What is Mold and How is it Dangerous?
Mold is a fungus that occurs anywhere there is moisture. Indoor mold will typically grow in damp places like under kitchen or bathroom sinks, laundry rooms, bathrooms, crawl spaces, attics, etc… The mold-growth cycle begins with microscopic mold spores that float through indoor and outdoor air. When one of these spores lands on a damp or wet surface in your home, they will begin to grow into a mold colony within 24-48 hours. Since mold has the ability to destroy organic materials, mold colonies will destroy the material they grow on such as, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, carpets, drywall, fabric, plants, insulation, etc…
For example, if you have experienced a leaky pipe in your home, you may have noticed discoloration on the walls/floors where the leak occurred, or you may smell a musty ‘earthy’ foul smell. This is a sign of a developing mold problem, and you should have your home tested right away.
Why is Mold Testing And Inspection Important?
We understand that the mold inspection and remediation process can be intimidating for many people, but it is one of the most important elements to consider, whether you rent or own your home. Having hidden or visible mold in your home can impact your investment in a negative way, and it can more importantly make you and your family very sick. This is why it is important for renters and homeowners to understand the mold testing and remediation process because catching a mold issue early can save you thousands in mold remediation costs, and it will also prevent dangerous exposure to toxic mold and mold illnesses.
Mold produces mycotoxins, which is a hazardous chemical byproduct of mold and can be toxic for humans when inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin. If left untreated, mold will continue to grow by releasing mold spores (and mycotoxins) into the air that you and your family breathe. Prolonged exposure can lead to serious health illnesses such as respiratory damage, neurocognitive damage, and even cancer. The EPA, Institute of Medicine, FEMA, CDC, & the World Health Organization all provide helpful information on the dangers of mold in the body, as well as the types of illnesses caused by toxic mold exposure.
This ultimate guide will help you understand everything you need to know about mold testing and remediation, so you can make informed decisions regarding mold and your home without feeling overwhelmed by the process.
Is Mold Testing a Scam?
Unfortunately, the mold remediation industry is contaminated with fake “mold inspection and remediation experts” who scam desperate consumers out of a lot of money, but there are many reputable and professional companies that are trustworthy and genuinely care about improving overall air quality.
To weed out the scammers and save yourself from a mold inspection scam, here are a few things to look for:
- Companies that offer only visual inspections.
A true inspection company will perform a visual inspection and also collect environmental samples from your home to be tested in an AHIA Certified Microbiology Laboratory.
- Advises against self-testing or getting a second opinion.
There are a variety of reputable DIY Mold Testing Kits on the market (for example Our DIY Mold Test Kit that includes a complete and comprehensive walk-through of your test results with one of our certified Senior Mold Analysts).
- Doesn’t offer a guarantee on their work.
This is very common for mold inspection scammers.
- They aren’t certified by any mold remediation organizations such as the National Organization of Remediators & Mold Inspectors, the Professional Mold Inspection Institute (PMII), or the Mold Inspection Consulting and Remediation Organization (MICRO).
Any legit testing company will be happy to provide proof of their credentials.
- The same company is a mold inspection/testing company and also a remediation construction company.
This “motivates” them to find mold in your home and suggests costly home-remediation construction projects as the remedy. It also incentivizes them to say your home tests negative for mold after they’ve completed remediation.
The Mold Inspection Process
Step1: Set up an Appointment
Some good questions to ask up front:
- How much experience does your company have in mold testing/inspections?
- Can you explain your mold inspection process?
- Are your inspectors licensed/certified?
- Is your company insured and licensed?
- What samples do you take?
- What’s the total cost of the inspection?
- What laboratory is responsible for testing samples taken from my home? Are they AHIA Certified?
Step 2: Mold Test and Inspection
The inspection process should include a visual mold inspection followed by collecting environmental samples and readings. This process usually takes 1 to 2 hours, depending on the amount of mold testing required and the size of the environment.
Step 3: Lab Testing
Once the mold testing is complete, your inspector will then send off all biological samples collected from your environment to a third-party, AHIA Certified Microbiology Laboratory.
Step 4: Result Interpretation
The final step is receiving your lab results and speaking with a certified professional so that you fully understand what your results mean.
Once you’ve received your results and it is confirmed that you have a mold problem, your next step is to remediate.
Testing Your Home For Mold Without Hiring An Inspection Company
If you are certain you have a mold problem but want to avoid hiring a mold testing company, there are some options for you.
