Are you a homeowner? Are you looking to buy a home? Did you know that mold can be extremely harmful to health if left undetected or untreated. Mold inspection and testing can help homebuyers and homeowners make an informed decision about best options to avoid the health and safety issues that mold can cause.
When you are purchasing a home, it is standard practice to get a home inspection. During 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, home inspectors have the training to perform a thorough mold inspection.
You may also want to consider a 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.
What is Mold?
Mold is a fungus that thrives on moisture and can be found inside and outside your home. As mold grows, it releases spores that float through the air. In small quantities these spores are usually harmless, but when they land on a moist surface they grow and become more dangerous (dependent on the strain of mold). Given the right environment, growing mold can potentially spread further into your home, causing damage, health issues, and resulting in expensive repairs.
Without moisture however, mold is unable to thrive. Homeowners and homebuyers can proactively take steps to reduce risk of mold growth by keeping the home dry. Acting early to reduce moisture and make sure the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room are venting properly can reduce risk of mold growth.
Why is Mold Inspection Important?
Mold inspections are important because certain types of mold can be harm to the health of you and your family. While there are at-home mold kits you can purchase and learn how to use yourself, it is highly recommended to utilize the services of a professional inspector.
Air testing is performed to determine whether there is hidden mold in the house. Mold spores float around in the air until they find an area conductive to growth. If the surface is moist, mold spores can take hold and grow. The mold typically develops in dark, moist places, slowly spreading over time. It can be some time before you notice the presence of mold, especially if it is forming in areas such as the attic, basement, or within the walls.
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 can cause larger issues.
Many types of mold that form in the home cause health problems in humans and animals. Those who already have asthma, allergies, or weakened immune systems are at increased risk of these issues. 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 toxic mold. Toxic mold is harmful and even mild exposure can lead to health issues. Continued exposure to toxic mold can lead to worse symptoms and serious respiratory problems.
How to Prevent the Growth of Mold
Keeping the interior of your home dry can help prevent mold. The home inspector can discover leaks, issues with plumbing, or problems with the HVAC system and ventilation, which can lead to the growth of mold. This is why a professional home inspection is so important.
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.
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
When You Should Get a Mold Inspection and Testing
If you notice mold, it is a good idea to call an inspector to test the home for mold. You should also heed the advice of your home inspector if they notice any signs of water damage or moisture. Even if it appears to be old water damage, mold could still be an issue.
A mold inspection is also recommended if you notice a strong musty smell. Mold could be growing behind drywall or in a dark area.
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.
Another reason to opt for professional mold inspection and testing is 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. Home tests cannot provide this level of accuracy.
What is the Difference Between Mold Inspection and Mold Testing?
A mold inspection occurs at the home, where 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 from samples taken at the mold inspection. 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?
The inspector will first examine any areas that may have already been susceptible to mold. 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 home inspector may use equipment such as moisture meters or infrared camera to detect the presence of moisture in drywall or in other inaccessible areas. The source of moisture may also be determined. This will help to come up with a solution to remedy the issue.
Afterward, the inspector will recommend a course of action. Part one of the plan is solving the moisture problem. The home inspector may have discovered the source (a leaky roof, for example) or further investigation may be needed. Without solving the moisture problem, removing the mold is pointless because 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 costs around $200-$500 for an average size house (below 4,000 square feet). Larger houses might cost a bit more, and extra charges may be applied if the inspector needs to perform more sampling. These costs normally include the inspection and pre-determined sampling. Additional sampling would incur additional fees.
What Affects the Cost of Mold Inspection?
The cost of mold inspection can vary based on the size and age of the house, as well as location of the home. Larger homes will cost more to inspect, but full-service home inspectors who offer mold inspection and mold testing often have package options available. With a package, homeowners and homebuyers can bundle multiple home inspection services together for a discounted price. If you have questions about the cost of a mold inspection for your home, or packages, contact your local home inspector to learn more.
Find the Right Mold Inspector
If a 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our experts will contact you promptly.