Professional Mold Testing: Why Everyone Should Have Their Homes Inspected For Mold
As a homeowner, you know there is a lot that can go wrong without regular upkeep and maintenance. Lawns can become unruly, dust will collect, and HVAC systems can harbor nasty buildups of dirt and debris. One thing that often gets overlooked on the to-do list is to get your house screened for mold by a professional. Mold lives in every home, whether in large or small amounts. However, if not properly managed and remediated, it will continue to grow, eventually leading to potential structural damage. Not only can mold wreak havoc on the surfaces and framework in your house, but it can also pose serious health risks to you and your family. Learn the types of mold you might find in your home, signs for when it’s time for professional mold testing, reasons why professional mold testing is important, and steps involved in the home mold inspection process.
Kinds of Mold Found in Homes
There are thousands of types of mold growing in the world, and a number of them can be found right in your own home. The three most common types you might find growing in your house during a home mold inspection include Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium.
Stachybotrys: Stachybotrys, also known as the infamous black mold or toxic mold, is an incredibly common household mold. It is typically dark green or black in color and has a slimy texture. Black mold is a toxigenic mold, meaning it can cause certain symptoms in the human body if inhaled or ingested. Black mold flourishes in moist areas with high humidity, such as kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and crawl spaces.
Aspergillus: Aspergillus is a type of allergenic mold that can be found primarily in-home air conditioning systems, as well as growing on foods that are decomposing. As an allergenic mold, it can cause symptoms such as lung infections and asthma attacks if inhaled. Aspergillus can be a variety of different colors and can grow in thick layers on walls.
Cladosporium: Rounding out the list of the most common household molds is Cladosporium, an allergenic mold that makes its home in materials such as carpets, fabrics, and upholsteries. You might even spot inside cupboards. As an allergenic, it can produce a variety of symptoms on the skin, or in the eyes, nose, and throat.
When to Test for Mold
If you think you might have mold growing, how do you know when it’s time to have a professional mold testing? The following signs can indicate that it’s time for a professional home mold inspection:
- Visible signs of mold: if you spot mold, you should have a home mold inspection. Even if it looks to be a small amount, mold will continue to grow in the environment. If you spot mold, do not attempt to touch or disturb it. A professional company will have the proper equipment to handle the situation safely.
- If you smell a musty odor: many types of mold emit a tell-tale musty, moldy odor. If you notice an unpleasant smell without a clear source in your bathroom, basement, or crawl space, have your home tested to locate the mold and take remediation steps.
- Water damage: flooded basements, burst pipes, and leaky roofs all leave your home vulnerable to mold growth. If you’ve recently had a water damage event in your house, it’s time for a professional mold testing. Following water damage, mold can begin to grow almost immediately, so having the test done right away can prevent large overgrowths.
- The onset of health issues: If you or someone in your home starts to experience symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, itchy eyes, sore throat, sneezing, or rash that are not tied to a known health condition, have a home mold inspection as various types can cause symptoms mentioned.
- If you spot unusual stains: unusual stains on your house or on furniture could mean mold. If you spot new stains have a professional mold testing done to address the issue.
Impact of Mold on Health
Making the decision to have a professional mold testing is important, as exposure can spell serious consequences, especially for particularly vulnerable populations like infants, the elderly, or individuals with existing respiratory conditions. Exposure to mold can result in serious skin rashes and hives, as well as lung infections, difficulty breathing, and asthma. Some exposure will require treatments such as antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants, or nasal sprays.
Professional Mold Testing: What to Expect
The mold testing process involves a few specific steps to make a determination about the extent of your mold problem, and what should be done next to remediate. The test will begin first with a visual inspection. The inspector will walk throughout each room paying close attention to hidden spaces. They will also inspect your HVAC system, a well-known spot for mold growth. In addition to visually inspecting the interior of your house, they will also take a look at the outside of your house to note any potential risks for water entering your home.
Following the visual mold inspection, during the mold testing, the inspector will make a diagnosis. You will be notified of any sources of moisture that might be causing mold growth, areas of particular concern where larger, potentially harmful overgrowths were spotted, as well as any sources of humidity noted.
Once a diagnosis has been made, the inspector will conduct a fungal sampling as part of the mold inspection. Samples will be taken of not only the colonies of mold found growing, but also of the air in your home to determine whether or not the mold you have is allergenic and a health risk. Once the results of the fungal sampling are complete, the inspector will have a better idea of the level of contamination you’re dealing with.
The final step in the professional mold testing process is a written report. In the written report, the inspector will thoroughly layout for you their findings and recommendations for remediation.