The Benefits Of Mold Inspection Certification

Mold Inspection Basics

WHAT IS MOLD?

Mold is different types of fungi that grow in moist environments. It’s often found in bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and anywhere moisture resides for long periods of time.  Unfortunately, leaks or floods are not the most common reason for mold growth in a home. Most often mold growth is caused by improper ventilation based on how the house is built and retained moisture behind the walls and floors of a basement.

These fungi spread by invisible “seeds” called spores, which travel through the air. They then take root wherever they find a humid surface. These spores proliferate quickly and can take hold in places with poor ventilation and high humidity in less than 24 hours.

The problem starts when you inhale these spores. They produce toxic substances known as mycotoxins that can produce an immune response in some individuals and actually extremely toxic themselves. This is why some molds are called “toxic molds”.

 

Types of Mold Testing

Here are the different types of mold testing which may be conducted by a mold professional as part of the remediation process.

  1. Air Sampling.Using air sampling, mold experts collect indoor air samples from the home. A control sample is also taken outside of the home.  A comparison is made between the between the indoor and outdoor samples to determine if there are elevated levels of mold spores inside the home that are not naturally present in the outdoor environment.
  2. Lift Tape SamplA piece of tape placed onto any areas to be tested. It is then lifted and placed on a glass micro slide. The tape slide is then sealed and examined by the microbiology laboratory for mold spore presence
  3. Tape Swab Test. This test is used infrequently because it is used to determine which type of mold is present. This test does not typically identify spore count, which is essential to determining if there are elevated levels of mold in a home. Because all mold requires remediation, the mold spore counts are far more important than the actual types of mold.  The tape swab test uses a cotton material swab to wipe the surface to be tested. After touching surfaces, the swab is sent to a lab for examination.

 

When IS it time to call in a professional mold inspector then?

Ideally before mold has really gotten out of control. Yes, this means when you see mold growing no matter how small the area is. The exception to this could be toilet mold or shower mold as those are typically isolated to those areas and easy to remove before a larger mold problem arises. But other mold growth? Don’t chance it. A little visible mold usually means a lot of hidden mold.

When you have that first inkling that something is amiss, make the call to schedule a mold inspection. Beyond that, you may need a mold inspection:

  • When visible mold is not present, but the smell of mold Here a mold inspection and mold test can reveal whether there is indeed elevated mold, and where it is located.
  • There have been plumbing leaksor water issues and there is a suspicion that elevated mold may exist in the air and/or behind walls.
  • Post Mold Removal Clearance Testing to ensure that the previous mold issue has been resolved and mold counts have returned to levels found in normal environments of the same type.
  • Health Concerns: when someone has a health issue that they cannot pinpoint the cause of and/or mold related illness symptomsare present.
  • For real estate transactions for the protection of Buyers and Sellers.
  • Landlord/Tenant disputes as to whether there is a mold problem.
  • Someone thinks they see or smell mold but are not sure.
  • Someone is interested in a general Indoor Air Quality test of their environment.

 

These are the five basic elements that should be included in any mold inspection process:

Site inspection: There should always be a comprehensive visual inspection of the entire home including crawlspaces, attics, HVAC system, and of course, interior spaces. An outside inspection is also necessary.  This will determine whether the landscaping, gravity, or uneven foundation is creating a flow of water into the home.  The roof, gutters, and any exposed windowsills or door frames should also be inspected for water damage.

Incident History: The inspector should be prepared to ask many questions of the homeowner about the home. More specifically, the inspector should ask about any knowledge of leaks, flooding, water damage, pluming issues, storm repairs, etc. This will include information about previous incidents, repairs, and the health condition of occupants.

Detailed Visual Inspection: The inspector will look at each room in great detail. They will look for subtle signs of potential problems as well as generally checking inside cabinets, plumbing chases that are accessible, and appliances that use water. This must be done systematically with adequate controls to determine specific problems.  Lab reports alone are not adequate.  You don’t have to understand everything, you just have to ask the right questions to determine the competency of the mold investigator.

