Category Archives: mold and mildew

What if the Mold Is In My Walls?

mold_wall_hiddenI get these questions a lot: what if the mold is in my walls, and how will you find it. First, let me say- good question! This is a common concern and you are not alone, so let me see if I can explain. It is not uncommon for us to get a call that goes something like this: I have been feeling ill for a while now and I just cannot shake it; I don’t see any mold but we did have a roof leak a few months ago (insert your water intrusion issue here). This is where we will discuss your issues and specifics of where you are having issues and what your concerns are. During this discussion the question inevitably comes up, “But if you can’t see the mold, how do you know it’s there?”

Let me begin to answer this question with how the inspection process works and how we determine if the environment exists for mold in your home. The first step in any inspection is a discussion with you, the homeowner, about what your concerns are and where you think the issues are. Then your inspector will begin with the outside of the home; here they are looking for any avenues for water to enter your home. After covering the outside they will move inside and do a visual inspection along with testing for moisture in building materials (walls, floors, etc.). This moisture hunt is how we determine if the environment exists for mold to grow. You see mold needs two primary things to grow, water and food. The water we can find with our moisture meters and other equipment, the food, well, that’s the home itself. The primary sources of food for mold in your home are any carbon-based (and particularly any cellulose, or wood- based) substance. In today’s structures, food sources for mold are readily available (sheetrock, wood wall studs, wood flooring or wood decking). Now if you have an attic space or crawl space, we check those areas too, but our primary concern is your living space and the air you are breathing.

It’s at this point that we can make any recommendations for sampling. This will let us know if that stuff that looks like mold really is (this will be a surface sample) and it will let us know if the air you are breathing contains mold levels above what you are being exposed to outside (this is an air sample). It’s this air sample that lets us know if there is hidden mold and answers the earlier question of how will you find the mold in my walls. Let me explain how this works in a little more detail. As in any scientific comparison we need a control, something that gives us a baseline or “normal” for your particular home. We do this by taking an air sample from outside the home. This gives us a snapshot of the molds in the air around your home at that particular time and date. Now that we have something to compare to, we can look at the lab results from the sample we took inside the home. We are looking to see if it shows any levels that stand out as elevated above what the outside sample told us was in the air at the time. It is this comparison that lets us detect hidden mold. You see, if mold is growing in the walls we can detect the spores in our air samples. If the levels are higher than outside, then we know we have a source for that particular mold somewhere in the room. In some cases, however, we do encounter situations where an air sample in a room that has wet building materials will come back as normal from the lab. If this is a room or area where we or you feel there could be a hidden issue, we have another type of air sample that can be taken directly from the wall cavity; this will verify the presence of mold inside the wall.

So there you have it, the inside story of how we determine if you have hidden mold in your walls.

Gabe-Sisney-Profile-Pic-300x276

Gabe Sisney, Texas Operations Manager

A Complete Mold Diagnosis

Mold diagnosis for your homeYou have decided to have your mold concerns diagnosed by a professional. In a sense you have decided to take your home to the doctor. You are expecting a complete diagnosis so that you know how to move forward in resolving your concerns. Usually, the complete diagnosis will include an investigation and testing.

A mold investigation will paint you a partial picture of what might be going on in your home, much like when you go for an office visit with your doctor. The doctor will tell you it appears that you might have strep throat, but you will need a strep test to confirm. The doctor will need to order the correct prescription based on the testing results. You would certainly want to be taking the correct medication in order to get well. The same applies to the recommendations your inspector will make as far as testing any visible mold like growth or the air in your home, based on his findings during the investigation. Your inspector will need to gather as much information as possible in order to advise you on the steps for remediation (your home’s prescription).

Sometimes mold testing is not necessary. Sometimes a strep throat test is not necessary. Sometimes an x-ray of your lungs is recommended to see if something else might be causing your sore throat. Sometimes air testing, swab testing, or wall-cavity testing is recommended and could be essential for a complete diagnosis and prescription.

