Products And Tools Youll Need To Test For Mold In Your Home
The only thing you need to test for mold at home is a test kit. In addition to the ones previously mentioned, there are several options available:
- Pro-Lab Mold Test Kit: This kit includes three tests. Your sample can be tested for an additional $40 fee, with results delivered by e-mail or via the companys app.
- MoldCheck Multi-Test Kit: This kit includes supplies to perform ten tests, which is great for an entire home or monitoring an ongoing infestation. However, there is no lab testing option, so you will need to find your own if you need identification.
- ImmunoLytics Mold Screening Test Kit: Perform eight tests with this kit. Each plate can be tested for $33 each.
- My Mold Detective: If you are looking for a more advanced mold monitoring option, the My Mold Detective is a reusable air sampling pump that collects samples in just five minutes. The device comes with four sampling cassettes that can be tested in a lab for $35 each.
- My Mold Detective Additional Samples: The My Mold Detective can be used again and again, so order as many samples as you need to keep tabs on your mold problem.
When To Call An Expert
If the moldy area is smallit’s growing in an area smaller than 3 feet by 3 feetyou can probably do a DIY cleanup. The CDC recommends wearing an N-95 respirator and protective eyewear and gloves while handling mold. After you’ve fixed any plumbing leaks and cleaned up the water, you can scrub off the mold with a bleach solution made from no more than 1 cup of laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water.
You could also call in a professional if the water-damaged or moldy area is larger than 3 feet by 3 feet. As there are no federal mold regulations, the CDC recommends finding a specialist who’s affiliated with or certified by the National Environmental Health Association, the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification, or the American Council for Accredited Certification. If you don’t see or smell mold but suspect it’s hiddenyou know there has been water damage behind a wall or beneath a floor, for examplean experienced professional can also help find the source.
Because it can have a negative effect on health, it’s important to address mold if you see it, smell it or sense it in your home. Fortunately, and often with the help of a professional, you can clean it up and create a mold-free, safe home.
Moisture: Investigating And Solving Problems
Mould will grow indoors if moisture is present. Moisture problems in homes may result from:
- daily activities such as showering or bathing, washing clothes or cooking, if exhaust fans are not working properly or are not used
- infiltration of water from the outside when there are cracks or leaks in the foundation, floor, walls or roof
- plumbing leaks
- moisture condensation on cold surfaces
- flooding due to weather conditions
- inadequate ventilation.
Moisture indoors accumulates when it cannot be vented outside and becomes a problem when building materials become damp or wet.
Moisture problems are preventable.
Unless the cause of the moisture problem has been identified and solved, mould will reappear. Once the moisture problem and its causes have been identified, they must be fixed. To prevent future problems, measures should be put in place to control sources of moisture in your home, for example:
- Ensure rain, irrigation water and snowmelt drain away from the house by sloping the grade away from the building.
- Keep eavestroughs and downspouts clean of debris and ensure that the outflow runs away from the house and not into neighbouring foundations.
- Repair plumbing leaks promptly.
- Use exhaust fans, ventilation and air conditioning systems to vent moisture outdoors.
- Use moisture tolerant materials in areas likely to get wet .
Run a dehumidifier in damp areas such as basements or if you observe that moisture is condensing on cold surfaces such as window panes.
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Mold’s Effects On Your Health
Mold can cause many health effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . It can cause a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing or wheezing, burning eyes, or skin rash. People with asthma or who are allergic to mold may have severe reactions. People who are immune-compromised and with chronic lung disease may get infections in their lungs from mold. Interestingly, out of thousands of mold species, only a few dozen will trigger any health problems at all, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
People without allergies and asthma aren’t immune to the effects. According to the CDC, people without pre-existing lung conditions can also experience symptoms like nasal congestion and a sore throat if they live in a house with damp floors or moisture accumulation.
The CDC also notes a potential link of early mold exposure to the development of asthma in some children.
Testing For Mold In Your Home
If you hire a professional mold inspector to come to your home, theyll take samples from three areasthe air, the surface, and surrounding dust. They send these samples to a third-party laboratory to find out the concentration and kinds of mold in those particular areas.
However, this procedure takes time and isnt cheap. Fortunately, testing for mold in your home is a relatively easy task that can give you faster results and save you money. If youve done everything you can to prevent mold but still have reason to think the air you breathe is compromised with mold spores, check strategic locations for visible signs of mold.
