Seeing the bigger picture
Testing After Water Damage
When people experience flooding or other types of water damage, they often believe that all they need to do to mitigate the damage is simply remove the water. In truth, standing water can quickly develop a host of microorganisms that can rapidly multiply and continue to cause issues once the water is gone. From bacteria to mold, the damage you can see is not the only damage you need to worry about. Testing your property following a water damage incident can give you peace of mind or help you avoid potentially larger damage by identifying the issue early.
Why is Mold Such a Problem?
Mildew is a type of mold that stays largely on the surface of whatever it grows on. Although it is unsightly and can cause the same health hazards as other types of mold, once you have dealt with the surface issue – the mildew you can see – you have largely mitigated the problem. Most types of mold, however, actually penetrate downward into surfaces. Too many people believe that dealing with mold, like dealing with mildew, is just a matter of cleaning up what is on the surface. This is inaccurate. Just because you deal with a surface mold problem does not mean that mold is not still quietly eating away at your home deep down beneath surfaces where you can’t see it.
Mold can cause a number of health issues as well as slowly eating away at the internal structures of your home. Over time, this can result in thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage. Homeowner’s insurance will generally cover the cost of any initial flood or water damage mitigation but it will rarely cover the costs of any long-term damage that comes from not mitigating flooding properly in the first place.
Why Air Quality Testing is Important
Professional mold investigators are trained to notice small, tell-tale clues that a home may have mold. Signs of water damage are generally a very good indication that a home may also have mold damage but many homeowners will simply paint over water-damaged walls or replace stained carpeting or warped flooring. This is one reason why air quality testing is so important. If a mold inspector sees evidence of mold, they can do mold testing but mold will not always form or reside out where you can see it. Air quality testing can detect the presence of mold even when you can’t see it.
Your inspector will use equipment such as thermal imaging cameras and moisture meters to help detect possible areas of mold growth that can not be seen normally.
Why is Outdoor Air Quality Sampling Necessary?
What many people may not be aware of is that just like germs or viruses, mold spores are everywhere. Mold testing is not just looking for the presence of mold, it is meant to determine the concentration of mold. In some cases, the concentration of mold spores outside of your home might be very high due to heavy rains or a large body of standing water. In that case, the concentration of mold is likely to be fairly high inside your home as well, but it will not be as high as the concentration of mold outside.
This is why it is important to take both indoor and outdoor air quality samples. If the air quality sample taken indoors reveals a lower concentration of mold spores than one taken outdoors, then the source of the mold is most likely outdoors. If the air quality sample taken indoors reveals a higher concentration of mold spores, then the source of the spores is most likely in the house. It is important to take both indoor and outdoor samples to determine the source of the spores, however.
It is also important for mold inspectors to take outdoor and indoor samples at the same time. Weather and other factors can have a significant impact on the concentration of mold in the air. After heavy rain, there will naturally be a much higher concentration of mold spores than during a dry spell. Wind, however, can also come in and pick up spores that were lying dormant, which can also lead to a higher-than-normal concentration of spores. If an inspector takes an indoor sample on a day when there is little wind and an outdoor sample when there is a strong breeze, the outdoor air quality sample will show a much higher than an average number of spores, which might lead the inspector to erroneously believe the mold is coming from outside the home when it is actually inside.
Mold specialists will also take a number of different samples from various areas inside and outside of your home. This can help them determine the most likely location of the mold, even if it is hidden behind walls or under carpeting. The closer the sample taken is to the source of the mold, the more heavily concentrated the spores will be in the sample. When they find the highest concentration of mold spores, that tells them where to start looking for the actual mold.