When you have discovered black mold growing somewhere in your home, a thorough black mold inspection is required. Inspecting for mold can be more complicated than you might imagine. Not only do most types of mold spread easily, but mold can also grow in places where it’s virtually impossible to see. Areas like under hardwood and vinyl floors, above ceiling tiles, in crawlspaces, and in the dark corners of basements. Also, mold can grow inside wall cavities, HVAC systems and ventilation ducts. It’s imperative that you inspect all areas that possibly could be contaminated with black mold in your home and remove it, or have it professionally removed. This is because black mold is associated with a number of dangerous health issues.
Many times mold is not easy to find. It’s sneaky. It hides in dark areas and avoids any type of light. Often the odors of mold can be detected before it is ever seen. If you smell a musty odor in a room but can’t see any mold, there is a chance that mold is already present somewhere in the area. Mold will grow inside wall cavities, or on subfloors under carpeting, hardwood, or vinyl flooring. Sometimes mold isn’t discovered until discoloration spots appear. Mold can also grow inside HVAC systems and ductwork, or other places that you can’t easily see. If you ignore a mold problem, it can do damage that may cost thousands of dollars to remediate. And that may not include the cost of replacing contaminated structural materials and finishes. Add to that the cost associated with having to relocate if you are forced to vacate your home during the mold removal process.
A detailed black mold inspection is not easy to do but it is an important task. Start your mold inspection by checking all the usual places mold might grow. Look in corners, behind toilets, under sinks, in your basement, attic, and crawlspace. If wallpaper is present, inspect it closely near the floor and along any seam lines. Use your nose during your inspection also. Black mold produces mycotoxins, compounds that cause a distinct and musty odor. If you smell something musty or earthy, and there is no other reason for the odors, there is a possibility that mold may be found in the general vicinity. Keep searching until you find the source of any unusual odors. Individuals sensitive to mold may complain of headaches, difficulty breathing, or constantly having a runny nose. This can be another telltale sign that a mold problem may exist in the home.
If you see any type of discoloration or mold on a wall, there may also be mold inside the wall. If you see mold on the carpet, there is a chance that the mold will also be under the carpet or carpet cushion. You’ll need to take your inspection a step further.
If you suspect mold under a carpet, you will need to lift up the carpet to see what’s under there. To avoid damaging the carpet, use a pair of needle-nose pliers to grab hold of the carpet near a corner. Gently lift the carpet slightly and pull the carpet towards the wall. This will disengage the carpet from the tack strip. Once the carpet is disengaged, you will be able to roll it back to inspect under it. If you see mold on the floorboards, you’ll need to look under the floor. Moldy floorboards will probably need to be removed and replaced anyway, especially if there is a loss of structural integrity. It can be very difficult to completely remove mold from wood or wooden surfaces. If you aren’t sure if there is mold under the floorboards or inside of wall cavities, you will need to cut inspection holes for a better look. Then you can use a flashlight and a mirror to inspect the areas that you have exposed. If you find drywall or insulation that is affected by mold, it will have to be removed, bagged, and disposed of.
You should also check inside heating and air conditioning ducts, using a flashlight and mirror. If condensation is present inside the ducts, the mold can easily spread throughout the home and can travel quickly from room to room through the ductwork. If you find black mold in any part of your home’s ductwork, the entire HVAC system should be inspected.
Keep in mind that cutting holes in moldy materials can cause the mold to become airborne. Once airborne, you and your family may inhale the spores, and it may contaminate other areas of your home. For this reason alone it may be a better idea to have a qualified professional conduct an inspection. They will have the experience and equipment needed not only to prevent cross contamination, but also to locate all of the mold.
An eBook that we recommend, A Homeowner’s Complete Guide to Performing Mold Remediation by mold remediation expert Brian Turner, is an excellent resource for any homeowners wanting to conduct their own black mold inspection. These easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions, accompanied by photographs, makes the inspection process easier to understand and it will also provide tips on which areas you should search. This book will also describe to you how to search for mold in a safe way so you don't spread or expose yourself to the mold.
If you’re not sure you’ve located all of the mold in your home, we recommended calling in a certified mold tester. These professionals, certified by either the American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC) or the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH), are usually engineers. They can test for mold by sampling the air in your home and by sampling any surfaces that might bear traces of mold. They will perform a very thorough black mold inspection and make sure all areas of mold in your home have been identified. For a list of certified mold testers in your area, just follow the link.
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