If you’re purchasing a new home, you may need to do a mold inspection. While most home inspectors will do cursory checks for mold, they won’t do an in-depth inspection as part of their standard home inspection.
In this article, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about mold inspection – and help you determine if you need one. Let’s get started.
WHAT IS MOLD? HOW DOES IT GET INTO A HOUSE?
Mold is a fungus that is part of our natural environment. It’s present pretty much everywhere, both indoors and outdoors, floating around as little “spores”, which may have negative effects on humans or animals.
The trouble arises when mold finds an environment in your home that is hospitable to its growth. Mold grows in dark, damp environments – and can often grow in just a few days. Here in the Pacific NW mold is most common in our attics where is grows on the sheathing of the roof structure.
Most types of mold are pretty much harmless. They’re simply aesthetically unappealing, and can cause some minor damage to the walls on which they grow, like stains and paint damage.
However, some types of mold, like black mold, can have negative effects on the human respiratory system, and pose a danger to you and your family.
WHAT IS BLACK MOLD, AND WHAT ARE ITS EFFECTS?
Black mold is a particular type of mold which produces mycotoxins, which can negatively affect indoor air quality.
In small amounts it is not as toxic or dangerous as the media would have you believe, but it has been known to cause respiratory problems in both adults and children, so it should be removed as soon as possible.
HOW CAN I GET RID OF BLACK MOLD?
Bleach is a great home remedy to get rid of black mold. It destroys the fungus quickly – you can use a simple solution of 1:10 bleach: water in a spray bottle, and spray it all over the affected areas. Then, simply let it sit for a few minutes, and wipe the remaining mold away.
However, to keep black mold from recurring, you will need to ensure that the area which has been affected is well-ventilated, and gets adequate natural light. If the area remains dark and damp, the mold infestation may recur. This is why it is generally recommend to have a license mold remediation specialist fully inspect and treat the specific area. Any self-remedies should be conducted using proper safety equipment.
DO I NEED A MOLD INSPECTION?
The EPA says that you don’t really need a mold inspection unless you notice visible mold somewhere in the house.
If you do notice mold, chances are that there is quite a bit spread throughout the house and a professional should come in for an inspection, to determine the extent of the infestation, and whether or not it poses any threat to you or your family.
UNDERSTAND BLACK MOLD – AND MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE WHEN INSPECTING YOUR HOME
Although black mold is a real problem, fear mongering in the media has made it seem more dangerous than it generally is.
What’s The Process Like? There are a few different ways to test for mold. An air test may be used to collect spores from inside the home, and send them in for testing in a laboratory, to check for the presence of mold. In other cases, bulk samples may be taken. A piece of the affected area can be physically removed, and sent in for testing. Swab samples and tape samples may also be taken of the areas that may have mold present.
Some indications mold may be present: 1. You can smell something musty 2. You see a substance that looks like mold or fungus 3. You see and smell NOTHING!
Types of samples:
Air Quality Sample – This is collected via an air pump and spore trap. All homes have some levels of mold in the air, these samples determine if the airborne levels in the client's home are normal or have elevated levels. We can collect these from any rooms/areas of concern, and we base them off of an outside control sample.
Cavity Sample – This is collected with the same air pump, but with a tube connected to the end of the spore trap to allow a sample to be collected from within walls. These are collected whenever a wall shows signs of visual damage or if a wall has high moisture content. These tell us whether elevated conditions exist behind inaccessible walls to determine if removal is necessary.
Surface Sample – Surface samples can be taken of any visual discoloration or growth that is observed. We are able to do this by using a medical swab or tape lift. These will identify the species of any observed growth. This often helps when determining the source of any airborne levels.
The samples collected identify any mold types present. Air samples give exact spore counts and concentrations. Surface samples identify the mold species and growth concentration. We always start with an outside air sample that serves as a control that sets baseline numbers for what is normal and acceptable. It is then compared to an inside sample from the area of greatest concern. This will basically let us know whether or not elevated conditions exist or not. After samples have been collected, they are then sent to a third party laboratory for analysis. Results are available as soon as the next business day. Once the results have been reviewed, we will create a full protocol of any required work. This report tells you what samples were taken, what exact species and concentration were found, and what the next steps would be. United Home Inspection Group can provide a clearance letter if the samples come back without an elevated result.