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We put together a detailed guide on mold testing and inspection. Find out the cost and where to find professionals for mold removal.
Mold grows unnoticed in most homes. In fact, it’s possible that you have already experienced indoor mold without even realizing it. Mold is everywhere; no matter where you live, or who you are, at some point in your day to day activities you will probably be exposed to some level of mold. The presence of high levels of mold growth in your home can be a major headache.
Whether its several white patches on your bathroom or basement floor, or ugly-looking slimy spots smudged on your shower curtain, or a greasy film slowly forming in your kitchen or bathroom drains, the growth of household mold can be more than unsightly. In most cases, mold poses a health risk and can potentially make you sick especially if you are prone to allergies and asthma. Mold exposure can irritate your skin, nose, eyes, throat, and lungs regardless of whether you have allergies.
Even worse is the fact that the most toxic mold growing in your home or the one flying around in the air cannot be seen with a naked eye; it’s invisible, and yet it can affect your health adversely. Everyone needs clean air for better health and for the body to function well. If the air around is filled with toxic mold, it will be unclean, and you will be exposed to serious health risks.
The black mold, which is not visible to the naked eye is extremely toxic. The sad thing is, this type of mold can go unnoticed for years for it tends to grow in areas where it’s hard for you to detect or see it. It grows inside walls, under suspended ceilings, behind tiles and many other hidden spots in your home. With black mold, it may take you years to detect that you have mold in your home and it will be too late as the fungus will have already spread in most parts of your home and cause serious health problems to you and your loved ones.
Mold is usually a kind of fungus that thrives and grows in a humid and wet environment. It consists of small organisms which can typically be found everywhere. It usually grows in the form of multicellular filaments referred to as hyphae. It exists in more than 365,000 known species although only a few of them are harmful and normally found indoors. Mold appears in different colors, from, black, white, purple, orange, green, etc. In the outdoors, mold plays an essential role in breaking down dead organic matter such as leaves, plants, and trees.
Mold thrives in a humid environment and areas with high levels of moisture. It will grow exponentially in damp, dimly-lit areas or on constantly wet areas. Indoors, you are likely to find mold in places such as the attics, in craw places, in the basements and bathrooms.
You will also find mold growth in areas experiencing leaks, such leaks in the roofs, leaky pipes, windows, and areas that occasionally flood especially under the sinks. In short, mold grows and thrives in moist areas.
Mold spores are extremely tiny and very light, and they can easily be distributed in the air. Since they are airborne, it’s possible to inhale mold spores in large amounts without even realizing it. Exposure to some types of mold which produce toxins can lead to various health issues. Some people may not get affected by mold while others are sensitive and can get adverse reactions when exposed to moldy surroundings.
Young people, the elderly, those that have existing respiratory problems such as asthma and allergies, and, people with immune-related health issues are at risk of developing mold-related problems. But generally, even a perfectly healthy person, is at risk of getting affected by mold spores and developing mold-related illness and complications. In fact, even domesticated animals and pets can adversely get affected if there is a lot of mold growth in your homes.
Illnesses that result from prolonged exposure to mold spores include blastomycosis, aspergillosis, coccidioidomycosis, histoplasmosis, paracoccidioidomycosis, yeast infection, and sporotrichosis. The common symptoms related to mold illness include:
People who are generally allergic to mold will have severe reactions when exposed to moldy environments. In addition, people whose immune is comprised due to a prolonged illness and those suffering from chronic illnesses are more likely to experience adverse reactions when exposed to mold.
You will find that a small exposure to mold can trigger an adverse reaction to one person, while the same amount of exposure to another person may not have any effects at all. For example, the elderly whose immune system is already compromised, or young ones whose immune system is still developing will be more affected by mold than an adult considered to be healthy and in good shape. Some people may experience severe reactions such as fatigue, nausea, sinus, difficulties in breathing and lung and respiratory infections.