First, you will need to decide which mold test kit is right for you. There are several kits on the market, but if you’re not careful, you will waste money on a testing kit that is not dependable or accurate. Before deciding on which mold testing kit is best for you, you need to consider the following:
- If the lab testing the samples is not an AHIA Certified Microbiology Laboratory, don’t waste your money.
- Accuracy of the test
- Results waiting period
- What specifics the kit tests
Which Home Mold Testing Kit Should I Choose?
1. Petri Dishes
With this test, you leave the open petri dish in a room for a specific time period, which allows the dish to grow whatever lands on it. However, there are always some level of mold spores in the air everywhere, so putting out a petri dish will always produce mold growth. All the petri dish tests show is that you have mold spores in your environment…which everyone does…the amount of growth on the dish shows you how fast that particular mold spore grows in that particular culture. The color of the mold is also unhelpful because mold color doesn’t determine toxicity.
Easy to use, fast results.
Doesn’t test the air for mold spores. Results aren’t very accurate. Every environment has some level of mold, so you will always get a positive result. Doesn’t identify source or type of mold.
2. Tape Lift
Consists of a strip of tape and is done by pressing the adhesive side to the suspected moldy surface so that a sample is collected on the strip. This is then sent to a lab for analysis. These tests are known as direct sampling tests, because they collect physical samples from the environment, and are tested by direct examination, (under a microscope), to confirm mold growth, as well as which types of mold, are present. These tests should be used only to test visible mold growth in the contaminated area.
Affordable and can be done quickly. They show all mold present in the area tested. They may also reveal indoor mold colonies that have not become airborne yet
The areas of mold growth are often small and scattered, and they may not be picked up by the test when collecting samples. Not all mold spores seen under a microscope may be alive, limiting the results. Results can be misleading. Doesn’t test air quality.
3. Swab Testing
Involves 1 or more cotton swabs that are rubbed against the suspected moldy surface, or if mold is suspected in your HVAC system, the swabs are rubbed against your HVAC returns. The samples are sent to a laboratory for testing. Results will show the types of mold if mold is present.
Affordable and can be done quickly. Swab across dust, so you can test your HVAC system, (which are usually carriers for mold spores). They show all mold types present in the area tested. They may also reveal indoor mold colonies that have not become airborne yet.
Doesn’t identify exact source of mold. Doesn’t test air quality.
The Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) analyzes DNA of the mold sample collected via dust sample. We do not recommend this as a legitimate way to test for mold in your home. ERMI was created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a research tool only, and they do not recommend using it as anything other than a research tool. For more information, visit the EPA website article.
5. Air Pump Test
To use these tests, you will set the air pump on a table in the room you want tested, and the pump then collects air samples. After the samples have been collected, you will then send the pump off to the lab for analysis.
Results are more accurate, since air samples never come in contact with other contaminated surfaces that may interfere with results. Easy to use with very little effort. Confirms presence of mold & types of mold from several locations at once.
Can be pricey. Doesn’t tell exact location of mold growth, since mold spores are pulled in from the air.
Of course, none of these tests are as accurate as having a certified mold inspector thoroughly inspect your home, but if you are uncertain if a full inspection is necessary, a DIY home test kit may be a a good place for you to start. Our DIY Mold Test Kit includes:
- Test 10+ rooms with one kit
- Live testing guidance
- Certified SMA (Senior Mold Analyst) Report Analysis
- Virtual walk-through
- Testing media
- Return shipping fees
- No additional laboratory fees
- Analysis done by an AHIA certified laboratory
If you need a certified mold inspector, we can help. Mold Test Company has highly qualified environmentalists throughout the united states capable of performing base level and advanced inspections. We are able to tell you the source of your mold problem, health risks, litigation options, and how far the contamination has spread. Contact us and our knowledgeable analysts can help identify the perfect testing fit for your situation.
Get your Environmental Inspection Quote now, and find out if your home is making you sick.
You Have A Mold Problem-What Next?
Now that you are aware that you have a mold problem, where do you go from here? Your next step is to remove the mold as best as possible, fix any water damage/moisture problems that may cause future mold, and make sure humidity/moisture levels in your home are within normal range. Once this is complete, and you have fixed your mold problem, either yourself or by hiring a third-party contractor, you will want to have your environment tested for mold once more to confirm that the remediation process was successful.
Unsure where to begin? Start by reading: The Ultimate Guide To Mold Remediation for a complete and comprehensive walkthrough of the mold remediation process.
If you suspect you have mold and would like to have your home tested, our team of Environmental Support Coordinators are available and eager to answer any questions you have, as well as help guide you through your own mold inspection/remediation process. Mold Test Company: 844-930-6653 or www.moldtestcompany.com