Recent Mold Remediation Posts
Mold can cause significant damage to your property. Fortunately, SERVPRO of Western Essex County professionals have the training, protective gear, and specialized equipment necessary to handle your mold problem affecting your residential and commercial property.
Inspection and Damage Assessment
Your property will be carefully inspected for signs of mold using technology designed to detect hidden water sources that could lead to mold. Depending on the amount of mold found, we may refer the services of an environmental testing company for your protection.
Various containment procedures will be placed to prevent the spread of mold and isolate the contaminated area with physical barriers and negative air pressure to keep the mold spores from spreading during the cleanup process.
Specialized filtration equipment captures microscopic mold spores out of the air. SERVPRO of Western Essex County technicians utilize powerful air scrubbers and HEPA vacuums to prevent the spread of these mold spores while the mold remediation is in progress.
Depending on the level of mold damage, drywall, sub floors, and other building materials may be removed. Restoration may involve repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet; or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business.
If you suspect a mold issue in your home or business, please give us a call at 866-361-3400, to schedule an inspection. We have highly trained professionals ready to take care of your property needs
Mold: When To Call The Experts
Experienced homeowners know that mold comes with the territory. Often, a little elbow grease will do the trick to get rid of it, but not always. It’s important to be educated about mold to know when it’s time to ask for professional help.
Below you’ll find three mold facts to help determine when to call for professional mold remediation services.
Did you know that mold is airborne? Mold spores spread through the air - which means it can spread quickly and far.
Because mold spores are airborne, they can also cause health side effects like allergies and respiratory issues, and even skin irritation. If you’ve noticed these adverse reactions, it may be time to call in an expert.
Mold can grow in the walls of your home - especially untreated drywall that is porous. To get rid of mold in the walls, often the infected section of the wall has to be removed.
If a mold colony has grown larger than 10 sq. feet in the wall, it’s time to ask an expert for help.
All mold needs to grow is water or humidity. That makes the bathroom or even the basement the most common locations for mold. Because mold is common in these places, you may think you can handle it on your own. But if the infestation continues to reoccur, the problem might be worse than you think.
If you have a mold problem that just won’t go away, call SERVPRO® of Western Essex County today. SERVPRO of Western Essex County will make it like it never happened.
Water damage is difficult for home and business owners—due not only to the damage it can cause but also because of the unique health hazards and risks it can present.
One of those dangerous risks is mold growth. The CDC has many negative symptoms associated with mold exposure that are well-documented, and the problem is exacerbated because of how quickly mold can begin growing.
If your home has been affected by water damage and you’re concerned about mold growth, there are steps you can take to help stop mold from taking hold:
Before You Get Started
- Never re-enter your building before officials have deemed it safe and are positive all water has receded.
- Take photos and videos of damage throughout—making sure to include damage done to furniture and walls—for insurance claim purposes.
Drying Should Begin Right Away
- Begin vacuuming with a heavy-duty, outdoor vacuum before the cleanup crew arrives.
- Weather permitting, open windows and doors to maximize airflow for as long as possible.
- Make use of fans, dehumidifiers and heaters to speed up drying time.
Items Exposed to Water Should Be Sorted
- Porous materials exposed to water damage, such as wood, upholstery and paper of any kind, can trap mold and should be discarded.
- Non-porous materials—such as metal, plastic and glass—can often be cleaned, disinfected and reused.
- It is important to note that drying carpet will not necessarily remove mold spores if they’ve already begun to grow.
A Professional Should Always Be Consulted
In some cases, carpets can be salvaged after water damage. However, experts typically recommend replacing the carpet pad at a minimum.
Mold is incorrectly associated with discolorations and foul odors when the reality is that mold can often lurk unnoticed long before it is seen. While replacing the carpet pad is less costly than a full re-carpeting of the home, only a professional can determine if this is adequate enough to prevent mold from spreading.
If you’re worried about cleanup associated with mold growth and water damage, SERVPRO® of Western Essex County can help you restore your home and remediate any mold issues you may have.
Ways You Can Prevent Mold Growth After Water Damage
Most homeowners and renters are familiar with the common household annoyance that is mold. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean that common solutions will always work to fix it. Sometimes, mold requires more than a simple cleaning and you need to hire professional remediation services.
But when is that time? This blog is meant to offer information about mold that will help you decide if and when you need call an expert.
- Is the mold a common occurrence?
Places in your home, like the bathroom, that are often damp and humid are the most likely places for mold to grow. But that could also mean the attic or basement are prime spots for mold as well. If mold keeps recurring in these places, even after several scrubs, your problem may be bigger than you think.
