Why You Should Have Mold TestingThe main reason for having mold testing is if you think you might have a mold problem but you can't find where the mold is growing. In this case mold testing can tell you if you have mold in your home or not. Mold testing can also help you find the mold by indicating which rooms have the most mold spores.
Mold SymptomsA good reason for mold testing is if you are suffering allergies which you think could be from mold. Mold testing can tell you what concentration of mold spores is in the air in your home compared to the air outside.
If mold testing shows you have high amounts of mold spores in the air you can then take steps to fix the mold problem. On the other hand, if mold testing rules out any mold problem you can then look for the real cause of your allergies, having ruled out mold.
Testing to Identify MoldEven if you have already found mold you still might want to have mold testing done. This could be because you want to identify the species of the mold, especially if you suspect it might be toxic. Toxic molds should only be removed by a mold professional. (Black Toxic Mold Removal)
Signs that mold might be toxic include if you are suffering toxic symptoms or if the mold colony looks like a toxic mold species, eg Stachybotrys chartarum. There are also some mold tests which tell you if you have mycotoxins in your home. Mycotoxins are produced by toxic mold.
Testing to Make Sure Mold is GoneAnother reason for mold testing is to make sure that a mold removal was successful. Mold testing some time after you've removed mold from your home can let you be sure the mold problem is gone for good.
Professional Mold TestingIt's best to hire a professional to perform mold testing in your home. Professional mold testers know the best places to test in the home, the best times to test, the best types and variety of tests to perform (including both air and surface sampling), as well as how to properly perform them.
This means that having professional mold testing will always give you the most accurate results which you can have the most confidence in.
Mold Test KitsIf it's not practical to have professional mold testing you can still purchase mold test kits to collect mold samples yourself. Some mold test kits give you the results soon after you've collected samples, while others require that you send the samples away to be professionally analyzed in a lab.
The latter kind of mold test kits involve you first collecting a sample (for example by doing tape lifts on surfaces in your home) and then sealing it up and sending it to a lab. After a mold expert has looked at the sample under a microscope in the lab they will get back to you with the results, usually in a matter of days.
Types of Mold TestsThe two main types of mold tests are air tests and surface tests. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
For example, if there is mold growing in your home but it is not currently releasing a large amount of spores, a surface test would be better. However if mold in your home is sporulating then air sampling should work better. This is why you should have at least one test of each type performed in your home. If you hire a mold professional they should do both air and surface sampling during their mold testing.
Varying the Mold TestsNot only should you have different types of tests done but you should also have testing in different rooms and at different times. Mold tests take a snapshot of one moment in time, at one place. So varying the time and location of sampling will give you a more complete picture of the mold problem in your home.
The samples taken from different rooms should also be kept separate and labelled by room. This way you can find out which rooms have the most mold spores which can help you to find hidden mold.
Another thing to remember is that there is always small amounts of mold everywhere and so at least a slight mold presence will probably show up in mold tests. However mold only becomes a problem for people when there's a much higher level of spores in the home's air than you would normally find outside. This is why mold testing should compare the mold level inside to the amount of mold in the air outside.
Getting the Results of Mold TestingWhen samples are sent to a lab a mold expert analyzes them under a microscope to check for the presence and concentration of mold particles. The mold expert can often also figure out the species of mold by looking at it under a microscope or by growing mold cultures from the samples.
There are also types of testing which can tell you if you have mycotoxins in your home. If you want to test your home for mycotoxins and toxic mold you should contact a mold professional to see if they can do it for you.
Air Testing for MoldAir testing for mold finds the concentration of mold spores in your home's air at certain moments of time and in certain locations. Air testing can tell you if you have hidden mold by detecting the spores the mold releases into the air. It can also help you locate hidden mold by detecting which rooms have the most mold spores in the air.
The amount of mold spores in the air of homes fluctuates a lot over time. However performing multiple air tests for mold can compensate for this.
Mold spores in the air are the cause of mold symptoms in people. Since air testing detects these spores it can tell you for certain if your symptoms are being caused by mold spores in your home's air.
There are several ways to test the air for mold. Some professional mold testing companies use handheld mold sniffers. These sample the air and give a read out of the concentration of mold spores in real time.
Other methods involve the sample being analyzed under a microscope. One type of test sucks air into a cassette which is then sealed and later analyzed. Another involves letting mold spores in the air collect on a petri dish which is later analyzed.
Surface Testing for MoldSurface tests do not tell you the exact concentration of mold spores in the air. However they can still tell you if you have a mold problem and help you to find it.
Like with air tests, there are several types of surface tests. One type of surface test involves taking a swab of a surface and then sealing it and sending it away for analysis. Another surface sampling technique is tape lifting. In this method sticky tape is placed on a surface and then lifted, sealed and later analyzed.
Mold InspectionBefore turning to mold testing you should have a thorough mold inspection performed in you home. Ideally this should be done by a professional mold inspector.
Mold testing cannot always give you a perfectly detailed idea of where all the mold is in your home and so it's important to use mold testing in conjunction with mold inspections. Visit the Mold Inspection page for more information.