We get a lot of calls asking for air sampling. Typically, this request comes because someone suspects they have a mold problem.
We are happy to oblige if air sampling is really what you need. Often it is not.
Humor Me With an Analogy
Imagine that you have a headache. This headache has been going on for a while and you are at your wit’s end, you are ready to try, and spend, anything to get it figured out.
One evening you are browsing Facebook when an ad catches your eye. You discover that a local doctor has created a revolutionary new procedure, a cutting-edge Headache Test.
This is not your family physician treatment here… we are talking state-of-the-art stuff. The appointment takes about an hour and you are hooked up to a fancy machine. It spins and whirrs and measures all your vital information.
In two day’s time, you get a detailed report showing you:
- That you do, in fact, have a headache
- Exactly how bad the headache hurts
- Precisely where the headache is located
- The specific variety of headache you have
That’s some valuable information, right?! Well… not so much. In some specific circumstances this may be helpful, but generally speaking, you have just received useless information.
You don’t care about details of the headache. You are well aware that you have it.
What you really want to know is WHY you have a headache and WHAT you can do about it.
How Does That Relate To Mold
Much like a headache, mold is just a symptom of the problem.
Sure, mold is bad news and it needs to be taken care of. That said, your real concern is the water that is causing the mold to grow and how that underlying issue can be corrected.
Air sampling does a great job of telling us that:
- You do, in fact, have mold
- Exactly how much mold is in your air
- Where mold spores are concentrated
- What varieties of mold you have
At first glance, this all sounds great. Let’s unpack each point a little more though.
So You’ve Got Mold
The first thing you will discover from an air sample is that you do, in fact, have mold.
Since you called us in the first place, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet you already knew that.
Even if you are not certain you do have mold, a professional mold inspector can learn a lot with much less expensive methods. A thorough inspection of your home and mechanical systems will often reveal any problems that exist and a keen eye can discover any visible signs of mold growth.
I Have How Much Mold???
The next thing your air sample report will show you is how many mold spores are in your home.
This can be a misleading number. Mold is a part of our natural environment. You do have mold in your home, and your air samples will show that. Further, there have been no scientific studies or published papers that tell us what an acceptable number of mold spores is.
So this spore count you just received is highly subjective. We can do a few things to help it make sense, such as compare it to samples outside your home and samples in other areas of your home. As you may guess, each of those samples just drives the cost up.
The bottom line is that the number that is unacceptable to you is the number that makes you feel bad. If you have mold-related symptoms, or if there is visible mold growth on the surfaces of your home, we really don’t need to know the spore count in the air.
We just need to get to work discovering and correcting the source of water leading to the mold.
But The Sample Will Show Us Where The Mold Is…
Maybe… and this is one point that could, in fact, be valuable in specific situations.
There are many other methods an experienced inspector can use to find trouble spots, but if they all come up inconclusive air samples can help narrow down the source of a problem.
Air sampling does have the ability to show specific locations in the home where spore counts are higher. This can be helpful in identifying trouble areas when other methods have not worked. It can also be useful in clearing a certain area after renovation or repairs.
Again, for this to be useful, it will have to be used with benchmark samples throughout the home.
Don’t I Need to Know What Type of Mold I Have?
That is really a personal decision. There are many mold varieties and they all impact the body differently. You may be working with a medical professional that would like to use this specific information in your treatment. In that case, air sampling is a great way to get more data.
In most cases, however, all you need to know is that you have the mold variety that is making you sick.
Knowing the specific species or strain will not change our remediation protocol.
Then What Do I Need?
If you see mold in your home, or if you are experiencing symptoms that may be caused by mold, you need a professional mold inspection and air quality assessment.
At Branch Environmental, we start each inspection by gathering your personal history. We sit down and listen to how you and your family have been impacted.
From there, we ask questions about your home. We dig into the renovation and repair history. We try to uncover anything in the past that may be a source of mold.
Next, we head to the structure itself. From the crawlspace to the attic, we explore every nook, cranny, and mechanical system. We’ll start with minimally invasive methods and simple tools such as moisture meters. As we hone in on a problem, we may remove small sections of baseboard or cut exploratory holes in drywall.
These methods will generally tell us all we need to know without the cost burden of air sampling.
Of course, if we feel that air sampling is appropriate in your specific situation, we will discuss that option with you.
If you suspect a mold or air quality issue, don’t wait any longer. You deserve to breath easy in your own home! Give us a call today and we’ll help answer your questions and guide you to the next step to better air.