Many kinds of mildew and molds can be present in your environment, and the most insidious one that a homeowner has to deal with is toxic black mold. If a preliminary assessment of your home reveals the likelihood or presence of toxic black mold, and the area is larger than you can deal with on your own, then a toxic mold professional should be called to evaluate your home. If a thorough inspection of the home shows the need to call in a professional, do not delay, as health can be at risk.
Because black mold likes to breed and develop in dark, moist areas, there is a high possibility that it can grow unseen for a long period of time. Behind bathroom walls is a favorite area for black mold to grow in. High humidity, poor ventilation, water pipes behind wallboard and paneling, and the constant introduction of moisture from showering and bathing makes this area of the home an ideal place for mold to infest the home. Providing an exhaust fan, a closet dehumidifier, or even opening a window when weather permits is helpful, but mold can begin growth in a confined, humid area within 24 hours. If white patches begin to appear on your bathroom walls, suspect black mold activity.
A good rule of thumb when seeking a professional toxic mold technician is to call the real estate agents in your area for recommendations of service. Real estate agents deal with this problem on a regular basis, and know who to call. When you call the professional, ask if he will give you the names of people who recommend his service, and can give you feedback on performance. If the company is on the up and up, this should not be a problem. If, however, they do not wish to do this, then move on to the next person on your list.
Insure that the professionals are Certified Mold Inspectors, a type of certification that shows that the professional is knowledgeable in the methods used to determine types of mold and remediation processes. Always keep in mind that you and your family are at daily risk as long as the growth of black mold continues.
Upon calling a mold specialist and making an appointment for inspection, you can expect to have, at the very minimum, a thorough inspection for obvious mold problems. This includes checks for water intrusion in the home, and any hidden problems such as behind walls, in ductwork or areas not normally accessed on a regular basis, such as a crawl space beneath the home. A trained professional will also check the outer perimeter of the home to see if trees, shrubs, or piles of leaves may harbor mold. These areas are essential to check because the shrubs, trees, and leaves hide the mold from ultraviolet light, thus protecting it.
There are several tests that a professional may conduct. These include:
1. The Swab Test - The professional will use a swab to lift samples of the suspected mold, and it will then be sent to a laboratory for testing.
2. Tape Samples - A clear adhesive tape is applied to the area of mold, sealed in a container, and then sent to the lab for testing.
3. Air Sampling - A more sophisticated testing technique is through air monitoring. An air sampling device samples a determined amount of air for a preset time limit and takes mold samples in the filters of the tester. These samples are sent to a lab for testing.
4. Samples from Wall Cavity - In this test, the professional uses a moisture meter to determine if high amounts of moisture is present behind walls. If high moisture content is detected, a small hole will be drilled in the wall to take a sample, and the results sent to a lab for testing.
5. Bulk Samples - In this test, the professional takes an actual sample from the home - a piece of infested wallpaper, carpeting, or a sample of paneling or flooring. This is recognized as the best test for mold infection because the lab technicians do not have to wait for the mold to grow - it is already present on the sample.
After a thorough investigation, the professional should present you with a list of recommendations on what needs to be done to eradicate the mold from your home. He should also present you with an estimate of what the treatment will cost. It would be wise in the beginning of this process to get estimates on the cost of mold eradication from different service providers in your area. Prices may vary sharply in different areas of the country, and you should do your own research.
Taking these steps will insure the health and safety of your family, and protect the investment you have made in your home. No one needs to be without some type of help that is readily available through public services and inspections. Help is as close as your Yellow Pages.
Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.