To eliminate mold, you have to know where it’s located. To begin your mold inspection, look carefully at the obvious surfaces: ceilings, walls, and floors, particularly in areas where there are stains or where there has been leakage. Also check in places where you would expect the surface temperatures to be low: on outside ceilings and walls and near windows.
If you are allergic to mold, wear a mask or respirator during mold inspection with at least a NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) rating of N95. (A disposable mask with this rating always has two straps and is thicker than the inexpensive single-strap mask used for nuisance dust.) Take care not to disturb mold on surfaces or in dust, for even if you aren’t allergic or sensitive to mold, others in your home may be. If you enter a very moldy basement, don’t wear the same clothes or shoes back into the rooms of your home. (Clean the clothing by normal washing.) You may want to have someone else do the looking (possibly hiring someone). particularly if you have mold sensitivities or if you want a moldy crawl space investigated. But again, that person should be protected and should take care not to unnecessarily disturb mold growth or moldy dust.
Mold Inspection Suggestions
To make mold inspection easier, hold a very bright flashlight parallel and close to the surface in question to see the mold colonies. And don’t forget to look behind bookcases, at the sides and undersides of furniture (a mirror is helpful), and along baseboards.
Often mold growth isn’t visible, yet it can often be right under our noses. Mold growing unseen in a carpet or behind a cupboard is likely to be a problem, whereas visible attic mold, is much easier to detect. If you have mold sensitivities try to keep track of where and when you experience symptoms in your home as part of an ongoing mold inspection. The next step is to find the sources of the particulates and eliminate them.
Remember that mold needs moisture to grow. You may find using a moisture meter helpful for finding mold that is not apparent on visual inspection.
Mold Inspection by Elimination
It may be helpful to narrow the list of possible sources of mold contaminants. If there are rugs or window drapes in the room, roll them up carefully. Minimize the spread of potentially moldy dust and wrap them in plastic. If there are couches and chairs with cushions, these too can be temporarily wrapped in plastic and sealed with duct tape.
Wall-to-wall carpets can be temporarily covered with a heavy drop cloth.Use a drop cloth that has plastic on the underside and cloth material on the top surface. These steps may seem drastic, but you are eliminating suspects. If covering everything makes no difference when the heat or air conditioning is on, then there may be mold growth in the heating or cooling system, which may have to be professionally cleaned. (Turn the system off, air the house out well for ten minutes, and see if that makes a difference.)
If your mold inspection does not help you identify the location of mold growth and yet your home still smells musty or you continue to experience allergic symptoms that may be mold related, you should probably consider hiring a professional mold inspector.