Home Mold Tests Don’t Replace Mold Inspections
Buying a Home Mold Test Kit:
There are many home mold test kits available for the DIYers (do it yourselfers). Mold testing kits are available at many home improvement stores and can also be purchased online. These tests come with various mold detecting methods. You can find tests that use culture plate kits (petri dishes), swab type tests or tape lift samples.
Mold test kits cause fear to make money for mold test kit manufacturers.
Essentially, a home mold test kit tells you IF mold is present in your home, but not what types of mold. Since there is mold everywhere, chances are pretty much that home mold test kits will tell you have mold. ALL homes have mold in them. If the test kit doesn’t, its accuracy is questionable on fact that alone. The question really isn’t whether or not you have mold (because you do) but what TYPE of mold it is. There are 100.000 identified kinds of mold and there are only 50-60 that are harmful. This means that there is a .05-.06% chance that you have toxic mold.
Another reason home mold test kits aren’t the answer to your problems, is that inspecting the building for sources of moisture is imperative. Home mold test kits don’t help you pinpoint moisture in your house/building. Mold spores enter buildings through doors and windows, and usually are not a problem unless they have suitable nutrients for growth. All building materials can support mold growth IF sufficient moisture is present. Moisture can be a hidden enemy, developing problematic mold that a test kit won’t detect. Taking action on the moisture in your home is also a great prevention method. You may overlook or not know some of the places this moisture is hiding. Moisture can be condensation in a poorly ventilated attic, poor drainage on the exterior of a building, or cracks in the foundation. The source of moisture and where the molds have entered your home is not addressed. The best way to control mold growth is to control moisture. When hidden mold is suspected, a professional mold remediation specialist is required to avoid cross-contamination and exposure to spores that could be harmful to anyone in your home’s health. Mold affects your children more intensely than adults and even affects the animals and pets you own. Don’t let your best friends down.
What may seem obvious, but needs to be said, is that if you see mold it IS there. A home mold test kit is a waste of money in this situation since you can’t find the type of mold it is or find all those hidden locations like the ones mentioned above. If you happen to find a home mold test kit that “will” tell you the types of mold in your house by using a petri dish, etc. –BEWARE. Mold spores live in the air. Therefore, there is no guarantee where they will land, if they even land anywhere. Some types of mold spores will not make it to the kit so you will be unaware of them.
Sampling cannot be used to check a building’s compliance with federal mold standards.
The worst outcome that can come from a do-it-yourself mold test kit is negative results. This will give a false sense of security when in fact hidden mold problems do exist.
Once you’ve read this and established it is in your best interest to find a professional, the next step is finding the right mold inspector for you. Most professional mold inspectors understand the principles of microbiology, building science, engineering, and scientific methods that are required to conduct a meaningful mold investigation. These mold inspectors also follow analytical methods recommended by professional organizations such as methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).
Akin to a normal, common situation like finding a doctor or lawyer, you must be careful of scams or posers. Also, some mold inspectors may specialize in different environments, such as commercial buildings and schools vs residential homes. Your mold problem is not the same as everyone else’s.
How do I find a qualified Mold Inspector?
Call at least two mold inspection companies to get a price quote. When you call make sure to ask these questions to get a feel for the company to make sure you’re confident in their abilities to solve your problems.
Questions To Ask Your Mold Inspector or Mold Inspection Company
- What qualifications do you have to perform mold testing?
- What certifications does your company have? What are the qualifications of your mold inspectors?
(Note: Ask what the certification requirements for any certifications they have either as a company or the individuals who will be performing the work. There are many certifications with some requiring much more work than others. Some are probably quite simple and, unfortunately, do not connote qualification to perform a mold inspection. Further, some may require a lot of work, but are not related to nor do they touch on mold itself. Take a moment to look online to find out what’s required for any certifications they list.)
- How many mold inspections did the person who will inspect my property do in the last year? How long he/she been in this line of work?
- What is your hourly rate?
- What is your philosophy regarding mold sampling?
(Tip: You’re looking for conflicts of interest here. Does the mold inspector always recommend mold testing? Or are there situations where he/she says mold testing is not needed?)
- What are the costs of each air and surface mold sample?
- How many mold samples do you normally take?
- Do you perform the mold sample analysis yourself? Do you perform mold remediation?
(Tip: You’re looking for conflicts of interest here. If they also perform remediation, they have a vested interest in finding mold to clean up.)
- Do you receive any kickbacks, commissions, or referral fees for sending work to mold remediation specialists?
- How long has the mold remediation specialist you recommend been in business and what are their qualifications?
- How long has your mold lab been in business and what are the lab’s qualifications?
- Do you have references from work done in the past year that I can call to ask how the work went?
- What are your payment terms?
(Tip: Be cautious of paying up front for the entire mold testing job.)
The benefits far outweigh those of do-it-yourself mold test kits. To find professional mold testers in your area, just follow the link.
Note that mold inspectors are different than home inspectors. Home inspectors are used when buying or selling homes and look at the big picture. Mold inspectors are always useful and they have the credentials for testing mold and offering analysis, not the home inspectors.