If you have a severe case of prolonged mold infestation, it may cause structural damages to your home. This is because mold naturally feeds and breaks down organic matter. Thus, if mold infests your walls, carpeting, insulation paper backing, it will adversely destroy these materials and can potentially weaken the structural integrity of your home. It will feed on your floorboards and eventually make them cave in. If it infects your walls, it will destroy them, and they will gradually fall down. In addition, if the mold infestation goes for a long time unnoticed, it can eventually destroy the ceiling which may end up collapsing.
These drastic structural damages will not happen in a day. Since mold can go for years without being detected, it will slowly damage many materials in your home. Eventually, these materials will get damaged beyond repair and affect the structural integrity of your home.
Most people expect to see mold infestation in damp areas such as bathroom, basement and the attic. However, you might actually be surprised to learn that mold can grow in your heating and ventilation system. Once mold infests in your HVAC system, it can lead to adverse damages to your home. Once mold spores get inside ductwork, they become extremely hard to clean and remove. Also, if mold gets inside you air ducts system, it will use it as the gateway to other parts of your home and spread easily everywhere in your home.
In fact, if mold has already infested the air ducts, the air blowing through the ducts will make the mold spread further in your entire home. This can be extremely dangerous for your household. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) cautions homeowners who might be having mold infestation against operating their heating and air conditioning systems especially if you suspect that you might be having mold growth in the HVAC system.
Your HVAC system will require a thorough inspection before you turn it on to prevent further mold damage. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency strictly recommends professional cleaning of air ducts where mold has spread to the HVAC system and into the ductwork. This is the only way to make sure that the mold spores are removed safely.
Not only does mold cause structural damage, but it can also severely damage your personal property. For example, if mold grows on fabric or carpet, or wallpaper, it will be extremely difficult to clean. Thus, such items will be rendered unusable, and you will be forced to dispose of them or destroy them since it’s difficult to get rid of mold spores completely.
One of the most frequently asked questions by a majority of homeowners is about the signs of mold. Majority of people are aware that mold is toxic and can lead to serious health risks. However, most people do not know signs of mold or how to detect it. If you can detect mold or identify the signs of mold infestation, you will be a position to help control and stop the infestation before it spreads and becomes big trouble. Also, knowing how to detect mold signs early enough can help you organize for inspection and mold testing which will help a great deal in controlling the mold situation in your home before it causes adverse health risks and damages.
Here are some of the signs that will help you identify mold growth and infestation in your home.
If your house is already infested with mold or there is a growth of mold in hidden places like in the walls, soon or later, you will start smelling a moldy smell which is mostly musty. If some parts of your house have a strong musty smell even when the house seems to be well ventilated with windows open, it’s possible that you already have a mold situation in your home.
Mold has an unpleasant smell that is musty and brings a stuffy-kind of effect in your home. If you start smelling this particular mold odor in your home, you should not ignore i. You should inspect your home to see if you will be able to see other signs of mold growth. In addition, you will need to organize for mold testing and evaluation which will enable you to start the mold removal process.
One of the sure signs of the presence of mold in your home is seeing the mold. It doesn’t matter how the growth is, as long as there is some amount of visible mold growth, inspection, and testing need to be done to ascertain the amount of mold in your home. In fact, the worst kind of mold is the one you cannot see, topped by the fact that it’s not visible. Thus, you will not be in a position to know the extent of the infestation.
Therefore, if you see small amounts of mold in your basement, attic or bathroom or any other part of your home, you should not ignore it and assume it’s just a small growth. Any sign of mold growth no matter how small the growth is, it’s a clear indication that there is enough moisture in your home to encourage mold growth.
For example, if mold is hidden behind your walls, let’s say bathroom walls for instance, with time, the growth will spread through the wall. When this happens, you will start seeing small patches of mold on your walls. If you start seeing mold on your walls, it’s time to inspect your walls, ceiling, and home in general to know the extent of the mold growth.
If you start noticing condensation on your floors, window sills, and walls, it’s an indication that you have high levels of moisture in your home, thus a sign that you could be having mold growth inside your house. Condensation is an indication of high humidity which is a favorable condition for mold.
