How do mold inspectors find mold?
This article is going to focus on finding mold with a visual inspection. There are many different ways to find mold depending on the type of environment and what kind of equipment you have available, but a visual inspection will be enough in most cases.
Mold is everywhere; that’s just life. Mold spores drift along with the breeze from ground level into your attic spaces, where they can grow into colonies large enough to see as black spots if they’re toxic molds or as white flakes if they’re not poisonous. There may even be evidence of dampness or water damage in some cases. However, these two things don’t always go hand-in-hand because sometimes water only travels a short distance before it evaporates, leaving no visible traces behind.
If there is visible mold in your home, you should address it as soon as possible. If the mold is white, either from its spore color or because it has been painted over, then you’re pretty safe if you don’t touch it, but you still want to clean up any dampness that may be causing humidity/condensation issues. If the mold is black and furry, it’s toxic and should be handled with gloves and a mask, or else you risk exposing yourself to mycotoxins which can be very harmful.
There are three familiar places where people find visible signs of mold:
· Inside walls – water damage stains on the drywall or panels give away the location of a leaky pipe, window, faucet, etc. In this case, a hidden source of dampness needs to be addressed.
· On the surface of materials – on drywall, paneling, or wallpaper, mold can sometimes appear as stains or discolorations that indicate a problem somewhere in the building envelope (walls, windows, roofs).
· Underneath materials – some kinds of mold will grow underneath seemingly solid surfaces like tile grout and carpet/underlay. Sometimes these kinds of colonies can be found under linoleum flooring too. They’re generally whiter than black mold because they tend to prefer higher
humidity environments which are also much less likely to be toxic.
The list could go on, but it’s rare to find more than three or four different types of mold inside the average home, so you don’t have too many options for differentiating between them. With practice, you can usually identify the most common species with a glance at their visible features, but if you’re not sure, then it might be worth taking the time to use a microscope or field testing kit (which is like an overpriced litmus test).
This article will focus on spotting black mold because it’s the most common type and the most dangerous, especially when hidden somewhere in your walls. Do not open up any drywall panels if you see black mold growing in your home unless you know what you’re doing! The spores are floating freely throughout your home’s air circulation, and you don’t want to draw their attention with an open invitation into your lungs.