- Is the mold in a hard to reach place?
You might not know it, but mold likes to grow in or behind the walls too. Because it tends to be hidden in these places, it’s sometimes too late once you find mold in the wall. Often, the mold-infested section has to be removed.
- Is the mold causing health problems?
Mold allergies are just as common as mold. Less common, but more serious, are the other respiratory issues that mold can cause. Mold can also cause skin irritation. Mold spores travel through the air, so mold-related health problems are usually indicative of a larger problem.
If your answer to any of these question is yes, it’s time for you to hire a pro to get rid of the mold in your home. Call SERVPRO® of Western Essex County today to get life back on track.
Surprising places Where Mold Hides in Your Home
- Beneath Your Sink- Mold tends to thrive in warm, moist, and dark environments, just like your kitchen your bathroom sink. You should check these areas for condensation or any plumbing leaks. Wipe down the interior of the cabinet with a bleach-based solution to prevent mold from spreading.
- Inside Your Toothbrush Holder- Your glass or ceramic container may be the perfect spot to store your tooth brush, but it is also leaves room for mold to grow inside. It thrives on the water that drips from your tooth brush into the container. Make sure to rinse and dry your holder on a regular basis to prevent mold from growing.
- Filing Cabinets- Remember, paper is made of wood pulp, which mold love to feast on. Let’s say your house has experienced water damage or high humidity- the paper files could become damp leaving behind a mold feeding frenzy. Contaminated paper can be difficult to stop permanent damage to your files. Be cautious about storing items in damp boxes, attics, or basements, and opt in for a dehumidifier in your home.
- Toys- Have kids? Small children put everything in their mouths. Toys can accumulate bacteria and moisture, making them prone to mold growth. Give the toys a regular trip to the dishwasher or washing machine to keep mold at bay.
- Appliances Seals and Drip Pans- Where there is moisture, there can be mold! The seals, coils, and drip pans on many household appliances retain moisture, which makes it a perfect hangout spot for mold. Try to regularly clean these hidden spots to prevent mold growth.
- Carpets and Upholstery- Drapes, curtains, upholstery, and carpeting trap a lot of dirt, skin cells, and dust, which are all food for mold spores. And of course, with mishaps like spills or plumbing leaks, you have yourself the perfect breeding ground for mold. Vacuuming regularly, washing with mold-inhibiting cleaning solutions, and drying carpets or upholstery thoroughly after a spill can help prevent mold infestation.
- Plumbing and Ductwork- To prevent mold growth on plumbing and ductwork, reduce indoor humidity levels to between 30 and 50 percent by weatherizing your home, fixing leaks, and running a dehumidifier. You can also try installing an ultraviolet lighting system that will destroy mold spores as air passes through the ducts.
- Around Boilers and Water Heaters- Very commonly, boilers and water heaters typically have drains to rid of excess moisture and condensation that builds up during normal operation. These drains can become clogged or rusted, inhibiting liquid from being properly removed. This can encourage mold growth on the walls, floors, and even the air. Regularly clean your HVAC units drains to ensure that they are working properly.
Myths about Mold
Myth #1: Mold only grows om paper, wood, and other organic material
- The truth of the matter is, mold will grow on just about any surface. Glass, fiberglass, and steel are no exception.
- Mold spores are always in the air, and as long as there is moisture and particulate matter such as dust, mold can grow.
- The only effective way to control mold is to control the moisture
- Try installing dehumidifiers and fans in basements and kitchens,
Myth #2: Water intrusion is inevitable
- Being aware of any leaks around your house, like bathroom faucets, showers and toilets can easily help prevent water intrusion.
- Homeowners are urged to stay alert for signs of mold, including dampness, odors, discoloration, peeling paint, condensation, and mold outbreaks.
- Be on the lookout for slightly furry, discolored, or slimy patches that grow over time.
Myth #3: Mold is the only problem associated with water and mildew intrusion
- Mold, insects, and other pests enjoy damp environments. Dampness can also damage crucial building materials, such as your home’s foundation.
- Make sure you find where the water and mildew are entering and find measures to prevent it.
- If your building materials are already damp or mold-infested, replace them with dry alternatives immediately.
Have you noticed discoloration in your bathroom surfaces? Pink mold can be unpleasant to look at but follow these tips and kick this mold to the curb for good!