Occupant Interview: Some inspectors will have a written questionnaire to be filled out by the occupant and discussed further during the interview. Others systematically ask questions regarding the home and occupant health issues in the context of mold repairs.  They will also ask questions about the occupant’s health

Sampling Plan: The inspector will develop a sampling plan to share with you based on their inspection and the information provided. They will explain the suggested mold sampling that should be conducted using a single or a variety of testing methods including mold test plates, swabs or tape samples, vacuum sampling, area wipe sampling, air filter sampling, or spore trapping methodology.  The sampling plan should be able to explain the need for the number of samples and laboratory costs.  This is an area where a homeowner can be “penny smart and pound foolish”.  It is important to identify all mold sources and also areas where mold is present in acceptable amounts.  This is critical information that can impact the scope and the ultimate breadth of the remediation.  Additional information can be used to narrow the scope as well and save money.  You can ask the inspector to use ImmunoLytics Swabs and Mold Testing Plates to augment their sampling plan so that more testing can be done to insure no potential source is missed.

 

Here Are Five Tips To Get Ready For An Inspection From  Mold Testing & Remediation:

  • Isolate the Area:When you have identified a problem area, you should isolate the area.  Seal the room or area off by covering any doors with plastic.
  • Seal Off Air Vents: Sealing the vents will reduce air movement which in turn causes spores to become airborne.  Cover both return and supply vents with plastic or painters tape.
  • Don’t Clean It: Once you’ve identified an area with what appears to be mold, it’s important to leave it alone. Cleaning it can cause mold spores to spread through your home, making it harder to identify problem areas once a mold professional arrives.
  • Avoid Exterior Ventilation: For many who think they’ve got a mold infestation, throwing open the windows is often their first reaction. However, opening windows will increase air flow which in turn causes spores to become airborne. So keep them closed until the pros arrive.
  • Finally Leave It ALONE:  Many people think that if they just tear out what is affected quickly they will be better off.  However, you will likely cause a bigger problem than what you began with as you will be disturbing the mold and causing millions of mold spores to become airborne and spread throughout your home.
Continue Reading

Mold Remediation Can Eliminate The Dangers Of Mold

DANGERS OF MOLD AND HOW MOLD REMEDIATION CAN ELIMINATE THOSE DANGERS

There are many who are not aware of what mold is. Mold is a type of fungus. It is normally displayed in an array of colors such as blue and greens. Normally mold grows in areas where there is a high abundance of moisture that cannot be controlled.

Mold can grow on almost anything including wood, food, plants, walls, and ceilings. Mold reproduces by releasing a large population of spores. The spores can withstand extreme temperatures and are very enduring.

Dealing with mold can be tough because when breathed in or direct contact with it can cause health complications. This is why there are masks and remediation kits designed to deal with mold problems and reduce the threat of health complications.

Studies have shown that even people who are healthy can become affected by mold. One of the most common problems with mold exposure is allergic reactions. Other problems have been linked to the following:

  • Respiratory
  • Asthma
  • Respiratory system failure

Remediation is the clean up and the elimination of mold. Mold is toxic and should be removed whenever it is observed no matter if it is in the home, outside of the home, or in a business. There are professional mold removal specialists that can help.

Mold is developed in areas where there is moisture present. The most common areas for mold are the bathroom, basement, and kitchen as these are areas that deal with water. Mold has been known to grow within 24-48 hours of the moisture buildup.

There are many different types of mold found in homes. In fact, there are more than 100 different kinds of mold. Some of the most common types of mold found in homes are:

  • Alternaria
  • Botrytis
  • Penicillium
  • Stachybotrys Chartarum

If there is confusion about the type of mold growing in the home, there are mold inspections that can be done by professionals. Inspectors know what to look for and where. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the type of mold that’s growing in the home. These and many others are benefits of a mold inspection:

  • Eliminates smell of mold in home
  • Rids walls and ceiling of bacteria
  • Peace of mind
  • Detects leakage problems

A mold inspection comes in two stages; the first one is the collection of samples. The second one is to determine the species of mold. This will give the experts an idea about the toxicity level of the mold and how to effectively remove it.

