HomePro Building Inspections, LLC - Cincinnati, Ohio

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HomePro Building Inspections, LLC
5273 Boehm Dr, Fairfield, OH  45014
info@ohiohomepro.com
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(513) 325-3262

Cincinnati’s Home for Affordable Mold Testing & Mold Inspections

Mold Testing for Home Owners

When dealing with a known or suspected mold problem, it is important to determine the type and extent of the mold growth before any cleanup is attempted.  It is just as important to verify that the mold growth has been truly eliminated once the cleanup is finished.  Both of these tasks are accomplished by a mold screening which consists of four parts.

Mold Screening

Visual Inspection

To determine the location, scope, and source of water infiltration and mold growth

(A $120 Value)  

Infrared Scan

To locate any hidden areas of moisture and potential mold growth

(A $150 Value)  

Moisture Meter Testing

To verify the amount of moisture present in the affected areas

(A $45 Value)  

Mold Testing

Includes up to 4 air samples to determine the type and concentration of mold spores in the air.

(A $400 Value)  

$295

(A $715 Value)

9 Steps for Dealing with Mold

There are nine essential steps to successfully dealing with a mold problem.

1. Find the source of the water.  This is a key first step.  If you do not correctly identify the source of water that is causing the mold growth, then it will almost certainly come back.

2. Determine the scope of the mold growth by measuring square footage of area covered and/or performing air testing to determine the concentration of mold spores in the air.

3. Have the mold tested to identify the type of mold(s) present and determine the heath risks of the mold(s).

4. Identify the materials the mold is growing on to determine if materials can cleaned or if they must be removed and disposed of.  Hard, non-porous materials such as metal, plastic, tile, etc can usually be cleaned.  Porous materials such as drywall, insulation, fabric, paper, etc usually must be removed.

5. Decide who will do cleanup based on the amount and type of mold present.  Large mold growths or toxic molds should be cleaned by a professional.

6. Determine method of cleanup based on type of mold and material being cleaned.  Refer to the EPA guidelines http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html or consult with a professional.

7. Eliminate source of water to prevent future mold growth.

8. Cleanup / Remove mold

9. Verify removal was successful by monitoring area for new moisture or mold growth.  A follow up air test is recommended to make sure that all the mold was removed and there is no additional growth in any hidden areas
.

Types of Mold Testing

There are several types of mold testing available.  Here’s a brief explanation of the different types and their uses.

Air Testing – Air testing involves collecting at least two air samples using calibrated equipment.  One or more samples are taken from inside the home and compared to a control sample that is taken from outside the home.  The samples are sent to a lab and analyzed to determine the concentration of mold spores inside the house compared to outside.  The lab will also identify the general families that the mold spores belong to.

Swab Testing – Swab testing is the general name used for taking a direct sample of the mold using either a swab or tape.  This sample is then sent to a lab to determine the general family of mold.

Non-viable Testing – Most mold testing, both air and swab, is non-viable testing.  This means the sample of mold or mold spores is visually examined to identify which family of molds it belong to.

Viable Testing – Viable testing is performed by growing a sample of the mold in the lab to more accurately determine the type of mold present.

Understanding Mold

Mold is a confusing and controversial topic in the real estate industry.  Some people view mold as a very serious health concern while others think the risks are completely overblown.  It doesn’t help that there are almost no government or industry standards concerning mold.  With all the confusion and disagreement, it helps to focus on what is known about mold.

What is Mold?

Mold is part of the fungus family which also includes mushrooms and mildew.  There are approximately 1.5 million species of fungi and only about 10% of these have been cataloged.  Mold, like mushrooms, grows on dead organic material and gets all its nutrients by breaking this material down.

Where Does Mold Grow?

Molds can grow almost anywhere.  Some molds will even grow on glass and stainless steel, as long as there is a thin layer of organic material (grease, etc) on the surface.  Many molds can also grow in complete darkness including inside walls, inside ductwork, under carpet, etc.

Every Home Has Some Mold

Molds reproduce and spread by creating microscopic spores.  These lightweight spores float on air currents and can travel long distances before settling onto surfaces.  These spores can also remain dormant for a very long time (centuries in some cases) waiting for the right conditions to grow.  This makes it virtually impossible to completely eliminate all mold in a home.

Why Water is Key

Like all living things, mold needs water to grow.  Most molds prefer moist surfaces and high humidity (over 40%) but they do not normally grow in standing water.  Therefore, the best way to prevent mold growth in your home is by controlling the moisture and humidity in your home.

Understanding the Health Risks

There are three basic kinds of health risks associated with mold:

Allergenic – Most mold related health problems are due to breathing in the spores.  These spores can cause allergic or asthmatic symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and runny nose.  The severity of these symptoms will vary depending on the number of spores in the air and they will also vary from person to person.  These effects are usually worse for people who are already suffering from allergies or asthma.

Pathogenic – Some molds can grow at body temperature and cause infections.  This is most common in people whose immune systems are already suppressed due to illness, HIV/AIDS, or chemotherapy.  A healthy individual can normally resist these infections.