Unlike Cladosporium, or the notorious black mold, pink “mold” at all. The discoloration that you see comes from a biofilm of Serratia marcescens. It thrives in moist areas like your shower. It feeds on mineral deposits in soap scum and fatty deposits in soap and shampoo residue. Although it may be harmless to some, this mold can cause some illnesses such as a urinary tract or bladder infections if it enters the body through the eyes or open wound. Luckily, the pink to almost red coloring the mold produces makes it much easier to pin point and remove from shower, walls, floors, countertops, shower doors, and curtain liners.
- The biofilm of Serratia marcescens can be removed through a little elbow grease. Start by mixing a quarter-cup baking soda and a tablespoon of liquid dish soap in a small bowl. Try to limit your exposure to the bacteria by wearing gloves and protective glasses. Vigorously scrub down any visible patches of biofilm on hard surfaces in the shower with a soft bristle brush. Rinse away any loosen biofilm.
- Make sure to disinfect these same areas. It is not enough just to scrub away the biofilm. You must disinfect to get rid of any lingering bacteria to prevent it from returning. Bleach is your best option for killing any last bit of bacteria left behind. Pour six ounces each of chlorine bleach powder and warm water into a 12-ounce spray bottle. Spray the solution over the hard surfaces and let it sit for 10 minutes. Use a fresh soft bristle brush to scrub down surfaces, rinse down the surface, and dry with a clean towel.
- Sanitize your shower curtains. It is a popular hangout spot for pink mold since curtains are rarely cleaned and usually riddled with soap and shampoo residue. Run your curtains through the washing machine on a gentle wash cycle preferably with warm water and let it air dry before hanging back up. This will effectively remove any Serratia marcescens bacteria.
- Serratia marcescens is more likely to spread in damp areas, so make sure to dry or squeegee hard surfaces after every use to remove excess water.
- Use a damp towel to wipe away soap residue that collects in the shower after every use.
- Identify and repair leaking shower heads or faucets that may create excessive dampness in the shower.
Here at SERVPRO of Western Essex County we have highly trained mold remediation technicians that can properly resolve mold infestation. We provide services such as mold remediation and mold removal.
Molds are usually not an indoor problem unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. It takes no less than 48 hours for mold to quickly spread throughout your home.
Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints. Home owners have to understand that there is no way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in indoor environments but there are ways to control indoor mold growth.
If mold is a problem in your home, you can call SERVPRO of Wessex County at (973) 994-1640 to help assist you.
DIY Mold Test for Home
You can expect mold and mildew outside your home because of the natural damp conditions of the outdoors. Mold and mildew inside the home is a different problem, because the inside of your home shouldn’t remain damp.
The presence of moisture is the biggest contributor to mold growth, and to fight the infestation you should conduct a room-by-room assessment of the house to identify problem areas. The moisture can come from condensation due to poor ventilation (attic), from a water leak (around bathrooms), or from outdoor intrusion (foundation walls).
Mold and mildew in a home is not always easy to detect if it exists within attics or is hidden within walls. If you suspect your indoor air quality is hindered by hidden mold, you can conduct your own DIY test to detect a problem.
The EHT staff recently conducted the Healthful Home 5-Minute Mold Test in a finished basement that had suffered some previous flooding problems. The air seemed fine in the room, but the old moisture issues suggested that if there were to be a mold problem in the house then it was likely to occur in this room.
The test is easy to accomplish. Simply use one of the cotton swabs included with the kit to sample surface dust in the room. Soak the swab tip in the “rinse buffer” liquid (included) and then drip five drops of the liquid onto the two test strips that come with the kit. One strip is labeled Asp/Pen (Aspergillus and/or Penicillium) and the other is labeled Stachybortrys.
Test results show in as little as 5 minutes, and much like a pregnancy test you’ll either see one line (negative results) or two lines (positive).
If the test is positive, however, it does not necessarily mean you have a serious problem but that you should consider consulting a professional indoor air quality inspector or a remediation service professional. You can also have an optional laboratory analysis of your test results conducted for an additional fee.
Fighting the Mold you Find
If you discover mold on the home’s interior, the first step in solving the problem is to eliminate the source of moisture—whatever that may be. Otherwise, any mold or mildew you clean is likely to return.
For minor problems you may be able to clean the surface of the materials with bleach or an antimicrobial cleaner. For major problems, remove materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned of mold and mildew, like insulation, carpeting or drywall. Use your antimicrobial cleaner to clean the surrounding area as well as the places where you actually see mold and mildew, to make sure you remove all traces of the substances.
Finally, replace the removed building materials with new, mold-free materials.
