How to Test for Mold in Your House: A Complete Guide
There is no better detector of mold in a house than your own nose. Whether you can smell it yourself, or you or another house member begins to sneeze when they walk into a room, there may be a mold issue growing out of sight in a wall. Have no fear we’ll go over all the things you need to know about mold and your health, where to look for mold, how to help prevent mold, and of course, how to test for mold. Let’s dive right in.
What Are the Hazards of Mold
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common hazards for household molds affect those with allergies to the mold spores. The most common effects of mold are in the form of respiratory complications.
If you or a person in your household does not have a pre-existing respiratory condition such as asthma, then you should be fine with limited exposure. In fact, to some extent, we breathe in mold spores every day as we walk around outside. It is only when we are inside a confined area that their unique smell hits. That is not to say you should disregard the situation altogether. If left unchecked, the mold will continue to grow, and long term exposure can cause significant breathing issues.
Where to Look for Mold
Mold is a fungus that grows in dark, damp environments, so when looking around your house for potential mold hiding spots, begin in places like:
These are places where mold will most commonly grow on the outside of the wall, making it visible and easy to locate and address. Keep in mind though, mold does not need light to germinate. So, any place with a moisture content (MC) over 20% is an area mold might grow.
Some places in the house people often overlook are inside walls near:
If no mold is visible and there is not yet a smell but you do have an allergic response to something, it might be wise to invest in a water content meter, also known as a moisture meter, from your local hardware or home improvement store. While they do not detect mold, they will detect wet spots inside the wall you may not see.
Something else you can do is to check your water meter to determine if you might have a leak. To do this, simply ensure all the water sources in your house are off, such as toilet water stops, faucets, and the water heater isn’t still filling from recent use. Then go out to your water meter, pull the cover, and look at your dial. There will be a large dial that keeps track of large quantity uses and a smaller dial off to one side. That smaller dial is what some plumbers call the leak detector. If it isn’t turning, you don’t have a leak; if it is, then you do, and a possible mold source.
How to Get Rid of Mold On Your Wall
If you do see mold on the outside of a wall, it is recommended to:
But what if it is soft to the touch? In that case, the drywall is saturated and needs to be replaced. To do this, put on the same PPE as mentioned above and:
How to Help Prevent Mold
Unfortunately, mold spores are pretty tough and resilient. After all, they have had several million years to evolve into an organism that survives where most other things die and are actually necessary to decomposition. That being said, we can mitigate them propagating inside our homes. The main thing to watch for is signs of wet spots; if you have a leak that saturates the drywall, be sure to remove all the wet or damp drywall around that area. Drywall patches generally come in 2′ x 2′ squares, so do not be shy about using a larger piece than you think is necessary.
If you have a severe storm that comes through, check your interior, outer perimeter walls, attic, and basements with a moisture meter a few days after the storm. Make sure you do not have a high moisture content lingering somewhere. Lastly, trust your senses — if you smell something odd or start sneezing in a room, check it out.
How to Test for Mold and What to Do When it’s Detected
Okay, now you have either smelled or seen mold in a room, had an allergic reaction, and/or found a spot holding moisture in the walls. Now what? Well, now it is time to test for mold spores themselves. The first thing you will want to do is either order or go to your local home improvement store and purchase a mold test kit. The ImmunoLytics DIY Mold Test Kit for Home is our favorite.
You’ll also want to grab:
If mold does appear, do not fret. You can place your sample in an envelope most test kits come with and send it to a lab recommended by the test kit. The lab will determine what type of mold it is and what the best course of action is for treatment. (There will be an additional charge for the lab work.)
It may take between 3-8 weeks in order for your tests to be returned. While you wait, you may want to repeat the process in other rooms in your house to determine the size of the contaminated area. This will also allow you to assess whether this will be a project you want to take on yourself or hire a company to do for you.
Do not hesitate to act if you do find mold in your home. If allowed to go unchecked, it will continue to spread, seeking out new sources of moisture and darkness. We hope our guide has been useful in answering any questions that you may have had about household mold and how to test for it. Remember, it is not just a home but your castle; take care of it, and it will take care of you.
- See Also: 10 Black Mold Myths And Misconceptions
Featured Image Credit: Fevziie, Shutterstock