Branch Tells You the Truth in 60 Seconds about Mold Air Quality Tests
Mold air sampling is NOT the best way to tell if you have mold. In fact, taken by themselves, these tests can’t tell you if you have a mold problem. Come learn more about mold air sampling (or spore air traps), and how we can help you solve any mold problem.
Why Air Sampling Is Inaccurate As A Stand Alone Tool
If there was one single thing we would change in our industry it would be this…
As a stand alone way to determine if your home has mold, mold air sampling (or spore trap testing) is NOT a good idea. 5 Mold is present everywhere in the air, both indoors and out. Mold air sampling gives incomplete data to an untrained interpreter, who makes mis-guided decisions based on mis-understood results. 5 But we see it all the time by home inspectors and unsuspecting users of DIY test kits. 5
Mold is going to be present on any air sample because mold naturally occurs in the environment. There is no situation where an air sample would be completely negative.
The EPA does NOT regulate mold test kits, spore air trap tests, or any other air sampling devices for mold.1 Neither does any other branch of the US government.1 They do not have specific standards to meet, and anyone can create a test kit of their own design. “Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building’s compliance with federal mold standards.”1 Air sampling can be a useful tool, but only in the hands of an expert.
Case Study – Mold Air Sampling Test becomes Local Home Inspection
Recently, we performed an air quality inspection for a homeowner who had used a mold air sampling test kit in their basement. The air test kit was positive for mold, and the homeowner was taking no chances. They knew we are the best in the business, and called us for professional inspection.
Previous mold air samples, shared with us by the homeowner, indicated that levels of Aspergillus/Penicillium molds within the basement were higher than the outdoor results used as control levels. Remember, it should be noted that when used alone, mold air sampling results are unreliable, and should not be used to determine whether a mold problem exists. If windows or doors of the home were opened during the sampling period, the results of the air samples could be skewed.
Southeastern USA = High Humidity = Mold Growth
It is good to note that in our region (southeastern USA), the levels of relative humidity are usually high, especially in the summer months. Mold only needs 4 things to grow: oxygen, warmth, a food source and moisture. High humidity (above 60%) supports mold growth. It is typical for basements located within the southeast United States to have some level of visible mold growth, especially on unfinished building materials such as framing components and unpainted surfaces of drywall. Unconditioned closets, in unfinished areas, and leather goods are places where mold spores are found.
That doesn’t mean you have to live with mold! Mold can be prevented through keeping your home clean and dry. Keep reading to learn more!
When inspecting the home, we took relative humidity readings throughout the home. We took both baseline readings, and readings to determine if moisture in any specific area was higher, giving mold a good place to grow.
The homeowner was relieved to receive our report! The relative humidity within the basement at the time of inspection was well below the level of moisture needed for mold growth to occur. There were no leaks or signs of previous leaks anywhere within the home. The basement was very clean, dry, and in great condition. No mold threat was found within the basement area.
This was one of the best case scenarios for our customer. There were no mold problems, and we did not recommend any remedial actions. We were so happy to give this homeowner peace of mind!
Contrast: Home of 10,000 Leaks
In contrast, if you read our post from a few weeks ago, Home of 10,000 Leaks: Why Water Damage Leads To Mold, you know that tiny leaks left untreated and unnoticed can cause major damage!
The homeowner in that situation had been dealing with poor health due to asthma. We performed an investigation, and found the home needed massive remediation work due to the many, many small leaks in their home. Check out our post to learn more, and how we helped the homeowners in this situation as well!
Why Mold is a Serious Problem
In the first situation, the homeowner called us for an inspection, but ended up not having a problem. Why did they call? Mold is NO joke.
Mold can cause problems from asthma and allergies to mental health problems to worse. Mold can cause serious health problems for you and your family. In fact, many of our customers find us because of their doctor’s recommendation, before they call us to have a home inspection.