You can learn more about the 5-minute Mold Test at myhealthfulhome.com. or you can visit our website at www.SERVPROwessex.com. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SERVPROwessex.
or simply give us a call at 973-994-7640
Preventing Mold Growth
Hurricane season is officially upon us and the potential damage that storms can leave behind is limitless. For some properties, the severe weather will result in water damage, caused by flooding. In an effort to help homeowners recover, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) is offering tips about restoring damaged HVAC systems and avoiding mold growth when flooding occurs.
According to the American Red Cross, floods are the most frequent and costly natural disasters. When flooding occurs, homes are prone to extreme water damage and in many cases, mold.
NADCA recommends hiring a certified contractor to inspect potentially damaged air handling systems when flooding occurs. It’s almost impossible to avoid the effects of natural disasters. Water damage and flooding are sometimes unavoidable when natural disasters hit, but consulting with a NADCA-certified contractor after a disaster will help homeowners determine next steps.
NADCA urges these individuals to consider the following, to help prolong the longevity of their air handling unit and avoid mold contamination:
- Use dehumidifiers to dry out the structure of the home effected. This will help keep the humidity low and the ventilation system dry.
- If the electric is still working, turn it off to avoid damaging your HVAC system.
- If sheetrock and insulation appears extremely wet, remove it as soon as possible. If left untouched, this can be a food source for growing mold.
- If you suspect the water damage in your home has resulted in mold growth, be sure to wear a respirator to protect yourself whenever you are in the infected area.
What Happens After a Flood: Mold Remediation
LAS VEGAS– (October 1, 2015) – Have you ever wondered what happens when a mold removal specialist gets called to a mold-damaged facility? The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) shares five steps a mold removal specialist takes when conducting mold remediation.
“Many people aren’t aware of the dangers, nor the difficulty level of removing mold from a facility,” said IICRC Chairman Tony Wheelwright. “Mold remediation is a potentially hazardous process that should only be undertaken by a certified professional.”
Five steps that each mold-removal specialist takes when conducting mold remediation includes:
1. Determine the degree of contamination. The first step for a mold remediation specialist may be to bring in an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) to determine the extent of the mold damage and test for contamination within the facility. Because mold spores and other microscopic contaminants can travel easily throughout a building, the IEP may collect and analyze samples from affected as well as unaffected areas of the building. Once the IEP has finished the inspection they will develop a remediation plan for the mold removal specialist with steps to return the home to its preloss condition (Condition 1).
2. Set up and verify containment. To make sure mold contamination does not spread to other areas of a facility, the mold remediation specialist will set up containment by creating isolation barriers. Once the barriers are set up, the specialist will need to verify the containment with a lower partial pressure differential (negative pressure) to ensure there is no air leakage between containment zones. Exit chambers would then be used to serve as a transition between the containment and the unaffected area of the building. Once the containment is verified and the correct amount of pressure is achieved, the removal process can begin.
3. Remove unsalvageable materials. Porous materials and items that cannot be restored or cleaned effectively must be carefully discarded. Unsalvageable items include but are not limited to drywall, insulation and other items with visible mold growth. It is important for the specialist to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment which may include a full face respirator equipped with a P100/OV cartridge, disposable coveralls and nitrite gloves.
4. Clean surfaces with a high-attention to detail. A mold remediation specialist will likely begin the cleaning process by thoroughly vacuuming the contaminated areas using a HEPA vacuum with a high-efficiency filter to catch mold spores. He or she will then begin a detailed cleaning process involving mold removal tools such as a HEPA filtered sander, followed by the damp wiping of surfaces with an effective cleaning solution.
5. Verify remediation. Once cleaning is complete, the IEP will return to too to verify the remediation was successful. The area must be returned to the dry standard and should be visually dust free with no malodors. In addition an IEP may perform surface or air sampling as part of the verification that the area is back to normal fungal ecology (Condition 1).
“Mold remediation requires mold removal specialists to perform techniques that promote source removal rather than relying on chemicals, paints and coatings as a replacement,” said Rachel Adams, President of Indoor Environmental Management, Inc. “Understanding and managing air flow is also critical to the success of a mold remediation project. Working with qualified IEP can also help to reduce the liability for the technician as well as provide a final determination if the remediation was successful.”
For more information on mold remediation or the latest in mold remediation standards, visit the IICRC website at http://www.IICRC.org. About IICRC The IICRC is a global, ANSI-accredited Standards Developing Organization (SDO) that credentials individuals in 20+ categories within the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries. Representing more than 54,000 certified technicians and 6,000 Certified Firms in 22 countries, the IICRC, in partnership with regional and international trade associations, represents the entire industry. The IICRC does not own schools, employ instructors, produce training materials or promote specific product brands, cleaning methods or systems. For more information, visit www.IICRC.org.
