Mold Inspection and Testing for Homebuyers and Homeowners

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Are you a homeowner? Or are you looking to buy a home? Did you know that mold, while generally commonly found, may be harmful if left undetected or untreated. Knowing what is entailed in a Mold Inspection and a Mold Test can help you make an informed decision as you consider options to avoid the health and safety issues that mold may cause. 

When you are seeking to purchase a home, it is standard practice to get a home inspection. During the course of the inspection, the home inspector might notice a buildup of moisture or other indicators that could indicate the presence of mold. 

Due to increasing awareness about the potential hazards of mold, homebuyers tend to opt for mold inspection. In many states, home inspectors also have the training/licensing to perform a thorough mold inspection. In other states, the inspection may have to be performed by a different, licensed mold inspector.

You may also consider mold inspection and testing if you currently own a home. If there has been water damage, a leaky roof, or broken plumbing, there may be mold in the house.

Why is Mold Inspection Important?

Mold inspection and testing are important because certain types of mold can be harmful to your health and the health of your family. While you can purchase a mold testing kit and learn how to test for mold yourself, it is recommended to utilize the services of a professional inspector.

Mold inspection and testing are performed to determine whether there is hidden mold in the house. Mold spores float around in the air until they come into contact with a surface. If the surface is moist, mold spores form into actual mold. The mold typically develops in dark, moist places, slowly spreading over time. It can be some time before you notice the presence of mold if it is forming in areas such as the attic, basement, or within the walls due to leaky plumbing.

As the mold spreads, it can cause damage to whatever surface it is growing on. If the mold has been in the home undetected or untreated for some time, it may even cause structural damage.

Many types of mold that form in the home can also cause health problems in humans and animals, especially those who already have asthma, allergies, or weakened immune systems. Initial health issues due to the presence of mold can be eye irritation, fatigue, and respiratory problems. Mold is also especially harmful to children—just a few days of exposure to mold can cause health problems, so finding and removing mold via a mold remediation specialist is a top priority.

Types of Mold in the Home

Mold forms in many different colors, and regardless of the color or type, you want it removed from your home. The most dangerous type is the black mold—it is toxic and even a mild exposure may lead to respiratory problems. Continued exposure to black mold can lead to worse symptoms, such as bleeding lungs.

Usually, you’ll want a mold remediation specialist to perform the mold removal.

How to Prevent the Growth of Mold

Keeping the interior of the home dry can prevent mold. That’s why a home inspection is important—the home inspector can discover leaks in the roof or basement, issues with plumbing, or problems with the HVAC system and ventilation, which can lead to the growth of mold.

High humidity levels can also cause mold to form on wood, drywall, and other materials the mold considers “food”. Using a dehumidifier to regulate humidity levels can help to prevent mold.

When You Should Get a Mold Inspection and Testing

If you notice mold, you might still want to consider an inspection if you are worried there could be mold in other areas of the home that you cannot see, such as behind drywall or paneling, or other inaccessible areas. You should also heed the advice of your home inspector if he or she notices any signs of water damage or moisture, even if it appears to be old water damage.

If there has been recent water damage, you’ll also want to get a mold inspection performed. It is also highly recommended that you get a mold inspection in addition to a regular home inspection if you are seeking to purchase a home that has been vacant for some time.

A mold inspection is also recommended if you notice a strong musty smell. Mold could be growing behind drywall or in a dark area.

Common places you might find mold include:

  • Areas where pipes have been leaking
  • Areas beneath roof leaks
  • Basements where there has been water damage or flooding
  • Areas where you see a buildup of moisture (due to high humidity or poor construction)
  • Homes with poor air circulation and ventilation

Professional mold testing by qualified and experienced professionals is recommended. The specialist will have the experience in collecting samples as well as testing for the air quality, and will be better able to provide you with accurate results and recommendations for mold remediation.

It is also important to opt for professional mold inspection and testing because the number of mold spores can fluctuate and move throughout the home. A professional mold inspector usually performs a few different types of mold tests to ensure the most accurate results.

What are the Differences Between Mold Inspection and Mold Testing?

A mold inspection occurs at the home, at which the home inspector or mold inspector conducts a visual inspection of the house. The inspector will also talk to the homeowner about any water damage, leaks, moisture problems, and areas of mold that might have already been discovered.

Mold testing occurs at a laboratory. The samples that have been collected are examined in carefully controlled conditions. The types of mold are identified, as well as how many mold spores are circulating through the air in the home. Some mold inspections will include mold testing as part of the service.

What Happens During a Mold Inspection?

After speaking with the homeowner, the inspector will first examine any areas that may have already been susceptible. The inspector will also perform a visual inspection of the remainder of the house, concentrating on areas where mold is known to commonly form.

The inspector may use equipment such as moisture meters to detect the presence of moisture behind drywall or in other inaccessible areas. The source of moisture will also be determined to come up with a solution to remedy the situation.

Afterward, the inspector will recommend a mold remediation plan. Part one of the plan is solving the moisture problem, which might have already been discovered by the home inspector (a leaky roof, for example). Without solving the moisture problem, removing the mold is pointless since it will just grow back over time.

If the mold does not affect a large area, you may be able to handle the cleanup yourself. If it contaminates a larger area, a mold remediation specialist is recommended. The professionals will have the proper safety gear and equipment to perform the job safely and properly.

How Much Does a Mold Inspection Cost?

A standard mold inspection averages about $300-$500 for an average size house (below 4,000 square feet). Larger houses might cost a bit more ($700-$900), and extra charges may be applied if the inspector needs to perform extra work to find the mold, such as removing drywall. These costs normally include the inspection only—a service that also includes testing may charge additional fees. Homeowners may opt for a mold testing kit but be aware you may not get the most accurate results, and mold might still be growing in other areas of the house that an untrained eye cannot see.

If mold problem is detected in a house you’d like to buy, you could ask the seller to take care of it. Some states require the seller to provide full disclosure about any mold or water damage in the house if you ask.

If you’re buying a home and want a better grasp of mold related issues, hire a home inspector with expertise in mold inspection. You can click here to find a WIN Home Inspection expert near you, and one of our expertly trained home inspectors can assist you. Alternatively, call (800) 309-6753 or email us at inquiry@wini.com and one of our experts will contact you promptly.