Molds are a form of fungi that grow naturally and play a key role in decomposition outdoors. Molds are typically found in soil, plants, and dead or decaying matter. Molds survive by absorbing whatever material they are growing on. Indoors, however, molds can pose a potential threat to your home or building and your health. Much like a plant spreads its seeds, molds give off spores to reproduce. These spores land on moist areas indoors and outdoors and begin to thrive. Molds have the potential to harm the structures they live on and the persons residing in them. An evaluation of the areas and moisture control, along with proper remediation, is essential to protecting your health and your home.
Even if you can’t see it, you may suspect mold by a musty odor. You may also suspect hidden mold if you know there has been a water problem in the building and its occupants are reporting health problems. Mold can grow anywhere when the moisture conditions permit.
Mold can occur due to many types of leaks; leaking roofs, leaking or condensing water pipes, especially pipes inside wall cavities or pipe chases, leaking fire-protection sprinkler systems, landscaping, gutters, and downspouts that direct water into or under a building. High humidity (> 60% relative humidity) can also be a culprit, such as unvented combustion appliances like clothes dryers vented into a garage. Some moisture problems are not easy to see. For example, the inside of the walls where pipes and wires are run are common mold growth sites. Mold is frequently found on walls in cold corners behind furniture where condensation forms. Other possible locations of hidden moisture, resulting in hidden mold growth are: poorly draining condensate drain pans inside air handling units, porous thermal or acoustic liners inside ductwork, roof materials above ceiling tiles, the backside of drywall (also known as gypsum board, wallboard, or sheetrock, paneling and wallpaper and the underside of carpets and pads.
How Can Mold Be Harmful and Dangerous?
Mold can grow on virtually any organic material as long as moisture and oxygen are present. Some molds grow on wood, paper, carpet, food, and insulation. Because mold eats or digests what it is growing on, it can damage a building and its furnishings. If left unchecked, mold eventually can cause structural damage to building materials. All molds have the potential to cause health problems. Once molds begin to grow indoors, a musty odor is observed, followed by various symptoms such as headaches, breathing difficulties, allergic reactions, skin irritation, or elevated asthma. All of these are dependent on the person, the type of mold, and the building itself.
You can prevent damage to buildings and building contents, save money, and avoid potential health problems by controlling moisture and eliminating mold growth.
A mold inspection can be preventative or needed due to a problem, such as a water leak, visual mold findings, or health concerns. Inspection of the affected areas may help locate the mold contamination source, identify some of the mold species present, and differentiate between mold and soot or dirt. Our inspection includes all the laboratory fees for the samples taken, a full report, which includes the visual inspector’s assessment/recommendations to remediate any areas found to have fungal contamination.
A mold like substance, when found, will be called “fungal growth”, until analyzed by an accredited laboratory. Only a laboratory analyzing samples using a microscope and other testing equipment can determine if “fungal growth” is indeed mold, and of what strain.
I offer two different collection procedures of the fungal growth to be analyzed:
The first is surface sampling. A laboratory grade swab or tape is applied to the area of fungal growth and peeled off, and sealed. This procedure is great for when there is visible fungal growth, and will determine if the growth is mold and of what strain. Its drawback is it does not give you any information as to the spore count of mold being present in the air of the home.
The second procedure is Indoor air quality testing. This procedure is always recommended, but is a must if a musty smell is present in the home, and the foundation is not visible (finished basements). The results from this procedure will determine what mold spores are present in the air and at what concentration.
Mold Grows Quickly:
Mold needs only moisture, temperatures above 40 °F (4 °C), and organic material to survive. Mold can grow in 24-48 hours, preferring areas with no sunlight, limited airflow, and little disruption.
Mold Destroys Your Home:
Because mold eats or digests what it is growing on, it can damage a building, its furnishings, and personal belongings. If left unchecked, mold eventually can cause structural damage to building materials. Molds gradually destroy the things they grow on. You can prevent damage to buildings and building contents, save money, and avoid potential health problems by controlling moisture and eliminating mold growth.
Cleaning Visible Mold is Not Enough:
Mold can grow in fiberglass insulation, on top of ceiling tiles, inside HVAC systems, behind drywall panels, in wall cavities, and behind wallpaper. Even when it’s visible, it’s often impossible to tell the difference between mold, soot, and dirt without testing. The mold you can see is just the beginning, and some of it is extremely hard to find!
Bleach & Detergent Will Not Eliminate Mold:
Bleach and detergent are useful for removing mold on nonporous surfaces. However, materials such as ceiling tiles, carpeting, and wallboard will have deep mold penetration and may need to be replaced. Removed mold will regrow if all sources of moisture and humidity are not eliminated.
Mold Cleaning is Hazardous:
It only takes 3-5 mold spores to cause an allergic reaction, and some molds contain mycotoxins that are carcinogenic or deadly. Cleaning and air movement will cause mold to release their spores — it’s easy to accidentally knock hundreds of thousands of spores loose from a single patch of mold. Because of this, containment procedures using HEPA filtration are necessary to prevent contaminating the entire house or building.
Mold Testing with a home inspection starts at $325 ($425 without a home inspection). This includes two exterior samples and one interior (an additional sample will be taken if an HVAC is present, there is no additional fee for this sample). Each additional sample (air, tape, or swab) is $75. A sample is recommended for each area of 1000 sq ft, however this may not be necessary if you only have one room of concern.
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Quasar Home Inspections, Clovis, New Mexico