If you were to have air samples taken without an inspection, you would find out if there were specific mold spores in the air you are breathing, but would not have a clue to what might be causing them or where they could be coming from. With the inspection, your consultant could help pinpoint the problem area by possibly finding wet building materials, a plumbing leak, a roof leak, etc. If you were to just have an inspection and did not have any of the recommended tests performed, you would find out that you might have a plumbing leak or wet materials, but would have no clue if there was any hidden mold somewhere or in the air you are breathing. You would have a partial picture. You might be taking the wrong steps to remedy the situation, like taking a prescription for a virus when you have an infection.

A complete diagnosis of your mold concerns is essential in order to paint you a 3-D picture of what may be going on in your home. The mold inspection will be to find any issues that are conducive to mold growth, such as wet materials, moisture, and humidity, which can pinpoint possible sources. The samples or tests will tell us and you what types of molds are present and their concentration. Your inspector and project manager will review the findings, photographs, conclusions, and the lab results. They will put all of this together in your report and will then let you know what your next steps should be to begin the healing process of your home.

Tina-Yaeger

by Tina Yaeger

Are Mold Remediation Companies Scamming Homeowners?

Yesterday, Jeff Rossen on Rossen Reports Today, aired an expose about mold remediation contractors scamming homeowners. 5 out of 8 Mold Remediation Contractors they called out told the undercover reporter that there was Black Mold in the home and that she needed Mold Remediation. They told her that she should not waste her money on testing that it was Black Mold for sure! Then, they provided her with bids for the work they told her she had to have because the mold was dangerous! One mold remediation contractor quoted $1200, but one quoted her $10,000.

Black mold testing

Laboratory analysis is required to determine mold type.

The moral of the story: get a professional mold inspection company to perform a thorough inspection and mold testing BEFORE you hire a remediation contractor. No one can tell you a mold-like substance is mold or mildew or Black

Mold without laboratory analysis. Do not trust a company that performs both mold inspections AND mold remediation. Get an independent, non-biased opinion from a licensed Mold Assessment Consultant (Texas and Florida) or Certified Mold Inspector first! Check out the Rossen Report video here: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/47292508#47292508

3 Mold Groups

Molds are organized into three groups according to human responses: Allergenic, Pathogenic and Toxigenic.

Allergenic Molds

Allergenic molds do not usually produce life-threatening health effects and are most likely to affect those who are already allergic or asthmatic. The human system responses to allergenic molds include: hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold.  In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.

Pathogenic Molds

Pathogenic molds usually produce some type of infection. They can cause serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems. Healthy people can usually resist infection by these organisms regardless of dose. In some cases, high exposure may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis (an acute response to exposure to an organism).

Toxigenic Molds

Mycotoxins can cause serious health effects in almost anybody. These agents have toxic effects ranging from short-term irritation to immunosuppression and possibly cancer. Therefore, when toxigenic molds are found further evaluation is recommended.

Common Indoor Molds

The most common types of molds found indoors include:

  • Aspergillus
  • Cladosporium
  • Penicillium
  • Alternaria
  • Stachybotrys, also known as “Black Toxic Mold.”

Some molds, including Stachybotrys, produce chemical toxins known as “mycotoxins,” which are generated and released into the air, leading to the “toxic mold” designation. Exposure to these toxins can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact, and can result in symptoms including dermatitis, cough, rhinitis, nose bleeds, cold and flu symptoms, headache, general malaise and fever.

The US EPA states that mold spores, whether dead or alive, can cause adverse health effects and allergy symptoms.

For more information about types of molds and mold-related health probleMold under the microscopems, go to the EPA’s website: http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldbasics.html

 

New Video Posted on YouTube – Why Choose Mold Inspection Sciences

I thought people might like to hear from me why they should use Mold Inspection Sciences.  There are many other reasons why, but these are the top reasons people choose us. This is my first video, so take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVRiY8kovrE

You can also check out the new Mold Inspection Sciences of Dallas website at: www.moldinspectiondallas.com