When Does Your Home Need a Professional Mold Assessment?

Residents in the Portland area often think twice about what may be causing their allergy symptoms in the spring. At first glance, their nasal congestion, sneezing, and throat irritation may appear to be a normal allergic reaction to blooming flowers and trees. But those who are familiar with our local rainy spring season often tack on another suspect to their list of potential causes of their symptoms:  an amplification of mold in their homes.

Symptoms caused by mold allergies can include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough and postnasal drip
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Dry, scaly skin

Our client, Yolanda, had been experiencing symptoms like these while also detecting a musty odor in her bi-level apartment on the upper floors of an apartment complex.


Common Reasons for a Professional Mold Assessment

Yolanda came to us with two of the most common reasons for requesting a mold assessment:

  1. To help determine whether mold was the cause of continued allergic reactions, and
  2. To verify that no mold growth remains after a previous water or mold problem was fixed.

Yolanda told us that excessive mold growth had previously been an issue in her apartment. The areas around several windows and a skylight on the top floor of her home had exhibited mold growth in the past.

Her landlord had the building materials around those areas removed, but the problem had yet to be completely remedied. The landlord had not yet replaced the materials that had been removed, nor had he reconstructed the areas around the windows and skylight. When we performed our mold assessment inspection, the openings in the ceiling and walls were covered by clear poly sheeting.


Mold Needs Moisture to Flourish

Mold spores are normally present in the air we breathe without necessarily causing adverse health effects. It is when mold grows excessively that it begins to present potential health hazards to people. Mold needs organic material as a food source. It also needs moisture to grow. When these two conditions are met, mold can thrive on and inside walls, ceilings, flooring materials, window sills and many other surfaces inside homes.

Because mold needs water to grow, it is important that a mold inspection includes processes for:

  1. identifying any moisture-related concerns, and
  2. detecting any evidence of water intrusion.

We can recommend actions to remedy these issues if they are discovered.

Common causes of moisture-related concerns and water intrusion include:

  • leaky pipes or ceilings,
  • flooding,
  • high humidity environments without proper ventilation, and
  • overflows from sinks or sewers.

Skylights and windows that leak such as Yolanda’s can present a serious cause for concern. The resulting excess moisture can cause mold growth to flourish if care is not taken to remedy the situation.

Our inspector did not observe any visible mold growth near the skylight, windows, or any other areas of concern in Yolanda’s apartment. The carpeting in the stairwell did show staining, which was determined to have been caused by the previous water leakage from the skylight directly above it. Our inspector did not detect any other moisture concerns or evidence of water intrusion.


Air Sampling Analysis Is Key to a Proper Mold Assessment

We cannot always see excessive mold growth. It may be hidden inside walls, ceilings, or floors. Air sampling is a critical factor in mold assessment to determine whether mold is growing inside a home and to what extent it may be growing.

For this procedure, we take at least one air sample from inside a home. We then take a sample from outside the home or building to use as a control. Laboratory analysis is necessary to detect the levels of invisible mold spores present in the air at the time of sampling.

Our technician collected a mold spore sample in the upper floor hallway in Yolanda’s apartment. We sent that sample, along with a control sample, to an accredited laboratory for analyses. Results revealed a higher concentration of Cladosporium fungal spores present in the interior sample than the control sample taken from outside.


Healthy Home’s Recommendations Post-Mold Assessment

In the report we prepared for Yolanda, we recommended:

  • Areas of removed building materials that exhibited mold growth be fully reconstructed by qualified industry professionals.
  • Prior to reconstruction, the attic should be inspected for mold-contaminated building materials.
  • Any future mold remediation efforts should be conducted by qualified industry professionals who adhere to industry best practices.

A professional mold assessment helps determine whether previous mold issues are still causing problems inside your home. Knowing exactly what must be done is important for making critical changes that address any issues that may exacerbate previous mold problems.

Dan Rouse