What To Know About Mold Testing In Your Home in 2024

mold testing

You know that feeling when you walk into a room and something just feels…off? Maybe there’s a slight musty odor or an odd discoloration on the wall, you aren’t even sure if something is actively wrong, but something in your gut tells you something’s amiss. That’s when mold testing comes into play.

Mold testing can help reveal if a silent, often unseen problem might be impacting the air you and your family breathe.

Experts suggest that getting professional mold testing done even if visible mold is present, as it provides a more comprehensive assessment of the situation.

Concerned of mold in your home? Visit Free Mold Inspections New Mexico to get started!

Mold in Our Homes: An Unseen Threat

First, let’s address a key point that might surprise you: All indoor environments naturally have mold spores floating around in them. Mold is everywhere.

This fact alone can lead to confusion, and those dealing with mold often struggle to differentiate normal background mold from actual growth inside their home. There’s a big difference between some rogue mold spores simply hanging out (which is normal), and an active infestation.

A professional mold inspection uses specialized equipment to identify the issue, determining if airborne mold spores are at background levels or indicate active growth and contamination.

The Big Lie About Black Mold

Another misconception that I’ve run into surrounds black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum ).

People tend to get really worked up about toxic black mold because they think that’s the only type that can potentially harm their health.

Here’s a fact, almost all molds contain compounds called mycotoxins . The word “ toxic ” gets thrown around pretty loosely in this space, although mycotoxins canharm human health – they’re everywhere.

Even those seemingly innocent mold colonies with cheerful blue and green hues or those wispy white strands you find growing in your basement? They contain them too.

Why Testing Matters, Even If You Already See the Problem

Although visible mold in your bathroom grout or under the sink might seem relatively harmless at a glance, what you see is probably only the tip of the iceberg.

That little fuzzy cluster? It means that colony is actively spreading spores, potentially throughout the entire house, behind your walls or even lurking in the deepest recesses of your ductwork.

While mold exists naturally outdoors, it can become a concern when it finds its way indoors.

Here’s where mold testing shines: It reveals not only *where* the problem is – but how extensive it is.

What You Can Do Right Now to Get Started With Mold Testing

First of all, take a good hard look around your home.

The telltale signs are discolored patches or spots (blue, white, gray, black or pink), and anything resembling spider webs, moss, or even little mushroom-like growths in especially moist areas.

That familiar “old book” or musty smell that sometimes emanates from closets or crawl spaces, that unmistakable and unpleasant aroma is also a tell.

And those are just a few examples.

Choosing the Right Testing Methods

Okay, you’ve found some mold or strongly suspect it’s lurking in those shadows, now what? Well, just knowing there’s a mold problem isn’t always enough.

The type of mold present makes a difference.

For instance, black mold and fusarium can cause some pretty serious health issues and tend to require a more aggressive mold removal approach, not something you can typically take care of yourself. choosing-the-right-mold-testing-methods

  • If your inspector does confirm the presence of more pernicious varieties like toxic black mold (which often looks nearly identical to ulocladium , which is relatively harmless), don’t try to take care of this on your own. They will then outline the next steps based on the testing, helping guide you toward safe remediation.
  • However, a surface swab of those obvious mold patches doesn’t necessarily provide you with enough data. For a comprehensive evaluation, a combination approach of air sampling for mold inspections is preferred.
  • A qualified mold inspector will take both a swab and use specialized air cell testing devices. Here’s how it works, those machines get strategically positioned in different parts of your home to trap rogue mold spores throughout a series of samples.
  • Think about the location of the visible mold for the next step. If you found mold under your kitchen sink or at the edge of your tub or shower surround, you probably want to get swab samples from behind appliances and possibly in the wall spaces just between the tile and drywall.

The pros who have completed professional training take a close look at these air cell samples at their lab. Most labs treat them with dyes and view them under the microscope to identify not just *what* is there, but *how much*.

This staining process also illuminates the growth patterns and number of mold spores in each air sample to create an actionable report.

I usually also suggest a mold culture test which involves transferring those captured spores onto a substance designed to make them grow quickly. While mold culturing may be slightly old-fashioned, it allows inspectors to figure out whether or not they’re actively alive.

To illustrate, the results of both testing methods get broken down into two easy-to-understand tables below:

Testing Method Type of Information Gathered
Air Cell Sampling This test allows for identification and quantification of mold spore type and number throughout your home
Mold Culturing Identifies whether or not spores from each area are actively growing (viable). Cultures that grow fast indicate that species of mold is particularly hearty.

Even experienced homeowners who know the risks of indoor mold often find themselves facing misleading test results or even blatant misuse of air-quality data.

With this in mind, a mold test doesn’t provide enough evidence to completely absolve anyone who’s had repeated exposures in the past.

I don’t always endorse DIY mold testing because in my experience, most testing simply *can’t* reliably prove the problem is entirely absent, whether that’s due to how they collect samples or simple variability over time.

Where You Find a Pro To Help With Mold Testing

As mentioned, testing by someone highly qualified is crucial for accurate and helpful mold testing results. With this in mind, here are several resources:

  • The National Association of Mold Remediators and Inspectors (NAMRI)
  • Take a look at The American Industrial Hygiene Association’s website
  • Check out The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists’ resource page
  • Visit the page of professionals and certified mold testers at Free Mold Inspections New Mexico .

FAQs about Mold Testing

How can you test for mold in your house?

Mold testing generally includes air sampling and surface swabs. Air tests use specialized cassettes placed in multiple home areas, requiring professional machines and lab analysis. For visible patches, inspectors swab the area for direct sampling.

What are the signs you are sick from mold?

Isolating symptoms caused by mold can be tricky. Common symptoms of mold toxicity include headaches, sinus issues, persistent cough or sore throat, sneezing or runny nose, and brain fog and memory issues. For more information, check this blog about warning signs of mold toxicity.

Are home mold tests accurate?

Home mold tests are available in stores, but they are often inaccurate and can give false negatives. Certified mold specialists may not accept DIY tests for guiding remediation. It’s best to rely on professional testing for accurate results.

How accurate are air mold tests?

Air mold tests by licensed professionals using ERMI techniques are highly accurate, identifying up to 40 mold species from a single dust sample. For best results, choose a company with strong credentials following government protocols. Avoid at-home tests, which may be inaccurate.

breathe-easy-live-safe-take-action-with-mold-testing-today

Breathe Easy, Live Safe: Take Action with Mold Testing Today!

Although mold testing can feel scary or confusing, remember, you’re not alone in dealing with mold growth in homes.

If you’re thinking about ordering a do-it-yourself mold test kit, keep its limitations in mind.  Ultimately, hiring a licensed mold inspector and relying on reliable third-party resources – like government agencies  such as the Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) for guidance – that’s your surest bet to breathe a bit easier.

Don’t wait for mold to spread in your property. Call Free Mold Inspections New Mexico and get the help you need with certified mold testing.

505-349-0074 | Free Inspection