Common areas of mold growth include:
- Areas around plumbing lines, even behind the drywall
- Below sinks
- Coils of HVAC air handlers or ductwork
- Between the furniture and exterior walls, particularly in basements or concrete block houses
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How To Get Mold Out Of Clothes
When you notice a musty smell coming from your clothes its easy to panic. Trust me, I understand and used to do the same!
If the clothing item isnt too far gone there are steps to take to remove the mold. There are a few different ways to go about mold removal.
Additionally, mold can start growing in other places in your house if you dont take care of it outside or in a ventilated space. A well-ventilated room is a room where you can open the windows and close the vents to the rest of the house.
Where To Check For Mold In Your Kitchen
From long-forgotten leftovers in the back of your fridge to the not so easily forgotten dishes that pile up in the sink, there are ample surfaces for mold to take up residence in your kitchen. The added levels of humidity from using the stove and running hot water from the sink can cause kitchen mold to grow quickly. Some of the most common places to check for mold in the kitchen include:
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How Can Mold Be Prevented
Rather than taking action after the mold is already a problem, you can do several things to prevent mold from ever growing in the first place. Keep things dry. If large quantities of liquid are spilled, dry off the damp surfaces within 24 hours using whatever means necessary. A little elbow grease now could save you a lot of effort, time and money later.
Remodel your house using materials that are mold-resistant. They may cost more initially but they will save you a headache later. You can find paints that prevent mold from growing. This will prevent mold from growing on bathroom walls that are often humid and covered in condensation.
Invest in a dehumidifier. Regardless of the climate you live in, your home will inevitably have excess moisture in it at some time. You can find basement dehumidifiers for large and damp areas, portable dehumidifiers for smaller spaces and bedrooms, energy-efficient dehumidifiers to help you save and quiet dehumidifiers for use in bedrooms. You can find a dehumidifier for almost any purpose you just need to find the right dehumidifier for your home.
You could also call a mold specialist in to assess your home for issues. Poorly planned piping, holes in your brickwork, soil build-up against walls… these can all cause damp and mold issues, and a professional survey will note them and advise on how to stop issues before they arise.
What Causes Mold Growth
When you first spot mold growing in your home, or start suspecting that itâs growing, you might think something like, âHow did that get there?â or âWhat did I do to cause mold growth in my house?â
There are plenty of ways that mold can find its way into your house. For example, spores can enter through open windows, doorways, or your ventilation system. They can also attach themselves to shoes, clothing, or pets and find their way in through these different vehicles.
Itâs important to note, though, that mold will only grow and spread in areas that are favorable. This includes areas that are very moist and provide the mold spores with a steady supply of nutrients.
If you have a leaky pipe or flooding in your home, for example, that will create a prime area for mold growth. Places with excessive window condensations might be prone to mold, too. The same goes for spots that donât get a lot of air circulation.
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Clean The Washer’s Door Seal
Inspect every nook and cranny of front-load washer door seals to be sure no mold is growing that can leave clothes smelling moldy.
Run a cloth dampened with white vinegar around the door seals and gaskets. You can either disinfect the cloth after use or toss it in case it harbors loosened mold.
Dry the seal and gasket with a dry towel when you are done. Dispose of the paper towels in the garbage.
How To Detect Mold In Walls
If there is an area of your home where you think mold may be present in the walls due to smell, a strange appearance of the wall, or any other factor there are a few ways you can test this.
The simplest way is to probe the area with a screwdriver. If the area is soft or the screwdriver easily pierces the drywall, mold likely has rotted the surface away, and youll be able to see it once a hole has been opened up in the surface. Be careful when doing this and do not do it near any wiring or electrical outlets.
You could also use a fiber optic camera to look around inside after opening a hole in the wall, but at this point, you may as well hire a professional inspector. A professional inspector has the tools required to examine the wall thoroughly, and ensure that its mold free or detect any potential issues.
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What Does It Look Like
Molds are a type of fungus and can look like their fungal cousins, mushrooms, and yeasts. There are thousands of types of mold, and their appearance can depend on the type and where it’s growing. Outdoors, molds can be seen gobbling up the dead organic matter on decomposing surfaces like fallen leaves and rotting logs indoors, house mold thrives in wet, humid environments like bathrooms and basements or anywhere that has recently flooded.
According to the CDC, the most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. However, black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum , is sometimes found in homes and other buildings. This greenish-black growth can grow on fiberboard, paper, dust, and lint, particularly in areas that may have recently flooded or suffered other types of water damage. While black mold can certainly look scary, the CDC says that Stachybotrys chartarum isn’t any more harmful than other types of mold.
