Homeowners should take pride in their homes by maintaining them to the best of their abilities to ensure proper functioning of household systems as well as a healthy environment. One of the most common detriments to the overall condition of a home and the well being of its occupants is mold. Mold is a byproduct of moisture and food that can grow anywhere where these sources are highly concentrated. It is the leading cause of allergic symptoms within homes and spreads quickly once it starts. Because mold can be detrimental to your health and cause damage to your home, it is important to have mold assessments done to detect and eliminate mold growth.
Mold assessment is the process of inspecting for mold to determine the presence, location, and extent of mold growth. One reason that mold assessment is important is because excessive mold growth can have adverse health effects for people and animals. The range of health problems associated with mold include but are not limited to nasal and sinus congestion, eye irritation, respiratory problems, coughing, throat and skin irritation, headaches, and sneezing. These symptoms are caused by inhaling or ingesting mold spores which travel by air to moist surfaces to begin growth. Mold assessments are important because they can detect mold even if there are no obvious or visible signs. Mold can grow within walls where it cannot be seen and silently contribute to health problems for individuals within the home.
The first goal of mold assessment is to confirm the presence of mold. There are two methods used for detecting mold’s presence; visual examinations and sampling. Visual inspections involve looking in areas where mold is more likely due to moisture such as under sinks, in bathrooms, and behind refrigerators. In some cases, more intrusive inspections are necessary to look for mold under furniture, behind wallpaper and drywall, and in the duct work. If visual inspections fail to detect mold, sampling may be effective in detecting mold that is not visible. There are three types of sampling; air sampling, surface sampling, and bulk samples. Air sampling is the most common and involves taking samples of the indoor air and outdoor air for comparison of mold levels. This method is usually quite accurate at determining the presence of mold; however, surface and bulk sampling can be used to detect the amount of mold spores on indoor surfaces as well as the concentration of mold.
Once mold is detected, the next goal of mold assessment is to discover the source of the mold growth. Because mold is caused by excess moisture, locating the source involves checking the exterior of the home and foundation for leaks, checking for seepage around fixtures involving water, and inspecting the HVAC system. Once mold is discovered and the source is identified, mold assessment has achieved its goal, making way for mold remediation, or the actual removal of mold. The value of mold assessment should not be understated because detecting mold and its source is a crucial first step towards safe removal and the restoration of a healthy home.