Mold is the last thing you want to deal with in your home. Not only does it spread quickly, potentially damaging the structure of your home, it can also cause serious health problems to you or your family members. If you know, or even suspect, you have mold, it’s crucial that you take care of it quickly.
Here’s what to expect in a mold inspection.
Why Should You Have a Mold Inspection?
There are several reasons to have a mold inspection performed in your home. Any one of these situations would be enough cause for an inspection:
- You frequently have allergy-type symptoms in one room of your house. Or you have allergy-type symptoms in your home that go away when you’re somewhere else.
- You’ve had a water leak or flooding somewhere in your home.
- You smell mold, but don’t see any.
- You’re about to make a real estate transaction.
If you see visible mold, you can typically proceed to the mold remediation process without having an actual inspection. However, if you’re unsure that what you’re seeing is mold, an inspection is wise.
A professional inspector will first conduct a visual inspection to determine if you are dealing with mold or mildew. Both begin in moist areas, but mildew is a surface fungi that is not toxic or poisonous. Mold, on the other hand, spreads from the surface and grows in and around the material. Mildew can be wiped away, while mold must be handled more carefully — and most often, by a professional.
The inspector will also go through your home to look for any other problem conditions, such as moist areas of the home. Special instruments, like moisture meters, may help in this process.
Inspection of Air Samples
If conditions in your home indicate a potential for mold (a visual inspection finds mold, you have musty odors, you’ve had water damage, or your home has experienced water intrusion), an air sample can be taken. Because not all mold spores are easily visible, an air sample will give you a good idea of the types of mold you have in your home. It can also help you know how severe your mold problem is.
An air sample is taken with a pump that forces air through a collection device. The device catches mold spores, which are then sent to a lab. In the lab, technicians can determine the types and amount of mold spores you’re dealing with.
Professional inspectors use a variety of devices, including impaction samplers, cassette samplers, and airborne-particle collectors.
Inspection of Surface Samples
Sometimes, surface samples are performed. These can show you exactly what you’re dealing with. In addition, sometimes spores haven’t yet become airborne, and a surface sample will show that. However, surface samples don’t take into account the mold spores that may be in the air.
The three most common surface sample methods are bulk samples, swab samples, and tape samples. In bulk samples, a piece of the area is actually physically removed and sent for testing. In swab samples, a technician will rub a cotton swab across the area and send it for testing. In tape samples, a clear piece of tape is used to pick up and remove any mold that’s on the surface. It will then be sent for testing.
If your lab results indicate you have a mold problem, you will need to begin the mold remediation process, which includes locating the source of the mold, documenting the area for insurance purposes, eliminating the mold with scientific methods (this should only be done by professionals with the proper training and equipment), and removing the moisture from the area to prevent a return of the mold.
Once remediation is complete, another sample will need to be taken to determine if all the mold was removed from your home.
Mold can be scary, but the right professionals can take care of it and put your mind back at ease. The best move you can make is to take swift action at the first sign of mold in your home. The sooner you act, the easier it will be to eliminate mold from your home
Deborah Lamberton is the general manager for New Life Restoration, a 24/7 disaster cleanup company that offers fire and smoke, water and storm damage, mold remediation and more.