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Mold FAQ

HABITEC provides mold assessments including mold testing and mold inspections in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

1. What is the difference between a mold inspection and a mold assessment?

ANSWER: A mold assessment is the complete process to evaluate for mold which includes a mold inspection (also called a survey), recommendations for samples to evaluate for mold, taking and processing the mold samples through a lab, and forwarding the lab results to the Client with a cover letter to help the Client understand the lab report. A mold inspection (or mold survey) of the structure is the initial step in a mold assessment. The mold inspection is conducted to look for evidence of mold, which is referred to as red flags. Red flags are conditions conducive to microbial growth. If the inspection/survey indicates that mold is suspected but not confirmed, mold samples can be taken to help determine if mold is present. The mold samples are sent to a laboratory for lab analysis under a microscope. The lab returns a lab report to HABITEC. The HABITEC mold assessment technician reviews the lab report and attaches a cover letter to the lab report to help the Client understand the lab report. This completes the mold assessment. Mold remediation or mitigation may follow if mold is confirmed by the lab.

2. Is a Mold Inspection the same as a Home or Building Inspection?

ANSWER: A mold inspection/survey is not a home or building inspection, but a mold inspection/survey can be done in conjunction with a home or building inspection. This will, of course, add time to the overall length of the combined inspection/survey.

A mold inspection is conducted in a manner that is similar to a home inspection but there are differences. Specifically, in a mold inspection the home is inspected in search of red flags that indicate the presents of mold or mold-like substance. In a home inspection these red flags may be identified as a coincidence of the home inspection but not as the primary purpose of the home inspection. A good example of the difference is the HVAC system of the home. In a home inspection the HVAC system is usually operated to evaluate the capability of the system. In a mold survey/inspection the HVAC is not operated with the intent to evaluate the capability of the system.

3. What are the physical symptoms of mold?

ANSWER: Symptoms of mold exposure may include respiratory problems such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, sore throat, shortness of breath, blurred vision, headaches, memory loss, aches and fever. Mold itself may appear in many different colors or shapes.

4. Does everybody react the same to mold?

ANSWER: No. People can react differently to mold. Within the same family some people can react very negatively to mold while others do not react at all. Mold can be allergenic, pathogenic or toxic. If exposed to toxic mold, the reaction can be fatal. People can be exposed to mold thru inhalation, digestion, and skin contact.

5. How and why does mold get started growing?

ANSWER: Mold and mold spores are present as a natural part of life on earth. As long as a habitat for mold growth is not inside a building then this natural mold is not an immediate threat to our indoor air quality.

Mold needs 3 things to survive: moisture, food source, and a surface to grow on. If moisture is allowed to go where it is not suppose to go the process of mold growth can start. An example is a roof leak that allows water to enter the attic and onto the ceiling or down the walls of the structure. This water dampens the drywall, wood, insulation and other building materials, all of which can act as food for mold to feed on. These building materials can also act as the surface for mold to grown on. Now the habitat is ready to grow.

6. If I just stop the roof leak isn’t my mold problem solved?

ANSWER: NO! Stopping the source of water does not completely solve the problem. If mold is deprived of its source of water it does not die, it only goes dormant. If the moisture returns, such as from humidity, the mold comes back to life and continues to grow.

7. If I cannot see the mold is it still a problem?

ANSWER: YES! If mold is in your building it is a problem even if you cannot see it. The main health threat from mold is mold spores. Mold spores are microscopic. In other words you cannot see spores. Once dispersed the spores can be spread through the air. If mold is in your building you should make every effort to have the mold removed or killed. Not only is mold a health threat but mold can also cause damage to your building. Remember mold can “eat” your building materials for a food source.

8. Why should I have mold sampling done?

ANSWER: The science of mold is growing daily. There are literally hundreds of known species of mold and many more suspected. Different molds develop from different habitats. If you can determine what kind of mold you are dealing with you are more likely to find the source of the mold growth and fix it. If you simply remove or kill mold, the mold could easily return if you do not stop the source of the mold. Mold sampling to evaluate for mold may tell you what is causing the mold so you can stop it from coming back after you are rid of it.

9. How do you take mold samples?

ANSWER: There are 3 types of mold samples that can be performed; indoor and outdoor air testing, contact (swab, bulk or tape), and carpet testing. A thorough and complete evaluation will usually involve all 3 types of samples.

There are two categories of mold samples taken. These include viable (field collected and lab cultured [grown]) and, non-viable (field collected with laboratory microscopy identification). These categories are often used in conjunction to create a profile of airborne microbe concentrations. Viable sampling (contact) captures spores that may not show up well on spore traps, and may provide insight into which molds are actively growing (and therefore producing more viable spores). Non viable samples (spore traps from air samples and carpet samples) capture spore types indiscriminately, including those that do not grow well, or at all, in culture, and those that are no longer viable, but may still be allergenic.

10. How much does a mold evaluation cost?

ANSWER: Protocol dictates that a mold evaluation starts with a mold survey/inspection. From a mold survey/inspection comes a recommendation for mold sampling. Each component of this process has its own cost. Mold samples are charged per sample. Normally the most basic service involves a mold inspection followed by two air samples (one inside and one outside for comparison) and perhaps a contact or carpet sample. The final cost is based on which services the Client wishes to purchase.

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