Remediation is done on a professional level. Mold needs to be removed through special equipment. Most people think that using chemicals on it will eliminate it, but bleach and other cleaners will not kill off the mold or prevent it from growing.

Mold removal can be done in the areas where it is seen and also in nearby areas. Mold grows very fast therefore spreading quickly. Once mold spores have gotten into the air, they are normally spreads throughout from the HVAC system.

When mold has developed inside of the ductwork to a HVAC system, there is professional ductwork cleaning services available to take on all sorts of mold colonies. Professionals are highly recommended at this level of remediation.

Mold remediation experts usually take advantage of state of the art equipment using high velocity air scrubbers. This helps to remove the mold out of the air. Also, special heap vacuums are used to catch small and large spores.

Black mold is the deadliest form of mold there is. It is unhealthy for all age groups to be exposed to. In some cases, there are groups of people that are more sensitive to black mold as these groups of people have weaker immune systems:

  • Seniors
  • Children
  • Pregnant women

Mold should never be handled by someone that does not have experience around it. Direct contact with it can result in dry, red, irritated skin. It may feel like a burning sensation and medical attention may be needed.

Over half of the homes in the United States have mold problems. Inspections along with remediation specialists should be taken advantage of in these situations. Mold remediation can prevent health problems and creates a healthier living environment for all to enjoy.

 

4 Signs That You Need Mold Remediation

Mold may be present in your home and affecting your life even if no actual mold is visible. Here are four things that may indicate you need mold remediation.

The general rule is that when mold is visible, it is time to kill it and remove it. But mold isn’t always visible and so there are other criteria to strongly consider when it comes to mold remediation. Here are the four criteria to look for mold in your home.

  1. A water event or occasional/frequent water intrusion

Has there been recent water intrusion? Water does not necessarily equal mold growth as spores have to already be present. But since mold spores are microscopic (2-10 microns), a water event is usually the trigger that causes mold to be seen or otherwise detected.

Note: Mold means moisture or humidity is, or has been present. Water does not necessarily mean mold growth is present.

  1. Discoloration

Most molds cause the organic material the mold is consuming to change colors. Whether the food source for the mold is human food or drywall paper, if colonization is allowed for enough time, there will usually be a discoloration that will reveal a mold problem.

Most molds, when allowed to grow in abundance, are visibly seen in certain colors. Mold is not only black. Many species are visible in gray, white, brown, red and even some hues of pastel colors. Some molds look like dust, or fuzz, while others look like sand granules. Certain molds thrive on certain food sources, and they all require different moisture content or relative humidity in the ambient air.

Note: Water seeping through masonry sometimes causes a white crystalline, powder-like discoloration called “efflorescence”. This substance is made up of minerals and should not be confused with mold.

  1. A musty odor

Is there a musty odor that prevails, or come and goes? Some molds are odorous when colonizing. Although some species do not cause odors, when a musty, moldy odor is combined with other criteria, one can conclude that mold is present. Even if mold is not visible, remediation may be necessary.

Note: Some individuals have a great sense of smell. Others may think that they do. Odor alone should not be the only criterion used to determine whether remediation is necessary. Some actively colonizing fungal species give off odors. Dead or dormant spores generally do not, but are just as detrimental to human health. Absence of odor does not mean that there is no mold and odor does not mean that it is caused from fungal growth. Do not rely solely on scent for detection.

  1. Adverse human health effects

A good indication that there is “unacceptable fungal ecology” within a building envelope is that occupants feel health symptoms when spending extended periods of time in a certain space and feel much better when spending extended periods of time outside that space. If residents in a home or employees in a workplace experience congestion, allergy symptoms, headaches, fatigue or respiratory problems after each night’s sleep or after the end of each work day, this may be an indication of unhealthy air quality.