The Mold Mitigation and Remediation Process
When there’s a water intrusion, like a roof leak or leaking water line, mold can quickly become a problem in your home or business. Mold can affect your health and can also cause significant damage to your property. Fortunately, SERVPRO® of Western Essex County Professionals have the training, protective gear, and specialized equipment necessary to handle your mold problem. Although every mold damage scenario is different, requiring a unique solution, the general mold remediation process stays the same. The following steps illustrate a “typical” mold removal process.
Call Your Local SERVPRO® of Western Essex County Professionals The mold cleanup and restoration
process begins when you call our SERVPRO’s Call Center. A representative will ask a series of questions to help determine the necessary equipment, resources, and personnel needed.
Inspection & Damage Assessment
Your property will be carefully inspected for signs of mold using technology designed to detect mold and hidden water sources. Mold feeds on cellulose and water which can be hidden from plain view.
Various containment procedures will be placed to prevent the spread of mold and isolate the contaminated area with physical barriers and negative air pressure to keep the mold spores from spreading during the cleanup process.
Specialized filtration equipment captures microscopic mold spores out of the air. Our SERVPRO® technicians utilize powerful air scrubbers and HEPA vacuums to prevent the spread of these mold spores while the mold remediation is in progress.
Removing Mold & Mold-Infested Materials
The mold remediation process depends on the amount of mold growth and the types of surfaces on which the mold appears. Anti-fungal and antimicrobial treatments will be used to eliminate mold colonies and help prevent new colonies from forming. Removing and disposing of mold-infested porous materials, like drywall and flooring, may be necessary to re-mediate heavy mold growth.
Cleaning Contents & Belongings
SERVPRO® of Western Essex County Professionals clean your furniture, decorative items, curtains, and other restorable items affected by mold. They use a variety of cleaning techniques to clean and sanitize your belongings. They are also trained to remove odors and deodorize using fogging equipment.
Depending on the level of mold damage, drywall, subfloors, and other building materials may be removed. Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet, or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business. SERVPRO® of Western Essex County Professionals understand mold and mold growth and have the training and equipment to remediate mold in your home or business
How to Prevent Mold
The main things mold needs to grow in a home are organic materials to feed on and moisture. In houses there are always plenty of organic materials for mold to live on such as wood, drywall and various other building materials.
Moisture, on the other hand, can be controlled practically and so keeping the moisture in your home low is the best way to prevent mold growth.
Prevent Mold by Preventing Moisture
Most molds need 24-48 hours of moisture to begin to grow. Therefore if a suitable material in your home is wet for more than 24 hours then you run the risk of mold starting to grow.
Prevent Mold by Preventing Water Leaks
There are a few main things which usually cause moisture problems in the home. One is water leaks. These include things such as leaking roofs or walls, leaking pipes and leaking taps or a leaking shower.
If you know of any leaks in your home you should fix them without delay. You might need to inspect your home to find any water leaks you didn't know about.
Prevent Mold by Preventing Condensation
Condensation is another frequent cause of moisture. Condensation forms on cold surfaces when water vapor in the air cools and becomes liquid. Often you'll see condensation on metal pipes, concrete walls, water tanks and windows.
One way to reduce condensation is to keep the temperature warmer in rooms. For example, by installing insulation. You can also insulate the surfaces themselves such as putting coverings over metal pipes. You'll also have less condensation occurring if you keep the humidity in your home low.
Prevent Mold by Reducing HumidityDehumidifier
Many species of mold can begin to grow from humidity alone if the humidity stays high for long enough. In fact the humidity only needs to be higher than 55% before some molds can begin to grow.
The best way to keep humidity low in your home is through ventilation. Open the windows during the day, especially when it's hot since this is when humidity is usually the lowest outside. Close your windows when it's raining outside though.
It's especially important to ventilate the rooms where steam and moisture builds up, like the kitchen and bathroom. Exhaust fans help to reduce the humidity when doing things like cooking or washing dishes.
Air conditioners can also reduce household humidity, as can using dehumidifiers in your home.
Wet Clothes and Preventing Mold
One common cause of moisture problems in homes is wet clothes. After you've washed your clothes you should immediately dry them. Don't leave them sitting in a wet pile for a long time. Make sure not to leave any wet clothes lying around waiting to be washed too.
It's best to dry your clothes outside on a clothes line if you can. Hanging them inside on a clothes horse or indoor clothes line will not dry them as quickly and the moisture from your clothes will evaporate into the air, raising the humidity. If you dry them in a clothes dryer inside your home then you should exhaust the air outdoors if possible. In either case make sure the room where you're drying your clothes is well ventilated.
