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How To Test Indoor Air Quality For Mold

Mold is a group of fungus that grows on damp areas with temperatures between 20°F and 100°, which is pretty much every damp surface in your home. The fungus can grow indoors or outdoors and is carried into your house when the floating spores land on clothes or are blown in by the wind. When inhaled, mold causes nasal stuffiness even for those who are not sensitive to it. You can test and eliminate mold from your home by following the simple steps below.

Use an Air Quality Monitor

Air quality monitors use sensors to detect mold and other particles in the air. The monitors draw in air and shine a laser through it. Any particles in the air will scatter the laser light and enable the sensors to detect the strength and angle of the light beam. The monitor can then work out the amount and size of the particles in the air.

Most spores from mold are the size of particulate matter. When the monitor shines a laser through an air sample, the spores diffract the light similar to particulate matter.

Limitations of an Air Quality Monitor in Mold Detection

While the air quality monitor detects particulate matter from the air, the device doesn’t detect the type of particle. It can’t differentiate between dust, spores, and other particulate matter, so it labels all of them as particulate matter. The size of the spores depends on the species of mold. Coarse particles (PM10) and very fine particles (PM2.5) may not appear in the air quality monitor test.

There are different species of mold, and each has different health implications. The monitor doesn’t show the percentage of particles that make up mold or tell you what species it is. Mildew and black mold present different health implications. Understanding the species of mold in your house will help you deal with it amicably.

Using a Mold Test Kit

Unlike an air quality monitor that doesn’t show the amount of mold in the air, a mold test kit specifically tests for mold. The kit comes with potato dextrose and a petri dish, two of the items you need to create mold. The amount of time it takes to test for mold varies from one kit to the next, so you’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Some general steps in the use of mold test kits include:

  • Close the windows and doors of the room you need to test for at least two days.
  • Unpack the mold test kit.
  • Remove the lid of the petri dish.
  • Replace the petri dish on a flat surface and leave it for 48 hours.
  • Cover the petri dish and seal with tape.
  • Place the covered dish in a dark place.
  • Check for mold growth after two days.

The petri dish contains microbial cultures that propagate the growth of spores. You should close the doors and windows to ensure that available mold colonies form before the test. During the test, limit movement in the room to ensure that you don’t disturb the air. If the petri dish doesn’t form any mold after two days, you can let it sit for three more days. You can also place it in the dark for as long as the manufacturer recommends.

If the dish still doesn’t form mold after five days, you can assume your home is safe from mold. However, if mold develops on the dish, you should send the petri dish to the lab for species assessment. The lab will detect the type of mold in your house and suggest the best remedies.

Why It’s Important to Check for Mold in your Home

Mold causes allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to spores, pollen, and dust. It might also cause asthma attacks, runny noses, headaches, and scratchy throats, among other symptoms. You can tell if mold is present if musty odors come from some parts of your home. The Institute of Medicine reports that even healthy people can suffer from respiratory symptoms such as coughing and wheezing if mold is present.

There are thousands of species of mold. The most dangerous is stachybotrys chartarum, or toxic black mold. This mold species is rare, but it produces mycotoxins that make your home environment unsafe. If allowed to overgrow, the mold can cause serious health issues, such as:

  • Chronic headache
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Skin rashes
  • Memory loss and lack of concentration

Inspecting Your House for Visible Mold

If there are signs of visible mold in your home, you don’t need any sampling. Check common mold problem areas, such as under the sinks, and clean the mold. Be sure to follow any guidelines for cleaning the mold safely and effectively. After cleaning the mold, you should also correct the condition that led to the growth of mold, such as dampness.

Mold requires oxygen, warmth, moisture, and darkness to grow. It starts as black spots that you can confuse with dirt. If the dark spots lighten when you apply household bleach, it’s mold. If the dark spots remain dark after spraying household bleach, then you have dirt. You can check mold in the following areas of your home.

The Bathroom

Because bathrooms have poor ventilation, they’re susceptible to mold growth. You should check in the shower and bathtub, as these areas are often damp, creating a great space for mold to thrive. Other areas to check in the bathroom include the walls and the floor, the tank of your toilet, behind your toilet, under the sink, and in the toothbrush and toothpaste caddies.

The Kitchen

The kitchen, like the bathroom, has high levels of humidity. The leftovers in the kitchen and the dishes that may sit in the sink for long periods provide a prime surface for mold to grow. In the kitchen, check on, in, and under the sink. You should also check the refrigerator for spoiled food, along with inspecting your microwave, stove, windowsills, trash cans, and cutting boards.

Bedrooms and the Living Room

These two rooms have sufficient ventilation, but all indoor spaces are susceptible to mold growth. In the bedroom, check the mattress, the window and windowsill, and your heating and air conditioning vents. In the living room, check for mold on the couch, curtains, indoor plants, and fireplace and chimney.

The Attic, Basement, and Garage

Most ventilation systems in your home are in the attic. If mold grows in any of the systems, it’s easy for it to spread to other parts of your residence. In the attic, check for mold on the roof, in the home insulation, near the water heater, and near vents. You also need to check the basement, especially around pipes and ducts, near any leaks in the foundation, near the sump pump, and on areas where condensation gathers.

For the garage, you need to check garage doors, windows, under storage areas, and in areas where water might gather. You can use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity in your house and prevent mold from growing. Further, you can use waterproof and mold-resistant paint for your walls and surfaces. Where possible, introduce good ventilation and sunlight. You can also hire Rite Way Heating, Cooling & Plumbing in Tucson, AZ, to remove and destroy mold, mildew, and other allergens from your property.

Call Us Today!

Rite Way Heating, Cooling & Plumbing serves residents and businesses in Tucson. We offer a wide selection of plumbing, heating, and cooling products and services. Some of the products we offer include furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners, and hot water tanks. Our services cover installation, cleaning, repairs, and maintenance of heating, cooling, and plumbing systems. Call Rite Way Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today to learn more about your indoor air quality.