Monday, July 4, 2022

How To Test For Mold Spores In Your Home

What Are The Signs Of Mold

How To Get Mold Spores Out Of Your Home with Paul McHam #2

Mold starts out as a little spot but expands quickly. Youll usually notice it early on, unless its in an out-of-the-way location.

Mold can be black, white, spotted, or just about any color, and may appear powdery, cottony, or velvety.

If you notice a spot and arent sure if its just an old stain or a splotch of dirt, heres how to tell if it could be a sign of mold:

  • It has a musty, earthy smell.
  • Theres a nearby source of moisture, but not much light.
  • You see warping, cracking, or peeling of whatever material its growing on.
  • A drop of bleach lightens its color in a minute or two.
  • Unchecked, mold will continue to grow. Dirt and old stains wont.

Having mold in your home wont necessarily make you sick. But it does have the potential to cause certain health issues.

Touching or inhaling mold spores can cause allergy-type symptoms such as:

  • runny nose and congestion
  • lung irritation
  • wheezing

In many cases, you can get rid of household mold yourself. Mold can be removed with:

  • commercial products
  • a bleach solution of 8 ounces of bleach per 1 gallon of water

Before you begin:

  • Wear protective eyewear, nonporous gloves, and a face mask or N-95 respirator.
  • Never mix other cleaners or ammonia with bleach, as it can create toxic fumes.

Use a brush to scrub mold off surfaces, making sure you get it all. Porous materials, such as carpeting, furniture, and ceiling tiles, may have to be discarded. Dont paint or caulk until youre sure all the mold is gone.

The Problem With Petri Dishes

When you notice or suspect mold somewhere in your home it isnt uncommon to want to test your home and get some concrete answers or proof about what is happening. This feeling is completely understandable as mold in your home can be a cause for concern, especially if someone in the home is experiencing health symptoms that may be related.

Often the most accessible and affordable option is a DIY mold test kit available online or in most hardware stores where you can get results in about 48 hours.

However, the DIY mold test kit option comes with more than a few drawbacks including no accredited lab certification or chain of custody for legal verification, inconsistent lab results from location choice, expired collection plates, and uncontrolled shipping/handling.

But the biggest issue is that it cant answer your most important questions is the mold I have a problem and where is it located?

Petri dishes are designed to grow mold spores and since there are mold spores in the air everywhere all the time, you should expect to get mold spores growing on the plates. But since plates can only capture a limited group of spores , most spores will go undetected. You wont get enough of the whole story to be able to determine if the sample is or isnt representative of what is going on in your home.

So what does growth on the plates actually mean? It means you have mold spores in your air. Which almost everyone does.

What else your plate or mold test kit wont tell you:

How To Test For Mold In 6 Steps

Mold infestations can usually be seen or smelled, but they can also remain hidden behind walls or under carpets. Testing isnt necessary if you can see or smell mold that is confirmation enough to call a professional and begin the remediation process. Testing for mold in the house may be necessary if requested by a health professional or needed for legal purposes, such as a lawsuit with a landlord. Another reason to consider testing is if you arent able to see or smell mold in your home but are having unexplained symptoms associated with mold. Always follow the instructions provided with a test kit , but this is generally what to expect:

Recommended Reading: Mold Smell In Basement

Testing For Hidden Or Airborne Mold

  • 1Use an in-home mold testing kit. In-home testing kits come equipped with their own instruments and instructions. Follow the kit’s directions. Submit the sampling to a local lab.
  • If you see mold in a visual inspection, a testing kit isn’t necessary.XTrustworthy SourceUnited States Environmental Protection AgencyIndependent U.S. government agency responsible for promoting safe environmental practicesGo to source
  • These kits can be difficult to use, and their results can be unreliable. Use them only as a last resort if other options aren’t available.
  • 2Use a borescope. A borescope can be helpful for inspecting spaces between walls.XTrustworthy SourceUnited States Environmental Protection AgencyIndependent U.S. government agency responsible for promoting safe environmental practicesGo to source Drill a small hole into a wall recently affected by water or moisture. Slowly insert the fiber optic cable end through the hole. Check the monitor for signs of mold. Continue to move slowly as you probe deeper into the area.
  • Borescopes distort the size and color of mold on the monitor. If you find areas of discoloration inside the wall, contact a professional for a second opinion.
  • You can also use a borescope to inspect air ducts, but there are drawbacks. The instrument only lets you see so far into a duct. If the duct makes a sudden 90-degree turn, you won’t be able to see beyond that turn.
  • Air Quality Testing For Mold

    7 Common Places for Finding Mold

    Most people are not aware of how severely mold can affect their health. Because mold spores are so small, they can become airborne easily and spread quickly. Just because you cannot see a mold contamination in your home doesnt mean that its not there.

