How to Detect Mold in Your Home
If you strongly suspect a mold infestation in your home or office, you’ll need to do a thorough visual inspection. Once you’ve discovered the infestation, you’ll need to take a sample for laboratory testing. Given its microscopic nature, mold is impossible to properly diagnose without a laboratory mold test. If you have any health symptoms, in addition to building damage, it is helpful to know the specific mold so your doctor can help you treat your symptoms and detox the mold from your body.
Step 1: Visual Inspection
Do a thorough visual inspection of your house, including your attic, bathrooms and crawlspace, if you have one. Read our article on the 5 AREAS TO CHECK FOR MOLD for a thorough description and checklist.
Since mold needs moisture, you are looking for excess moisture due to poor ventilation (especially bathrooms), leaking pipes, roof leaks, or improperly functioning HVAC.
Please look through our gallery of MOLD PICTURES so you can get an idea of what mold can look like in a building. Also know that mold is not always readily visible and can grow inside walls, while everything outside looks completely normal. If you are reading this, chances are you already suspect you have a problem, for the sake of your health and that of your family and pets, be persistent!
Step 2: Get tested
There are two main options for mold testing, you can do a test yourself or you can hire an independent testing company. Read MOLD TESTING to better understand the pitfalls that come with various testing strategies and how sampling can give you false positives.
OPTION 1: DIY
You can buy a mold test kit and do it yourself. Kits can be bought at Wal Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, or Amazon and generally run $10 for the kit and another $40 or so for the shipping/testing at a lab for diagnosis. They are usually a simple petri dish and use either dust or air sampling to see what grows. It is difficult get a clear answer with these, especially when there is no visible growth, but directly sampling visible mold can tell you what species it is, which you can use to cross-reference with your symptoms.
OPTION 2: Independent Testing Company
You can usually have a professional company do a multi-sample laboratory test on your home for around $300. They usually do a visual inspection as well, and since they are trained professionals they have more experienced than the average homeowner in detecting mold and discovering the moisture source.
Some companies will charge several hundred dollars for a mold test, and will then offer to apply that cost to their remediation service (“Well it is refundable once you use us…”). Mold Badger dislikes this strong-arm tactic and believes that using an unbiased third-party is important to avoid conflicts of interest. It ensures that your problem has been solved and that no one is going to fudge your results. Accurate sampling is crucial.
You will most likely need remediation services of some kind, and it is best to have all the appropriate information before choosing a reputable remediation company. A few hundred dollars in testing and a couple hours of research go a long way in making you an informed consumer.