If you suspect mold in your home, pick up a mold test kit, and get yourself some peace of mind. If you see evidence of mold growth or notice a musty smell in your home, there’s a good chance airborne mold spores have found their way into your home and are threatening your indoor air quality and your health.
A home mold test kit is an easy and affordable way to determine whether you have a mold problem. Never ignore the signs of mold contamination. You may see visible mold in the form of small spots on the walls, bathroom grout, ceilings, paper goods, or elsewhere. Sometimes the villain is hidden mold, and in those instances, you may notice a damp and musty smell in certain areas of your home such as a bathroom or basement.
If you have excessive humidity in your home or have experienced any sort of water damage or water leaks such as flooding, a broken water pipe or leaky faucet, you should always be on the lookout of any signs of mold growth. Mold contamination can set in within 24 to 48 hours of any water event or can develop over time from a chronic slow moisture source. If you or your family are experiencing symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, or itchy eyes, you should definitely consider doing our own mold inspection and purchasing a mold kit. It will be well worth the time and money to protect our family and home and to have peace of mind.
Hopefully, the results will come back negative and you can rest assured all is well, or if it comes back negative, you can move ahead to the next steps of mold inspection, mold remediation, and mold removal.
What are the dangers of mold?
There are many forms of mold in the world, but homeowners most fear the toxic mold known as black mold or Stachybotrys chartarum. Some molds release high amounts of mycotoxins which can be hazardous to humans and pets. Mold spores, when inhaled, can cause a number of health problems and are especially dangerous to those with compromised immune systems, or respiratory problems such as asthma.
Some signs to watch for:
- Watery or itchy eyes
- Coughing or wheezing
- Runny nose
- Chronic headaches
- Memory loss
- Skin irritations
In addition to being a health hazard, mold can also damage your home and your possessions.
Mold particles can attach to your walls, ceilings, floors, furniture, and possessions such as important papers or documents and destroy them, eventually causing costly damage to your home and its structure.
Better to be safe than sorry. Do not ever ignore signs of mold and mildew in your home and take quick action in mold inspection, mold testing, and mold remediation.
Do home mold tests work?
A mold test kit will confirm for you the presence of mold in your home, but if the test is positive, that is only the first step in dealing with your mold issue. It will not provide detailed information such as the type of mold, the level of mold, what is causing it, and what to do next to remove mold and to prevent future mold growth. It is a good first step and a negative result can save you time and worry. A home mold test kit does not replace a mold inspection by qualified mold damage professional. Some are suspect of the quality of the information provided by a mold test kit.
Most mold test kits rely upon gravity, meaning they report the presence of mold spores in the air as they settle into the plate.
NOTE: The United States Environmental Protection Agency does not endorse test kits and recommends that homeowners who are concerned about mold have their homes tested professionally. If the symptoms are obvious, it is best to call mold remediation and removal specialist.
What is a mold test kit?
A mold test kit tests for the presence of mold in your home. They are affordable, quick, and easy to use, and maybe a good alternative to hiring a mold inspector without doing some preliminary research. Some mold test kits are designed only to determine the presence of mold. Some will provide additional testing to be sent to a lab to determine the kind of mold present. This is usually at an additional cost.
There are several types of testing methods.
- Air Check – Samples are taken in several areas, attached to test cassettes, and sent to a lab. These will tell you the specific mold present and are the most accurate.
- Instant – This method uses chemical strips to test for the presence of mold in a collected sample. The sample is mixed with a liquid, then the strip which contains a reagent is dipped into the mixture. The strip changes color to indicate mold presence. further testing is recommended as the result of a positive result.
- Settling Plate – This very common method uses a petri dish or film places in the area suspected of mold. It is left out for air particles to settle in the plate, covered, and left to incubate for one week. Again, if mold grows, it should be sent to a lab for further analysis.
There are various types of tests.
It is recommended that you use several types of test to obtain a better range of results.
- Tape Strips – This simple method works well on dry surfaces. The sticky tape is placed on the surface to be tested, removed, and bagged to be sent off to a lab.
- Swabs – Swabs are rubbed over a damp spot where the mold appears to be growing, bagged, and sent off to a lab.
- Petri dishes or films – These are used in a settling plate testing method which is known to be fairly accurate. The air samples are collected and mold allowed to grow on the surface allowing for visual identification of what is in the air.
Regardless of what kind of test kit you use, remember it is only a first step in confirming the presence of mold growth in your home, and whether you should move ahead with additional testing, a mold inspection, mold remediation, and mold removal. All homes contain some mold and mold spores so you should follow up on a positive result to fully understand the extent of the problem.
How do I use a mold test kit?
Mold kits are simple to use. The steps will, of course, depend on the specific kit you have purchased. But here are some tips:
- Close the windows and doors in the rooms you are testing for at least 24 hours before your test to allow for spores to gather.
- Redirect any traffic from the room while testing.
- Wear gloves when handling Petri dishes, samples, strips, or other parts of the test to protect yourself and to prevent cross-contamination.
- If your test indicates signs of mold presence, send it for further to the lab or bring in a mold specialist.
- If your test shows no sign of mold, after the specified amount of time recommended for your test, throw it out and remain vigilant for signs of mold. You may want to test in another room if you are not satisfied. You can always retest the area if the smell remains.
Tips for picking the best mold test kit
- Consider the amount of time it will take to get results. Some are instant and provide results within 60 seconds while others may take much longer including the time to mail into the lab.
- How many rooms do you want to test and will the test cover multiple areas?
- Does the kit provide for lab testing and is there an additional cost for this?
- Can it be used to test our HVAC if you think that is necessary?
- Are the results simple to interpret, ie, a color change?
- Does it test the airborne spores or just the spores that have settled into the plate?
- Will it help you pinpoint the location of the mold by offering multiple tests allowing for tests and retests?
- Is it cost-effective?
- Is it specifically designed to test for toxic black mold?
How much do mold tests cost?
Mold test kits range in price from as low as $9 to $95. Those that include a lab analysis range from $30 – $60.
Where can I buy a mold test kit?
A variety of mold test kits can be found at any home improvement store and online.