Mold is known as an indoor air pollutant and mold growth damages the indoor air quality of your home. To know whether there is mold in your home, mold testing should be done. Mold testing is nothing but an inspection of mold growth. There are different methods in testing the mold. You can either hire a professional mold inspector or you do it by yourself through a mold test kit. The latter one is not widely preferred because it might not get you appropriate results.
The mold inspection and testing involve collecting the samples of either air or the surface. Air mold testing is widely used because it’s an easier process. The widely used method in air sampling is called the “spore trap” method. The air is trapped inside the spore trap device and sent to the mold testing laboratory. They apply some stains to the surface so that the mold spores can absorb and thereby detect the type of mold. Collecting air samples for mold testing is very important because you cannot spot the mold spore’s presence with a naked eye. But with air samples, the mold can be detected through a laboratory process.
The other method is testing the surface. This can be done in three ways, bulk samples, swab samples, and tape samples. In bulk samples, a piece of the area is removed and then sent to a laboratory for testing. In swab samples, something similar to a cotton swab is rubbed on the area and the samples are tested. In tape samples, a piece of clear tape is pressed against the surface which will remove mold on the surface.
How to Test for Mold in the House
To conduct a mold inspection in your home, consider a visual inspection of your home. Mold can be of any color. Usually, there are gray, greenish and black molds. It can be yellow, purple, red or even some combination of colors. Visible mold growth can be found by looking at the wet and mold-suspected spots. Mold spores appear in different spots and can be anywhere in the house. You can even smell the mold, a musty smell is an indication there is some mold in the house. Check for mold in areas such as windows, pipes, bathrooms, and other wet areas. If you don’t find any visible, buy an at-home mold testing kit. There are multiple mold testing kits you can find online. There are many DIY mold testing kits that you can check all by yourself.
Some mold test kits are purely designed to find out whether mold is present on the surface or not. These mold test kits cost around $30. After the test, if you find the mold spores in the air, you can consider sending the samples to the lab to find out the type of mold present. This would additionally cost you around $60.
How to Use a Mold Test Kit
You should either take samples of a surface or air and then send them to the laboratory to get appropriate results. By using the sampling swab in the kit, check the suspected surface take the sample and then swab the culture medium in the kit. If you notice that there isn’t any growing in the culture medium within five days to one week, then there is no growing mold.
Now the other way is to collect the air samples. In the room, you want to test, place one viable mold test kit in the room and the other one just outside the room by opening the lids. After an hour, close the lids. If there is mold in the room, you can see the mold growing in the kits before one week itself. You can even compare both the indoor and outdoor kits to know the difference in the quantity of the mold. If you find the difference, then send the kits to the laboratory to find out more details regarding the volume and type of the mold in the room.
Some Basic Challenges of Air Sampling
Air sampling is probably one of the widely used techniques for mold testing. But air sampling doesn’t alone cannot detect the existence of the problem. It should be accompanied by surface samples and visual inspection for appropriate results. Indoor airborne spore levels are very unpredictable and can vary depending on various factors. This can lead to the results which are not accurate if the sampling is not done properly. Because the spores alone are being collected and they can be subjected to damage during the collection, the identification of the type of mold may be difficult.
Air sampling can detect the long and intact chains of mold, so they can be an ideal option to detect large chains of mold at once. This will ensure there are no large chains of mold in the house that have gone unnoticed. These intact chains can be revealed by sir sampling which could probably not be revealed through other methods of testing. Although there are some challenges with air sampling, if done under controlled conditions and analyzed properly, they are still a good choice.
Devices for Air-Sampling
Air-sampling devices are the ones that are used to collect samples of air to detect the mold in it. There are quite a few air sampling services that are used for mold testing while a home inspection.
Some of them are:
- Impaction samplers: It uses a calibrated air pump impact spores onto a prepared microscopic slide.
- Cassette samplers: These are usually the use and through or one-time use model. They utilize the forced air for impacting the spores into a collection media.
- Airborne-particle collectors: These devices directly trap spores onto a culture dish. These are widely used to know the species of the mold that’s been found.