Mold Inspection

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What is Mold?

Mold is a fungus, and like all fungi, it thrives in moist places. Mold spreads by emitting spores, microscopic particles often as small as a single cell. Spores float around in the air until they land on a surface. Mold spores are everywhere, outdoors as well as inside your house. It would be practically impossible to remove all mold spores from a house without installing some kind of massive industrial room filtration system.

Luckily, mold spores only form active mold when they land on a moist surface. That means that if you can keep the interior of your home dry, you can avoid having problems with mold. The best way to prevent mold in your home is to clean up spills, repair leaks in your roof, plumbing, or HVAC system, and make sure your kitchen and bathroom are properly venting moisture out of the house.

When to Inspect For Mold

One good thing about mold is that if you can see it, you know that you have mold in your house. Seeing mold in the cracks and corners of your walls definitely means it is growing and spreading more spores. Keep in mind that mold may also grow in places you cannot see, such as in your ducts or between your walls. It may also form colonies so tiny they escape the eye. A few situations should make you look for any mold problems in your house:

  • Water damage. If your roof leaked, or a broken pipe sprayed water all over the kitchen, you need to inspect for mold. Any place that got wet and was not quickly dried (within 24 to 48 hours) could become contaminated by mold.
  • Purchasing a new home. There is no way to know what kind of water damage may have happened in the house you are planning to buy. The only way to find out if mold is present is to do a mold inspection.
  • After a house has been unoccupied. If a house has been closed up and unoccupied for months or years, humidity could have built up inside and caused mold to grow. This is especially a problem in warmer areas with high humidity.
  • After mold remediation. If you have gone through the often expensive and difficult steps to deal with a mold problem, regular mold inspections are a good idea to make sure you really got rid of it all.
  • You see some mold. If you notice some green, blue, black, or white stuff growing in your house, do a mold inspection to make sure you find it all. It might not be restricted to one location.


Mold Inspection vs. Mold Testing

If you are researching mold, you might come across different services and costs that list both mold inspection and mold testing. A visual mold inspection simply identifies the presence of mold and generally defines the size of the problem, usually in square footage. In the case where mold is detected visually, a mold swab can be conducted on the spot. This swab can be tested in a lab to determine if there is still mold growth in that specific area.

Mold testing attempts to identify what specific type of mold is in your home and how many mold spores are in the air. However, keep in mind the following:

  1. The carefully controlled conditions required to conduct a proper scientific test of mold are extremely difficult to achieve in a home, so results will often vary from test to test, regardless of remediation efforts.
  2. All indoor spaces have mold spores that drift in from outdoors, so mold tests will generally provide a long list of species, most of which are not actually growing in your home.
  3. The EPA has set no guidelines for an acceptable amount of mold or mold spores in a house.

How Do You Prepare for a Mold Inspection?

When you need a mold inspection, it’s all about ensuring potential spores are intact when the professionals arrive. Here’s what to do (and what not to do). 

1. No Humidifiers, Dehumidifiers, and Air Purification Machines for 24 Hours

Air purifiers and dehumidifiers remove moisture and impurities from the air, which is counterproductive when detecting mold spores. Humidifiers enhance the moisture content in the air, which might accelerate mold growth and distort your results. To ensure your professional gets an accurate reading during the mold inspection process, shut off these devices for at least 24 hours before your appointment.

2. Close All Doors and Windows for 48 Hours

It might seem odd, but if mold is inside your home, you’ll want to provide the best conditions for it to grow and stay put for your appointment. By closing your doors and windows, you maximize the accumulation of any spores growing within your home, making them easier to pick up on.

3. Do Not Turn Off HVAC Systems

HVAC systems circulate the air in your home, and keeping the AC at normal levels will give an accurate reading of indoor air quality. If the HVAC system has been turned off for an extended period of time, your measurement may be elevated due to a lack of air circulation.

4. Limit Pruning, Trimming, or Lawn Mowing Outdoors

Part of your mold inspection involves a baseline assessment of the natural mold concentration in the air around your home. Any chopping, mowing, or pruning might disturb the background mold and distort the baseline measurement.

5. Avoid Bathing or Showering Right Before Your Appointment

Wherever there’s mold, there’s a moisture problem, which could be from a plumbing leak. Bathing or showering creates excess moisture, which makes it tougher to detect potential plumbing leaks if your professional discovers any mold.

6. Avoid Cleaning and Using Disinfectant Chemicals for 12 Hours

Vacuuming, dusting, and heavy cleaning may eliminate mold growth on the surfaces within your home, so you’ll want to avoid it immediately before your appointment. On the same token, avoid spraying disinfectants, bleach, and similar chemicals as well. If you spot any substances you believe to be mold, resist the urge to bleach them or scrub them away with vinegar.

7. Pick a Day With No Rain in the Forecast

Rain is another factor that can distort your outside baseline mold assessment. Mold grows quickly in wet conditions following rainfall, so this might mask a problem if there are higher concentrations of mold in your indoor air. Mold testing should not be done during rain or within two hours after rainfall.

8. Remove All Clutter and Obstacles

Your mold inspector will need access to all areas of your home, so you should remove any obstacles or clutter ahead of time. Be sure to also clear the cabinets beneath the sink and all other areas where mold could be present.

What Happens During Mold Testing?

Once your mold inspector arrives, they’ll chat with you about any specific concerns and problem areas. Then, they’ll perform their assessment. Here’s a play-by-play of standard procedure. 

1. Visual and Air Inspections

Your mold assessment starts with a walk-through by your mold inspector, where they will note any visual signs of mold growth. They’ll also keep an eye out for leaks and moisture problems that could be contributing to your spore count.

Your inspector will take indoor samples of air, caught in a small canister. One canister covers approximately 1000 square feet.

2. Outdoor Baseline Assessment

The outdoor area surrounding your home has its own natural concentration of mold, which forms a baseline of what the level should be indoors. Your inspector will take an outside sample to compare to your indoor sample. If your indoor sample has a higher concentration or a different type of mold present, they’ll know there’s an issue.

3. Lab Test

Once your mold inspector has samples, these will go under laboratory assessment. This will determine whether the substances are mold and, if so, exactly what type of mold is present.

How Long Does It Take to Get Mold Testing Back?

Your mold inspector might alert you right away if they suspect mold from their visual inspection. However, the actual lab analysis will typically take between 24 and 48 hours.

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