Colorado Mold Inspections
Here at eTest Network we test for mold every week and we often receive a lot of questions about the process of the inspection. This article will give a brief synopsis of a mold inspection.
First, its always important to understand the nature of the issue we are trying to solve. Is the potential mold problem a result of a groundwater intrusion, a leaky pipe, high humidity in the space, or another potential problem. Issues that result from long-term persistent problems have different solutions and require different remediation tactics than wetness caused by one-time leak or overflow. Your input can give the inspector a better understanding of the problem at your property. We have awesome tools that give us a unique look at properties, and the ability to see into your walls, but we can’t see what happened last week in the big storm, or when the race car was stuck in the drain the other day.
Now on to those tools. The first tool that we have is our experience. Our inspectors are trained in mold inspection and have been on hundreds of jobs. Our mold inspection supervisor has also been a mold removal specialist and knows what might be hiding behind that drywall and just how to fix it. This experience helps to see patterns and to determine things others just don’t see. Our next important tool is you, the customer. Like we stated before, the story you tell us goes a long way towards finding the source of the issue and coming to a solution.
Then of course, there are the gadgets…and we love gadgets. First in the toolbox is a moisture meter. This tool measures the moisture content of various materials using electrical conductivity. It is often made in combination with a thermometer and humidity reader, also known as a hygrometer. Using these tools we are able to determine a baseline reading of the moisture in the materials and air. Using this baseline we can search for wet areas where mold is likely to grow; seen or unseen. Thermal Imaging is the next tool in our arsenal.
This is a thermal image of a closet with water damage. The purple areas on the back walls show where the water wicked up the drywall.
When materials become wet their temperature tends to drop a few degrees from that of the dry materials around the wet area. This temperature difference can be picked up on by a thermal imaging camera and we can document that difference. Last, we have the borescope, a very small camera at the end of a flexible cable. We can use this to get into a small hole and see behind your walls, in the ceilings or under the floors.
Finally, we have our lab testing techniques. There are four primary means for testing for mold. The first and most commonly used is an Air Sample. Using specialized cassettes we are able to pull a specific amount of air over a microscope slide with an adhesive surface, and then in turn determine how many mold spores are in a given amount of air. Using a baseline sample outdoors we can see if there are elevated levels of mold spores indoors. The lab will also let us know what types of mold are present and in what concentration.
Mold inspection tools and sampling methodsThe lab results also let us know which molds are known to be irritants to people. Air samples are great because they can detect mold colonies that we don’t see, and because they can get a snapshot of all the varieties of mold present.
The second lab method is the Swab Sample. This method uses a cotton swab to get a sample of a visible colony. It is great at determining what type of mold there is in that spot you see on the wall or the floor, and it can get in tight spaces. Unfortunately it can be a bit destructive to the mold and make analysis slightly more difficult for the lab techs.
The third type of sample is the Tape Lift. The tape lift uses a piece of clear tape placed first on the visible mold and next put gently onto a microscope slide. This will keep the mold more intact than will a swab sample.
Finally we have the Bulk Sample, which takes a piece of the material on which the mold is growing and physically removes it from the building. This method keeps the sample in pristine condition, but obviously damages the building.
Putting all this human power, electronic tools, and microscopy we are able to get a clear look at what is happening in your property. The next step is actually a two-part process of clean-up and prevention, which we will cover in another post. Check out our Mold Page for more information on mold inspections.