Whether you’ve spotted ugly discolorations, sniffed out musty odors, or had recent water damage to your property, testing for mold is a really good idea.  Mold is a common problem, especially in seasons where your indoor environmental temperature doesn’t match what’s going on outside.  Leaving the air conditioner on in the summer can lead to condensation in various areas, which leads to a moisture problem, which can lead to mold.   Other causes of mold include improperly sealed bathroom tile, leaky plumbing, flooding or other water damage, and the excess of moisture in rooms like kitchens and laundry areas.  No matter what the cause, mold can be extremely harmful—both to your property and to your health.  Anyone can be affected by mold, but there are some strains, like black mold, that can permanently damage your body.  If your home has any leaks, cracked foundations, or is prone to flooding in stormy weather, you probably should also get tested—even if the signs aren’t obvious.  If you suspect that mold is growing somewhere in your home or office, one thing is for certain: it’s time to get tested!

Why Test for Mold?

First of all, mold can be a serious health risk!  Certain strains of mold can cause severe, even permanent, health effects.  Signs that your health is being impacted by mold may include: headache, dizziness, shortness of breath or a persistent cough, and even allergy or asthma attacks.  If you are experiencing these or any other symptoms of mold, talk to your physician and get your property tested!  Mold testing can help you identify the species of mold as well.  Some species of mold are nontoxic to people (although it will still ruin your stuff), while others like black mold can cause real harm.  Mold testing can also help you locate where the mold is actually growing, not to mention the quality of your air indoors.  Testing can also be done after the mold has been removed from your property, to see if any still lingers.

Choosing Your Mold Test

It can be tempting to do your mold inspection yourself.  Indeed, if the signs are obvious, you probably don’t need to worry about testing and can move right on to remediation.  There are three main types of testing: surface testing, air testing, and bulk testing.  All three have merit, and can be used together to create a complete picture of your mold situation.

Surface Testing – Samples are taken from household surfaces to find the amount of spores and mold growth present.  The samples are collected and then examined in a laboratory.  Results may vary due to uneven mold distribution throughout the home, however.

Air Testing – Air testing can tell you whether there’s mold present in the house, even if it can’t be easily found.  Air samples are taken and sent to a lab which can determine the presence of mold.  Like surface testing, results may vary due to changes in internal air pressure, HVAC systems, etc.

Bulk Testing – This method involves collecting materials from the home and examining them in a lab.  Samples can tell whether a mold problem is present and give you an idea of the concentration of spores in your home.

Choosing one of these tests isn’t exactly an either/or scenario.  Actually, for the most effective mold testing, more than one test should be used.  Now, some people think that purchasing an over-the-counter kit will save them some money, but in actuality it is always better to hire a professional.  Professional mold testers have the tools and experience to not only find the mold but begin containment and remediation procedures immediately.