How do I know if my home has mold?
There are different ways to discover if you have a mold problem with your home.
First, it is important to know that all houses have some degree of mold inside the structure. There are two primary questions that should be answered as quickly as possible. Are the amounts of mold inside my house a problem? And do the types of mold inside my house present health concerns?
Mold Assessments can be performed to help determine if your home is safe from mold problems . There are several steps you should complete when performing a mold assessment.
Visual Inspection look for any visible mold colonization on building materials or household contents. This inspection should only be considered a starting point because individual mold spores are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Only when individual mold spores congregate in large numbers together do they become visible as a mold colony. Often, mold is hidden within wall and floor cavities so a visible inspection is of limited value. The visual inspection should include looking for Excessive Moisture or Water Intrusions. The use of moisture meters or infrared cameras can be useful tools to help find these problems because they often times are not visible to the naked eye. Mold requires significant moisture/water or humidity in order to grow, so eliminating sources these conditions is an important step to make your home more healthy. Evaluating the outside of your home for possible sources of water intrusion is part of the visual inspection process.
Unpleasant Odors can sometimes be detected when excessive mold is present. These types of odors are often associated with basements or crawlspaces and the term “musty” is frequently used. Women in general tend to be more sensitive in detecting unpleasant odors than men are. However, unpleasant odors alone are not a reliable indicator of air quality and an absence of unpleasant odors does not mean that the air quality is “safe”. Microbial odors typically increase and decrease with changes in environmental conditions such as humidity.
Mold Testing can be a powerful tool to determine the healthiness of your home. There are different types of mold testing services and tests available. It is critical to have accurate mold testing performed in order to determine if or how much mold remediations is necessary. If you have only a question about a specific area, a surface test of that area which may consist of a “tape lift” or “swab” sample may be all you need. If you are concerned about the air quality of your home, then “air sampling”, collecting air samples inside your home and outside for a baseline may be necessary). The more samples you have, the more information you have available from which to assess your home. Air samples basically take a snapshot of the air quality at the time the sample is taken. The air quality in one part of your home may be very different than the air quality in a different part of the house, so air sampling does have limitations. A laboratory will furnish a report which will indicate the spore types and concentrations found. Have an experienced professional interpret the laboratory findings to determine if additional possible remediation measures are required.
Insurance by professionals working inside your home should be considered mandatory for your protection. Most homeowner policies usually exclude professionals working in your home. In the state of Georgia mold testing and mold remediation is unregulated. Finding an experienced environmental professional or company that is competent and ethical can be challenging but it is worth the effort. The company should possess 3 types of insurance: Environmental Pollution Insurance, Professional Liability and General Liability Insurance, The 3 types of insurance policies are necessary. Asking for a COI certificate of insurance at the very beginning of the interview process can eliminate many unqualified contractors immediately. Companies that possess substantial insurance policies have usually been vetted by the insurance company to reduce the insurance companies underwriting risks.