How To Check For Mold – Assessment, Inspection and Causes For Growth
Mold infestation is a common problem in many homes. Whether there have been visible water damage or not, there is a good chance that you have mold in your home. Although mold is found almost everywhere, it is important to understand that when they are present in large quantities they can cause health risks including respiratory problems and allergy. I will be writing about the health risks of mold in a while.
What Causes Mold To Grow? – Growth Conditions
Mold grows pretty fast and they can grow on almost any substance so long as a little moisture is present. They are produced by something called spores. A spore is a unit of asexual reproduction in many plants, they are tiny little cells that are caried and transported by air. Spores are naturally structured to survive in unfavouable conditions, but when they land on a moist surface which is favourable enough, that is when they begin to develop and grow into mold.
Most of the time, mold infestation in homes is almost always caused by water problems or moisture trapped somewhere in walls, roofs and floors. Some of these causes include:
- Leaky roofs
- Plumbing problems
- Moisture trapped in walls, or walls not drying quickly enough.
- In new buildings, mold growth can be caused by incomplete drying of flooring materials such as wood and concrete.
Three things are required for mold to grow; a source of food, a source of water (humidity) and time. This would be discussed in detail in the Mold remediation article.
Now you probably suspect that some parts your home is infested with mold because there has been a leakage problem lately; or you are perhaps just curious on the best ways to tackle the visible spread of mold that has begun to engulf your ceiling or wall.
The first thing to do before attempting to scrape off mold is to assess the extent of infestation to determine the level and type of remediation needed. You see, a lot of mold can be hidden inside walls, ceilings, floors and pipes. They also have the ability to become ‘dormant’ after their dwelling surface has dried up until humidity visits again. It really doesn’t help scraping off some of the mold because they are definitely going to grow back.
The first step in mold assessment is visually examining the outer surfaces of your home environment. Examine your ceiling, walls, basement floor, bathroom walls, underneath sink areas, garden walls e.t.c and make a note of the areas where mold is present.
The second step is to do an intrusive assessment where you would examine areas that are hidden or covered by something. Examples of thes areas include: behind wall paintings and wallpapers, under carpets, under the doormat, under furnitures, behind or inside wall shelves, inside air conditioner pipes, inside wall panels and cavities e.t.c then make a note of the areas where mold is present.
In addition to assessment, there is something called mold sampling where samples of mold and surrounding air are tested to check the type and composition of mold present and the density of spores in the air. This is usually done by an experienced proffessional and is not necessary at all unless the mold infestation is severe and occupants of the building are starting to show symptoms of contamination.
Now that you have assessed the extent of mold contamination in your home, the next step is to figure out the most efficient and safest way to eradicate this unwanted guest from your home. This would be discussed in detail in our mold removal article. Mold assessment and removal may not cost you anything afterall, understanding mold behaviour and causes of growth is key to eradicating them forever.