- What is Mold
- Does Mold Make You Sick
- If You Find Mold in Your Home, What Do You Do
- What Does a Mold Inspector Do
- How to Test for Mold in Your Home
- How Much Does Mold Testing Cost: Mold Inspection Cost
- Home Mold Test Kits and DIY Mold Remediation
- What Happens When Mold is Confirmed
- How Do You Prevent Future Mold From Forming
What is Mold
Mold, similar to most fungi, is dependent on the environment around it. It thrives on any damp or decaying materials around it. It can grow almost anywhere that has the right combination of moisture and organic material. Mold reproduces through small structures called spores, then carried by air currents when released. Spores can travel through air, water, or animals, and they stay there until the environment becomes hospitable.
When the spores encounter a habitable environment, they begin to flourish and grow. Environments suitable for mold growth include bathrooms, window molding, basements, crawl spaces, or anywhere with a water problem. Given the right conditions, expert witnesses say mold spores can germinate in as little as four to twelve hours. With no sunlight, limited airflow, and little disruption, the mold can reproduce tremendously in just one to two days.
The Environmental Protection Agency states that there is no way to control the wild spores; however, environmental experts say that we can control them by controlling moisture.
Sometimes it is visible mold, and other times you smell it before you see it. We describe these smells as being moldy or musty odors. Homeowners have described mold as smelling earthy, meaty, or resembling rotten wood. For most, the smell is too pungent and unpleasant, varying with the different types of mold.
There are many different types of mold; all are common in homes and may develop on many other surfaces. The HVAC systems (heating, venting, air conditioning) are notorious for this. Included is black mold or toxic mold, which can be identified by its distinctive, musty smell, toxic spores, and the many possible health risks if exposed. The scent can easily expose mold in these systems.
The necessity of mold inspection becomes apparent when a moldy odor is emitted from the air conditioning or other sources. Although a regular home inspection doesn’t include mold inspection and testing, most home inspectors will mention apparent signs of water damage such as from a roof.
Does Mold Make You Sick
Regardless of the type of discovery, mold exposure is known to cause health problems and should be taken seriously. According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association, some side effects of exposure to toxic mold include watery, itchy eyes, sore throat, runny nose, cough, fatigue, rashes, difficulty breathing, or other serious health issues.
It is entirely possible to live with mold for long periods of time and not even know it, but the longer you live with mold, the more likely it is you could become sensitized to mold and begin developing respiratory problems. This is also one of the best reasons to remedy moisture problems in the home before they turn into mold problems in the home.
Infectious diseases from mold can threaten those with weakened immune systems, sometimes even leading to death. This is why any time you suspect an arising mold problem, it is imperative to reach out to a mold expert.
If You Find Mold in Your Home, What Do You Do
When mold becomes excessive in the home, or if checking for mold in a new home, it is crucial to contact a home inspector. Testing of the samples collected from a mold inspection occurs at a laboratory and tests the samples taken during the house mold inspection.
Luckily, mold inspection and testing are easily accessible almost anywhere. Pick a mold testing company you find trustworthy and affordable. Feel free to research different testing methods or speak up to ensure a thorough mold inspection with no conflict of interest.
Ask them about their professional mold test and how that will impact your home or commercial property when performed. MI&T is the biggest and most trusted mold company in the United States, offering unbiased mold testing at a reasonable price.
What Does a Mold Inspector Do
Upon hiring a professional home mold inspection company, they will perform a visual inspection of the home, checking building materials, common places for water damage, and any other indoor environments conducive to indoor mold contamination or growth.
They may use moisture mapping to help identify spots in the home that have been affected by water, such as if the roof leaked in the past. Equipment such as moisture meters and infrared cameras can help you identify moisture intrusion and water damage in the house’s materials.
How to Test for Mold in Your Home
For hidden mold, a mold air test and air samples must be taken to test for the mold. Scope, severity, and assessment of damage to humans can all be determined from these indoor samples. Air samples will reveal what type of mold is growing there, specific to that room.