One environmental hazard to cause unhealthy air quality is a mold infestation. If one spends a week on vacation away from work and home and all symptoms disappear, perhaps the home, school or workplace has unacceptable fungal ecology or unhealthy indoor air quality

 

What is performed with a Mold Remediation Protocol?

Interview – Review and discussion with an authorized representative of the Property of current conditions which has led to the claim.

Site Assessment – A physical site assessment of the Property in the area(s) of concern to: visually assess the damage(s), retrieve temperature and RH readings, take air and direct samples for mold (if applicable), and gather room dimension to create room/floor drawings to identify the location(s) of concern.

  • Air Sampling – The purpose of non-viable spore trap air sampling is to provide an approximation of the airborne microbial (fungal) spore concentrations. A minimum of one control sample is typically taken outside the most common used entrance into the building, then one or more air samples are collected in the areas of concern within the building. Elevated airborne spore concentrations may indicate an indoor microbial reservoir(s), or that cleaning of personal effects or the HVAC system(s), is a necessary component of a microbial remediation plan.
  • Direct sampling – The purpose of direct sampling is to identify the type and concentration of microbial spores present on affected materials identified with suspect visible microbial growth. The sampling results are also used for reference for source contamination when air samples are taken.

Non-Scope Items – include visual identification and records review for:

  • Asbestos Containing Building Materials (ACM)
  • Lead-Based Paint
  • Fire Reduction Chemicals

Qualifications: No federal guidelines exist at this time. However, some States have placed requirements for licensed Mold Assessors and Mold Remediators. For those States that do not have specific requirements, it is recommended that you use a person who:

  • Has taken a minimum of 24 hours of mold assessment and remediation courses,
  • Follows one of more of the recognized industry guidance and practices, and
  • Acquires, at a minimum, 8 Continuing Educational Units (CEUs) bi-annually.

 

What Happens During Mold Remediation

No one likes surprises when having any kind of work done in one’s home. It is a disruptive situation no matter what the project. In the case of mold remediation, you are going to have strangers in your home in “other worldly” outfits using serious chemicals. You will feel much less stressed if you know just what the mold remediation company’s MO is.

Firstly, you have a few things to do before the remediation crew arrives:

Fix the water problem that caused the mold. Mold remediation is an involved and costly process. You don’t want to have to do it all over again.

Clear a path for the crew to move easily from the outside to the mold area and back. For instance, remove cars from the driveway and garage.

Keep pets out of the way—in a room with the door closed, in the yard if the crew won’t be working there.

The mold remediation company parks the truck as close to the house as possible, lays plastic sheeting down and runs hoses from the doorway to the mold area (unless they can access the mold area from outside of the home, such as in the case of a crawlspace).

The mold remediation workers suit up: head-to-toe white suits, booties, respirators and goggles. They do this on every job, toxic mold or non-toxic. They then spray the mold area with an EPA-approved biocide (mold killer). The workers leave while the biocide does its thing.

The next day, the mold remediation crew returns, puts down plastic and suits up. They then spray the mold area with an encapsulant, a type of paint or whitewash that encloses (as if in a capsule) any mold spores that remain. They should spray well beyond the treated area to eliminate any chance of mold growth. For example, the whole attic should be sprayed even if the mold is confined to one spot. Tip: Confirm that the company’s procedure includes this before you sign the contract.

Next, the crews cleans the air with an HEPA (High Efficiency Particular Air) air scrubber and an air exchange that replaces moldy air with clean, fresh air. The final step is using an HEPA vacuum to clean the floor or any surface that can be vacuumed to remove stubborn spores that linger.

Mold remediation usually includes disposal of moldy porous building materials (drywall, insulation, etc.) and cleaning and disinfecting carpet and personal items if they can be saved.

