As providers of mold testing in Denver, our clients commonly ask us: How can I tell if I have mold hiding behind walls or under floorboards?
This is often of particular concern for those who’ve experienced a flood in the past or have moved into a new home. A former owner, for example, may think they’ve taken care of flood damage or a leaky pipe, unaware that unless it was treated and dehumidified by a professional restoration company, mold can become a problem months after exposure.
In many cases, our client’s greatest fear is they need to tear down walls and floorboards to find the problem. However, there are technologies available that can detect mold and moisture while mitigating damage to a home.
Mold Testing with Infrared Technology
Thermography is the use of an infrared imaging and measurement camera to see and measure thermal energy emitting from an object.
Infrared thermography cameras find moisture with little or no physical demolition and without disrupting the building’s occupants.
Here’s how it works: Infrared cameras detect temperature variations in different building materials. If building materials are wet, the temperature registers below the surrounding building materials.
Conversely, if it was a one-time leak and mold grew, but the affected area has since dried due to time, infrared thermography cameras will not be able to detect a temperature difference, and subsequently, they will not be able to detect mold.
Infrared thermographic inspection is a powerful non-invasive way to monitor and diagnose the interior condition of a building. It provides immediate documentation of water damage on various building materials.
However, thermography has its limitations; but it’s very useful when property owners are aware there’s a problem just unaware of the source. If moisture isn’t addressed within 72 hours of exposure, the potential for mold is highly likely.
Visual Mold Test
Mold lets off gases as it eats and grows. These gases have a distinct odor and our sense of smell is a good tool.
Rather than tearing down a wall, we open small holes in drywall for a visual mold inspection and odor detection. These holes are easily patched and painted.
Unfortunately, mold can be elusive. When infrared and visual testing isn’t successful, we suggest calling an industrial hygienist for more accurate mold testing.
Industrial hygienists deal with health and safety challenges facing people everywhere including indoor air quality and other environmental concerns like lead exposure, occupational disease, and so on.
An industrial hygienist can conduct a mold spore count in the affected area and compare those results with control areas to test air quality. They’ll also be able to determine what types of mold are growing.
Spore samples are sent to a laboratory for testing and the hygienist will be able to break the results down into the various fungal families and determine what quantities of mold are present within those groups.
Industrial hygienists recommended by Professional Restoration are independently owned to prevent any conflict of interest. We can either recommend a company or, if the customer prefers, we can include the costs in our project estimate.
We prefer this type of testing before we start a job to show initial levels and to set a protocol. We test again after remediation and provide documentation on clearance of the area once it’s remediated properly.
Documenting mold clearance with a certified expert is important. In some cases, clearance may be required by an insurance adjuster in the event of a subsequent mold infestation in the same place. Keep the clearance certificate in a safe place.
Other Ways to Deal with Mold
Indoor mold test kits are available online. Some kits tackle minor amounts of black mold; however, black mold is highly toxic. Unless you’re dealing with a small amount of mold, it’s best to call in the pros.
When mold isn’t properly remediated, exposure to mycotoxins can lead to health risks like respiratory irritation, asthma, and impacts of other allergens.
In summary, there are several ways to detect mold and other potential problems. The unique circumstances of exposure and your ability to manage the task will ultimately determine what’s best for you and your property.
If you’re concerned about health risks while waiting for expert remediation, you may consider sealing off the suspect room to protect your family or occupants.
Professional Mold Testing Services in Denver
If you suspect you may have a mold problem, there’s no need to start tearing down walls. Getting reliable information about the problem is the first step toward fixing it.
At Professional restoration, we’ve been helping Denver Metro homeowners and commercial businesses remediate mold for nearly 30 years. Our certified technicians have seen it all; no job is too big or too small for us to handle.