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
How To Detect Mold In Walls
Figuring out if you have mold inside your wall and even what wall might have a mold problem is no easy task. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of accurate DIY options. The closest you can get to finding mold behind your walls is checking for moisture. More in depth exploration is better left to a professional mold inspector.
Mold Removal: How To Detect And Remove Mold From Behind Walls
Mold growth can be a common issue for home and business owners. Unlike mildew or the encroachment of weeds, most strains of mold can grow without sunlight and take hold on a variety of surfaces, even inside walls. This issue can be especially problematic because the mold can damage wiring, insulation, and drywall. When it comes to mold in walls, removal can be tricky, but there are a few steps you can take to ensure it is properly eradicated and will not return.
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How To Detect Mold Inside Walls
You keep everything you can see in your home clean and sanitized, but have you considered what lurks beyond your line of sight? Your walls can house dangerous black mold growth even if you clean regularly.
Water damage can create a prime environment within walls for mold and mildew to fester.
Learn how to spot this hidden intrusion, keep it away for the long term, and prevent it from coming back.
Five Most Common Causes Of Growth
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An Example Of Hidden Mold In Air Conditioner Air Handling Equipment
The photograph of a dense colonization of light-colored mold inside of a Florida air conditioning air handler unit above, courtesy of , Tampa.
While it is certainly possible for HVAC equipment and duct work to form a problem reservoir of mold contamination in a building, we caution that small mold reservoirs in HVAC air handlers are common,
Often, because of the small size and mold genera found in an air handler, such reservoirs are not the problem mold reservoir in a building, and investigators need to look further.
How To Know If Mold Is In Your Walls
Mold often grows out of sight in wall cavities due to water problems like flooding or leaks. Before you know it, it creates a toxic environment in your home, compromising the indoor air.
The good news is that even hidden mold leaves behind clues. You can find out if mold is growing in your walls in several ways. Here is how to spot mold that grows inside your walls.
If your home has suffered severe water damage, mold will grow in your walls if the water wasnt removed within 24-48 hours. If water reached drywall, the best practice is to cut it one foot above the water line.
Other water problems like leaking pipes may also trap moisture inside your walls. Even in these cases where leaks are visible, moisture can get inside walls, providing mold a place to grow. Be aware of signs that drywalls are moist such as:
- water stains
- deterioration like peeling, bubbling or cracking of the paint or wallpaper
Moreover, if the walls are bowed, bulging or warped, they most likely contain moisture. Another clue is if the surface of walls feels wet or damp.
Visible Signs of Mold
First of all, if the wall is rotting, it likely has mold underneath it. In less severe cases, mold might not be that noticeable. Inspect the walls and check for mold on walls behind furniture and along baseboards too.
Another sign of visible mold is discoloration of walls, even if it has been painted over. If the water damage inside the walls persists, mold will show signs on the surface.
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Mold Armor Fg500 Do It Yourself Mold Test Kit
The Mold Armor kit includes a test swab, petri dish, and a bottle of mold growth medium. You can use this single kit in one of three waysto test the air for mold spores, to test air quality in your HVAC duct, or to test for surface mold.
To use the kit, pour the growth medium in the petri dish, replace the lid, and allow it to gel for one hour. Then, either allow it to remain open to the atmosphere for an air quality test, tape it to your air duct for a HVAC test, or use the swab to remove a sample from a surface and apply it to the growth medium for a surface test.
If after 48-96 hours mold begins to grow in your dish, you may choose to send it to a lab for analysis. With a price tag of under $10, this mold test kit is affordable. But the lab fee is an additional $40.
Can I Paint Over Mold
A: Painting over mold may cover up the dark patches where the mold is growing, but it will not eliminate the problem. Using mold-resistant paint works to prevent mold growth, but it wont kill it once its started to grow. You can paint over mold, but it will always reappear if you dont stop it in its tracks.
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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.
Resources And State Laws On Mold In Homes
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides extensive information in the Molds and Moisture section of the EPA website, including advice on cleaning up mold after a flood in your basement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has useful resources on mold on its website.
Most of the mold-related regulations occur at the state level. For example, California, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and Texas have passed legislation aimed at developing guidelines and regulations for mold in indoor air. Here are some resources to find out your state rules on mold:
- Check the state agency responsible for mold and indoor air quality. You’ll find links to your state agency and resources on the EPA site. Many state agencies have useful guides to dealing with lead in your home (see for example, the California Department of Public Health publication Mold in My HomeâWhat Do I Do?.
- The National Conference of State Legislatures has an Environmental Health Legislation Database that tracks state legislation on environmental health hazards, including mold.
For more practical homebuying tips, get Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home, by Ilona Bray, Alayna Schroeder, and Marcia Stewart .
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How To Identify Hidden & Visible Molds That Are Cosmetic Or Harmless Or Other Low
Cosmetic-only Ceratocystis/Ophistoma bluestain mold is shown on the floor joists in the new construction framing in the photo just above.
