Finding mold in your home can seem an intimidating problem, one that leaves homeowners with many questions. How does that mold affect the air that my family and I breathe in? How serious is this mold problem? How do we get rid of the mold, and will we still be able to live in the house in the meantime?
One way to answer these questions is through mold testing service. There are over 400,000 species of mold in the home, but very few of them actually pose a threat. It’s important to have a professional test the mold in your home to figure out if it’s one of those dangerous few. Here’s what you can expect from your mold testing service:
Mold testing is a complex and tricky process, so it’s typically not the first step when you suspect there might be mold in your home. First, you’ll want to inspect the area for mold and clean it or hire a cleaner. If you rent, it will be your landlord’s responsibility to have a mold inspection or cleaning done. However, landlords are often reluctant to address a mold problem without mold testing to determine the severity. In that case, you’ll need to hire a contractor. Don’t count on your insurance or public health agency to handle the mold testing — most won’t. It’s best to go with a private contractor.
Mold testing uses specific equipment to test the air both inside and outside the home for mold. This is because there’s always some level of mold in outdoor air, so the best way to gauge the severity of the mold indoors is to compare the two samples. If the mold levels inside come back as equal to or less than the levels of mold outside, your home passed and you don’t have much to worry about. However, if mold levels inside exceed the mold levels outside, you’ll need to take further action.
Test results are fairly general because susceptibility to mold varies from person to person, and there are few standards for what counts as “an acceptable amount of mold.” However, a mold test will give you at least a general idea of what you’re living with and how urgently you need to resolve the problem.
Any homeowner can go to Home Depot or a similar store and buy a mold test kit to test their home. However, it’s not advisable to do your own mold test if you’re not an expert in mold testing. DIY mold tests done by home mold kits tend to be less reliable, if for no other reason than homeowners misunderstanding the test or results. If there’s a chance that your home is being threatened with mold, that’s something you want to trust to professionals.
The length of time to allow for your mold testing depends on the size of the area that needs to be tested. An Colonial attic, for instance, will take longer than the bathroom of an efficiency apartment. On average, mold testing takes 1-2 hours.
While not a first resort, mold testing is a good idea if you want to be informed about your mold issues or if you need to convince your landlord to take action with an existing mold problem.