When you think that your property has mold in it, it is important to know what you are dealing with so that you can tackle it effectively. There are many home improvements and renovations that can be tackled on your own in order to save money. However, when it comes to mold you may be putting your family’s health at risk. Many studies  have shown the links between mold and a variety of health problems including childhood asthma.
If you are looking to identify the presence of mold in your home, there are some home mold test kits that you can use yourself, or you can call in the experts who will conduct a mold inspection and mold testing. Before you try an at home kit, it is important to keep a few things in mind.
Home Mold Test Kits
Home mold testing is a cheaper alternative to calling in professionals, however, they come with a variety of flaws that mean you could get inaccurate results or results that are not useful, therefore meaning that they are a waste of money.
Many experts also do not recommend home mold test kits. In a book by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists known as ‘Bioaerosols: Assessment and Control’  this government agency advises against using the type of sample taken using these home mold kits. But don’t just trust the scientists, Consumer Reports  also advise against all home mold test kits. In an experiment they tried several, which all had some kind of fault. They even sent an unused test plate to one of the home mold labs, which came back positive, despite not being used.
In addition to this, with many home mold test kits, you are simply told whether mold is present or not, rather than identifying the type of mold and if it is dangerous. Some companies will offer to send this away to a lab for you, however this will come with an extra hidden costs. By simply mailing your test samples, they can get damaged or contaminated on the way to the lab, leading to inaccurate or false results.
A Mold Inspection
Mold inspections that are carried out by professionals, on the other hand, can tell you much more information. These experts are trained in mold and mold growth – even when it can’t be seen in your home. Not only will the professionals test visible mold growth, but they may also ask questions about the history of your building, take samples from various places known to be breeding grounds for mold, and ask about any symptoms of the occupants of the building.
Mold inspectors will also take into consideration factors that affect moisture levels in your building that at at-home test cannot. They understand that mold is apparent in almost every home – there is even mold present in the air outside. A physical inspection can tell experts a lot about the mold spores located on your property and whether these should be of concern to you and your family.
Mold inspectors can also conduct multiple different types of test and can evaluate which types are best for your specific property.
Firstly, air samples can be taken to identify the types of mold spores in the air – this is important as this is what you and your family are breathing in. The most common type of test conducted is a spore trap. Spore traps work by allowing the air in your home to flow through a sticky surface that traps the air particles. These can then be sent to the lab, which can identify the number of mold spores in the air, and the type of mold.
Secondly, mold inspectors can also collect surface samples from a variety of surfaces in your home. There are three main types of surface samples:
Swab samples – Swabs of surfaces are taken with an instrument like a cotton bud and sent away to the lab.
Tape samples – If a small amount of mold is present on a surface, mold inspectors may collect some of it by placing clear tape on top of it, removing a sample and sending it off for inspection.
Bulk samples – For larger mold growths, a piece of the area it is growing on can be physically removed or cut away and sent for testing.
These samples will then be tested and a detailed report sent out to you, including recommendations on which course of action to take, to best tackle the specific types of mold in your home.
Overall, home mold test kits will not give you the detailed answers that you need to tackle the types of mold in your home. An inspection of yourhome by an expert is of much greater value than any home testing kit. Many at home tests do not provide accurate and specific results, and instead simply tell you if mold is present or not. Mold inspectors will be able to identify where you have mold (even if it cannot be seen), what type of mold is in your home, and most importantly, how to effectively get rid of it. While mold inspection and testing can cost more, the positive impact it could have on your family’s health is priceless.
BNF Consulting, Inc. is a licensed mold inspection company that abides by New York State & US EPA regulations for mold inspection and testing. Does your home or business have a mold problem? Our company can provide a reliable mold inspection to determine potential risks. Call us today at 914-297-8335 for a free phone / Video consultation!
Justin H. Joe, PhD, CIH, CSP, CPE, is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and
a principal consultant of BNF Consulting, Inc. Dr. Joe graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with PhD and MS degrees in nuclear engineering. Dr. Joe has provided industrial hygiene consulting as a core function with his diverse background of experience and education.
1. Fields, H., 2021. Household Molds Linked To Childhood Asthma. [online] National Institutes of Health (NIH). Available at: <https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/household-molds-linked-childhood-asthma> [Accessed 5 January 2021].
2. Macher, J., & American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. (2000). Bioaerosols: Assessment and control. Cincinnati, Ohio: ACGIH.
3. Consumer Reports News. (2007, April 13). Be on the Lookout for Mold. Retrieved from Consumer Reports: https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2007/04/be-on-the-lookout-for-mold/index.htm