“I need a mold test!” This is a common start to many a phone call here at U.P. Home Inspection. And often, it results in us scheduling a mold inspection call.
But not always. Sometimes we actually talk a person out of a professional mold test. In this article, we’ll explain why. Prepare to learn:
- Tell-tale signs of mold in your home
- When you can skip the mold test, and
- 3 situations it’s best to get tested
Let’s get started!
4 Signs You Have Mold In Your Home
Of course, the only reason you might want a professional mold test in the first place is if you have reason to believe there is mold in your home, but need proof. Here are 4 tell-tale-signs that your house could have mold issues:
- You Can See It. This is definitive. If you can see it, you have mold. (Be careful, though: sometimes other substances may look like mold that aren’t. This can include dirt, paint, dried-on food residue, etc.)
- You Can Smell It. Many species of mold have a distinctive odor that gives it away.
- You Have Moisture Issues In Your Home. Mold loves moisture. Even if you can’t see or smell the mold (yet), leaks, flooding, or condensation can set up the perfect environment for mold—and because moisture often travels, the mold may be growing some distance from the point of water infiltration.
- You Feel Sick. Believe it or not, mold counts can be high even in homes with no visible mold and no obvious odors. Often the first real warning sign comes when someone feels sick and can’t figure out why. If you have frequent colds, unexplained fatigue, respiratory issues, headaches, skin rashes, or “mystery illness,” and haven’t found a cause, it’s reasonable to suspect mold.
Why You Might Not Need A Professional Mold Test
A professional mold test will reveal three things:
- Whether mold is present in your home,
- What types of mold are present, and
- How much of each type of mold is there.
A mold test is just for diagnostics, so you know if and how you have to take action to get rid of it. It won’t get rid of the mold for you. (And in fact as professional mold inspectors, all we can ethically do is mold inspection. If we offered mold remediation services that would be a conflict of interest! If you need help with cleanup, there are mold remediation companies who are really good at removing mold from homes.)
Most of the time, all you need to know is whether you really do have mold growing in your home, so you can either get rid of it or look for another source of the problem. Even the EPA states that “if visible mold is present, sampling is unnecessary.” If you can already see it growing, or there’s a strong smell of mold in your home, there’s your answer!
On the other hand, sometimes you just want to know what you’re dealing with before you decide on next steps. If you know you have mold but aren’t sure of the extent of the problem, you may just want to know the exact species and level of infestation present. If you really want to know this, we’re happy to do a professional mold test for you. However in most cases you’re probably better off hiring a contractor or mold remediation professional to assess your situation.
3 Situations When A Professional Mold Test Is A Good Idea
But there are some times when scheduling a mold test is absolutely the best way to go. These include:
· Unexplained health problems. If a person in your household is experiencing health issues such as chronic fatigue or headaches and you haven’t found a cause, it’s reasonable to suspect mold. A professional mold test will tell you exactly what types of mold and how much may be present in your indoor air.
· Legal reasons. We’ve had situations where tenants have contacted us to do a mold test in order to break their lease legally so they could leave an unhealthy living situation. It happens. If you need proof of mold infestation for legal reasons, the results from a professional mold test are indispensable.
· Due diligence. If you are buying a home and are concerned about mold, it absolutely makes sense to test for it regardless of whether there is visible mold in the home. In this case you will probably want to add a mold test as an add-on to your buyer’s home inspection.
If You Really Do Need A Mold Test…
Hopefully after reading this article, you have a good idea what your next steps need to be. If you don’t feel you need to schedule a mold test, great! We wish you all the best in your mold removal efforts.