• Testing for mold in your home can range from simple to complex procedures. The most inexpensive way to test for mold is to educate yourself about warning signs and use your eyes and nose to assess whether these signs are present in your home. If you want to be sure or think you have a severe problem, you can have professionals perform and evaluate air and surface tests.


    Tracking musty, decaying odors should be your first test in determining whether mold is present. The nose is by far your best tool, for even if you can't see the actual growth, those odors almost guarantee that mold is lurking somewhere. Pay close attention to where the smells are coming from. For example, if you notice them only when the heat or air-conditioning is running, your heating, cooling and ventilation system may have mold growth that will require treatment. The nose test is a good start, but further investigation may be necessary to determine the extent of the mold problem.


    Watch for mold spots, which appear in a variety of colors, from black, orange and brown to even red and yellow. A leaking roof is a breeding ground for mold spores, so check the ceiling in the uppermost floor of your home for any signs of mold or water damage. Pay close attention to pipes or plumbing with excessive condensation or rust. This signals high humidity, which is a basic necessity for mold growth. Mold can grow on basically any surface--metal, glass, drywall, tile and carpet--so inspect everything. If your walls have peeling paint or areas where they seem to bow out, they may be holding excess moisture. When that happens, mold will not be far behind.

    Professional Tests

    Once you find or suspect mold in your home, it's important to determine how bad it is and whether it presents a health risk. Then you can plan a removal procedure. Home test kits are available at most hardware and home improvement stores. The kits usually require you to take a mold sample from a surface and place the sample in a container. You then mail it off to a lab, which will notify you of the results in one to two weeks. If you see signs of a health risk such as a respiratory ailment, an air quality test probably will be more conclusive than a surface test. It can tell you the level of mold spores in the air and whether it has reached a toxic range for people. These tests are performed by professional mold removers. You can find local removers in your phone book or by asking for referrals from your home improvement or hardware store.


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