Mold and Clothes
Once mold has begun to grow in your home it's not enough to just take away the mold's moisture source. Mold that runs out of moisture can lie dormant for a long time without dying. So if you already have mold growth in your home you need to take steps to have it removed.
Mold Removal and Remediation
Mold Food Sources and Cleaning to Prevent Mold
Mold grows and feeds on organic substances such as wood or cotton. Mold should not grow on surfaces like plastic, metal or glass unless there is a layer of grease or some other organic substance which it can feed on.
Some materials mold commonly grows on in the home include wood, carpet, food, paper, insulation, wallpaper, paint, wallpaper glue, plasterboard, fabrics, cotton, books, leather, chipboard, furniture, dust, ceiling tiles, inside air conditioners and almost any other organic material.
You should clean regularly to reduce dirt and grime which mold can live on. Dust and vacuum often, ideally with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtered vacuum cleaner to remove dust and other substances that mold can grow off of. It has been found that 80% of mold grows on dust.
For more information about vacuum cleaners and mold visit Vacuum Mold.
Minimizing Mold Spores to Prevent Mold
Mold spores are everywhere in the air outside. They float through buildings all the time and there is no practical way to remove all mold spores indoors.
However if the concentration of mold spores inside is significantly higher than outside then it can start to cause health issues. A higher amount of mold spores also increases the potential for mold problems to start.
Mold spores enter homes through windows, doors, air ducts, etc. They can also be transported inside attached to skin, clothing, hair, pets, etc.
Although you cannot eliminate all mold spores inside your home or prevent all mold spores from entering, minimizing the amount of spores will prevent you from suffering mold related health problems and lessen the chance of mold beginning to grow in your home.
To minimize mold spores clean and dust often. Also vacuum your home regularly, preferably with a HEPA vacuum cleaner to remove mold spores. HEPA air filters in your home also help remove mold spores from the air.
Sunlight to Prevent Mold
Mold loves dark spaces indoors to grow in. Allowing sunlight in will reduce the chances of mold growing so open the curtains in rooms during the day to let natural light in.
Warmth and Preventing Mold
Mold generally does not grow in cold environments. Warm, humid conditions are ideal for mold growth. Most molds need temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) or more to grow.
Air conditioners to regulate the temperature of your house can help prevent mold growth.
How to Identify Mold
Mold testing can tell you if you have a mold problem in your home. Mold tests can also help you find hidden mold, measure your indoor air quality and identify what species of mold is in your home.
Professional Mold Testing
It's best to have mold testing performed for you by a qualified mold professional. Hiring a professional mold tester who is experienced at collecting and analyzing mold samples will always lead to the most accurate results.
Mold Test Kits
You can purchase mold test kits which you can use to collect mold samples yourself. This is a less expensive option than having a mold tester test your home. The samples you collect will be sent away to a professional mold testing laboratory which will get back to you with the results.
A mold test gives you a snapshot of the amount of mold particles in a certain area at a certain time. But the amount of mold spores fluctuates over time and from place to place.
Because of this it's a good idea to test at several different times and in different locations in your home. This way you will get a more complete and accurate picture of the mold problem in your home.
Types of Mold Tests
The three main types of mold tests are:
- Air testing
- Surface testing
- Bulk testing
Ideally you should use all three types of tests since each have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Air Testing for Mold
Air sampling tests the concentration of mold spores in your home's air. Samples are taken from the air and are later examined under a microscope.
Air tests can tell you if you have a mold problem even if you cannot find the mold growth. However the amount of mold spores in the air can change drastically in a small amount of time, giving varying results at different times.
Surface Testing for Mold
Surface testing takes samples from household surfaces to find the amount of mold growth and spores deposited around the home. Samples are collected by swabbing, tape lifting or other methods. The sample is then examined in a laboratory.
Like with air testing the results can vary because mold growth and spores aren't spread evenly across surfaces in the home and can change over time. Unlike air testing though, surface tests can't identify the exact concentration of mold spores in the air.
Bulk Testing for Mold
Bulk testing involves collecting pieces of material from the home. The material is then taken to a laboratory where mold particles on the material can then be examined under a microscope. Bulk tests can tell you if you have a mold problem and give you an idea of the concentration of mold particles in your home.
Culture Tests for Mold
Culture tests are where mold particles in a sample from the home are grown into larger mold colonies in a lab. This way culture tests identify the species of molds in houses.
