Demystifying Mold Testing: How It Works and What to Expect

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Mold may be a common household nuisance, but it can also create many serious problems for your home and your family. When left unchecked, mold is dangerous to your health and can result in expensive damages.

When protecting your health and your home, testing for mold – especially if there are any signs of growth is essential. There are various ways to test for mold in your home and commercial properties, and understanding these methods is crucial for safeguarding your spaces.

From surface sampling to air testing, this guide tells you everything you need to know about mold testing and the significance of each step.

Mold Testing Methods Explained

Many different methods are used to detect mold, and the professional testing potential mold in your home considers your unique situation to determine which methods they employ – understanding the application and logic behind each method is essential.

Some of the most common mold testing methods include:

  • Surface sampling
  • Air sampling
  • Mycotoxin testing
  • Bulk testing

Each method serves a specific purpose to provide insights into the presence, growth patterns, and severity of mold within a space.

Surface Sampling In Mold Testing

Surface sampling in mold testing is used to help identify the types of mold on walls, ceilings, and other surfaces throughout your home. This method helps determine the kind of mold present in your home and its concentration.

A mold testing professional uses methods such as swabbing, bulk sampling, or tape lifting to gather surface samples successfully.

Understanding Spore Counts

Even without a mold problem, mold spores are a normal and natural part of the environment. During the warm spring and summer, outdoor spore counts are much higher.

Believe it or not, having a low spore count in your home or commercial spaces, which is typically brought in from the outdoors, is also normal. Understanding spore counts is essential because mold growth within your indoor spaces results in a much higher count.

Air sampling is one of the most effective ways to get an accurate spore count. It helps assess the levels of airborne mold spores while aiding in the identification of the extent of contamination and the potential health and respiratory hazards.

Mycotoxin Detection Methods

Some mold types produce toxic compounds or mycotoxins, which can cause disease and other health issues in humans and animals.

Mold inspectors and testers use specialized mycotoxin detection methods to detect and quantify the presence of these toxic compounds. These tests provide crucial information regarding the potential health threats of mold contamination within your spaces.

Some mycotoxin detection methods rely on samples pulled from the surfaces and on your property. After collecting these samples, they’re sent to a lab to identify the mold species. Labs can also test the dust within your home to determine if mycotoxins are present.

Mold Testing Laboratory Analysis

Regardless of the methods used to collect mold samples, they are sent to a specialized lab and undergo thorough and rigorous tests and analyses. A few of the most common and effective lab tests include the following:

  • Culture testing
  • Microscopic examination
  • Molecular testing

Interpreting these mold testing results, among others, helps determine the species of mold and its concentration – both of which are crucial for understanding the best approach to remediation.

Usually, the company inspecting and testing the mold provides a mold report. The data from the lab tests is used to quantify measures such as:

Mold counts: this measurement is a base count developed from air and surface samples. It includes the number of spores present for a specified sample amount.

Mold Types: the mold report typically lists the type of mold detected but rarely goes into any further information.

Raw Count: the raw count shows the number of spores used in the lab sample and tests.

% of the Total: this percentage compares the presence of a singular type of mold to any other mold samples collected during testing.

Mold Testing Equipment Guide

Many different types of equipment are used to learn more about the various aspects of potential mold growth – this mold testing equipment guide will help you better understand some of the equipment used during testing.  

Moisture Meter

This handheld device detects the amount of moisture in surfaces such as ceilings, flooring, and drywall. The importance of moisture meters in mold testing comes from their preventative qualities.

When water comes into contact with an organic material like wood, mold can form in as little as 24 hours – making this a fantastic tool for potential mold sites if you’ve recently noticed a leak or excess water.

Infrared Cameras

Infrared cameras are one of the most impressive and accurate pieces of equipment to detect mold. Using this camera, inspectors can easily see behind your surfaces and identify potential mold growths.

Air Sampling Tools

Inspectors use air sampling pumps to collect air from various points in your space when testing indoor air for mold spores. The samples collected with these tools provide a comprehensive look at the air quality of your property.

DIY Vs. Professional Mold Testing

There are two approaches to testing if you suspect your property has mold. The first is DIY mold testing. This method is quicker and more accessible than professional testing but has significant disadvantages.

For example, inaccurate results are common due to unreliable tests or unsuccessful sample collection. Also, these tests usually lack sufficient information regarding how to best remediate the problem.

On the other hand, professional mold testing is more expensive but provides more accurate results based on the samples collected by a certified inspector. These professionals use specialized tools perfectly suited for collecting and analyzing mold samples.

Mold Testing Process Step-By-Step

Knowing a bit about the mold testing process step-by-step provides a better understanding of how professional inspectors take the necessary measures to ensure samples are properly collected and accurately interpreted.

Here is how the process usually works:

#1 Visual Inspection

Visual inspections may not provide many details of the mold type or its concentration, but it is a good place to start. This non-invasive step includes inspecting potential mold growth, stains, and spots.

#2 Moisture Check

Using a moisture meter, the inspector measures the level of moisture present in and on your surfaces. Since mold thrives in warm, moist areas, checking for moisture and any visible mold damage provides insight into whether the conditions for potential growth are present.

#3 Air Quality Testing

During this process step, samples are collected from the air inside your property. This step makes it possible to determine the type of mold, the spore count, and whether the mold has spread from its visible location.

#4 Swabbing

Another way to learn more about mold (than what meets the eye) is by swab testing. This test helps inspectors determine the most effective remediation strategy.

Also check: Understanding the Costs of Mold Testing: A Comprehensive Guide

Why You Should Choose Simon Air Quality For Mold Testing

Simon Air Quality knows the potential dangers of untreated mold in homes and commercial properties. Our team carefully and thoroughly tests mold to ensure they completely understand your unique issues while also developing a successful remediation approach.

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Mark spent many years, time, and energy learning about various disciplines that he can now utilize together in the most effective way possible. Some of the credentials/certifications earned through Mark’s career include an HVAC license, indoor air quality inspector from INTerNACHI, radon measurement certification, radon mitigation certification.

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