Rapid Mold Removal 417-351-2378 on their web page they give good facts on some of the signs of the effects on you, what to look for in your health in general. The other is Mold Zone 1-877-420-5855
  • Susan Bechamp Susan Bechamp on Apr 22, 2016
    Home Depot sells test kits for mold and radon. Follow the instructions and send the samples to the lab as instructed. They will issue a report as to what type of mold you have. Ask your local Enviromental Protection Agency if any help is available.
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    • Jean Myles Jean Myles on Apr 22, 2016
      @Anna Schultz Please do as Susan suggest. Your local Enviromental Protection Agency should be able to give advice. Mold is not something to be living with.
  • Anna Schultz Anna Schultz on Apr 22, 2016
    Oh wow, thank you Susan, that is the first thing that I actually can do! That way we can find out if it's harmful or just gross. Thanx so much.
  • Pat Ruge Pat Ruge on Apr 23, 2016
    Anna, listen very carefully. You and your family are living in an environment which is not just dangerous, it is life threatening. You could not be in more danger than if a man entered your home yielding a gun. You must address this immediately. Until you know the extent of this hazard you are facing, my advice is to pack up your family and leave the premises NOW. Step 2) Have it evaluated by a professional and Step 3) Have it remediated by a professional. Good luck and God be with you and yours.
  • Lee Govan Lee Govan on Apr 23, 2016
    I agree with all the post stating how dangerous this mould issue is. I had a similar problem in a house that I rented years ago. My grandmother told me to mix a solution of anything I would use to wash painted walls and to add clove oil to the water. The oil smothers the mould so that it can't spread. I did this with a sugar soap solution with water added to the recommended mix, then added 10 drops to an 8 gallon bucket of the solution. It cleaned the mould off and it never came back. But, do get it checked out to find the source, this could kill yo or yours.
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    • Lee Govan Lee Govan on Oct 20, 2016
      I buy it off the shelf here in NZ. it is made by Selley's. Ask a reputable painting firm what they use to wash walls with during prep. It will be a product that will remove grease and oil without leaving a residue
  • Tommi L. Perkins Tommi L. Perkins on Apr 23, 2016
    As a real estate broker for 40+ years I have seen this more time than you can count. Keep in mind that this mess in your walls is nothing compared to what is going on UNDER your house. FIRST you must find out from where the moisture comes under the house. The mold you are seeing on the walls is an extension of the mold under the house. First cure the moisture problem causing under the house. It can be caused by standing water flowing ( or not flowing but standing ) in the crawl space. I see it much less with slab homes. There are many methods to eliminate this problem that include French drain systems, larger gutters, drainage pumps and others depending on the problem. You need PROFESSIONAL help. This is dangerous to you and your family depending on how much mold there is present under the house. . First cure the water problem under the house, then the under side will have to be professionally cleaned. The product used is extremely dangerous to humans and while I think you can purchase it, don't! I have a friend who is a widow because her husband decided to do the job himself. After all of this is done, then attack the problem of the mold on the Sheetrock. If this is an longtime problem the Sheetrock may be so damaged from the inside that ut needs to be removed completely. If you are thinking of purchasing a property with this problem, hire an inspector with credentials that include certification in mold testing. Inspector can tell you how severe it how dangerous the problem is and how to solve it. I cannot impress upon you how dangerous this can be to live in this condition. There are many different strains of mold, some more dangerous than others.
  • Marcia Marcia on Apr 23, 2016
    I just went through a flood in Missouri. Cut ut the drywall a foot past the mold. Remove any carpet and base boards. Remove the insulation behind the drywall and let it air out. Home Depot donated gallons of Concordium mold remover. Spray it on let it sit like ten minutes and wipe it off. Then spray it again and let it dry. Use it anywhere you see mold and I used it where I didn't see mold. I am dried out new sheet rock, flooring etc. I am going to use it to fog under my place. There is no odor to it, just remember not to spray anything else before or after you have used this product. It's been almost 4 months and no mold reappearing. Bleach will not kill mold it lightens it but will not stop the growth. Find your water problem or you will get new mold. If it's really bad you need a pro. It worked for me and I am not saying it is totally flawless. Good luck!
