Black mold, much like other types of household mold, is a living organism. It's easy to assume that without its necessary sustenance, it would naturally die off. However, the reality is far from this assumption. Black mold is a persistent and resilient organism that won't just disappear unless it's physically removed.
Why Black Mold Doesn't Just Disappear
Black mold thrives in homes because it isn't particularly fussy about its environment. It requires moisture and can feed on a wide variety of materials.
Anything with cellulose, such as carpet, fabrics, curtains, wood, insulation, and more, can serve as its food source. This is why black mold is often found in basements, where moisture is common, and many items like old clothes and rugs are stored.
Black mold can infiltrate tiny cracks and crevices in your walls and foundation, growing out of sight. Often, we don't realize there's a problem until the mold colonies have spread extensively.
The Life Cycle of Black Mold
Black mold has two stages: the viable stage and the non-viable stage. During the viable stage, the mold is actively feeding and releasing spores into the air.
These spores can cause allergic reactions like sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, and headaches. They can also infiltrate areas like the air ducts of your home, leading to further growth and colony creation.
When black mold doesn't have access to a food source, it enters the non-viable stage. However, this doesn't mean it dies off. Instead, the mold colonies simply go dormant.
They stop releasing spores and growing, but they don't die. If disturbed or if they find another food source, these dormant colonies can quickly return to the viable stage, releasing spores and starting the cycle all over again.
How to Deal with Black Mold
If you discover black mold in your home, whether it's in the viable or non-viable stage, it's crucial to remove it. For smaller infestations (less than 10 square feet), you can handle the mold removal yourself with proper precautions.
For larger infestations or if you can't locate the mold yourself, it's best to call in a professional mold remediation team. They can assess the situation and devise a plan tailored to your needs.
Will Mold Die If Moisture Is Removed
Mold requires moisture to grow and reproduce, so if you remove the moisture source, it can help to halt the growth of mold. However, it's important to understand that removing moisture doesn't kill mold that's already present. Instead, it causes the mold to become dormant or inactive.
In its dormant state, mold stops growing and reproducing, but it doesn't die. If the conditions become favorable again (for example, if moisture is reintroduced), the dormant mold can become active and start growing and spreading once more.
How Long Does Black Mold Stay Alive?
Black mold can stay alive indefinitely in its dormant stage, and it can stay alive for weeks, months, years, and even decades if unattended. It doesn't die without food or moisture; it simply goes into hibernation.
As such, it's essential to remove all mold, even if it appears to be inactive, to prevent it from returning to the viable stage and causing further problems.