Often, condensation usually occurs on cold surfaces such as floors, walls, windowsills, metal pipes, and on glass windows. When water vapor settles on cold surfaces in your home, for example on your glass windows, it will cool down and turn into liquid.
If there is a lot of condensation happening in your home, you will start experiencing moisture problems which becomes an ideal condition for mold to thrive in. Mold grows at a high rate in areas where there are high condensation levels. If you notice that you have several cases of rusting indoor pipes, it’s possible that your home is experiencing a lot of condensation. Often, condensation brings the issue of moisture build-up and encourages mold to grow.
High humidity levels is another indication of a potential problem in your home. High humidity levels often lead to water accumulation and high rate of condensation. If the air around is humid, especially in your home, things will generally take longer to dry. For example, if you wipe your floors, it will take longer for it to dry especially your bathroom or basement floors. This brings means the moisture levels in your home are pretty high which is a favorable condition for mold to thrive in.
Often, humidity levels of about 60% and above usually create a conducive environment for mold growth. If your home seems to have high levels of humidity, its best to take measures that will help keep the humidity level at about 30% and not more than 60%. You need to make sure that your home is well ventilated especially if you live in areas with high humidity levels like near a lake or at the coast. Make sure your home conditioned and use HVAC to manage humidity levels. You should also invest in humidity monitors to monitor humidity levels indoors.
As mentioned in this guide moisture is the main culprit when it comes to a mold problem. If you are having moisture and water problem, the main cause could be water leaks in your home. You could be having leaking pipes, leaks in the roof and the attic. If a leak goes for a long time undetected, it will create lots of moisture in your home and eventually lead to the growth of mold. Mold is likely to start growing in areas where the leaks are happening especially around a leaking pipe.
The problem with water leaks is that they are usually hidden. Thus, if mold starts to grow around this areas, it will be hidden, and you might not notice the growth for quite some time until it collects and starts spreading in other parts of your home. For example, if the leak is happening behind a wall, mold will also grow hidden behind the wall.
But, in any case, if there is a leak in some parts of your home, whether hidden or in the open, the leaks will create a moisture issue which will lead to mold growth. Mold can grow in any place where water is seeping through. So, if you notice that you have a leak that has been leaking water for some time, you need to have your home tested for mold.
Has your house experienced flooding in the past? If yes, then there is a good that chance mold already started to grow and has spread in most parts of your home. This will happen in areas in your house where water took a long time to dry especially in the basement.
Moisture issues resulting from flooding can take a long time to go away especially in areas that are out of view such as under the floors and behind walls. These are the places where mold is likely to grow and spread without being detected or seen. If you experience flooding in your home, it’s advisable to contact a mold specialist for mold testing in your home.
If you or your family members start experiencing mold-related symptoms such constant sneezing, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, breathing difficulties, red, watery eyes respiratory infections, etc. you could be having black mold slowly growing in your home. Black mold is toxic and its responsible for causing allergy and health issues to most people.
If you or your any member of your family are experiencing the mentioned mold-related health issues, you need to have an inspection and mold testing done to ascertain whether your home has mold growth.
Mold testing is a process that involves collecting air and surface samples of mold spores in your home, which are then analyzed and tested in a laboratory to determine if you have mold. The mold test is supposed to identify the type of mold present in your home and its location. Mold testing should give you a rough idea of the number of mold particles present in a particular area at that specific time.
But, you should note that the number of mold particles and spores keep changing with time and move from one place to another. For this reason, it’s always advisable to carry out various mold tests at different times and in different places in your home. Various mold tests on different places and time will give an accurate picture of the areas covered with mold and possibly a good estimate of the amount of mold in your home.
There are three types of mold tests. The mold testing methods include:
Also referred to as spore trap is mold testing method which involves taking samples from the air to determine the number of mold spores in your home’s air circulation. The air samples are taken using a spore trap sampling device. The trapping device has a sticky surface which is positioned to allow some amount of air to passes over it. In the process, mold spores will stick on the on a sticky surface alongside other particles in the air.
