Mold inspection is a visual examination of your property to determine the existence and extent of any mold growths. It will also identify the source of moisture that is causing mold to grow in the first place. Mold testing involves either taking a swab of the mold spores themselves to determine the type of mold present or taking an air sample to determine the number of mold spores present.
Both mold testing and mold inspection are tasks that are carried out by mold professionals, and each has its place in the wider mold remediation process. It is important to understand the exact role that each individual process plays so that you can determine whether they are needed for your individual circumstances.
There are a few circumstances in which you might need a mold inspection in your property or home.
If you have visible mold growths in your home, getting an accurate mold inspection can help you understand the extent of the mold problem, as well as its underlying cause. By allowing a mold professional to examine your home, they will be able to apprise you of the best methods of removal and remediation.
If you do not have visible mold growths in your home, but suspect that you might, a thorough mold inspection can provide the answers you need. Mold inspectors are able to use cameras and other equipment to properly evaluate parts of your home that are more difficult to examine with the naked eye, including behind sections of drywall and inside air conditioning units.
Getting a mold inspection for a property that you wish to buy or sell can also be useful. If you are the buyer, a mold inspection of your dream home can set your mind at ease, and if you are the seller, a mold inspection is a responsible and proactive action that will sit favorably with any prospective buyers.
How is mold inspection done?
By and large, a mold inspection is simply a visual examination of your home or property to determine whether there are any mold growths, and to ascertain the underlying cause of these mold growths.
Mold professionals will not typically use many additional tools or gadgets for a mold inspection, but may need to make use of a camera to keep a record and to get a glimpse inside some hard to reach places in your home. A moisture meter may also be employed to determine the levels of dampness that might be giving rise to your mold issues.
A mold inspection will usually take the form of a comprehensive inspection of your property, focusing on problem areas that are more prone to mold growths. These areas include entire rooms that have higher than normal levels of humidity, such as bathrooms and laundries, as well as other parts of your home that can sometimes suffer water damage such as window sills, crawl spaces, and roof recesses.
Your mold inspector will employ a good flashlight to help them survey some of these smaller, darker spaces.
As air conditioning systems are also prone to mold growths, your mold inspector may find it necessary to remove vents and grating in order to properly inspect the interior of your air conditioning unit.
In extreme circumstances, your mold inspector may need to remove sections of drywall or carpet if they suspect you have a rampant hidden mold growth lying in wait. Any action such as this will always be done in consultation with the home or property owner, and is usually only done if the mold inspector is fairly confident that they will indeed encounter hidden mold in these areas.
Mold inspection vs. mold testing - what’s the difference?
Where mold inspection is a visual examination of a home or property to determine the presence of mold and its source, mold testing involves a quantitative approach to determining the number or nature of mold spores in the home or property.
Mold testing typically takes two main forms. A mold air test, in which a sample of the air in your home is tested for the presence of mold spores, and a mold swab test, in which a sample is taken from the mold growth itself to determine the type of mold that is growing.
While mold testing can be used as an ancillary tool in the remediation process, the Environmental Protection Agency does not actually recommend mold testing. Instead, they simply advise property owners to remove any mold growths as soon as they notice them.
However, if you can not see any mold growths in your home or property, but suspect you do indeed have a mold problem, a mold spore test can be a useful diagnostic tool.
Measured via an air test, a mold spore count will determine the number of mold spores per square meter of air in your home. If a mold air test returns an elevated mold spore count, it can help your mold inspector determine whether you might have some hidden mold in your home.
How long does mold inspection/ testing take?
The time it takes to perform a full, thorough mold inspection or test will depend on the size of your property or home. Although a mold inspector will typically concentrate on several key areas of your home that are more prone to mold growth, they will want to look over every part and every room of your home when performing their inspection.
A thorough mold inspection can take anywhere from a couple of hours for small to mid-sized homes, up to half a day for larger homes, or even a full day if you have multiple structures on your property that require inspection.
Why is mold inspection important?
Regardless of whether or not you have visible mold growths in your home, a mold inspection is an important diagnostic tool to help you better understand that state of any potential mold problems in your home.
One of the most important elements of a mold inspection is how it plays into any eventual mold remediation works that need to be done. By performing a full and thorough mold inspection, your mold remediation professional will be able to proceed with the most efficient and effective remediation plan to rid your home of mold.
Besides this obvious and important benefit, mold inspections can also be beneficial to home and property owners who do not have a mold problem. As well as saving you potentially thousands of dollars on needless remediation works, knowing that you definitively, definitely do not have a mold problem can provide enormous peace of mind.
How much does professional mold inspection cost?
As with the length of time that a mold inspection takes, the cost of a mold inspection will depend upon the size of your home or property.
