Can I Do My Own Mold Inspection?
Article by David Selter
Actually, that’s the first thing you should do if you’re concerned about having mold in your home. Unless the mold contamination is obvious, in which case you should contact a professional who specializes in mold testing, you CAN do your own initial inspection. Here are some of the things you should consider.
- One of the first signs of excessive mold in your house is that moldy-musty smell that we’re all familiar with. That smell is the mold off-gassing as it feeds on organic matter in your home and continues to multiply. If you notice that musty smell, it most likely means that you have mold, and that the mold has a source of moisture. Until you eliminate that source of moisture the mold will continue to reproduce and spread.
- Look for signs of water damage like stained drywall or woodwork, and bubbling, cracking or peeling paint. A simple moisture meter like the ones you can find at one of the big box stores can help you determine if there is a moisture problem in these areas. It is a good idea to check those areas again after a rainy day, just in case the moisture source is from outside your home. Also check these areas when the outside humidity is high. If you’re air conditioner isn’t removing enough of that humidity from the air inside your home, there may be enough moisture condensing on some surfaces to allow mold to grow. It’s generally accepted that indoor humidity above 60% is conducive to the growth of mold. At that level of moisture in the air, and the common household dust adhering to your walls and other surfaces, the mold spores in the air have the moisture and food source to begin reproducing.
- While only a few of the tens of thousands of mold species are considered toxic, allergic reactions to typical molds found in homes is not uncommon. The Mayo Clinic states that: “Most allergic responses to mold involve hay fever type symptoms that can make you miserable but aren’t serious. However certain allergic reactions caused by mold are more severe.” As examples, the Mayo Clinic sites: Mold induced asthma; Allergic fungal sinusitis; Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis; and Hypersensitivity pneumonitis. So, if you’re suffering from chronic upper respiratory conditions but don’t see any obvious signs of mold, the next time you travel remember to notice whether or not these symptoms abate while you are away. If so, the problem may well be with your home.
While you can begin your own mold inspection with the simple steps we outlined above, if at some point it seems likely that you have a mold issue, you should probably employ a mold testing company. A thorough inspection, and testing for the presence of mold spores in the air, will let you determine the severity of the problem, determine the source of the problem, and provide a plan for mitigating the problem. Most of all, it will give you some peace of mind.