Frequently Asked Questions About Mold
What kind of mold is in my house? Is it toxic mold?
Mold cannot be identified by sight and there are thousands of species of mold. Our job is the first step, which is to collect samples and have them analyzed by a laboratory, then the lab will let us know if there is any cause for concern. If large amounts of visible mold are identified on sight, remediation will typically be recommended. Samples do not have to be collected in every case depending on the size and amount of mold. Often times the use of moisture meters and RH detectors are enough to identify problematic mold and remediation the area.
How did the mold get into my house?
Mold is everywhere and isn’t uncommon to find in a home. It can enter the house through open doorways, windows, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Spores in the air outside attach themselves to people and animals, bringing mold indoors. Once the spores are inside, if they land on places where there is excessive moisture, they will grow. As mold grows it causes rapid deterioration, and mold that receives a consistent sources of moisture is most likely to emit harmful mycotoxins.
Where does the mold grow?
Mold will grow in places where any leakage may have occurred, such as roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots or where there has been flood damage. Many building materials can encourage mold growth once they get wet. Wet cellulose materials, like paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood and wood products all conducive to mold growth. Many building materials can support mold growth once water is introduced.
How can I tell if there is mold in my home?
Some mold problems are obvious–you will see it growing. You can also look for areas that are consistently wet, or have been wet due to flooding, leaky plumbing or roofing and areas of high humidity (bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens).
Other mold problems are not so obvious. If you do not have any visible mold but your home has a damp, musty smell or visible water stains, mold could be growing in areas you cannot see, such as in wall cavities or the ductwork of heating/cooling systems. In these cases samples can be taken or the use of a boroscope can detected hidden colonies of mold.
How can I stop mold from growing in my home?
- Look for visible signs of mold growth and signs of excessive moisture or water damage (water leaks, standing water, water stains, and condensation problems). The earlier the problem is detected the better–mold activity can begin as soon as 24 hours after a water loss.
- Search areas with noticeable moldy or musty odors.
- Search behind and underneath materials (carpet and pad, wallpaper, vinyl flooring, sink cabinets), furniture, pictures or stored items (especially things placed near outside walls or on cold floors).
- Check around air handling units for stagnant water. Keep these units serviced on a regular basis by cleaning the ducts and air filters.
How is mold measured? How do you test for mold?
There are three methods that professional utilize to test for mold:
- Air sampling. Air samples are taken when “red flag” conditions have been observed. Air sampling always includes inside and outside samples. If mold amounts inside the house are higher than outside, it is an indication of a potential problem. Air samples are taken by pulling air through a collection device with an air pump. The air passes over the slide, which catches the mold spores to be counted and identified.
- Swab sampling. Where there is visible mold or stains, a swab is used to collect a sample of the mold. It is moistened with a preservative and sent to a lab for analysis.
- Carpet sampling. A carpet tends to contain a history of what has been in the air. Unless the carpet has recently been cleanred, it may contain evidence of a mold problem. This type of test is not as common, but is done when necessary to discover previous or undetected mold problems that may have been covered over or cleaned up.
General Questions About the Inspection and Your Role
When do I get the final report?
The report takes between 3 days to a week. We will contact you as soon as it is available.
Are you an IAQ specialist or an Indoor Air Quality Expert?
Although we are IAQ certified our primary role is mold inspections, sample collection and remediation. We do not test for radon, lead, asbestos or other potential contaminants.
What will you be doing in my home?
We will perform a visual assessment in all readily accessible area(s) of your home to determine the presence of microbial problems and collect appropriate samples. Often times all we will need to do is conduct a thorough visible inspection and if large amounts of mold are present we will recommend remediation.
How long before we find out the results of your testing?
We can overnight your samples to the lab where a mold analyst will review them. Once this analysis is complete, the labratory will issue their report directly to our company. The report will identify types and levels of mold, a description of each mold discovered and a summary of the findings.
I have been sick for the past year, is it caused by mold?
Excessive mold exposure has many symptoms–allergic reactions are the most common for a healthy individual. But people with compromised immune systems (children, elderly, diabetics, smokers, cancer patients, addicts, etc etc) can suffer much more extreme reactions. It is very relevant to the type and potency of mycotoxins, and the individuals health. But keep in mind, excessive exposure even in healthy individuals, can lead to compromised immune systems over time. It has been estimated by the EPA the 30% of all allergies and asthma are caused by indoor mold.
Keep in mind, because there are so many different species of mold, there are many different ways a person can react. Certain types of mold can actually heal the body from infections, other types of mold are known to be lethal. Such as the types used during the Vietnam war. In the end, any health related issues should be addressed with the proper professional; in this case your doctor.
Where can I get more information?
Information can be found on this site, the EPA, ESA, OSHA, IASA & WHO. There are many other places where you can get information, but those are the 5 main authorities on mold.