Mold is bad for your health and in some cases it can cause serious health problems. Because of this it is a good idea to hunt down any mold that might be in your home, especially if you fear there may be a problem. If you have a musty smell or a moldy smell in any area of your house, you likely have a mold problem. Use these tips for finding your hidden mold problem.
Before You Get Started.
Because looking for mold can and often does lead to finding it you should take a few precautions. You don't want to rip, pull up, or pull out things. You should avoid moving anything quickly since this could send spores all over. You also want to make sure that you are wearing protective gear so that you don't cause eye or lung damage to yourself while you are looking for mold. You should see What To Wear When Removing Mold From Your Home before you get started so that you are choosing the right protective gear).
There are a number of tools that can help you find the mold problem that you have in your home.
- Mold test kits. These kits can be used in each room of the house and they will tell you how concentrated the mold spores are in those rooms. Mold spores are everywhere, but when they are in higher concentration that is because the mold is growing in that room!
- Sensors. There are a number of sensors that will help you find areas of high moisture and dry rot within your walls, ceilings, and floors. These readings can help you find areas where mold may be growing. They include DampProtectT, WallProtectT, and DryRotT, though there may be others.
- Moisture Meters. These are used to find areas that have a high amount of moisture. Molds need moisture to grow so they will help you find the mold!
Often surface mold is a sign of a bigger problem. If you have an area that gets moldy even though you have tried to get rid of it you want to check more thoroughly to see if there is a larger problem waiting for you under the surface.
Feel For Soft Spots.
There are times when the walls, floors, or other locations will be damp and get soft. Sometimes the softness goes away after the water does and sometimes it doesn't. If you are looking for hidden mold you should feel around for soft spots and always check there to see if there is a problem.
Look For Water Damage.
Water damage is often a good sign that there could be a mold problem in that area. Here are some common signs of water damage and some common ways to look for mold in those areas. Where ever there is water damage you should check for mold using the methods below.
Checking for Mold.
Each different location that mold can be needs to be checked in different ways. Here are some common places mold can grow and how to check them.
- Ceilings. If your ceiling has water damage then you will want to find out if their is mold there. To find out with drop in tiles you will want to carefully move a tile over and have a look. Other ceiling types will require that you cut a small test hole to see. If you can use a scope you will save some damage, but you will have to buy or borrow one.
- Walls. Walls are often a common place of mold caused from water damage. Cut a 4 by 2 inch square out in the water damaged area to check for mold.
- Wallpaper. You will want to gently peel back a section of wallpaper. This is usually done where there is water damage and under windows (which may be causing moisture to accumulate under the wallpaper).
- Carpets. Another common place for mold to grow is in carpets, in carpet pads, and along carpet tack boards, Gently lift the carpet up to look for mold and signs of water damage. Your tack boards should show signs of water damage and rusty tacks if there was a problem and mold will show up along them, on the carpet pad, and on the backside of the carpet.
- Cabinets. To check for mold pull out all of the drawers and shelves and look for mold behind them. To check for mold behind the cabinets or vanity it is best to unscrew them and slowly pull it out. (Before moving this much you should see the article Mold Removal: The Containment Area.)
- Ducts. Another great place for mold to grow is in the ducts. This is particularly dangerous for your family because it sends spores all through the house. You will want to open access to the ducts where ever you think there might be mold. Check all vents and grills.
Check the Basement and Crawl Space.
Basements are known for moisture and crawl spaces trap it. However, if you don't go in these areas often then it could be the prefect place to have a large problem. Check the walls, the flooring, deep and dark corners for mold in either of these areas.
Check the Attic.
Your attic often traps rising heat and moisture which also makes it a prime spot for hidden mold. You should check the walls, the floor, and the insulation. Move things around a bit to see what you find there.
Hiring an Inspector.
There are a lot of advantages to having an inspector come to your home and check it for mold. Here are a few to consider.
- He has access to tools. A certified inspector will come with lots of fancy tools to make sure that you find all hidden mold. You won't have to buy the tools to find the damage! This can save money in the long run.
- He will be more accurate. While you may find the hidden mold right away, it is also possible that you will struggle to find the mold and it will grow to a larger mess and a more expensive one. If you think you might have a problem, but you can't figure out way, be safe rather than sorry. It could mean the difference between a $100 job and a $1000 job (or more!).
- He may work with a mold dog. One of the new ways to find mold problems in your home is to use a mold dog. This is a dog who smells out mold in the same ways as a drug dog smells out drugs. They are accurate and pretty darned cool.
Mold is no laughing matter and getting it dealt with sooner rather than later is important. It can cause health problems, it is often not covered by the insurance company, and it can be a bigger mess the longer that you wait. With that in mind, find hidden mold as soon as possible when you think there might be an issue.