    Mold and mildew are the result of moisture and water damage. Rooms that are prone to leaks, condensation and flooding often experience mold growth. These include bathrooms, attics and basements.

    Property owners have to be careful because moisture problems are not always obvious or visible. They can remain completely hidden from sight . If left untreated, they will lead to black mold contamination.

    Exposure to black mold can cause or aggravate health conditions like asthma and allergies.

    Over time, it can also lead to more serious conditions such as chronic bronchitis, problems with the nervous system, cancer and heart conditions.

    Luckily, you have two types of air tests to help you detect unseen mold: viable sampling and non-viable sampling. Each has its advantages and drawbacks , but both are effective means of assessing indoor air quality.

    Recommended Reading: How To Clean Mold Off Stone Patio

    Best Mold Test Kits 2021

    Weve rated the best mold test kits for detecting spores around your home.

    The best mold test kits are essential if you can see mold spores in your home or you suspect that theres an issue with damp. These handy kits allow you to swab areas in your home before sending off your samples for professional analysis so you can get on top of the problem.

    If youre after one of the best black mold test kits, weve included some great options that are approved by the American Industrial Hygiene Association and are very easy to use. Treating black mold in your home is not only essential because it looks horrible, but it can also lead to health problems if it spreads. If left to its own devices, mold can devalue your home and cost thousands to fix.

    The good news is that even the top-rated mold detection kits wont cost you a fortune, and many options in our guide are less than $20. Take note, however, that some kit companies charge you extra for the lab testing part of the process but some return your results in just five days.

    Weve ranked the best mold test kits for how easy they are to use, any extra fees involved, and how quickly the results are returned. You can find a range of kits to choose from below but for other ways to monitor and tackle the air inside your home, head to our guides on the best air purifiers or the best dehumidifiers.

    What To Do If You Suspect Your Home Has Toxic Mold

    Because toxic mold exposure can be a serious health threat, its important that you get professional help if you think you might have dangerous mold in your home. The first step is to have your home professionally tested for mold. This should involve a thorough inspection for any water damage or mold growth found on materials in your home, as well as an air quality test to check for airborne spores. This entire process typically takes an hour or less to perform.

    Next, samples will be sent to an environmental testing laboratory to determine if there are harmful species of mold in your home. If needed, you can then call in a mold remediation company to remove the toxic mold in your home and get to the bottom of any remaining sources of water damage.

    Once the mold has been remediated, a clearance air test can be performed to ensure that the mold levels in your home are safe.

    Recommended Reading: How To Clean Mold Off Bathroom Ceiling

    How To Choose The Best Mold Test Kit

    There are a few key things to consider when selecting a mold test kit. These include the types of supplies that are included and the customer support that’s available. Here are the main factors to think about to make sure you choose the best mold test kit for your situation.

    Test supplies

    It is important to find a mold test kit that includes all of the equipment necessary to collect complete samples. If a test kit can collect surface samples but does not include swabs or adhesive strips, youll have to look elsewhere to buy these items at an added cost. Usually, you can determine the types of tests the kit can perform by looking at the included supplies.

    Help and support

    Reputable mold test companies include their telephone numbers and email addresses on their websites. In addition to contact information, you might want to select a company that has strong support options, including FAQs and video tutorials. Aside from our top two products, the Pro-Lab Mold Test Kit and the Home Mold Laboratory Viable Mold Test Kit, you can find full customer support with Healthful Home’s 5-Minute Mold Test and the Mold Check Whole House Mold Test.

    It also is handy if either the kit itself or the website offers a guidebook to tell you how to test for mold and identify what you find.

    Health Symptoms That Can Be Caused By Mold In Your House

    How to test your aircon for mold

    Mold doesnt bother everyone. In fact, 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. Still, some of us are sensitive to molds. People who are allergic to an indoor mold can experience year-round symptoms like a sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, and more for those who also have asthma, mold can trigger an asthma attack. People with a weakened immune system or a chronic lung condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can develop a serious infection in the lungs if theyre exposed to mold.

    People without allergies and asthma arent immune to the effects: In 2004, the Institute of Medicine concluded that 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.

