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Outdoors, mold is an essential part of a healthy ecosystem, helping decompose dead trees, leaves, and other organic matter. In our homes, however, mold is less than desirable.
Luckily, mold remediation can range from easy, DIY cleanup to a full-scale professional operation. It all depends on how extensive the mold growth is and the type of mold, but the bottom line is that the earlier you catch it, the better. Some home inspectors are certified in mold testing near you, so if you suspect mold is growing in your home, get a mold inspection and testing done as soon as possible.
This article will cover how to prevent mold and what to do if you find it in your home.
What is mold?
The patches of mold you see growing on your ceiling, walls, windowsills, or damp corners are a form of fungus made up of millions of spores that are invisible individually but grow together to create what we see. It can degrade your home and cause health concerns like allergies and respiratory issues. Mold damages what it grows on, so it’s important to clean it up as soon as you see it or prevent its growth by keeping things in your home from getting overly moist or humid.
Types of mold
Several types of mold are the most common indoors, including:
- Aureobasidium pullulans
How mold can affect your health
The most common way mold can hurt your health is its propensity to cause allergic reactions and respiratory system infections like lung and sinus infections. While most symptoms caused by mold are non-life-threatening, some types can cause more serious conditions in certain people, making it especially important to deal with and prevent mold growth.
Sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes are common reactions to mold exposure. Most of these are mild, hay-fever-like symptoms but can escalate to higher severity if people that are asthmatic or have other respiratory tract conditions are exposed to mold consistently. If you’re cleaning up a patch of mold on your own, make sure you’re wearing an N-95 mask and goggles with no vents so that you don’t breathe in any spores and they can’t get in your eyes.
These symptoms generally don’t cause lasting damage and will clear up when the affected person is removed from the moldy environment. The amount of time that symptoms will take to abate will be individual, depending on the length of exposure and any complicating conditions, like asthma.
How do I prevent mold?
Once you get an outbreak of mold in your home, cleaning up can be expensive. Not only that, but it can be dangerous for your health. You can use a few tools to help prevent mold before it starts. Desiccants and dehumidifiers can help prevent mold before it starts by absorbing the moisture in the air.
What is a mold inspection?
A mold inspection is a way to invest in your home and well-being by having a professional licensed in mold inspection perform the test on the property. Some home inspectors may be licensed to do mold inspections near you, too — it’s worth asking and seeing. If not, a quick local search will give you the options you have near you. A mold inspector has several methods to provide a thorough picture of what’s happening inside and outside your home that might be causing mold to grow.
An inspector will use thermal imaging equipment to see where mold is flourishing in your home, even in hidden areas. They’ll measure the humidity levels, do a visual inspection of the exterior of your home to determine if there are mold-causing culprits present and send tests to a third-party lab. They’ll also likely recommend an Indoor Air Quality test to compare the level of mold spores inside your home with the air outdoors. If a mold inspection finds spores in your home are dangerously high, they’ll work with you to devise a remediation plan.
You might be tempted to skip a mold inspection when offered, especially if you’re considering buying a new build, but it’s always a good idea. Mold is sneaky — it grows in high-moisture places, not all visible in your home. It can also be present without being visible – by the time you see the telltale mold patch, it’s been growing for a time already.
Mold inspection cost
A mold inspection is separate from a standard home inspection and will generally cost about $300-$400 for a home under 4,000 square feet and can be upwards of $600-$800 for a home over 4,000 square feet.
Key takeaways on mold inspection and testing
- Mold inspections must be performed by a certified professional trained to conduct such an evaluation.
- A mold inspector will look for mold inside, outside, and in areas that are not readily accessible. This includes current mold growth and any evidence of past mold infestation.
- The source of moisture should be identified during the mold inspection.
- No environment is 100% mold free. No mold inspection and testing results in zero mold detected.
- There is no standard for how much mold is acceptable when its detected. It is unique to each individual. Just as certain people have allergies, certain people will react differently to different mold levels. If you detect a musty smell or see mold, it is a good idea to have a mold inspection performed.
Do I need a mold inspection?
Having a professional near you perform a mold inspection in new or old homes is a good idea. Mold growth isn’t tied to the age of materials but rather the environment’s moisture. For example, a new building built with damp drywall or a faulty building envelope can have mold just as easily as a 20-year-old home with a leaky basement. Likewise, a well-sealed and diligently cared-for home can be mold-free decades after being built. The moral of the story is always get a mold inspection, no matter the age of the home you’re thinking of purchasing.
One situation where you don’t want to skip a mold inspection is after a flood or major leak. If you experience an overland flooding situation or your dishwasher leaks and floods your kitchen, you will, 100%, without question, need to have a mold inspection. Mold thrives in moisture, and the cleanup and remediation from an event like a flood are extensive. The last thing you want is to go through the whole remediation process to find you have to open up your walls and floor again because there was mold that went unseen.
Mold – it’s sneaky, but you can handle it. Whether doing your due diligence and having a mold inspection for a home you’ve owned for 15 years or being a conscientious buyer and getting a pre-purchase mold inspection, it’s a worthy investment in your future health and well-being.