Most people feel a sense of anxiety when they consider the idea of mold being in their home. Not only can the damage caused by mold be costly to repair, but its mere presence in your home can pose serious health risks. And, depending on the kind of mold present, even trying to clean it up can put your life in danger.
Often, if you find mold in your home, and it isn't simply attached to a loaf of bread, then certain steps should be taken to ensure your safety. And the first step involves contacting a professional for testing.
Not all mold is created equal. Some pose significant risks to the population at large while other are predominately dangerous to those with certain respiratory conditions or who are prone to asthma. Some of the more common variants found in homes include:
Each of these mold types pose different risks to individuals depending on their current health and the amount present in the environment. However, certain molds on the above list are particularly dangerous and can cause health issues in even the healthiest people. And Stachybotrys chartarum and Trichoderma are prime examples.
Often referred to as black mold, Stachybotrys chartarum and Trichoderma produce compounds called mycotoxins. These mycotoxins can cause a wide range of health concerns in people including:
While some of these symptoms can be caused by other molds as well, the risks associated with exposure to mold spores from Stachybotrys chartarum and Trichoderma are particularly concerning.
Sometimes you can identify mold simply by sight. However, other conditions may suggest that mold is present. For example, a musty smell could indicate mold growth, especially if the area could be holding moisture. Additionally, if your property was recently water damaged, such as by a flood, roof leak, or burst pipe, then completing a mold test is a wise move.
You may also want to conduct mold tests even if you don't see immediate signs of an issue. For example, if you have certain unexplained health symptoms, especially if they get worse while you are home and you find relief when elsewhere, then mold could be responsible.
In some cases, conducting mold tests before you buy or sell a property may be ideal. Often, finding mold in a property makes the buying or selling process much more difficult, if not impossible. Finding out about mold issues before the purchase moves forward can either give you the chance to manage the removal of mold in a property you are selling, or negotiate with the seller for a property you are interested in buying.
If you are buying, the confirmed presence of mold may affect your financing options, so finding out before moving forward may save you a significant amount of hassle.
Often, it is difficult to ascertain the kind of mold present simply by looking at it. To properly assess the variant, or variants, in your home, sophisticated and comprehensive mold testing is required. And, if there is a chance that particularly dangerous molds are present, these processes are best left to professionals.
In-home mold testing is actually a multi-staged process. Samples are collected from both the air and certain surfaces. These samples will confirm whether mold is present and, if so, what types appear to be in the area. Often, these samples are sent to mold testing laboratories to help determine the severity of the issue and to identify the best course of action.
While samples are being collected, a mold specialist can also observe the affected areas to help determine possible causes. For example, certain molds may exhibit different growth patterns that others, and that can help identify the form of mold in the space. Additionally, they are familiar with which molds grow in specific conditions, so they may be able to eliminate or confirm that certain versions may be present in the area.
Depending on the kinds of mold present and the extent of the growth, professional mold removal or remediation may be required. This can be an intensive process. If the affected areas include walls, damaged sections of sheetrock and insulation may need to be removed and replaced. Additionally, structural elements like studs and joists may require mold treatment or replacement.
Some of these tasks are beyond the capabilities of the average homeowner, especially when structural components are involved. Additionally, certain types of mold, like Stachybotrys chartarum and Trichoderma require special precautions during removal to ensure the safety of those working in the area and to prevent nearby areas from being contaminated.
Skilled mold specialists have access to all of the tools and equipment required to complete the work safely. That means the rest of your home will be protected during the process, and you do not have to put your or your family's health at risk.
However, a respected professional mold testing company will also let you know when a mold problem is well within your control. Not all forms of mold are especially dangerous if you are in good health and have no specific allergies. The company can let you know what cleanup steps would be required, as well as information regarding any safety precautions.
For example, spraying moldy surfaces with water during removal can help keep some of the spores out of the air. Additionally, double bagging all debris can help prevent the spread of mold spores while you are working in the area.
It is also important to work in a well-ventilated area when managing mold, especially when using various cleaning agents and certain disinfectants. However, you should still wear proper protective clothing as well as a properly fitted respirator mask. Most protective clothing can be obtained from a well-stocked local hardware store.
But, even if the company says you can take on the project yourself, that doesn't mean you have to. Some people prefer the peace of mind that only a professional mold specialist can provide. If that is your preferred method of handling the issue, mold removal companies will be happy to oblige.
Once you have the mold removed, you want to make sure it stays away. Often, the first step to a long-term solution is identifying the source of the moisture and correcting the issue. For example, if the water is the result of leaky plumbing, then you may need to work with a plumber to get the necessary repairs. Similarly, roof or window leaks may need to be managed by a roofer or contractor.
Failure to control the cause of the moisture means that the conditions that led to mold growth still remain. Even if the spores from the last incident are removed, it is not possible to remain completely out of contact with all molds permanently. Mold spores can enter the air, and may be present on numerous surfaces. While taking care of your home helps, you cannot prevent all exposure.
Once the source of the moisture is handled, then it is important to assess any routine cleaning needs that may be necessary. Mold growth in damp areas, such as kitchens or bathrooms is more common due to the conditions present within the space. Using cleaners designed to fight mold growth can help prevent significant damage as well as lower the instances of health conditions caused or aggravated by mold growth. Again, failing to properly maintain certain surfaces can make mold growth practically inevitable.
Mold testing experts in your local area will be more aware of the common kinds of mold in your vicinity, as well as the conditions that are most likely to cause mold growth. They will also be more familiar with the warning signs and maintenance practices that can help keep your home safe from mold contamination.
Mold is known to cause a variety of health conditions, some of which can harm people who are otherwise healthy. And, by working with mold testing and removal professionals, you can rest assured that everything is being managed properly and that your home environment is safe for you and your family.
With all of those potential benefits of professional mold testing, why wouldn't you want to schedule to schedule them? Your (and your family's) health may be counting on you, so make the decision to test today.