Preventing Mold Growth
Basic home maintenance and inspection are key to preventing mold growth. Remember, fungi need four things to grow: oxygen, moisture, a food source, and warmth. It is difficult to significantly change the temperature or remove oxygen from a room. (We have to breathe after all!) Not to mention, that fungi can digest almost any organic material (anything made of carbon). The best way to stop mold growth is to prevent moisture buildup.
Home owners can prevent moisture buildup by ventilating areas in the home that have high moisture content including bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and crawl spaces.
Branch’s Top 6 Tips for Preventing Mold
- Bathroom ventilation fans should be used for every shower or bath. 6 If possible, keep the door of the bathroom open when bathing to further ventilate the room. 6 Check your bathroom fan’s CFM (cubic feet per minute) rating to be sure it is the right size for the space. 6 For more information see our post: ‘How to Prevent Bathroom Mold.’ 6
- In the kitchen, it is best to have a ventilation hood over the stove that vents to the outside. Use the ventilation fan every time you cook.13
- Laundry rooms are almost always moist because of the nature of washing clothes. If possible, leave the laundry room doors open to ventilate the room. Keep washer and dryer doors open to help the room and the machines stay dry. 13
- Crawl spaces and basements can be full of moisture. Inspect your crawl space at least every 6 months for moisture buildup and mold. If you can smell a musty smell, or see mold growth, it may be time for a professional inspection and repairs.13
- Follow a cleaning routine to keep your home free from mold.15 Check out our ‘Branch’s Non-Toxic Spring Cleaning Guide’ for more details on how to keep your home truly clean, safe, and well maintained.13 Our post titled ‘Disinfecting, Sterilizing, And Sanitizing: Is There A Difference?’ gives more information on these three cleaning techniques, as well as how, where, and when you should use them in your home. 14
- Our most recent post about cleaning gives you great ideas on how to get the whole family involved in cleaning! Check out Easy Summer Cleaning: 2 Big Ideas and the Top 10 Forgotten Places to Clean.15
When To Clean. When To Call.
Indoor mold growth can be prevented by controlling moisture and controlling humidity indoors.
You may be able to clean surface mold on the walls, ceilings or floors of your home that are less than ten square feet by using gentle detergents, vinegar, and water.12 For more information about cleaning mold yourself go to: A Simple Guide to Cleaning Mold.12
If you see areas larger than ten square feet, or there is a musty smell you can’t identify, it may be time to call a professional.
We’re Here When You Need Us
Only mold experts can tell you for sure if you have a mold problem. Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts not only at mold removal, but at determining and remediating the underlying causes. We treat each inspection as an investigation. From hidden mold sources to major contaminants, we can identify exactly what is going on in your home and rid it of environmental toxins, often for good.
Branch Environmental – Because nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick.
For more information go to:
- Mold Testing or Sampling – US EPA
- Mold vs. Mildew – Branch Environmental
- Home of 10,000 Leaks: Why Water Damage Leads To Mold – Branch Environmental
- When The Home Inspection Misses The Mold – Branch Environmental
- What’s that musty smell? MVOC’s – Branch Environmental
- How to Prevent Bathroom Mold – Branch Environmental
- 5 Expectations about Mold vs. Eye-Opening Reality – Branch Environmental
- Asthma and Mold – Branch Environmental
- Mold and Mycotoxins: Effects on the Brain and Nervous System in Adults – Branch Environmental
- When Mold Is Worse Than Allergies – Branch Environmental
- How Your Home Can Affect Your Allergies – Branch Environmental
- A Simple Guide To Cleaning Mold – Branch Environmental
- Branch’s Non-Toxic Spring Cleaning Guide – Branch Environmental
- Disinfecting, Sterilizing, and Sanitizing is there a Difference? – Branch Environmental
- Easy Summer Cleaning: 2 Big Ideas and the Top 10 Forgotten Places to Clean – Branch Environmental
- Beyond Mold Inspections, Branch Delivers Mold Investigations – Branch Environmental
Blog information is NOT intended to provide or replace medical advice. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.
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