The spore trap will then be sent to the lab for mold testing. In the lab, the technician will use stains and apply them to the sticky device which will then absorb the mold spores. The air test will determine the type of mold present in your home, and based on the amount collected and the percentage of air, the professional will be able to quantify the amount mold you are dealing with in your home.
With air testing method, you will be able to know if you have mold especially in cases where the mold growth is in hidden places where you cannot see it. But, amount spores in the air usually changes and so the tests should be done at different times and in different locations.
Just as the name suggests, surface mold testing is a method that involves collecting mold samples on household surfaces. Surface mold testing aims to find out the number of mold spores and mold growth within your home. This method can be done in three different ways which include:
Swabbing – In this method, the samples are collected using an object like a cotton swab which is rubbed on a surface to collect some amount of sample.
Tape lifting – this method involves using a piece of clear tape which is pressed on the surface and then lifted. The sample on the surface will stick to the tape which will then be taken to the lab for testing.
Bulk samples – In this method, a piece around the affected area is physically picked and taken to the lab for mold testing.
This mold testing method falls under the category of surface testing. The testing method involves collecting several pieces of household material from your home. The household pieces of materials collected will physically be taken to the laboratory for mold testing. These particular pieces will put under a microscope for examination. The examination and testing will give the tester an accurate picture of mold status in your home.
The first step towards addressing mold growth in your home is mold testing. If you have seen signs of mold in your home that may indicate mold growth, or you suspect that your home has the favorable conditions to allow mold growth, you should consider mold testing services. Mold thrives in moisture and places with high humidity levels.
If you have unidentified water leaks, or your home recently experienced flooding, or you live in an area with high humidity levels, you should consider having your home tested for mold infestation.
If you suspect that your home already has some mold growth but you are not sure of the exact locations affected, or you do not know the reasons why you have mold or the amount and type of mold present in your home, you need to contact a professional to perform a mold test.
The professionals responsible for mold testing are usually referred to as Industrial Hygienists (IH). Normally, Industrial Hygienists will charge you an average cost of about $300 to $500 to test mold in your home. The typical range for mold testing costs ranges from $295 to $1050. The lowest cost you can spend om mold testing comes to about$150 while the maximum price you can spend om mold testing s is about$2665. The average cost of mold testing services come to around $672.
Some mold remediation services choose to offer mold testing for free if you are hiring the company for mold remediation services.
Alternatively, you can use test kits to test for mold in your home through DIY. Mold test kits are available in different types, and you can use them to test surfaces, indoor and outdoor air and, HVAC. The test kit will help you to identify the kind of mold you have and the spots where there is mold. Some mold test kits can let you take physical samples for mold testing.
The DIY mold testing kits can be found in most home improvement stores, or you can simply purchase one from online platforms such as Amazon. The cost of a DIY mold test kit ranges from $5 to $100. Some mold test kits will allow you to take a sample and place it in a medium such as a petri dish and then you will need to give it about 48 hours for the mold to grow. But, if you want to know other details such as the type of mold present in your home, you will need to take the kit to a laboratory for mold testing. Mold lab testing will cost you anywhere between $30 to $150.
However, as you purchase the DIY mold test kits, you need to know that the accuracy and the speed of the test kit will depend on various factors such as the type of the kit you purchase. For example, a kit that allows you to do it all may only give you about 90% accurate results, and it will take several days to give the results. At the same time, you may find a kit that allows you to perform only one type of a test but it will probably give you more accurate results in less than 10 minutes.