It is essential that the professional acquire the outdoor sample or control sample, to compare the indoor mold testers. These surface samples will compare the inside with the outside.
You can also take tape samples, but these will still need to be sent for analytical methods and analysis to the lab.
Depending on how much mold is suspected to be in a home, they may test every room. If the amount of mold spores exceeds acceptable levels during laboratory testing, then a mold remediation specialist will be recommended.
How Much Does Mold Testing Cost: Mold Inspection Cost
The cost of residential mold testing can vary considerably between different mold inspectors and geographic areas. The mold inspection cost is usually between $200 and $500, depending on the square feet of the contaminated area, the severity of the problem, and the number of samples to be taken.
There will be an additional cost for the mold remediation if this is necessary.
Full-service home inspectors who offer mold inspection and mold testing often have package options, bundling multiple home inspection services together for a discounted price. Make sure you speak with your home inspector to see if they offer packaged services.
Home Mold Test Kits and DIY Mold Remediation
There are also home mold test kits you can use, but not everyone who uses them will know how to follow the instructions on caring for the mold samples or how to properly interpret the results from the mold test kit. You can always find a reasonably priced home mold test kit at Home Depot or Lowes if you are interested in purchasing one. *Petri dish not included.
If the mold does not affect a considerable area, you may be able to handle the cleanup without professional help.
A very simplified method of getting rid of small mold spots at home is to mix one cup of bleach in a gallon of water and then apply it to the moldy surface and don’t rinse. You can add a small amount of dish soap to the bleach mixture to help the bleach penetrate surfaces like grout.
At SPS Inspections of Olympia Washington, we have always used and relied on PRO-LAB testing kits and analysis to provide us with fast and accurate reporting of mold testing results!
What Happens When Mold is Confirmed
When the problem goes beyond noticeable signs of mold, we need to call in professionals to give us peace of mind. After providing mold testing services, mold remediators can begin eliminating the mold issue from the house.
The surface sampling performed before will determine how they will attack the mold. Collected samples are examined in carefully controlled conditions. The types of mold are identified and how many mold spores are circulating through the air in the home.
Next, the remediator can begin the mold removal process.
A standard method used by mold remediators is by first closing the area off with plastic sheeting to prevent the mold spores from traveling throughout the area. For larger areas or commercial buildings, you may need to close your business or offer partial services, whichever is a better idea.
Once the work area has been established for mold removal, the professional uses expensive, professional equipment to remove the source’s mold. Next, the air should be cleared of any remaining indoor mold spores using a High-Efficiency Particulate Air scrubber and air exchanger.
After disposing of all things infected by the mold, the professional will clean the surfaces again using an antimicrobial chemical to clean any remaining mold or mold stains.
After all signs of mold are removed from the home or business, the indoor air quality will drastically improve. Air testing will need to be performed again to ensure this. Surface samples will then be retaken, and a mold assessment will be redone.
Once the air sampling confirms the level of sporulation is low enough through a detailed report, relief can be found knowing that the people who inhabit the home are safe. Although the mold inspection process seems daunting, it is often required for a safe living environment.
How Do You Prevent Future Mold From Forming
After all of this work, it seems almost effortless to prevent future mold from forming. The most effective way to prevent mold and decay is by effectively and efficiently controlling the humidity inside your home.
Personally, I believe the humidity inside your home should never be more than 40% throughout the day and should be checked every few hours, while some professionals will tell you 60% humidity is alright.
Dehumidifiers may be a good investment for high humidity areas. To prevent mold in the home, avoid carpet in areas like the kitchen or bathroom. Clean the bathroom regularly and tackle any new mold or mildew when it begins. Using exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom or opening the windows will drastically improve ventilation.
You can even install an air conditioner that comes with a HEPA filter to remove spores from the air. Mold affects immuno-compromised individuals almost immediately. We are unsure of how long it takes to affect those with typical immune systems.
It is imperative to keep up on maintenance when screening for mold. Mold inspections can reveal the true nature of what is hiding in your home, and it is up to you to keep yourself safe.
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