Do you smell something unusual? Did you have a recent plumbing or roof leak? Whether there was a recent water damage event or something that happened in the past, musty odors may be an indication there is mold contamination. Indoor air quality can be negatively impacted by the presence of mold. Mold produces gases from digesting construction materials and it also produces spores so it can start new colonies on other surfaces. Air sampling can be a cost effective way to find out if a musty odor is creating unhealthy indoor conditions. Analyzing gases – microbial volatile organic compounds, or MVOCs – is an expensive way to investigate air quality concerns.
Many people have allergies and are particularly sensitive to mold. Medical professionals can perform tests to determine if someone is reactive to certain types of mold. Mold can produce several systems for individuals, particularly the very young, elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Mold testing the indoor environment will assist in determining if there is a health risk associated with the space one occupies. Residential, commercial and industrial buildings can harbor mold contamination that can create “Sick Building Syndrome.”
People can spot mold when there is severe contamination affecting large areas. But what about hidden mold? Mold lurks in dark, confined spaces because it can grow rapidly where there is no disturbance to the area. Often this results in mold growth occurring in hidden places like ceiling cavities, wall cavities, floorboard cavities and crawlspaces. Detecting hidden mold usually requires specialized equipment and a trained mold professional.
Okay, so you see something that you think is mold. Does that mean it’s a mold problem? Maybe. Maybe not. Consumers can be misled to think that the mere presence of mold means there is a problem that requires the expertise of a mold removal company. That’s not always the case. There can be mold on a surface but not in the air. Mold removal companies bank on the visible signs of mold to justify expensive repairs that may be unnecessary. Like most repairs, mold repairs have varying degrees of severity. Some visible mold can be wiped away (e.g. mildew), while other mold needs to be cut out. Depending on how much mold there is, it could be a simple handyperson fix. Or it could require the specialty service of a mold removal company. Avoid mold removal (Test & Repair) companies that exaggerate problems and overcharge for solutions. They might discount the service fee or even come out for free. But there is no such thing as a “free lunch,” so expect the up-sell on expensive repairs or sampling to recoup the cost of the “free” offer.
Indoor air quality is measured by collecting samples. Mold sampling includes air, surface, bulk materials and cavity samples. It is customary to collect four or five samples to investigate indoor air quality. Depending on the number of rooms, it may call for several more samples. As an example, a bathroom with discoloration under the sink would justify four samples: one surface sample of the discoloration, one wall cavity sample to determine if there is hidden, invasive mold, one air sample of the bathroom and one outdoor sample as the baseline for the neighborhood. Have sampling performed by a certified mold inspector (Test Only) and the samples analyzed by an independent, accredited laboratory.
Test Only vs. Test & Repair
Hiring a Test-Only company will typically yield a better result for property managers because there is no vested interest in recommending expensive repairs. When there is a controversy about a mold problem between a landlord and tenant, the last thing you want is a Test and Remove company on the scene. They smell big dollars because they will force the hand of the landlord to avoid legal complaints from tenant. There is a conflict of interest with Test & Repair companies that doesn’t exist with Test-Only companies. Ensure legally defensible results by using a Test- Only company to investigate air quality concerns.
Hopefully, this article has given you some things to consider when there are no obvious signs of mold, but there is still a concern about indoor air quality.
This article was produced by Same Day Mold Testing, Inc. The company was established to assist owners and property managers in arena of mold contamination. If you have a mold concern, please contact our office to discuss the particulars of your situation. We operate seven days a week to assist property managers perform their due diligence in a timely manner. Office: (800) 609-4214.