Only mold particles that are still alive can be grown. Other tests can detect both living and non-living mold in a home but can't always identify the species of molds.
Why You Should Test for Mold
The main reasons for having mold testing performed in your home are:
- You notice signs of mold such as a mold smell or mold symptoms
- To identify the species of mold in your home
- To help you find where mold is growing
- To test indoor air quality by measuring the amount of spores in the air
- To test if mold in your home has been fully removed
One sign you could have mold is a mold smell. If you notice a moldy smell in your home there's a good chance you could have mold hidden somewhere.
Identifying Mold Species
Another reason for mold testing is if you want to find out what kind of species of mold is in your home. This is important for toxic molds since extra caution needs to be taken to safely remove toxic mold from the home.
Two well known toxic molds are Stachybotrys (often called toxic black mold) and Aspergillus.
Mold Testing to Find Mold
Not only can mold testing tell you if you have a mold problem somewhere in your home, but it can also help you to find it.
Mold often grows hidden away behind walls and other places. Mold tests can help you narrow down the location of hidden mold by telling you the places in your home with the highest amount of mold spores.
You can find out places mold commonly grows in the home at Where Mold Grows.
Mold Testing for Indoor Air Quality
You can have mold testing done to tell you the amount of mold spores in the air.
Mold Testing after Removing Mold
Mold testing can be useful after you've had mold removed from your home. Through testing you can make sure that the mold removal was a success.
Surface sampling can show whether an area has been properly cleaned of mold. Having air testing some time after the mold removal can also confirm that mold spores in your home's air have been reduced to a safe level.
There's a guide to removing mold from your home at Mold Removal.
Mold Inspection before Testing
Before you turn to mold testing you should have a thorough mold inspection of your home done. If the inspection turns up mold then usually you don't need to do any mold testing. Instead you can move onto the mold removal stage.
But if you couldn't find any mold but still think you have a mold problem, or if you found some mold but think there is more hidden or that it could be toxic, then it's time to turn to mold testing.
10 Unexpected Places Where Mold Creeps Into Your Home
The Smith’s didn’t notice the mold and mildew smell in their home until they came home from vacation.
“What’s that smell?” John asked.
“Mildew. Maybe mold. Maybe I left some clothes in the washer,” Kathy said.
After an hour-long search, the couple couldn’t find a leak. So they called John’s brother David — a plumber. He came right over.
“The number one rule for checking for mold and mildew?” David said, “If it uses water, chances are it’s going to leak.”
These are 10 places many homeowners overlook when checking for mold:
Unless a dishwasher stops working or needs replacing or servicing, most of us don’t think about it as a potential source for mold. There are two connections under each dishwasher that have the potential for mold and mildew to get started–the water supply and the discharge connection. The water supply needs to be lubricated with the right sealant and properly tightened periodically. The discharge connection involves a rubber hose and clamp, and installing the hose before the dishwasher is installed ensures it is done properly. Hoses wear out over time. If you’re buying an older house, it doesn’t hurt to check the dishwasher connections — especially if there’s an odd smell when you open the door.
Refrigerators often get moved, either for cleaning or other projects. This can weaken or break the water line connection to the icemaker, causing leaks behind the refrigerator.
“It seems like a simple job, so in the real world the plumbing contractor doesn’t install the water line, another contractor does,” Hoffman said. “The connection is a compression fitting and it must be installed properly to ensure there are no leaks.”
Washing Machine Connections
When installing a washing machine, always install a brand new washing machine hose, using the rubber washers the manufacturer recommends. Also, use Teflon tape and make sure to tighten the connection with vice grips so there are no drips or leaks. After all, it doesn’t take many drips to create an environment for mold.
Hot Water Heater
“Many states have laws regarding the installation of hot water heaters, and most of them involve overflow pans that are piped to drain outside the house. The pan must be tilted ¼ inch to ensure the water does drain. Newer heaters with quick connect connectors should be properly lubricated and tightened so the shut-off valve doesn’t leak,” Hoffman said.
Under every sink in your home is a “P-Trap,” almost always made of PVC pipe, which expands, and contracts. This process eventually loosens the connection and allows water to leak onto the base of the cabinet. If you look under sinks in every room you’ll easily spot the stains and discoloration commonly caused by leaking P-Traps. Use Teflon tape to seal every P-Trap and check them periodically, tightening them by hand to ensure their connections don’t loosen and leak. Over tightening PVC can cause it to crack, so be careful.