The type of mold test kit you purchase will depend on what you intend to test and the urgency of the results. Some test kits may take only five minutes to show the results while others will take as long as 6 or 7 days to reveal the mold test results. In some cases, the home will require several tests for more accurate results which means you will need to hire a professional.
|Type of testing||Description||Average cost|
|Swab testing||The professional will collect samples from surfaces by swabbing potentially infested areas. This test usually collects a small sample from specific areas of your home, and it's recommended that it should be done alongside air testing.||$200-$300|
|Air testing||The professional will use a spore trapping device to collect samples for mold testing. Air testing should be done together with swab testing to provide comprehensive results.|
|Air testing and swab testing||A combination of air testing and swab testing done at the same time.||$400-$650|
While a DIY mold test kit can allow you to test for mold in your home and may be less costly than hiring a professional mold testing contractor, the kit may not be able to give you a compressive mold report. In fact, with DIY mold testing, you will not be able to collect mold samples from all the areas in your home where there is a likelihood of mold growth.
A mold testing contractor will know the updated and reviewed guideline approved for use for mold testing. A professional mold testing contractor will be able to collect mold samples in all possible potentially affected areas including the hidden areas such as behind and within walls in your basement and the attic. It is essential to keep in mind that some form of mold can be invisible and only a professional can know the right locations to test. A professional will also be able to determine if the level of mold in your home exceeds the expected normal levels.
Some of the reasons that will prompt you to hire a mold testing contractor include:
When you notice signs that indicate mold growth in your homes such as mold health-related symptoms, mold smell, and visible mold signs
✓ When you want to find the species of mold present in your home
✓ To help you identify the exact locations where there is mold growth
✓ To test if the mold that was present in your home was fully removed after mold remediation services
✓ To get mold free evaluation documentation for a real estate transaction
✓ After a flooding incidence that affected your home
A qualified mold testing contractor will carry out a thorough inspection in your home and test various parts of your home including the basement, attic, ceilings, walls, rugs, wall cavities and the quality of air indoors. The mold testing contractor will then take the collected samples to a lab for testing and evaluation. The contractor will then present a report to show the results of the mold testing exercise and give a recommendation on what should be done next.
Before you hire a mold testing contractor, there are essential questions you should ask to ensure that you hire the right person for the job. Background vetting is essential for it will enable you to determine if the contractor is qualified for the job. Thus, the following questions will enable you to know if the contractor is the right person to hire.
Inspection and mold testing contractors are required to have some certifications such as Certified Microbial Inspector(CMI), Certified Indoor Environmentalist and International Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration. Some of these certificates are acquired through classes and seminars which equip mold professionals with the right knowledge to inspect, test mold and carry out safe mold remediation exercises. Find out from your mold testing contractor if they have the necessary certifications.
Ask the mold testing contractor the procedure they will use to test mold in your house. Find out if they will inspect your house to find out if there is a mold problem. The contractor should explain to you the methods they will use to take mold samples.
Find out if they will send the samples to a lab for testing. If they do, ask the contractor where they will take the samples for testing. A credible mold testing contractor will take the samples to a lab for testing. Let the contractor give you the details of the laboratory they will use for testing mold samples retrieved from your home.
Find out how many samples will be collected from your house for testing. Your mold testing contractor should take enough samples to ensure that they get enough data to enable them to make an accurate evaluation.
Ask the contractor how long it will take for the mold testing results to come out. Normally, mold testing results take a maximum of one week to be ready.
Some mold testing inspectors may give you a lab report that only shows the test data. However, a credible mold testing contractor should give you a detailed report that clearly shows the amount of mold in your home, the type of mold present, and indicate what you need to do next.
Ask the mold testing contractor to give you an elaborate cost breakdown including inspection, sampling costs, and lab fees.
Mold testing is the only way to properly identify if you have mold growth spreading in your home. Mold spores are ever present in the air and are part of our lives. Even though most types of molds are actually harmless, the presence of the black mold and its spores in our homes can be quite dangerous to our health. Mold growth in your home can lead to respiratory problems such as coughing, asthma, runny nose, wheezing, difficulties in breathing and many others.
If you suspect that you could be having mold growth in your home by smelling mold or seeing mold in some parts of your home, you should seek for mold testing services. Mold inspection and testing will reveal the type of mold present in your home, the extent of mold infestation and the quality of indoor air in your home.