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The short answer is: "A mold inspection is when a person looks
for mold growth in a building." To give you a better understanding of what mold
inspections should and need to include, here are important factors to consider for
Mold colonization behind wood baseboard.
Source: EMLab P&K
Mold inspections need to be performed by a
qualified mold inspector
who has formal training and experience with mold inspections. Training and experience are necessary.
Mold inspections should look for evidence of past or current mold growth.
Past mold growth may indicate a water problem which will come back when certain
conditions return such as a recurring leak. Past mold growth may also cause
sensitized individuals to have an allergic reaction or, conceivably, cause some
individuals to start becoming sensitized to mold.
Mold inspections should look for mold within the building, inside walls, and
in other areas where mold growth is undesirable, including areas where mold growth
could be causing structural issues such as wood decay in crawlspaces.
Mold growth on drywall in wall cavity.
Source: EMLab P&K
Some mold growth in buildings may be perfectly normal. For example,
Ceratosystis and Ophiostoma are two molds that grow on lumber
(sometimes referred to as lumber yard mold) and are frequently found growing on
two by fours or other structural framing within buildings. These molds grow on the
sap of wood and stop growing once the wood has dried. Although they cause black
staining on the wood, they do not cause any structural issues. If black staining
is found on wood, the mold inspector can take a sample and send it to the
mold testing lab
for analysis to determine if it is one of these molds.
It is very important (and some would say essential) that the mold inspection
look for sources of moisture. Water is essential for mold growth. Without a source
of water, you will not have mold growth. Consequently, if there is mold growth, it
must be associated with a source of moisture. If this source of moisture is not
found and eliminated, the mold growth will return and remediation efforts are of
negligible long term value. The importance of looking for sources of moisture
cannot be overstated and must be included.
Pencillium on water damaged wood flooring.
Source: EMLab P&K
Mold inspections are a subset of investigations called "Indoor Air Quality"
(IAQ) investigations. These investigations look at the broader question: "What
irritants are present in the air causing discomfort to the occupants?" If you
are having a mold inspection because you feel ill when you are in a certain building
or room, you might consider whether other irritants may be causing the discomfort
and include these in the investigation.
Common reasons for mold inspections include:
If you have an allergic reaction such as a runny nose, sneezing, or itchy eyes
associated with being in a certain room or building.
To verify that sources of moisture have been successfully stopped and that no
residual mold growth has been left after a known water and mold problem has been fixed.
To confirm that there is not an existing moisture or mold problem associated
with a new building or home that you plan to rent or purchase.
If a specific water problem resulted in mold growth in a specific area, that
doesn't necessarily mean you need a mold inspection. For example, if a roof leak
has resulted in moldy ceiling tiles, then simply fixing the roof leak and
replacing the ceiling tiles may be all that is necessary.
NEXT: "How Do I Know If I Have A Mold Problem?"
AND: "How Much Does A Mold Inspection Cost?"