Toxic – Only a very small percentage of molds are considered toxic.  Toxic molds produce mycotoxins that can cause health problems ranging from irritation and rashes to immune system problems, skin disease, and even cancer.  Most recorded cases are due to eating food contaminated with mold but some mold spores can also contain mycotoxins which can be breathed in or absorbed through the skin.

Black Mold vs Toxic Mold

There have been quite a few stories in the media about black mold and it’s dangers.  However, just because a mold is black doesn’t mean its toxic.  Molds come in many different colors (black, white, brown, green, orange, pink, blue, etc.) and there are hundreds of thousands of varieties.

Stachybotrys Chartarum (atra)

Most news stories about toxic mold or black mold have referred to Stachybotrys Chartarum (atra) which is greenish-black and slightly slimy to the touch.   There are about 15 known species of Stachybotrys in the world.

This toxic mold grows in areas where the relative humidity is above 55%.  It grows well in high-cellulose material, such as straw, hay, wet leaves, dry wall, carpet, wall paper, fiber-board, ceiling tiles, cellulose insulation, etc.  It does not grow on plastic, vinyl, concrete, or ceramic tiles.  It is not found in the green mold on bread or the black mold that commonly grows on shower tiles.

True Worst Case Scenarios

Most people have seen or heard various horror stories in the media about houses being unihabitable or torn down due to mold.  While these cases do occur, they are extremely rare.  Significant mold growth in a home is normally due to one of four causes.

Flood Damage – Most cases of severe mold growth in homes are due to flood damage.  If materials are not immediately dried or removed, large amounts of mold will start growing within days of a flood.  When this occurs, any porous material (insulation, carpet, etc) must be replaced.

Hidden Leaks – Hidden water leaks inside attics, walls, or crawlspaces can also lead to large colonies of mold.  If there is an adequate supply of water, mold can grow and begin producing spores in as little as one week.

Unconditioned Spaces – Houses or spaces that are left vacant or unconditioned during the summer can also develop mold.  Hot, humid air fills the space during the day and then some of this moisture condenses onto cooler surfaces during the night.

Construction Errors – Newer homes are designed and built to have fewer air leaks than older homes.  Reducing air leaks and insulating outside walls can greatly improve the energy efficiency of a house.  Unfortunately, if installed incorrectly, moisture barriers and insulation can sometimes cause moisture to become trapped inside the insulation which allows mold to grow.

Lack of Government Standards

There are very few government or industry standards concerning mold.  This is because every situation is different and has to be individually evaluated to determine the potential health risks as well as the appropriate cleanup methods.  There are four main variables which must be considered when evaluating mold.

Amount of mold – As you would expect, the more mold that is present in a house, the greater the health risks become and the more extensive the cleanup will be.  This is true regardless of the type of mold.  There are two ways to evaluate how much mold is present inside a house.  One quick method is to simply measure the area (in square feet) that is covered with mold.  The problem with this method is that some or even all of the mold may be hidden inside walls or other places where you cannot see it.  A better method is to measure how many mold spores are present in the air.

Type of mold – Obviously, identifying the type(s) of mold present is very important.  Different molds have different health risks associated with them.  This will also affect the type and method of cleanup needed.

Individual health and sensitivity – This is the most difficult variable to predict or measure.  Unfortunately, a person’s sensitivity to a particular type of mold is often not known until after they are exposed to it.  However, in general, mold will cause more severe symptoms in people who already have severe allergies or asthma.  Also, people with suppressed immune systems due to illness, HIV/AIDS, or chemotherapy are more susceptible to mold related illnesses than people with healthy immune systems.

Type of surface mold is growing on – The type of material the mold is growing on will also determine the type of cleanup that is needed.  Some materials are easy to clean while it is practically impossible to remove mold from other materials.

General Guidelines

As stated before, there are no comprehensive sets of standards for dealing with mold.  However, here are some general guidelines that you may find useful.

According to the American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), indoor mold levels should be less than 1/3 of outdoors levels.  If indoor levels are above this amount, action should be taken to clean up and remove the mold.  Keep in mind that the outdoor levels of mold can vary quite a lot over the different seasons and even week to week.

According to the National Allergy Bureau, 0-900 spores per cubic meter is considered low, 900 - 2500 spores per cubic meter is considered moderate, and 2500-25,000 spores per cubic meter is considered high.

The EPA has published some guidelines for cleanup of mold in schools and other public buildings.  These guidelines categorize mold growths based on the total area covered in square feet.  Small mold growths cover less than 10 square feet, medium growths cover between 10 and 100 square feet, and anything over 100 square feet is considered a large mold growth.  The EPA recommends working with a professional remediator for both medium and large mold growths. To view all of the EPA guidelines visit  http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html

IAC2 Certified Mold Inspector - Serving the Cincinnati, Ohio  area
Infrared Certified Home Inspector Serving the Cincinnati, Ohio area
Cincinnati, Ohio Certified Home Inspector by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors

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Thermal Imaging
 See What You’ve Been Missing

Hidden water leaks can easily lead to mold growth inside walls.  Thermal imaging helps locate the source of the moisture.

This leak inside the wall of a 3-story apartment building is easily seen using an Infrared camera.

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