How to Test Your House for Mold

How to test for mold

Mold is a part of nature and it serves a valuable role in breaking down decaying organic matter such as dead leaves and trees. That’s outside, of course. In the home, however, it is a nuisance that may cause health problems for you or your family. At the very least mold creates a musty, mildew smell. Testing is a good way to determine if you have a problem or not, but many homeowners are unsure of how to test their houses for mold. We’ll tell you how to do that yourself, but first, here’s some more information on common molds.

What is Mold?

Mold is a fungus. It produces spores that travel through the air and attach to upholstery, drapes, rugs, carpeting, even clothes. It travels from room to room in buildings but needs a damp humid environment between 77 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit to establish a new colony. Once a mold colony forms it feeds on building materials.

In addition to a musty smell, other signs of mold include dark spots on the walls or discolored carpeting. If you or your family cough, sneeze or have a runny nose and these symptoms disappear after leaving the home, this could be the result of a mold problem.

Where Does Mold Grow?

Mold enters the home through windows, doors, and HVAC vents, but it also attaches to our clothing, shoes, and pets and travels indoors with us. Your nose will detect the presence of mold even if your eyes can’t, although mold is visible if you know where to look. It could be behind baseboards and wallpaper, under sinks, and in basements. More visible mold can be seen in the grout of bathrooms, kitchens, and around windows. 

Mold grows on many types of materials found in the home including:

  • Wood
  • Concrete
  • Insulation
  • Drywall
  • Carpet

Mold spores also attach to household dust particles, insulation, cardboard, and ceiling tiles. Remediation is necessary to rid your home of a mold problem, but first, test for mold in your house with a DIY screening kit.

What is Black Mold?

There is a lot of confusion about black mold. While there is no scientifically recognized type called black mold, what many people are referring to is either Stachybotrys and Aspergillus Fumigatus. These molds are dark green, not black. While all molds have the potential to be toxic some are referred to as toxic molds. Toxic mold triggers the same symptoms as other mold types but is also believed to cause more serious respiratory issues in some people.

Black mold releases mycotoxins which have links to health issues more serious the allergy-type symptoms. Symptoms of exposure to black mold include aches and pains, mood swings, headaches, nosebleeds, and memory loss. That said, more common symptoms of mold exposure are skin rashes, sore throat, sinusitis, nasal congestion or running nose, watery eyes, and dry cough. For those with asthma or preexisting lung conditions, the risk of mold exposure is greater. If anyone in your home has allergies or asthma, a weakened immune system, or is an infant, young child, or is elderly, they remain at a higher risk than healthy adults. That said, you should find out how to test your house for mold by reading further.

Testing For Mold

A home test kit allows homeowners to collect samples of mold from their homes and mail them into an accredited environmental lab for analysis. Homeowners collect samples from behind their refrigerators, around window sills, near baseboards, and in basement utility rooms. Also, check under stacks of old newspapers and cardboard boxes, under carpeting, and in ventilation ducts.

Mold Test Kit - Test for Mold - Indoor Air Quality
Test you house for mold with a DIY screening kit.

How to Test Your House for Mold in 5 Steps

Once you’ve purchased a mold test kit from Indoor Air Test it’s important to read the instructions on how to test your house for mold before you begin. Here are the next steps after that:

1. Identify the Source

You may see a dark coloration on walls or carpeting that you suspect is mold. This is an obvious place to collect a sample, but also bathroom grout and behind sinks and dishwashers. Any black marks or discoloration may be mold.

2. Close Windows and Doors

Once you select a room to test, close all the doors and windows for at least 24 hours. This prevents any drafts from disturbing the colony and reducing the potential number of spores to collect.

3. Collect Sample

Mold test kits come with a sample collection device for a single location. Use the Bioscan collection strip to remove a sample from the suspected area.

4. Return Sample

Place the collection strip into its case, fill out the chain of custody form, then return the envelope in the postage-paid envelope. It takes about 3-5 days to receive the emailed report which provides information on the mold levels of the collected sample.

5. Act on the Results

The last step in how to test your house for mold is to act on the results. The Centers for Disease Control provides many resources on cleaning up mold once it’s been detected. They recommend what cleaning products to use and what clothing to wear to protect yourself. You can also hire a professional mold remediation service. To prevent future mold growth, it is important to have heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems inspected and maintained. 

Steps to Prevent Mold

After you’ve learned how to test your house for mold, consider purchasing commercial products that remove allergens from the air. For example, bipolar ionizers use ions to destroy mold, dust, bacteria and reduce odors. They also destroy volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in paints and household cleaners.

Air purifiers work around the clock to clean indoor air and reduce mold risks. Both carbon and HEPA filters capture up to 99.97% of allergens. Portable units allow you to move them from room to room wherever you need them most. Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters rid carpeting, rugs, and furniture of mold spores, but also dust and other household allergens.

Order Your Mold Test Kit Today

We hope this information answers your questions on how to test your house for mold. Order a DIY screening kit. Call 727-572-4550.