As a homeowner, finding mold in the home is not something we like to see. Mold begins in a home because of high humidity and also moisture, often from a leak or a flood. This affects the indoor air quality and needs to be looked at right away so calling in a professional is often the next step. Some companies may start with an air mold test. How accurate are air mold tests? They are a good place to start but sometimes, more types of testing may be needed so you know how extensive the mold issue is.
Let’s take a look at air mold tests and the accuracy.
What is Air Testing for Mold
Mold can grow in any area of the home so if you are smelling a musty odor, you may have mold. Also, known as “spore trap analysis, ” this is usually the first test that is done for testing the levels of mold indoors. Air mold tests are the most accurate way to determine exposure to mold and is used in indoor environments. It can tell you if the air quality has been affected, which is important to know.
Air mold testing gives the expert a place to start. However, if the testing stops there, and the expert tells the homeowner there is no mold, then this is a disservice. This is because the air sampling for mold is accurate, but it does not tell the whole story. More extensive mold testing is needed.
Also, heavier molds such as Stachybotrys or Chaetomium globosom usually will not show up on-air testing. Thus, additional testing is needed to find out the levels in the home, as well as the accepted levels. If this additional testing is not done, then the mold problem won’t get better.
Many times, a mold expert will start with an “outdoor baseline” air sample. Then, this sample is compared to an indoor sample. This helps the expert to see which of the species is native to the area.
Other Types of Tests in the Home
To give a complete picture to the homeowner, some companies may choose to complete one of the following tests in addition to the air sampling.
Surface Testing (source testing) –
These are usually taken from visible areas of growth. They are collected with tape lift, sterile swab, or taking a piece of the suspected mold material. The purpose of this is to identify the type of mold present and to determine the spore counts. Also, this test is important because it can show where there may be reservoirs of mold that are not airborne yet. Thus, solidifies the reason for sometimes needing more testing in addition to air sampling.
ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) –
Envirobiomics is a third-party lab that conducts this test. It is DNA based and identifies and quantifies molds. It allows the heavier molds to show up for testing and the mold that is found is split into two groups. There are different weights depending on how toxic the mold is. Then, a score is given on the toxicity of the mold. It is helpful information as it allows the homeowners to know if someone can live in the home or needs to vacate during mold remediation.
HERTSMI-2 (Health Effects Roster of Type-Specific Formers of Mycotoxins and Inflammagens)
This is a scoring system of the most toxic molds. It came from the ERMI test and the molds in this scoring system produce mycotoxins. They are known for causing cases of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) in homes with water damage.
Real Time Labs conducts this testing. The only way to know that mycotoxins are present is if there is testing done to check. If we know how high the levels are in the home, it helps to determine if a home is safe to live in.
Envirobiomics also does the testing for endotoxin. Endotoxins come from Gram-Negative bacteria (GNB) cell walls and are found in nature. They can be living or dead gram-negative bacteria. Endotoxins also contribute to CIRS cases. Someone who has CIRS can become quite sick with mold, mycotoxins, and endotoxins.
Here is a video about how air mold tests are done with air sampling.
Cost to Remove Mold
The cost to remove mold is not cheap so the more you can do to find it and get rid of the source, the better. A small amount of mold remediation can cost about $500. While a large removal or remediation can cost about $7000! This isn’t something you want to handle on your own so reaching out to a professional is key.
One area to think about is how fast mold can grow. It can grow in 24-48 hours after water damage and within 12 days it can spread throughout the area and the home. Paying attention to musty smells and health issues is important.
Another area to check in the home is the closet. You can prevent mold in the closet by keeping this area dry, limiting the use of plastics, and using wire shelving instead of wood is important.
Lastly, if you have items in your home that have mold spores on them, you can put them into the dryer. The heat will kill the mold on the items and hopefully, you can salvage them to use again.
When to Call a Professional
If you suspect there may be mold in the home, you want to contact a professional for a mold inspection. Mold isn’t something to be taken lightly and a professional can help fix the issue. Sometimes we can’t see what is happening on the other side of the wall or under the floor and a professional can inspect for mold. Remember, your health and those in your home is important so let the professionals look for the mold spores and do the mold removal.
Mold is never a fun scenario. Many times mold is a huge issue. No homeowner wants mold in their home. Most mold shows up in your bathroom due to the increased moisture in your home. The moment that you discover mold in your home, should be an immediate call to your mold remediation team. If you aren’t sure who to call, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can inspect your home for any of your mold removal needs. Call on Avalon Home Inspections, we conduct mold inspections in Greenville, SC, and Atlanta, GA.