What you can expect from us when you reach out for help.
There is a general hard and fast (and obvious) rule we have and that is: If you see mold, you have mold! This might seem too simplistic but it’s just that, simply true. Of course there is much more to it but we will discuss these situations in a future article.
For this article we are outlining what we do in situations where mold is suspected but not seen. These are otherwise known as cases of potentially ‘hidden mold’. In these situations we are required to put on our detective caps and follow the clues. We work with the home owner like a doctor with a patient. We ask a lot of questions, sometimes run tests and then formulate a treatment plan if necessary.
So, you think you have a mold problem. Our first priority it to establish what it is that leads you think this. Often our clients tell us it’s just a ‘feeling’ they have. They either become symptomatic in the home and feel better outside of the home, smell what they think would be evidence of mold or actually know there was a mold issue in the home at one time and suspect it was not addressed completely. If you can relate, take heart as a good number of people are natural born ‘mold detectors’ while others aren’t bothered and might even believe it’s all in the heads of their friends/partners. Our first line of advice? Trust your instincts.
We start by asking ‘Why do you think you have a hidden mold problem?’ Some examples of answers we hear frequently: 1. Ever since I moved into the house I’ve been experiencing new, random, unexplained symptoms and my doctor can’t find a cause. I’m at my wits end and need to know if it’s mold related.
2. We had a flood and dried everything out but since then I’ve not felt well/my child has unexplained rashes/my spouse has a constant headache etc.
3. I can’t find mold on any of our walls or window tracks or any other obvious spots in the house but my shoes, purses etc get what looks like mold growth on them frequently even after I wipe them down. My clothes always smell musty no matter how much I wash them. If I leave any fresh fruit out on the counter for even a day it goes moldy.
We will then ask questions about the house:
1. How old is the house?
2. How long have you lived there?
3. Are you aware if the house has had any history of flooding or leaks? If yes, what happened, when and what was done as a remedy?
We then do a walk around the outside of the home and look for possible water intrusion issues which could include evidence of perimeter drainage problems, broken or blocked eaves, improperly installed or malfunctioning gutters, roof/shingle damage (which we will also look for when inside the attic), broken seals around chimney flashing.These are just a few of the things we will look for as each house has its own unique features and challenges.
Once we move inside we start looking for any obvious evidence of water intrusion such as staining, loose/unseated toilets, efflorescence on concrete floors or walls, leaking plumbing, buckling of flooring, peeling paint, lack of airflow (faulty or missing exhaust fans), dryers venting into the attic space, high humidity areas, evidence of condensing on windows, jetted tubs, blocked/slow drains, HVAC maintenance – the list is long. Our moisture meter and other diagnostic tools help us collect what information we can using non-invasive methods of detection.
We also discuss lifestyle factors. Does someone take long steamy baths or showers frequently? Are parts of the house heated and others left unheated or minimally heated? Is there an abundance of house plants? Do you regularly line dry clothes indoors? Do you run essential oil diffusers? (Please keep in mind that in consideration of certain build environments we may advise some adjustments to anything that drives up humidity in the house or recommend using a dehumidifier regularly.) What is the average RH (relative humidity) in various spots in the house?
On occasion there is no one single or obvious culprit. It is in these situations we will discuss the option of running some tests. There are a few types of tests and unfortunately none are perfect and all have limitations. This is important to understand and I highly recommend reading this article for a good synopsis: What Is The Best Way To Test For Mold (Please note: Working with a health practitioner to determine if mold is causing your symptoms is helpful. There is a blood test available that determines mold mycotoxin types and levels in the blood. When clients have shared their results we often find the air tests we take reveal those same mold types that generate the mycotoxins.)
It is entirely possible that your house by nature of its age and history has a high mold load and all of those mini mold factories throughout the home are cumulatively causing the issue. Mold is part of life but what we always say is, too much mold (or mold load) is unhealthy. Learn more about Mold Load here: Mold Load Explained
Our commitment is to get you the answers you are looking for and work with you to return your home to a healthy state.
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