On average, homes below 4,000 square feet will incur a cost between $300 and $400 to thoroughly inspect for mold. Larger homes may cost anywhere up to $900 for a mold inspection.
Do mold inspectors have certifications?
While not every state requires mold inspectors and remediators to hold a license, many of them do. There are a variety of certifications available for mold inspectors, including ones that are verified by the National Association of Mold Professionals.
Whether or not a certification for mold professionals is required in your state, you should always ask to see any licenses that your mold inspector might hold before they examine your property.
Are air testing kits reliable for DIY?
While they might first appear as an attractive, low-cost option for testing your home for mold, it is not advisable to use a home air testing kit.
As well as questions surrounding the reliability and accuracy of these kits, the use of home air testing kits goes against common mold removal guidelines. If you have a visible mold growth of any size in your home, you will need to have it removed, regardless of any test results.
If you don’t have any visible mold growths but suspect there may be mold growing in your home, it is far better to allow a certified mold professional to thoroughly inspect your property. They will be able to provide a more comprehensive view of the mold issue, and give you real, immediate steps to address it.
Can I get a free mold inspection?
Many mold remediators will offer to perform a free mold inspection of your home or property, but in doing so they will also be hoping to be hired for any mold remediation works that may need doing.
If you wish to approach a mold remediation company for a free mold inspection, it is wise to ask for a second opinion. Some unscrupulous businesses may simply use the lure of a free inspection to ultimately charge you thousands of dollars for mold remediation.
By asking two or three companies for an inspection and quote, you can be assured that you are receiving the best, most accurate advice, and have insured yourself against any potential scams.
What is mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that exists almost everywhere, and which reproduces by means of tiny, lightweight spores that travel through the air. Mold thrives in damp, moist conditions and plays an important role in the wider ecosystem by breaking down dead organic matter.
In the vast majority of circumstances, daily exposure to mold is relatively harmless. In fact, you are exposed to mold in some form or another every single day. This is because most mold exists outdoors, in large, open spaces with ample amounts of fresh air circulation.
It is when mold takes root in the smaller, confined space of your home or property that issues begin to arise. If mold is growing in your home, you are far more likely to breathe in those tiny spores that mold produces. If you have a mold allergy or asthma, this can prove particularly harmful.
Types of mold that might be growing in your home
There are many, many species of mold. Some of them, such as penicillium and the infamous toxic black mold, boast a stronger reputation than others and are far more likely to be easily recognized.
While molds do not grow in a single shape, color, or texture, you can learn to spot mold by familiarizing yourself with some of the more common attributes of the molds that are most likely to be found in your home.
- Fuligo septica: This mold often presents as slimy orange mold, and is one type of mold that might not be particularly injurious to your health, but can pose a danger to your home itself. This mold thrives on wooden surfaces and can damage anything from your window sills to your kitchen bench if it is allowed to grow unchecked.
- Aspergillus: This mold can be somewhat difficult to identify, as it grows in a range of colors including black, green, or even yellow. Aspergillus is a common mold that you are most likely exposed to every day. Exposure to this type of mold in large amounts, however, can trigger severe respiratory problems in susceptible persons.
- Penicillium: This mold’s primary claim to fame comes through its ability to produce penicillin. Penicillium can be white or blue and is often found on food or in humid places. Despite its important role in one of the world’s best-known antibiotics, penicillium can also cause a severe allergic reaction.
- Stachybotrys chartarum: This mold is perhaps the most dangerous mold on this list. Also known as toxic black mold, it is greenish-black in appearance and grows in areas with large, continuous amounts of moisture. Stachybotrys is so dangerous because it produces mycotoxin, which can produce a range of symptoms in susceptible persons. These symptoms include headaches, respiratory issues, rashes, and sometimes even blood poisoning. Exposure to Stachybotrys can also be fatal.
If you are concerned about the state of your potential dream home, it may be wise to get a mold inspection done before you buy it.
If you have visible mold growths that will need professional remediation, a full inspection is often included as part of the remediation package. Mold inspection is a useful tool to help your mold remediator decide on the best and safest course of action to remove mold from your home.
If you don’t have any visible mold growth, but are concerned that there may be some hidden mold lurking in your home, it is also worth getting a mold inspection. In these circumstances, a mold inspection will set your mind at ease by providing you with a definitive answer, and may also uncover a mold problem that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Absolutely – you should receive a full and comprehensive report from your mold inspector or remediator after they have performed the inspection. This report will detail the areas of your home that have been inspected and catalog any findings that your mold professional made.
The Environmental Protection Agency does not perform mold inspections, and many regulations and policies that govern indoor air quality differ on a state by state basis.
Familiarize yourself with the policies and regulations that govern your state if you are concerned about a mold problem at your property. There are many professional, certified mold professionals who will be able to assist you with a mold inspection in your home.