    RELATED: 25 Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home

    Read Also: How To Clean Mold From Leather

    Getting A Mold Checkup

    Getting rid of the mold in your home is your first priority. Since CDC guidelines don’t distinguish between different types of mold and recommend the prompt removal of all mold in your home, testing beforehand isn’t a priority if you’ve already decided you have a problem. Testing can be useful when you want to make sure your property is free of mold after a cleanup, though.

    There are a couple of ways you can arrange for a test. You can purchase an in-home test kit, follow the directions and submit the resulting sample to a lab. The costs for this can vary quite a bit, anywhere from $40 to more than $200, and the results might not be reliable. Consumer Reports conducted an evaluation of home mold testing kits in 2006, and none of the four kits they looked at received a recommendation. The problems ranged from the kits having no expiration dates, potentially compromising the results, to being difficult to use .

    There is a third choice. After a cleanup, you can make periodic, careful evaluations of the infected area yourself and monitor your family’s health to see if the problem recurs. The time and effort you take with the clean-up and the extent of the mold damage may have an impact on how comfortable you feel with this option. If a foul smell alerted you to a mold problem in the first place, using your nose to check the area periodically might be a good way to gauge the success of your cleanup efforts.

    How Do Doctors Diagnose Mold Allergy

    To diagnose an allergy to mold or fungi, the doctor will take a complete medical history. If they suspect a mold allergy, the doctor often will do skin tests or allergen specific IgE blood tests. Extracts of different types of fungi may be used to scratch or prick the skin. If there is no reaction, then you probably dont have an allergy. The doctor uses the patient’s medical history, the skin testing results and the physical exam to diagnose a mold allergy.

    Also Check: How To Test For Mold Toxicity In Blood

    Top Tips For Controlling Mold

    It’s impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores in your home, but because mold spores can’t grow without moisture, reducing moisture in your home is the best way to prevent or eliminate mold growth. If there is already mold growing in your home, it’s important to clean up the mold and fix the problem causing dampness. If you clean up the mold but don’t fix the problem, the mold will most likely return.

    Following is some advice for reducing moisture throughout the home with specific tips for the areas most prone to dampness and mold growth:

    Around the house:

    In the kitchen:

    • Use exhaust fans to move moisture outside whenever you are cooking, washing dishes, or cleaning.
    • Turn off certain appliances if you notice moisture on windows and other surfaces.
    • Check for leaks around the kitchen sink, refrigerator ice makers, and other sources of water. Repair if necessary.
    • Empty and clean refrigerator drip pans if necessary.

    In basements and crawl spaces:

    In the laundry room:

    • Vent your clothes dryer to the outside.
    • Make sure the vent is clear of obstructions, such as lint, and that there are no holes that leak air. If the vent duct is damaged, replace it with a metal duct. Have the duct cleaned at least once a year.
    • Avoid leaving damp clothes in the laundry basket or dryer. Wash and dry them promptly.

    In bathrooms:

    Who Is Most At Risk For Health Problems Associated With Exposure To Mold

    7 Important Mold Facts

    People with allergies may be more sensitive to molds. People with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections. Individuals with chronic respiratory disease may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression are at increased risk for infection from molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment.

    Also Check: How To Clean Mold From Boat Seats

    Extent Of Mould Growth

    It is important to determine the extent of the mould problem in your home to help you decide on the clean-up procedure. An area of mould is considered small if it covers one square metre or less. There should be no more than three patches of mould, with the total area staying within one square metre. Many small patches of mould in one area or throughout your home are a sign of moisture problems that need to be investigated and corrected right away.

    If ignored, small mould areas may become larger over time, so it is important to clean them up before the problem gets bigger. A small amount of mould may be cleaned up using proper procedures and protective equipment.

    The area of mould is considered medium if there are more than three patches of mould , but the total area is less than three square metres. In this case, assessment by a qualified professional is recommended but in most cases a medium amount of mould may be cleaned up using proper procedures and protective equipment .

    An area of mould is considered large if a single patch of mould is larger than three square metres. Health Canada does not recommend that an unqualified person clean up large areas of mould. You may need a professional assessment to determine why the mould is there in the first place and how to clean it up.

    Can You Get Sick From Mold In Your House

    Yes. Those will allergies, compromised immune systems, asthma, or other such issues are at a higher risk as even minor, non-toxic molds could cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. Mold in your house is rarely life-threatening. However, prolonged exposure is far from ideal for a number of reasons.

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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

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