What Is A Mold Inspection
Even though this is a website for Do-It-Yourself mold remediation, many people ask “What Is A Mold Inspection”. You will need a mold inspection if there is knowledge that water damage has been introduced longer than two days. It is recommended that you choose an independent professional mold inspection company that is not affiliated with mold remediation due to a conflict of interest.
Mold levels that are elevated can lead to serious health problems, especially in children, elderly, and anyone with a health condition. The Center for Disease Control has associated mold with respiratory problems, coughing, sinus problems, asthma, and other chronic conditions. Some molds are harmless, therefore if found during a mold inspection may point out a problem that needs repairing, but these molds generally do not require professional remediation and a high cost removal. Other molds, notably the black toxic molds including Stachybotrys mold, can cause diseases, allergies, infections, and other ailments in humans. If the mold problem is serious, this may lead to costly professional mold remediation. Mold can bloom on virtually any organic material such as wood, paper, carpet, food, insulation, etc. Include water and in two days mold can begin to grow. Any time water intrusion occurs, whether it was a major flood or a minor plumbing leak that was not quickly and completely dried out, there is a high possibility of mold growth. Mold can cause significant aesthetic and structural damage to building materials and other personal belongings.
In 2003, the insurance repair industry put out a fact sheet that stated, over 30% of residences in Southern California in any given year, have water damage claims. This is only the situations that are reported to the insurance carriers; not all situations where there may be claims whose values do not meet policy deductibles are reported to the insurance carrier.
Another thing to think about is that it’s worthwhile to insist on an independent professional mold inspection before buying a home in a flood zone. Many times the seller will help pay some costs if they are motivated to sell the home. The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development encourages purchasers to obtain a Professional Mold Inspection prior to closing. (HUD-9548-E)
What Is A Mold Inspection?
Because mold can be visually seen and usually smelled, a mold inspection is a non-destructive visual inspection for mold and conditions to determine the source of the mold growth. Some of these source examples can be water damage, odors and obvious signs of fungal growth. The mold inspector will begin the inspection outside and check the exterior of the dwelling for distinct signs of water damage, leaks and their sources such as broken pipes, broken gutters, cracked brick work and so on. The purpose of a mold inspection is to identify and document noticeable evidence. After the visual inspection, the first task is normally to gauge moisture levels present in the walls. The moisture levels are measured at intervals of two feet and special attention is paid in areas under sinks, around water heaters, or anywhere that there is a water source present. The levels are measured using a special two pin meter which is stuck into the lower part of the wall. Acceptable level is 15% or below. An experienced inspector will combine knowledge of moisture intrusion points, building science, and ventilation systems in order to identify the source of the moisture issue that is leading to mold growth. A thermal imaging infrared camera is used in AMI mold inspections for mold growth, moisture issues, and other suspect conditions. With state-of-the-art technology such as Bore scope imaging cameras and electronic moisture detection equipment, no major physical damage is ever done to any structure. NO mold remediation work should be done until the source issue is addressed.
A thorough mold inspection usually takes a few hours, depending on the size and age of your home, as well as many other factors, and can cost you between one hundred and four hundred dollars usually, not including the testing fees for samples taken.
If no mold is visible, but mold is still suspected, because of illness in the home or other issues, air samples and wall air cavity samples may be taken to determine what the air spore count is. If it is very high compared to the outdoor air spore count, mold is likely to be present in the home.
On the occasion that you book an inspection, it is important that you keep doors and windows closed as much as possible for the 12 to 24 hours prior to the inspectors visit. This will guarantee the results are accurate. It will also allow the mold inspector to detect odors and that air samples will not contain excess outside air. Do NOT vacuum, dust or use any kind of sprays or liquids for cleaning as these actions will severely compromise any testing that they will perform. Straighten up if you feel you need to, but they must find your home for the inspection in a natural state to detect any issues of possible or probable mold.
What is the difference between a Physical Inspection and a Mold Inspection?
A mold inspection actually looks at virtually all the same areas of a structure as in a physical inspection (except electrical). Why? Because any area or system of a structure can be affected by or be in part involved in moisture intrusion which can then lead to mold contamination. The mold inspector looks at a structure from a slightly different viewpoint than the physical inspector, as the mold inspector has specialized training and tools for locating moisture intrusion and testing for mold that the physical inspector lacks. The emphasis of a mold inspection is always on moisture to determine if there is a mold situation.
Areas where you will find Mold
Mold spores are everywhere in the environment, both indoors and out. Spores can only grow and thrive, however, when they have a food source, water, and light. Mold can grow on many kinds of materials, so food is seldom limiting. It often grows behind walls and inside ceiling and floor cavities long before it is ever detected. By the time you start smelling an unpleasant odor, rest assured mold has been growing somewhere for some time and every day is growing more. Dry conditions, however, inhibit mold growth and addressing a mold issue almost always begins with identifying a moisture problem, i.e. a roof leak, cracks in the foundation, high humidity, etc. Mold thrives particularly on Sheetrock paper backing and porous wood surfaces (like OSB sheeting). On the occasion that you suspect you have mold growing indoors, the time to act is sooner rather than later.
What information can be shared by a Mold Inspection?
The goal of a mold inspection is to determine:
- Is mold growing or has mold growth occurred indoors
- What conditions exist that would cause indoor mold growth
- What areas of the structure have been effected
- What conditions still exist that may promote further mold growth
- What steps should be taken to properly address your mold issue
Mold Inspection Equipment
A good mold inspector needs testing equipment in order to adequately investigate moisture source issues. Here are some examples to conduct a thorough mold inspection:
- Moisture meter (to test moisture content of building materials like wood, Sheetrock, and even concrete)
- Hygrometer (measures relative humidity)
- FLIR E6 Infrared Camera (greatly assists with investigation for moisture intrusion behind walls, above, ceilings, and inside roofs that an inspection would otherwise be unable to see)
- Borescope (for investigating wall cavities)
- Bio-Tape or Swabs (for bulk mold sampling)
- Air Sampling Pump and Filter Media (for sampling ambient air conditions)
- Digital Camera
You can find more information about Mold Remediation in the Blogs section.