How to Deal with Mold In Walls: The Definitive Guide

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: April 25, 2024

When you spot it taking hold behind the toilet or under the sink, you have a clear line of attack. You solve the problem with bleach, water and a good scrubbing. Still, you worry about the stuff invading sheetrock and crawl spaces. This isn’t something that you can ignore.

How do you deal with a hidden threat like mold inside the walls?

We often hear this question from concerned residents who contact us about mold inspection in their Chicago homes. It’s important to understand mold basics before you decide on how to handle unhealthy growth that you can’t see.

Follow Your Senses

If you can smell it, it’s there behind the walls. That unmistakable musty odor that makes your nose curl is a sure sign that you’re dealing with a growing mold problem. Do your sinuses stop up when you spend time in one room? Do your eyes start itching? Those physical symptoms are often reactions to hidden mold growth.

Keeping a clean house should be enough, but mold thrives in all kinds of areas throughout your home. A plumbing leak or flooding accident leaves moisture in dark crawl spaces and creates a perfect breeding ground for mold. By the time you see it speckling a wall, you have a serious problem on your hands.

Recognize the Danger

Mold that grows in and through permeable sheetrock feeds on its cellulose material. This natural process results in contamination that you can’t always see. A bad outbreak can become visible on the outside of a wall, but you can’t know the size of the problem without using special detection equipment or pulling down the sheetrock.

This kind of mold cleanup poses serious health hazards. Airborne mycotoxins irritate allergies and compromise weakened respiratory and immune systems. Teardown and disposal of contaminated materials spreads the microscopic compounds, so it’s very important to always wear protective gear when you take on this kind of project.

The DIY Mold Testing Process

black mold test kits

While home mold testing kits are simple to use, they only capture samples in the air and on exposed surfaces. They aren’t intended to detect mold inside walls, but they can provide a starting point for DIY mold removal.

A top-of-the-line home mold testing kit should include:

  • Growth medium that serves as a base for tested samples
  • Petri dish for passively catching airborne spores
  • Sterilized swabs to collect visible samples directly from surfaces
  • Sample bags for shipping suspected mold to testing labs

Once you send off your sample, turnaround time can vary from five business days to three weeks. Also, be aware that the cost for mail-in analysis is usually in addition to your original mold kit purchase price.

If You Tackle It by Yourself

We outlined your options for DIY mold removal in an earlier post, but be prepared to tear out sheetrock in order to reach mold inside walls. The job gets messy and heavy, so it’s a good idea to enlist some help. If you tackle a mold project by yourself, protect your health by always following these important guidelines:

  • Never try to clean more than 3 square feet.
  • Always wear recommended safety gear.
  • Be very careful with mold that permeates affected surfaces.
  • Never attempt mold removal if you or anyone in the house suffers from respiratory problems.

Calling in a Restoration Professional

If your home testing kit samples return with positive results for toxic black mold, we highly recommend that you let professionals take care of it. You can remove this dangerous mold by yourself, but the job becomes much more hazardous when you have to rip out contaminated sheetrock.

DIY mold removal from inside walls can quickly become a project that’s just too big for most homeowners. If you have any doubts before you get started, consider the advantages of calling in a professional restoration contractor:

  • Highly trained technicians use state-of-the-art equipment to precisely locate mold growth.
  • Testing is done quickly, and certified results are returned as soon as possible.
  • Team work speeds up removal and remediation processes.
  • All sources of moisture that caused the mold outbreak are identified and repaired.
  • Expert crews take care of all reconstruction and restore your home to its original condition.

Working with restoration professionals streamlines the job, eliminates sources of future mold outbreaks and leaves you with peace of mind and a healthier home.

Sharing Information That Really Helps

We know that you’re an accomplished DIY warrior around the house, so we enjoy sharing information that really helps you deal with problems like mold inside walls. As a valued member of our online community, you’re always invited to contribute your tips and ideas through our Comments Section.

If you’d like to know more about our full line of mold removal and remediation services, contact our teams today. ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba offers certified mold inspections here in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, so give us a call. We’re ready to help you fight that hidden stuff behind the walls.