Mold Testing

Is this mold? Only a lab test can say for sure.

Do you suspect your home has mold?

A mold test can help you answer two questions:

  1. Is a substance mold or not?
  2. Is there an elevated amount of mold spores in the air that you’re breathing?

More information about each:

1. Is a substance mold or not?

    • How it works- A sample of the substance will be sent to a lab and then analyzed. You’ll get a report that indicates whether the substance was mold or not.
    • Please note- a Tape Sample test will NOT identify the species of mold.  Tape Samples only indicate if the substance was some kind of mold or not.  If you need to know the exact mold species, contact someone who can do a “viable mold test” for you.
    • Cost: $100 per sample.  Not offered as a stand-alone service.  Only in addition to a home inspection.

2. Is there an elevated amount of mold spores in the air that you’re breathing?

    • How it works- Air samples will be drawn through a device that captures mold spores.  Two outdoor air samples and at least two indoor samples will be taken.  A lab will analyze the outdoor and indoor samples.  If the indoor air samples have more mold spores than the outdoor samples, then the indoor air had elevated mold spores at the time the samples were taken.
    • This test will give you a general sense of how contaminated the indoor air was when tested.
    • Cost: $400 for 2 outdoor and 2 indoor samples.  $100 more for each additional indoor sample.

What now?  If the lab report indicates mold, that means there’s mold that needs to be cleaned up.  It also means there’s excess moisture in the home that needs to be reduced or eliminated.  That’s because mold spores are found almost everywhere, and elevated moisture is what causes the spores to grow into mold.

Before doing a mold test, you should understand that mold testing has many limitations.  Here are 7 Poor Reasons to test for mold from the Minnesota Department of Health.  (Click the link to see why they are considered poor reasons.)

  1. To find out if there is mold
  2. To identify what type of mold is present
  3. To learn if the mold is the toxic kind
  4. To find the cause of health complaints
  5. To determine if the environment is safe
  6. To decide how to correct a mold problem
  7. To make a party respond to the problem

So, should you have a mold test done?  Look again at the two questions at the top of this page and ask yourself if that’s what you need.

Here’s a Sample report.  

  • On page two of the sample report, columns 2, 3, and 4 (samples taken Outside, Living Room, and Bedroom) show the results of the Air Sample.  In this case, the indoor samples did not have elevated mold spores when compared with the outdoor control sample.
  • Column 5 (Bathroom) shows the results of the Tape Sample.  This test confirmed a type of mold called Stachybotrys.

Since the inspector is not a licensed physician, anyone with concerns about the health effects of mold exposure should seek the advice of a healthcare professional.

Mold Information From The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Basic Mold Facts

The test results indicated elevated mold.  What do we do?  How do we clean it up?

How do we keep the mold from coming back?

Key EPA statements about mold:

  • In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. (The next point explains why.) EPA Source
  • No EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores. Sampling cannot be used to check a building’s compliance with federal mold standards (since there aren’t any). EPA Source
  • It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors; some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust. EPA Source
  • If there is mold growth in your home, you must promptly clean up the mold and fix the water problem. Mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. EPA Source

Bill Wilkinson

  • Certified Professional Inspector
  • InterNACHI Certified Mold Inspector
  • Mold Tester