How do you test for mold in your house?

The long-term effects of mold exposure are associated with allergies, asthma, other respiratory illnesses, and other chronic diseases.
Mold can also cause damage to your property, including structural damage to homes or businesses. It is essential to correctly identify the type of mold you have to maximize remediation efforts.

Discoloration: Any odd coloration in a room could indicate that mold is present. While most molds are black, brown, or white shades, discoloration doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem unless it appears in several rooms where moisture is persistent. If the discoloration moves when exposed to air currents, this could mean that spores are growing on the surface of drywall or carpeting, which may become airborne.

Mildew: Mildew is common in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. While it may be aesthetically displeasing, mildew itself isn’t toxic. However, the conditions that give rise to decay are conducive to mold growth, releasing mycotoxins into the air.

Odor: If there’s an odor coming from a room where no apparent signs of mold are present, then there could be an issue with water or humidity that has given rise to mold spores. Other smells such as earthy or musty gasses indicate organic materials have broken down due to excessive moisture levels. These smells generally aren’t noticeable until they’ve reached high concentrations but should not be ignored if you suspect other problems in the room.

Physical Appearance: Before checking for these other signs of mold, take a minute to visually inspect the area where you suspect there may be a problem. Mold usually appears as surface growths that vary from white to blackish-green depending on its type and level of infestation. While larger mold colonies can indicate severe damage, even small areas of disease on walls or ceilings should be treated as soon as possible.

While it is still essential to identify visible mold growth entirely before attempting any remediation efforts, it’s not always easy, given the obvious health risks involved with this process. If you have concerns about your health due to potential mold exposure, consult a professional who will guide you through the inspection process and advise you if immediate removal is necessary.

Mold testing is an integral part of identifying the type of mold you have, helping to minimize your exposure. Additionally, it should be used in conjunction with other methods such as the “sniff test” and moisture detection methods (discoloration or high humidity) to maximize your chances of success.

Three different types of tests can accurately identify the presence of mold: culturing, direct microscopy, and bulk analysis. Since culturing requires a sample for testing and would not be successful if there is no visible mold growth, direct microscopy, and bulk analysis serve as suitable alternatives when there is mold damage but no samples available for testing. Direct microscopic identification is accurate but only works well with solid surfaces like wood or concrete examples. On the other hand, bulk analysis is most effective with samples taken from solid surfaces or air sampling.