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
What Does Black Mold Look Like
When you want to identify positively the signs of the dangerous type of this fungus versus the regular type, you need to know for what characteristics to look. The toxic variety can look dark green or black in color. It may also be gray, depending on where it is growing in your home.
You can also identify it by its odor. The odor is one of the tell tale signs of it that can help you detect its presence. It may smell musty and like mildew where it grows.
What Is Mold And What Causes Mold In Your Home
Mold is, by broad definition, a type of fungus that sprouts from microscopic spores floating in the air. When clusters of mold spores grow on surfaces, they start to reproduce and become visible to the human eye. If you have mold allergies, asthma, or another lung condition, even breathing in the microscopic pores can trigger an attack. If you dont, you may not even be aware that there is mold in your home until you see it or smell it .
All homes have the key ingredients needed for mold growth: the presence of mold spores, a surface for it to grow on, oxygen, warmth, and darkness. When you add moisture, whether from a water leak, stagnant water, or high levels of humidity, into the mix, thats where mold problems begin. Knowing where mold is commonly found in homes can help you prevent and treat it so you can keep your home and body healthy.
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Other Places In The Kitchen
Wooden cutting boards, trash cans, behind the stove and windows and window sills in the kitchen are like heaven for mold spores. They feed off of these places, so keeping them clean and dry is critical for keeping mold at bay.
To keep your kitchen mold free, be sure to:
- Ventilate when cooking and doing dishes by opening a window, using a fan, or both
- Wash the dishes every day, so they dont pile up in the sink
- Clean and dry the stove top, microwave, counters, cabinets, and window sills regularly
- Clean out the inside of your fridge and your fridge drip tray often
- Take the trash out every day
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.
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Can Mold Cause Health Problems
Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens , irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances . Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash .
Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold. Research on mold and health effects is ongoing.
This provides a brief overview it does not describe all potential health effects related to mold exposure. For more detailed information consult a health professional. You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.
How To Detect Mold
You may be wondering how to detect mold in your home and how to test for mold if you cant see it. There has been so much information in the news lately about the health risks of mold growth in the home that people want to know how to make sure their home is mold-free and safe. Many dont know how to check for mold, though, if its not clearly visible. Well tell you how to test for mold in your home.
To make sure the job is done right, we recommend you hire a professional to conduct the testing. Its very easy to get incorrect results if you dont do the testing properly.
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How Common Is Mold In Buildings
Mold is very common in homes and buildings.
One 2017 study found mold in every public building studied, with an average of about 14 instances of mold per building.
Another involving 31 European countries found mold in 1 in 6 homes. The author noted that the prevalence of mold may vary greatly depending on the regional climate.
Finding The Source Of Mold
Today, I am writing about an ongoing dialog I am having with a mold suffering customer who has already invested significant finances in her home for remediation. This mold story happens all too often. She raises several questions all moldy home sufferers have to deal with. It can be painstakingly frustrating to find the mold problems. You can be living in a home with a mold issue or a moldy home. Read more about finding the source of mold.
I had severe skin problems and insomnia for some 8 years from the house I moved into in 2002. The skin rashes on my face started in 2006 and then slowly progressed to my neck, down my arms, down my back, on my butt and then down my legs.
I want to keep my home after spending $100K remodeling it, and while I had 4 areas that had been problems areas in the home . All have been remediated but still if I try to sleep in that bedroom, I find it hard to go to sleep and I start itching and my skin breaks out.
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How To Spot Mould
Mould is often found in damp and poorly ventilated areas.
Mould can develop anywhere in the house. There are certain signs that indicate the presence of mould or too much moisture:
- Spots in all colors, but often green or black:
- On walls, ceilings or carpets
- Around windows
- In closets, etc.
It is usually not necessary to analyze air or surfaces to confirm the presence of mould. When mould is visible, or if there are signs indicating its presence, you should instead conduct a thorough inspection of the house to find the cause and take appropriate measures to fix the situation. To learn how to clean a surface with mould, read Eliminating Mould.
If you are a tenant or landlord and have noticed mould in your home or property, read the Help and Resources section.
Tips For Mold Prevention
Wondering how you can prevent mold from affecting your home? Here are a few tips that may help you prevent mold from forming altogether.
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Why Does Mold Form In Homes
Mold forms in homes because, in many cases, a home is the ideal place for mold to grow particularly in basements and other areas which may be dark and moist, and have a similar temperature all-year-round, due to furnaces and water heaters.
Essentially, there are mold spores in the air at all times and once they find a place thats hospitable to them, theyll start reproducing, causing a visible mold problem.
How To Find And Eliminate Mold
- Read in app
MOLD thrives in damp places. Often, health experts say, ideal breeding grounds are the insides of walls and ceilings exposed to a recurrent source of moisture from a roof or plumbing leak.
So how do you know if you have mold in your house, and what do you do if you do? “Not all mold is the same, and different people respond to mold differently,” said Dr. Eckhardt Johanning, an occupational and environmental physician with offices in Albany and Manhattan.
