Basic testing for mold is not difficult and neither expensive. Property managers or homeowners do not have to hire a contractor to test their homes for mold. Basic testing for mold can determine whether there is a serious problem that requires professional help.
Bear in mind that some people think that testing for mold is not a good idea. They argue that:
- Testing for mold is expensive.
- There are no established unacceptable or acceptable mold levels and so test results may not give you definitive answers.
- Testing does not pinpoint mold locations.
While it’s true there are no acceptable or unacceptable mold levels, testing for mold does not have to be expensive. Testing for mold could also help to detect hidden mold growth. Testing for mold also helps in determining whether the occupants are at risk of mold exposure. Also in situations where occupants have constant flu-like symptoms, testing for mold in your home should be the first diagnostic step you take. In other words, testing may be used to eliminate the hypothesis that fungi is the source of adverse health effects.
Experts always recommend testing for mold whenever your home suffers from water damage, from an event as catastrophic as a flood to a leaking pipe in your kitchen sink. But it’s also wise to have your home tested for mold, even if you have never had any water damage. Just a week of humid days can start mold growing.
Testing for mold can also provide important evidence if ailing individuals are considering litigation relating to mold exposure. In this case, a third party should be hired for testing.
Hiring a professional to test for mold can be very expensive. Mould Facts suggests that homeowners or building managers perform their own mold testing first to save on expenses. Home and building owners can then hire a professional inspector only if the problem cannot be found or some form of documentation is required to prove justification of remediation expenses or that clean up has met expectations.
When testing for mold, the purpose is simply to see how much airborne mold (in the form of spores) there is in the rooms of your home. Mold testing is very simple in that it measures the amount of mold in the air. Air testing can also identify the type of mold that may be present in your home.
If testing for mold is to be done, it is critical to establish a sampling methodology to appropriately address the investigator’s hypothesis. This usually involves collecting control samples (such as outdoors) to compare to samples from the suspect area. For example, if the molds found indoors are different from molds outdoors, or if the levels of molds are significantly higher indoors from outdoors, this may suggest a potential indoor mold problem.
Many homeowners often ask us if there is a way they could test for mold themselves in their homes. There are some tests that a homeowner or property manager can perform thus saving themselves money.
Testing For Visible Mold Growth Using Clear Scotch Tape
Clear scotch tape can be used to sample visible mold.
- Cut 2-3 inches of the tape and press it gently onto the surface with visible mold growth.
- Peel the tape off the surface and stick it onto a plastic bag (e.g., ziplock bag)
- Put the sample into an envelope and then send to Mold & Bacteria Laboratories for identification. For a fee per sample the laboratory will tell you the type of mold present on the sample and whether it is a type considered to be of health concern. If you are sure the mold covers less than 10 square feet, you can clean it yourself (with proper protection) after fixing the moisture/water source. For large amounts of mold growth, we recommended you seek professional help. For detailed instructions on how to take tape samples download the document Homeowner Form.
Testing For Airborne Mold Using Agar Settle Plates
If you can’t see mold but have persistent musty or earthy smell, you may consider testing the air for mold. Musty or earthy smell is often an indication of microbial growth such as mold and some type of bacteria. A homeowner can perform preliminary tests using agar settle plates before calling a professional. Download the document “Air sampling for mold using agar settle plates” for detailed instructions on how to perform this test. You can obtain the agar settle plates from Mold & Bacteria Consulting Laboratories.