Have a post-remediation inspection done to ensure that the remediation was performed properly. The company that did your initial mold inspection and testing can take care of that.

 

How to Keep Mold from Coming Back

Fortunately for homeowners who’ve recently undergone mold remediation, there are preventive measures that you can take to help keep mold from growing back. Here are some proactive steps that you can take to keep mold away for good:

  1. Identify areas where there’s a moisture problem, and correct it. Basements and other areas prone to moist air can benefit immensely from the presence of a dehumidifier. For low-lying areas, sump pumps provide an additional line of protection by removing excess water automatically. Take note of any moisture you notice in your home. This can include dark spots on ceilings that indicate a leaky roof, or musty smells inside a closet. Fixing water leaks and replacing decaying wood can go a long way toward keeping your home free of unwanted fungi.
  2. Dry wet areas as soon as possible. If water gets into your home, remove it as soon as possible. For example, if you have water in your basement from a burst plumbing pipe or a heavy rainstorm, dry out the area immediately, before there’s time for mold to take root. Even seemingly mundane things, like leaving wet clothes in the washer for a few days, can be an invitation for mold.
  3. Keep out moisture with proper ventilation. Appliances that produce moisture, like clothes dryers and stoves, should vent outside. You should check your AC unit periodically to make sure it’s not generating moisture. If it’s leaking, dripping, or the coils are covered in condensate, you probably need to call an HVAC repair service.
  4. Use mold-resistant building materials whenever possible. This may not be possible in already existing homes, but if you’re remodeling, building an addition, or building a custom home, it’s a good way to stay one step ahead of mold. There are newer varieties of drywall and Sheetrock that are paperless– instead of gypsum covered with paper, they use fiberglass instead. This creates a highly water-resistant surface, and mold cannot break down and metabolize it. This is especially useful in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and other areas where moisture is pretty much a given.
  5. Keep your indoor humidity between 30 and 60 percent. If your home is humid, and you notice a lot of water condensing near windows and pipes, consider using dehumidifiers.

 

Continue Reading

Mold Testing and Inspection Are Important in the Remediation Process

There are many people who might notice the warning signs of mold in the home early on without needing to do an actual test. Some people show mold symptoms while others are able to easily smell it. If that’s the case, testing for mold can be beneficial but you may already be aware that you do have a mold problem in your home.

Mold inspecting is a method of surveying an area where molds commonly hide. With the use of infrared cameras and moisture meters, inspectors are able to easily locate the molds. Although these procedures can also be done yourself, it is till best if you hire professional contractors to deal with the problem to make sure that the results are accurate, not to mention the fact that some of the molds can be hazardous to your health, so caution should always be used when dealing with them.

A simple air test can be done after remediation to determine whether or not your spore count has returned, and continued to remain at, an acceptable level. This requires that you test the air throughout your home, as well as outside your home. Testing outside your home is necessary because the outside spore count will determine what is considered “normal” and this will be compared to the samples from throughout your home.

Mold growth indoors presents a danger to your building, your belongings, and your health. Breathing in spores has been shown to increase the risk of respiratory issues, allergies, headaches, and other more serious health conditions. Mold growth on walls and other surfaces deteriorates those materials, making them less durable. It also just looks ugly and makes the affected room unpleasant to be in.

Its best to bring in a mold testing and removal company as soon as you notice the signs of mold growth. Those signs include not only visible mold and the musty odor, but also water damage such as peeling wallpaper, warped wood, and water stains. Because it thrives in a damp, dark environment, any overly humid or recently flooded area is susceptible to mold growth, whether you see obvious signs of it or not.

Dealing with mold is never fun. If the problem is widespread, resolving it can be costly. However, you can’t afford to let mold thrive on your property. The structural soundness of your building and the health and safety of its occupants are on the line.

An Accredited mold inspection, The Mold Girl offers Mold Testing in Charleston, SC for a variety of home house mold problems.

Continue Reading