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How to test for Mold

As experts in the Mold Remediation industry, we’re often asked for guidance and instruction on mold testing.  While we don’t perform testing directly, as this is viewed as a conflict of interest, we’re happy to assist with the planning and analysis, and are also happy to refer you to qualified local testers.  We certainly understand the concern, as you want to make sure that the mold testing that’s being performed is necessary and effective. There are many factors that affect how, when, and where mold testing should be performed, so we approach each property with guidance tailored to its unique needs.  With that in mind however, there are a few things that should always be considered when thinking about mold testing.  Here are a few of the most common:

Is your mold tester qualified?

When selecting a mold tester, it’s recommended to choose someone that specializes in testing services only.  Certainly, your mold remediation firm and mold tester should always be independent of one another to ensure that there’s no conflict of interest.  Additionally, when selecting a mold tester, you want to ensure that they perform the testing necessary for your project (most often air sample testing) to ensure that the results you receive will be valuable to the remediation firm planning your project.

Do you need mold testing?

Mold testing isn’t always necessary.  If you see visible mold growth in a room, for instance, you already know it’s there without having testing performed.  Where mold testing may be needed are cases where mold growth is suspected behind walls or above ceilings where we can’t see it, or when cross-contamination concerns exist.  In both cases, a skilled professional can identify these concerns, determine if testing is required, and make recommendations for where, when, and how testing should be conducted.  If testing is necessary, this will ensure that the results are adequate and answer the questions that may need to be met prior to remediation.

What type of mold testing should you have performed?

There are, effectively, two types of mold tests, swab / strip tests, and air sample tests.  The two tests have very different purposes, and not all mold testers perform both, so it’s important to know what you need and what your mold tester offers…

Swab / Strip Tests are useful in determining the strain of mold in a select sample only.  This can be useful in cases where there is visible growth that you’re attempting to identify but doesn’t give you a picture of the mold issue as a whole.

Air Sample Tests are much more detailed and show us what’s in the air at the time the test was performed.  This can indicate what issues, if any, are hidden in wall or ceiling cavities and whether mold spores have cross-contaminated adjoining rooms.  For mold issues, we generally recommend air sample testing because it provides a much clearer picture of the mold contamination in the home and allows us to much better plan the work necessary to address it.

Where should you perform mold testing?

As explained previously, mold testing is intended to answer questions about the extent of the mold contamination that we can’t see.  For this reason, testing in nearby rooms where you don’t see mold growth may answer a lot more questions than testing in the area where you already know a mold issue exists.  A qualified tester or remediation professional will be able to determine where testing should be performed to determine the extent of the mold contamination.  These answers don’t only allow us to design a project plan that addresses the affected areas, but allows us to determine what areas are clean and will need to be protected to prevent future cross contamination.

Understanding your mold test results

Mold test results are comparative, meaning that a baseline sample is taken (often outside or in an area known to be clean), and then the results from the other areas are compared to this baseline.  If the test results are higher than the baseline, a mold issue exists.  If the test results are not, the air quality is deemed acceptable and no action is recommended.  With mold testing, results will be broken down by spore type, which must be individually compared to the baseline results.  Because if a particular spore type is high, even if others are not, it indicates an active mold contamination that will need to be resolved.  Your tester, as well as your Disaster Blaster Estimator, will both be happy to review the results and address any questions or concerns that you may have.  If work is necessary, your Disaster Blaster Estimator will develop a project plan and proposal for you as well.

We hope this answered some of the common questions about mold testing.  Every property, and mold issue, are different, so we work directly with the property owner and tester to ensure that the issue is addressed properly.  Should you ever have a question about mold in your home, please feel free to contact your local Disaster Blaster, we’re always happy to help.

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