Should I Get a Mold Inspection?
If your home has musty odors, if there is visible discoloration and staining on surfaces, if there is water damage or leakage or damp areas, or if family members are frequently suffering from runny noses and coughing, you might have a mold problem. Here are some important considerations for determining whether to undertake mold testing.
HEALTH EFFECTS According to the CDC, there is sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. So, though molds and fungae are a natural part of the environments, prolonged exposure to elevated levels of mold is best avoided.
SHOULD I TEST? If water damage, damp, musty odors or stains are present, or if anyone vulnerable, or is sensitive to allergens and irritants is living in the home and is symptomatic, you should consider performing an indoor air quality test or surface sample test. This will help determine if there is elevated mold, what kinds of mold are present and can help pinpoint where the mold source is.
If you are involved in a dispute - with a landlord, tenant, seller, insurance company or contractor - a mold test will provide documentary evidence of the presence or absence of mold and other information that you will likely need to make your case.
For some home owners or buyers, a mold test can simply provide peace of mind to ensure that the environment is healthy.
If there is suspected visible mold, the recommended response is to consider that it is mold without testing and remediate the area.
IF THERE IS MOLD Mold needs a water source and a food source. The first step in resolving an actual or suspected mold issue is to resolve the moisture issue. This is most often the result of plumbing leaks, foundation water ingress, humidity and water buildup associated with bathrooms, uncontrolled humidity, or condensation on improperly insulated surfaces. Because it is key to pinpoint the cause of the problem, it is important to have your mold problem diagnosed by someone who is certified in both mold testing and analysis AND home inspections. This expert can provide an unbiased opinion on the likely causes and potential solutions of the problem and can re-test after remediation to ensure any work done was effective. Contractors who provide only testing services, or remediation companies who do testing and clean-up may provide insufficient information or have a conflict of interest.
After the moisture source is eliminated, molds may be removed with a detergent solution by the homeowner or a remediation company, depending on the amount of mold.