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How Does Mold Testing Work?

January 19, 2023

Dingy walls…musty smell…could it be…mold?

Here’s how professional mold testing works and how to know when you need it.


Whether you see it, smell it, or simply suspect it, no one likes signs of mold growing in their home. But how do you know it’s really an active mold colony?

Home mold testing can tell you whether you have mold growth in your home and help you decide what your next steps should be. But not all mold tests are created equal. Not only are there various types of mold testing, but the tests should be done in a specific way to give you the most accurate results.


How Do You Test for Mold?

There are two basic types of mold testing: air sample testing and surface testing.

Surface testing involves taking a sample of the affected area with a cotton swab or a piece of clear tape. Air sample testing involves pulling air through a device to collect mold spores that may be present.

A surface mold test with cotton swab

Although both types of mold testing are accurate at detecting the presence of mold, air testing is the most accurate way of determining whether the mold is actually affecting your indoor air quality.

Once air samples have been collected, they are then sent off to the lab to determine whether the amount of mold present is within an acceptable range.


Are There Acceptable Levels of Mold?

Many people are surprised to find out that there is such a thing as an “acceptable” level of mold. We’re used to hearing about black mold and toxic mold, but that doesn’t mean any amount of mold is an immediate danger.

Mold spores are found in every environment, from the arid deserts of Nevada to the swampy Everglades. The spores can live in conditions that a growing mold colony can’t, and they don’t usually pose any concern as long as they don’t land on a wet surface and begin to multiply.

This is why, when taking air samples for mold testing, one sample should always be of the outside air. The lab will compare the two samples against each other. If the mold spore count is the same indoors as it is outdoors, that would be considered an acceptable level of mold.

mold samples growing in petri dish

Is Professional Mold Testing Necessary?

“I can get a DIY mold test kit online for less than $40. Do I really need to hire a mold testing professional?”

Of course, you’re free to choose whatever method you want. But an at-home mold testing kit isn’t as accurate or reliable as a professional air quality test.

DIY mold test kits test whether mold is present or not. They aren’t designed to give you information about the concentration of mold spores (in or out of your home), and tests like these often result in a lot of false positives (not to mention unnecessary panic). Most importantly, if your home does have a mold growth problem, a professional inspector can help you determine the cause of it.

Mold testing should always be performed by a licensed professional. Certified mold inspectors must complete rigorous training, take continued education courses, and use protective equipment. Mold exposure can cause minor ailments such as coughing and headaches, as well as more serious health effects like joint pain, rashes, and nausea.

Mold testing and mold remediation are done by two separate professionals to avoid any conflict of interest.


How Do You Know If You Need Mold Testing?

It might come as a shock to hear this, but more often than not, you will not need mold testing in your home.

If you can see or smell an obvious mold growth, mold testing shouldn’t be necessary because you can call a mold remediation company right away. Visible mold colonies should be handled thoroughly and promptly by a mold remediation specialist. (Do not attempt to get rid of mold yourself!)

However, if you merely suspect that you have a mold problem, professional mold testing can help to pinpoint the source of your symptoms so you can tackle the issue head-on.

There are a few instances when you should always test for mold:

You’ve Just Suffered Water Damage in Your Home

If you water heater bursts or you have a rook leak, you should add a mold inspection to your to-do list. If any area of your home got wet and was not immediately dried, it is the peak environment for mold growth.

You’re Purchasing a New Home

Mold inspection should be part of your home inspection when buying a new home. You need to know exactly what condition your future home is in so you can know if it’s a sound investment. This applies especially to any home that has been unoccupied for a long period of time.

You’ve Recently Completed Mold Remediation

Following up on previous mold growth and remediation is a must. Regular mold inspections to check that the growth has been taken care of are necessary.


Contact Axel Works for Orlando Mold Remediation Services

The choice of whether or not to test for mold is up to you, but when it comes to safely and effectively removing mold in your home, make sure you hire a quality mold remediation company who will get the job done right. (Bleach isn’t gonna cut it!)

If done improperly, mold removal will only release more spores into the air, where they can find a new place to grow and thrive, further endangering your health and well-being. Proper mold remediation involves high-tech, specialized equipment—such as air scrubbers and plastic barriers—to contain the infestation as much as possible.

At Axel Works, we don’t just remove the mold; we destroy it at the source so that the problem is taken care of once and for all.

Call today to see how we can help you.

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