Perform A Visual Inspection
If you suspect you have mold, the first step is to perform a thorough visual inspection of your home. You will recognize mold as spots that can appear in many different colors. Mold thrives on moisture, so pay particular attention to roofs, windows, pipes, basements, laundry areas, bathrooms, previously flooded spaces, and so on. Mold commonly appears on fibrous surfaces like drywall, upholstery, wallpaper, fabrics, and cardboard. If you see any signs of mold, call a professional.
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Getting To The Root Of The Problem
Mold can affect your health in different ways some people have severe reactions while others dont experience any.
Common health effects of mold include hay fever-like symptoms such as a runny nose and red eyes. If you have allergies or asthma, youll likely experience more severe reactions such as asthma attacks or skin rashes.
Mold spreads and reproduces through spores in the air. You can buy DIY home test kits to help determine whether or not theres mold present in your home. Yet, as popular as these tests are, you shouldnt rely on them entirely. Always follow up with a professional inspection and treatment.
How Does Hidden Mold Happen
In this case, there is, or was, a water leak. Maybe it was the roof and it dripped down between the walls, or perhaps a plumbing leak that went unnoticed for a period of time until it was fixed and subsequently painted over, perhaps even before the mold growth was visible.
Unfortunately, sometimes landlords and homeowners will paint-and-pretend, as properly dealing with a potential mold problem can be scary and expensive. Some states also have disclosure laws surrounding mold due to its health effects, which can also encourage owners to sweep it under the rug instead of disclosing it to tenants and homebuyers and raising red flags.
This is unethical behavior, but that is why the Badger encourages MOLD TESTING during all home inspections, as you never know what a previous owner might have intentionally or unwittingly covered up.
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Figure C: The Smart Way To Get Rid Of Moldy Building Materials
The key to removing moldy materials is containment and thoroughness. Seal off the area. Create a crude air lock door to contain spores and dust by covering the opening with a sheet of poly slit in the center, then cover that with another sheet or flap. Wear a respirator and work slowly and surely. Double-bag or wrap all materials, then wash all remaining hard surfaces with a 1/2 percent bleach solution and let dry.
Air Conditioning And Heating Vents
You probably prefer your bedroom to be at the optimal temperature for you to get a good nights rest. While using the AC and heating unit are fine , its possible for mold to grow in the vents.
To prevent mold from contaminating your bedroom, you should:
- Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air
- Dry up any condensation you find on the walls and windows
- Invest in a mold-resistant mattress or, at the very least, a waterproof mattress cover
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Dont Want To Use Chemicals Heres How To Test For Mold In Your Home Naturally
If youre concerned about the effects of harmful chemicals when testing for mold in the house, worry not. Testing for mold doesnt use any chemicals, and kits are non-toxic.
In fact, the main thing you should be worried about when testing for mold is the mold itself. If you are collecting direct samples of mold using the swab technique, wear gloves and a mask to reduce your exposure to the mold.
In On And Under The Kitchen Sink
A lot happens in your kitchen sink. Dirty dishes pile up , food goes through the garbage disposal, wet sponges sit in the sink or in caddies and collect bacteria, and faucets run. All of these things contribute to the potential for mold growth, so check in these areas often if you want to prevent mold. Oh, and dont forget to check underneath the sink leaky pipes are a big problem for mold.
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How To Remove Mold From Fabric
If your home has been flooded and mold and bacteria have been left to grow for many days, it may be impossible to salvage fabric items and clothing. However, if mildew has developed due to dampness and is caught early, it can easily be removed from most machine-washable fabrics.
It is very difficult to remove mold from upholstered items because the spores may have deeply penetrated the item and the piece of furniture is likely not colorfast for use with a bleach disinfectant. If the spot is small, try a mold removal product that is formulated for fabric and follow the label’s instructions carefully. You can also try these types of products to spot clean fabric lamp shades or window treatments affected by mold, but they are not machine-washable. Read the label to make sure the product will work on your type of fabric and do not use a vacuum to clean any moldy item.
How To Prevent The Growth Of Mold
Keeping the interior of your home dry can help prevent mold. The home inspector can discover leaks, issues with plumbing, or problems with the HVAC system and ventilation, which can lead to the growth of mold. This is why a professional home inspection is so important.
High humidity levels can also cause mold to form on wood, drywall, and other materials the mold considers food. Using a dehumidifier to regulate humidity levels can help to prevent mold.
Common places you might find mold include:
- Areas where pipes have been leaking
- Areas beneath roof leaks
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