  • Vic C. Vic C. on Apr 24, 2016
    As advised by everyone, once you send the sample for testing and found that it's not a black or any dangerous types of mold, then maybe you could proceed to cure the mold as suggested by Marcia. Attached is the video on the correct safety steps if you are doing it by yourself. http://bit.ly/1VvY6Wp Otherwise if it's really a dangerous ones, there's no other choice except to get help from the professional. All the best! Vic
  • Pcr5401719 Pcr5401719 on Apr 27, 2016
    How to get rid of mole around tub and bath area
  • Tommi L. Perkins Tommi L. Perkins on Apr 28, 2016
    Depends upon how bad it is whether you have tile, what condition it is in (broken or tiles where the mold has eaten the grout completely out between the tile or the tub lip) or Is the caulking still Intact. Attach a picture. If it needs structural work maybe one of us can advise you.
  • Sue Kiene Sue Kiene on May 08, 2016
    Tommi L Perkins is correct and as a Realtor as well, you need to correct the water problem and now if it is in every room. Sounds like you also need extra ventilation under your house as well if it is that shallow. They do make crawl vents that have a built-in fan to help. I recommend hiring a contractor to cure the water issue. Adding ventilation somethings you can do other things you should have a contractor for it. As someone said here do not use bleach on mold, you are just bleaching it white not killing it. Dawn soap does help with cleanup but is not a cureall.
  • Martha Martha on Jul 02, 2016
    Surface mold cleaning solution: 4 cups water 2 cups white vinegar 2 cups hydrogen peroxide 1 cup boric acid Shake it up. Spray or paint it on. Let it set 15 minutes. Scrub off mold. Wipe, then spray again. After the area looks clean, spray again and let the solution dry. I used this and the area has not molded again. Wear a respirator and rubber gloves while doing this. I agree that drywall & insulation that have been waterline should be replaced.
  • Michelle Jacobs-Anderson Michelle Jacobs-Anderson on Jul 31, 2016
    surface mold for bathrooms on tub etc. the cleaning solution martha posted really works, we use white vinegar and water. with the windows open and a fan on......for the person who posted about their walls, 10 years worth of mold is horrible for health problems and mold continues to grow and spread inside walls. the wall panels need to be cut out, removed, and replaced, dont cut thru the studs of course, if those are also molded they should also be replaced as mold also can grow and spread into cracks of wood which will deteriorate the wood over time as well as spread mold spores. wear a mask while working with this stuff.
  • Martha Martha on Aug 01, 2016
    Thank you, Michelle. Mold that has permeated is scary. The solution I posted is just for surface mold. I use it in a bathroom we have that gets speaks of mildew on the painted ceiling over the shower. The solution keeps it at bay for 6 months or so.
  • Cheri Talbot Cheri Talbot on Aug 16, 2016
    When cleaning the mold, make sure you vacuum it first, mold spores will fly through the air if sprayed or wiped without using a vacuum with a hepa filter in it. You can use a shop-vac/hepa filter or even your vacuum if it has one, dispose of bag or clean out container when done.
  • Cheri Talbot Cheri Talbot on Aug 16, 2016
    Sounds like your crawl space is the problem, is there plastic covering the ground? If not, could be an easy fix. also some ventilation might be needed.
  • Tommi L. Perkins Tommi L. Perkins on Aug 18, 2016
    Now that I have seen the pictures, you definitely have something going on UNDER your house. You may need a French drain, better gutters, tearing out of any shrubs against your house and other ways to keep the water from getting under your house. This is a pretty serious situation. You need someone with experience to go under the house with a ventilator mask on and coveralls. If you have this much mold in your house you will have it covering the underside of the floor. This requires a professional to get rid of the reason for the mold and the mold on the underside of the house. There is a spray on type of product that needs to only be done by a professional. It is extremely lethal and you could die very quickly without the right equipment on when using it. To anyone who is reading this, figure out the problem at the FIRST sign of mold that appears. Mold will actually EAT your sheetrock up. I am sorry you are going through this but for your health you need to get this taken care of right away or move out of the house.
  • Iri12295010 Iri12295010 on Oct 03, 2016
    I use a cup of vinegar (warm)and a cup of Dawn dish det. Use a spray bottle and mix vinegar and dawn in bottle spray on area for one hour and rinse. Hope it works for you.