Is there a way to test for mold hiding behind walls?
As providers of mold testing in Denver, one of the questions that we are asked: “How can I tell if I have mold hiding behind walls or under floorboards?” This is often of particular concern if you’ve experienced a flood in the past or if you’ve moved into a new home. The former owner may have thought they had taken care of the flood damage, unaware that unless it was treated and dehumidified by a professional property restoration company, certified in water damage repair, mold can become a problem months after the flood or leak.
Another common situation that often causes mold problems is leaking pipes. Mold in a bathroom is particularly frustrating. A hidden small leakcan occur and continue undetected for quite some time. Unfortunately, the continuous moisture can become a feeding ground for mold. You may even be able to smell the mold but have no idea where the source of the problem might be. Often times our client’s greatest fear is that they will need to tear down walls or tear the bathroom apart just to find the source of the leak and the mold. There are, however, technologies such as “infrared” that can detect moisture and the “possible” source of the problem.
Can Infrared technology be used for Mold Testing?
Thermography is the use of an infrared imaging and measurement camera to “see” and “measure” thermal energy emitted from an object. High technology infrared thermography cameras are used to assist in finding moisture with little or no physical demolition of the premises and without disruption of the building’s occupants.
Infrared thermographic inspection is a powerful non-invasive means of monitoring and diagnosing the condition of buildings. It provides immediate documentation of water damage to building materials. Moisture in building materials can destroy structural integrity and nurture mold and insect infestations.
The purpose of the infrared camera is to highlight the difference in temperature in building materials. If the building materials are wet we know we have a 72 hour window of properly drying out the area before mold becomes a problem. If it was a one-time leak and mold grew, but has since dried due to elimination of water and air movement, then you will not be able to detect any temperature difference, and therefore not be able to detect any mold growth.
Mold is not visible inside wall cavities. If there is significant growth, then usually there is significant water damage. The best method is to find what is wet. The best way to find hidden moisture is with infrared technology.
The infrared camera is used to highlight any differences in the temperature of building materials inside the building walls. If the building materials are wet, we know we have a 72 hour window of properly drying out the area before mold becomes a problem. If it was a one-time leak and mold grew, but has since dried due to the elimination of water and air movement, then you will not be able to detect any temperature difference, and therefore not be able to detect mold growth with infrared thermography.
Visual Mold Test
Mold puts off gases as it eats and grows, these gases have a distinct odor and our sense of smell is a good tool. Rather than tear down the complete wall, we can often open small holes in drywall for visual inspection and for odor detection, and these holes can be patched and painted so as not to be a tell-tale sign of issues with the home.
The Infa-red shows no signs of moisture, but I still believe we have mold. What are our options?
In the case where infrared and the visual test described above is not working, we suggest calling an industrial hygienist for accurate mold testing to be performed.
If mold is growing in a home, we recommend the use of an industrial hygienist to conduct a mold spore count in the area affected, as well as 2 other control areas to test the quality of the air, and determine whattypes of mold are growing. The 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 families.
Industrial hygienists recommended by Professional Restoration are independent to prevent any conflict of interest. We will either recommend a company to our customers, or if the customer prefers, we include their costs in our project estimate. Ideally, we allow them to test prior to commencement of a job to show initial levels and set a protocol, then test again post remediation, giving documentation on clearance of the area being remediated properly. Documenting mold clearance with a certified expert is important in case you need proof for your insurance adjuster in the event of a subsequent mold infestation in the same place. Keep the certificate on hand.
After flooding that caused standing water on floor tiles and other household things, it’s important to use your eyes and nose to look and sniff for signs of mold. Indoor mold test kits are available to help identify and get minor amounts of toxic black mold removed to protect your family’s health, however black mold is highly toxic so, unless it’s a very small amount, it’s best to call an expert.
Make sure that any mold that is found in your basement or other locations is completely cleaned in order to prevent exposure to mold born mycotoxins and the associated potential health risks including dangerous respiratory irritation, the risk of asthma and the unknown impact of other allergens.
Swabbing methods are commonly used to clean mold and protect indoor rooms in your home or office. Mold found on an outdoor carpet is a common site in humid cities like Atlanta, GA and Miami, FL., however not particularly a concern in dry climates such as Denver.
In summary, you may wish to consult experts for a detailed guide on how to safely eliminate years of hazardous airborne species of mold. If you are anxious, however, it’s best that you contact anenvironmental inspector specialized in mold.
If you’re concerned about the health risks while waiting for experts, you may consider sealing off the suspect room in order to protect your family from harm and illness.
Professional mold testing services in Denver
If you suspect you have a moisture and possible mold problem or require more information about Mold Testing, call Professional Restoration at 303-922-4001 or simply Schedule a Free Consultation. We look forward to serving you!