On the heels of a pandemic, more people are being mindful of their health. More people are also purchasing homes. While it doesn’t seem like buying a home and your family’s health go hand in hand, they actually do. This is because mold hides in homes and can greatly affect your family’s health. That’s why you should consider mold inspection and testing prior to purchasing a house, or in your already existing home. Mold inspections help you see if dangerous or out-of-control mold resides in your household. While typical home inspectors may mention something about mold in their report, they aren’t actually inspecting for mold. Furthermore, most are not qualified to say for certain if mold exists and if it’s dangerous or not. A professional mold inspector takes a deeper look. They also take samples to make sure your home is as healthy as it can be.
What is Mold?
Mold is a fungus. It thrives in damp places. Mold spreads by microscopic particles called spores. These spores easily float around through the air landing on various surfaces in your home. If that surface would make a great place to live, it stays and spreads. Mold spores are actually everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. Even if you could manage to eliminate all of the mold spores from your home, you’d bring some home with you every time you leave your house. So rather than wage an endless war against the spores themselves, the best thing you can do is make your home inhabitable to mold colonies. If mold spores land on a dry surface, then they won’t form mold. This is why you should always repair all leaks and make sure your kitchen and bathrooms vent properly. If left alone, mold can damage the surface it is growing on and worsen allergy or asthma symptoms.
When is Mold Inspection Needed?
You should inspect for mold any time your home has sustained water damage. This includes basement floods, leaky roofs, broken pipes, etc. Basically, any place in your home that was wet for an extended period of time (longer than 24 to 48 hours). These areas are a breeding ground for mold. It’s also a good idea to hire a mold inspector if you’re purchasing a new home. While the previous homeowner should disclose any water damage issues, sometimes they can’t or simply don’t. This makes it very difficult to know what kind of water damage may have happened in the house. This is especially true if the home was sitting vacant for an extended period of time. In unoccupied homes, leaks often go unnoticed and humidity can build up with no ventilation, both of these instances can lead to mold growth.
If you find white, green, blue, or black molds growing in your home, it’s a good idea to call an inspector. Especially if you clean it up and it continues to return. It may be a sign of a larger mold problem that isn’t restricted to just one location.
Mold Inspection vs. Mold Testing
If you’re thinking about testing for mold, you’ll likely find several different mold testing services available. Let’s talk about the difference between mold inspections and mold testing. A mold inspection simply looks for the presence of mold and tries to determine the size of mold problems (usually in square feet). Whereas mold testing tries to determine the types of mold present in your home and how many mold spores are in your air (checking air quality).
It’s important to remember that every indoor environment has mold spores present. These may be a result of mold in the home or simply mold spores that have drifted in from the outside air. This means that the spores picked up in an indoor air quality test may not actually be growing inside your home. It’s equally important to understand that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), does not have guidelines for how many mold spores are acceptable inside a house. These two things mean that mold testing may not always be useful. Instead, it’s better to have a professional mold inspection that will search for mold colonies growing within your home.
What Happens During a Mold Inspection?
A mold inspection is essentially a visual inspection for mold. However, the biggest difference is that mold inspectors are trained on what to look for, making it more extensive than typical home inspections. They also have more equipment and tests to help them search for mold. One piece of equipment they may carry is a moisture meter. The inspector searches the house thoroughly, paying special attention to areas that are more prone to the growth of mold. In some cases, they may need to remove paneling or drywall to get a better look within the walls or ceiling of your home.
If the inspector finds mold, then they’ll try to also locate the source of the moisture causing the mold growth. From there, they’ll talk to the homeowner about a mold remediation plan. Now, if you can see visible mold in your home then an inspection isn’t needed to move directly to remediation.
How Much Does a Mold Inspection Cost?
A mold inspection costs roughly the same as a typical home inspection. This means they can range from $300 to $1000 depending on the size of the home. You should always ask what is included in the inspection as the price may not cover the cost of the mold test to determine which mold type is present. Oftentimes these tests require that a sample be sent to a laboratory for a mold assessment. They may also take air samples for analysis as well. Some companies that work as mold remediators will do the inspection for free, provided you hire them for remediation services to remove mold as well.
The first part of a remediation plan is to remove the source of moisture. This could mean repairing a leak or even creating better ventilation to reduce condensation. If the moisture source is not eliminated, then the indoor mold removal will be in vain as it will return.
It is nearly impossible to completely remove mold from porous surfaces, so they will need to be removed and replaced. If the contamination area is more than 10 square feet, then the EPA recommends calling a professional mold remediation contractor. Mold can be very dangerous, especially for those with asthma or allergies. Professional companies have the necessary safety equipment to take care of the problem efficiently. This is especially true in the event of toxic black mold.
Once the mold is removed, be sure to do what you can to prevent mold from returning. Promptly repair leaks. Clean and dry things quickly (within 24 to 48 hours). Control the humidity in your home by running the air conditioning and using dehumidifiers. Install vents in bathrooms and kitchens.