Mold inspection, mold testing, and mold removal are among our most-demanded services. Mildew and mold removal are not very fun experiences however necessary, so it’s good to know what you’re getting into. Every process is made easier when you understand how it works.
Here, we will explain the few ways we can test and sample for mold in your home or on your property.
Whatever the reason we’re called in to sample for mold in a space, we always have a few goals in mind. We are immediately looking for answers to these basic questions.
- Are mold spores present?
- Is the source of spores likely into contact with a person?
- Is structural damage a possibility?
The latter two questions can be partially answered before we’ve even sampled, though they do dictate the type of sampling we’ll do. Sampling for mold can be performed in a few different ways. Unless we’ve been instructed by an insurance company or contractor to use a specific method, we’ll sample via any of the following three ways.
(Side note: many insurance companies require you to have mold sampling done. It is a invaluable first step in getting rid of a potential case of mold. It is official documentation of a problem, and is sometimes used in court or against landlords.)
So, how do we test for that?
1. Air samples.
We can gauge human-exposure levels indoors, and test for the airborne spread of spores. We take “culturable” or “non-culturable” (a.k.a. “spore trap”) samples. The “spore trap” is useful in cases where there isn’t much time, or if you’re just on a tight budget. We can also use PCM cassettes and some branded products, as well.
2. Dust samples.
These can essentially test the “history” of the air. Analysis depends on the location, moisture history, spore populations in the dust, and other factors. We would generally recommend this when a client or customer needs a “snapshot” understanding without very invasive methods.
3. Surface samples.
We would use surface samples to first test for mold growth on a given surface. Second, we are looking to answer: What kinds are present on that surface? Most surfaces in a home will contain at least a few varieties of spores, at different levels of population. We would use what’s called a “tape-lift imprint” to perform this test. We swab the surface and submit an actual part of the surface for further testing. This is for more extreme cases, as it necessarily requires more “invasive” sampling. When a whole carpet, set of wood paneling, or wallboard is possibly infected, this is probably the method to use.
The type of spores and the size of the possible case inform our sampling methods. While home kits are available, on-site inspection by a professional is irreplaceable and critical. Extra tips to keep these issues at bay are available from the EPA. Next week, we’ll be exploring the various “pros” and “cons” of these sampling methods!