“I’m amazed at how many steps the DIY home improvement shows leave out when they explain about how to install a toilet,” Hoffman said. “The base of the toilet is where most mold grows. Toilets should be installed with a horned wax ring, and then the base of the toilet grouted in with tile grout,” he said. “The grout serves as a filler between the bowl and the floor to keep the bowl from rocking. Rocking bowls are the number one reason for the wax ring being compromised, which then allows mold to get a foothold.”
Shower doors should probably be installed by plumbing contractors, Hoffman said. “They know how to keep them from leaking.” Mold growing at the base of the tub may be from leaking or improperly installed shower doors. Shower doors need caulking on all three rails — the two side rails as well as the bottom rail.
A properly caulked tub isn’t just nicer looking. It keeps water and moisture from dripping down under the tub and causing mold issues. Slab floors can create more problems — especially if installed by a DIY’er. The hole(s) in concrete slabs under tubs should be filled with a liquid tar, or expandable foam insulation to ensure moisture does not wick up from the ground through the slab.
Exterior Hose Bib
If you have a home, you have an exterior hose bib — a place where the water connection sticks out from the house. If you’ve used a hose, you know a poor connection or missing rubber washer, or loose hose can result in water spraying the house. This uncontrolled spray allows water to enter the space between the sidings, or into the wall, leading to mold growth. Make sure all holes, gaps and areas around every outdoor water connection are properly caulked and sealed.
Outdoor Water Sprinklers
Siding is engineered to shed rain falling down, not sprinklers shooting water up. Make sure your sprinklers are well away from the house when turned on. If you have children or teens that are watering the yard or garden, make sure they know not to spray the house with the hose. If power washing your home, hire a professional, or take care that water is not forced up under the siding as you wash.
As a homeowner, if you take the appropriate precautions and are vigilant about upkeep, you should be able to avoid mold, or catch it at it’s outset. While mold can be a huge problem in homes, even causing health issues, it is easily preventable.
Dealing with Mold and Humidity Threats in Vacation Residences
A closed-up vacation house can be a breeding ground for mold in the summer months. Moisture from a nearby lake or river, or the humidity in the air, can lead to that musty odor vacationers have come to expect upon arriving at their weekend getaway.
Mold is a particularly stealthy foe. It exists nearly everywhere in an inactive state, and all it needs to grow is a food source (drywall will do nicely), and a source of moisture, such as high humidity.
To get rid of the damp odor, most homeowners will turn on the air conditioner and maybe a dehumidifier and wait for the smell to go away. While much of the odor may dissipate in a few hours, the mold is still there. And, when they leave for a week, it’s back again when they return.
That smell is more than just unpleasant; it’s an indication that mold is actively growing, triggering allergies and affecting health. Left untreated, mold will continue to grow and spread and can damage walls, ceilings, carpeting, and more. Every time the house is closed up and the a/c is turned off, the moisture creeps back in and the mold begins growing again.
What can HVAC contractors do to help? First, it’s important to stress to customers that the key to preventing mold is to eliminate moisture. The first step is to address any leaks in roofing, chimneys, and foundations. Perhaps you can recommend someone who can do a thorough check and perform the repairs necessary to stop the leaks. If mold remediation is necessary, your customer should get bids from several companies that specialize in this, as it can be costly.
Reducing humidity through air conditioning is a key to controlling mold, but, of course, leaving the a/c on all summer long will run up utility bills. Fresh outside air is also critical, but vacation homeowners won’t want to leave windows open while they’re not using the property.
Some relatively new offerings in air conditioning systems can help manage mold problems. One example is a small-duct, high-velocity air handler, which has a unique cooling coil that removes 30 percent more humidity from the air than a traditional system. Eliminating moisture is critical in avoiding mold growth, so this feature is particularly important.
Another helpful technology is a continuously operating outdoor inverter unit that works so efficiently that homeowners can leave it on while they’re away without breaking the bank. It runs on various speeds — typically a very low speed — always striving for the most efficient operation by making small, incremental changes to keep a constant temperature. In a traditional system, every time the system cycles on it must ramp up to full operating power, requiring a tremendous amount of energy. You won’t have this issue with the inverter unit.
When cooling a summer home, the inverter technology is a great way for customers to keep air conditioning going when they’re gone, but at a lower cost.
Another great option is a ventilation system operated by a programmable control board. Based on the size of the home, the control board calculates how much fresh outside air to bring in at all times, opening and closing dampers as needed to maintain a healthy level of fresh air. Look for options that meet ASHRAE 62.2 standards for IAQ.
These newer technologies can go a long way toward reducing energy consumption while letting fresh air in and keeping mold problems at bay. More savings and fewer molds mean a healthier and happier vacation for everyone.