Dr. Johanning said that while some people may have no reaction to mold spores inside a home, those who are sensitive to mold can have allergic reactions ranging from mild to life-threatening. “People with asthma, allergies, lung problems and immune-system dysfunction are usually more inclined to experience problems when they’re exposed to mold,” he said.
Jeffrey C. May, principal scientist for May Indoor Air Investigations in Cambridge, Mass., said that a first sign of mold is an allergic reaction that occurs only inside the house. “If someone feels better when they’re away from the house, there’s probably something wrong with the house,” Mr. May said. “If you smell a musty odor, you probably have mold.”
“Home test kits might be good for preliminary screening,” Mr. May said. “But they can’t tell you the source of the mold.”
In fact, he said, the only sure way to eliminate a mold problem is to eliminate the moisture causing it.
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Why Is Mold Inspection Important
Mold inspections are important because certain types of mold can be harm to the health of you and your family. While there are at-home mold kits you can purchase and learn how to use yourself, it is highly recommended to utilize the services of a professional inspector.
Air testing is performed to determine whether there is hidden mold in the house. Mold spores float around in the air until they find an area conductive to growth. If the surface is moist, mold spores can take hold and grow. The mold typically develops in dark, moist places, slowly spreading over time. It can be some time before you notice the presence of mold, especially if it is forming in areas such as the attic, basement, or within the walls.
As the mold spreads, it can cause damage to whatever surface it is growing on. If the mold has been in the home undetected or untreated for some time, it can cause larger issues.
Many types of mold that form in the home cause health problems in humans and animals. Those who already have asthma, allergies, or weakened immune systems are at increased risk of these issues. Initial health issues due to the presence of mold can be eye irritation, fatigue, and respiratory problems. Mold is also especially harmful to children. Just a few days of exposure to mold can cause health problems, so finding and removing mold via a mold remediation specialist is a top priority.
Some Other Signs Of Mold Growth In The Home
Besides health-related issues as the result of mold growth giving you a better idea of whether or not mold is growing in your home, there are other ways to check for mold. Some of the other ways to determine if mold is growing in your home can include:
A Musty Smell: The smell of mold is something that is very unique. Once youve smelled it, you can identify that its mold as its so distinctive. Many describe the smell of mold as musty, somewhat comparable to the smell of rotting wood.
Water Damage: As mentioned, mold requires water to thrive. So, if you notice water damage in your home, if its located in a place thats dark, youre likely to find mold. If you think you have water damage in your home, its a good idea to inspect the area for any potential mold growth. And, address the mold along with the water leaking issue so that mold doesnt regrow.
Seeing Mold: Most obviously, if you see mold growing on any surface of your home, you have mold. As there are thousands of different kinds of mold, mold has many different characteristics depending on the type. Colors of mold can include brown, white, black, green, pink, purple, orange, and white.
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When You Should Get A Mold Inspection And Testing
If you notice mold, it is a good idea to call an inspector to test the home for mold. You should also heed the advice of your home inspector if they notice any signs of water damage or moisture. Even if it appears to be old water damage, mold could still be an issue.
A mold inspection is also recommended if you notice a strong musty smell. Mold could be growing behind drywall or in a dark area.
Professional mold testing by qualified and experienced professionals is recommended. The specialist will have the experience in collecting samples as well as testing for the air quality, and will be better able to provide you with accurate results and recommendations for mold remediation.
Another reason to opt for professional mold inspection and testing is because the number of mold spores can fluctuate and move throughout the home. A professional mold inspector usually performs a few different types of mold tests to ensure the most accurate results. Home tests cannot provide this level of accuracy.
Can I Just Get Into The Wall And Use Bleach To Clean It
It may be tempting to get into the wall and spray everything with bleach by yourself. However, if you have never done this before, it is better to call someone licensed to deal with mold. This is especially true if you have never gone into the wall and dont know how to detect how extensive the mold damage is. Leaving the eradication of mold to professionals will save not only your health but also your sanity. A professional team will have all the protective gear, detection tools and methods necessary to get rid of all the mold in your home.
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Common Types Of House Mold
Wondering what types of mold are the most common in houses and which ones you should be concerned about? Lets discuss a few of the most common types of household mold now.
- Cladosporium Cladosporium is one of the most common household molds. It usually grows in a greenish-brown colony, but can also be nearly black in color. It is rarely harmful unless you have a mold allergy, but may cause minor issues like toenail or fingernail infections.
- Penicillium Penicillium is sometimes called green mold, as it is usually dark green in color. It tends to grow in large, consistent patches on the walls. As the name suggests, penicillin is derived from some kinds of this mold. However, some kinds of penicillium mold may be toxic to humans and animals.
- Aspergillus This type of mold is usually greenish-white in color, and may be more raised with a more cloudy appearance than other types of mold. It is not harmful, unless you have a weakened immune system, in which case it could infect the lungs or sinuses.
- Alternaria Alternaria mold is usually greenish-white, but can also appear in black patches, so its sometimes confused with black mold. Alternaria can be a factor in exacerbating asthma, particularly for those who may have mold allergies.