This is a harmless, cosmetic-only mold that does not damage the lumber and is not a pathogen for humans. Here’s a good example of the observation that not all “black mold” is “toxic black mold”. It will be totally hidden when the ceiling drywall is installed.
The mold shown in the photograph above is plain to see during construction, but will be covered and hidden completely when the contractor installs the ceiling drywall.
One of our clients discovered this mold during a renovation and was quite concerned that a major toxic black mold reservoir had been found in the building. The client was facing a very costly mold cleanup project if this mold had to be addressed as a toxic material. Luckily this was not the case in this instance, as was easily demonstrated both by a simple inexpensive lab test and confirmed by onsite inspection of other framing details discussed at “Cosmetic Molds” linked-below.
So sometimes the mold in your house might be only a cosmetic concern. “Bluestain” or Ceratocystis/Ophistoma is common on framing lumber and we often find it in attics on the under side of roof sheathing. Unless it’s in finished portions of living space where it creates a cosmetic problem, no particular action needed to address this black mold.
For More Information Or Assistance
If you need more information on how to detect mold in your home, we recommend contacting a licensed professional. Licensed professionals know how to test for mold on surfaces and in the air, and they know all the places where mold can hide in a home. Professionals will also have more sophisticated testing equipment, which will give more accurate results.
Not only can professionals locate all the mold in your home, they can also tell you what strain or strains of mold are present there. If you are experiencing symptoms of exposure to mold, knowing what strain or strains of mold youre dealing with may help your doctor prescribe the most effective treatment for you.
To locate a licensed professional to test for mold in your home, simply follow this link.
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How To Test For Mold In Basement
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What Mold Looks Like
Molds are a type of fungus and can look like their fungal cousins, mushrooms and yeasts. 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. There are thousands of types of mold, and their appearance can vary depending on the type of mold and where its growing.
The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum , is also 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 isnt any more harmful than other types of mold.
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What Are Signs Of Mold In Your House
Homes are supposed to shield us from the harmful things outside like water, wind, and extreme temperatures. Sometimes, however, our houses fail to provide the necessary shelter and moisture enters our house and allows mold to grow.
If there is adequate moisture mold can grow in our bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and attics. Mold can also grow undetected inside of our walls.
As someone who grew up with allergies, Im vigilant about monitoring moisture inside my home. I have felt the effects of mold allergy symptoms and suffered for a long time.
In addition to health problems, mold can cause structural damage and damage to furniture inside a house.
In todays article, Ill share 13 important signs of mold in your house. Growing up I remember seeing mold in my bathroom and near windows. At the time I didnt realize it but the fungus was affecting the quality of my life.
How To Deal With Mold In Walls: The Definitive Guide
Last Updated on December 4, 2019 by Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
When you spot it taking hold behind the toilet or under the sink, you have a clear line of attack. You solve the problem with bleach, water and a good scrubbing. Still, you worry about the stuff invading sheetrock and crawl spaces. This isnt something that you can ignore.
How do you deal with a hidden threat like mold inside the walls?
We often hear this question from concerned residents who contact us about mold inspection in their Chicago homes. Its important to understand mold basics before you decide on how to handle unhealthy growth that you cant see.
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Water In The Foundation
Look out for a build-up of water around your homes base. This can lead to foundational problems for your home if there is a lot of water. At your homes foundation, gathering rainwater can be prevented by sloping your yard outwards from your foundation. In the same line of thought, damp basements are another culprit. Usually, there is no good ventilation in basements. This is an indication that basements could contain higher humidity or moisture amounts compared to other rooms in the home. Also, basements are often colder which means more condensation occurs which leads to humidity and basement.
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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What If The Home Seller Or Builder Did Not Disclose A Known Mold Problem
If the prior owner of a house you bought knew of the presence of mold and was required to disclose this information under state real estate disclosure rules, but did not do so, the owner may be liable to you for failure to disclose. See the Nolo article, “Mold: Who to Sue” for more on the subject. Other useful Nolo articles include “Home Defects: Sue the Seller,” which provides useful advice on determining who’s legally responsible for home defects and how to file suit. For advice on dealing with problems in a new house, see “New-Home Defects: Holding Your Builder Responsible.”
Surface Changes And Deterioration
Your walls appearance can change significantly if theres mold growth behind them. In addition to discoloration and stains, your walls may deteriorate. Paint or wallpaper can crack, peel, or bubble because of moisture and mold growth. Furthermore, your walls may become warped or even bow or bulge when theres a water issue, which often leads to mold growth.
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Turn Off Your Hvac System
Mold patches hiding inside your walls can shed mold spores, which can travel throughout your home via the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning ducts. It is a good idea to turn the system off until your restoration technicians arrive to prevent the continued spread of spores. Consider using standing fans or space heaters to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home in the meantime.