Do you think you may have mold in your home but don’t really know where to look. Is your family feeling sick? Are you experiencing headaches or allergy like symptoms? These are all mold symptoms and you have reason to be concerned.
This is one of the most common calls we get, and people ask us for the same thing most every time. They want us to test the air for mold.
That sounds like a great idea. Most any home inspector can come by and take air samples for you. Unfortunately, an air sample is not the best way to get to the root of your problem.
How it typically goes
A local home inspector will come by and set out petri dishes in several locations. They will come back and send the samples off to be tested. The samples will come back positive and you will be left with a healthy invoice.
What is the problem with that?
There are a few problems with the above scenario:
- Mold naturally occurs in the air and in our environment. Unless you live in an isolation chamber, mold spores are present in the air. The tests will return positive. No need to pay for that answer.
- You really don’t want to know if there is mold in your air, that is just what you know to ask about. What you really care about is discovering why you are sick and have mold exposure symptoms.
In addition, the tests that are going to come back positive do not give us nearly enough information. All the air tests tell us is that mold spores are present.
Are they dead? Are they dormant? We don’t know.
So what should I do instead
What you really need is an environmental assessment of what is causing your mold symptoms. That takes someone with the training and experience to identify 1) where mold may be actually growing in your home and 2) if there may in fact be other issues present.
A good environmental inspector should show up to your home with a flashlight in hand and be ready to get their hands dirty. Visual inspection of the surface in your home is the most effective way to identify mold issues.
Moisture is required for mold growth, so your inspector should test the humidity levels and look for signs of water. There may be an unnoticed leak in the walls, or there may simply be areas that have high humidity levels.
Last, your inspector should be looking beyond mold and evaluating other environmental issues. Have there been any recent changes to the environment that may be causing you mold symptoms. Has any work been done to the home recently. Are there new pets in the house.
We found the true source of mold, now what?
If you determine that your mold symptoms are being caused by actual mold growth in your home, you should consult with a professional on the best course of mold remediation. A simple cleaning may be all you need. If mold is in the walls, however, you are probably facing a more extensive project.
You also need to determine what steps are necessary to prevent the mold from coming back. That often boils down to controlling moisture. If your mold issues are in a crawlspace, sealing floor vents is a simple project that will make a big difference.
Wrapping it all up
Mold exposure symptoms caused you to call a home inspector, who said you should take air sample to determine if mold is in you home. You did some research and ran across this article… good for you! Now you know an environmental inspector may be a better route to take.
Skip the air sample, it is inconclusive and will just tell us to do what we should be doing in the first place. Break out the flashlights, get our hands dirty and visually inspect for the environmental elements that have you feeling sick. It may be mold, it may be something else.
Identify the problem, clean it up, and fix the underlying cause. It is a simple process and picking the right professional partner can save you big in the long run.