Moldy cheese might be a delicacy in some places, but a moldy home could mean trouble
Maybe you’ve noticed a funny, sort-of musty smell in your attic. Or maybe you recently had flooding in your basement that took forever to dry, and it left some residue on the walls. Whatever the case may be, you suspect mold is growing in your home. Here’s how to determine whether you need a mold inspection.
What Is Mold?
Mold is a fungus that grows mostly in dark, moist places and appears in a rainbow of colors, including black, white, green, and gray. Mold spores float in the air and can cause serious health issues, such as neurological problems, breathing difficulties, and more.
Mold is most likely to set up residence in places like basements, underneath the floors, attics, and even between walls. Even though mold thrives in wet areas, homes in desert locations are not immune to it either.
How to Identify Signs of Mold
There are a few ways you can watch for mold before you decide whether or not to get an official mold inspection.
Follow Your Nose
Mold has a very distinct, musty smell. If mold is growing in your home, you’ll likely smell it before you see it. If you’re not sure where the smell is coming from, try turning off your HVAC system, and then close all the doors in your home and wait a few hours. Then, go room by room to find where the odor is the strongest.
Be On the Lookout
Pay particular attention to exterior walls and any furniture that’s placed up against them. If you move a piece of furniture away from an outer wall and can see the outline of it on the wall, that’s most likely mold.
Conduct regular checks of the rooms in your home that are most likely to grow mold, such as the basement and the attic. Kitchens and bathrooms are also breeding grounds for mold, so pay close attention in those rooms as well. Improperly caulked windows can grow mold, too.
Use Common Sense
If you have a basement that’s prone to flooding or an attic that frequently leaks, those areas are more likely to develop mold problems. Pay particular attention to any areas of your home where excess moisture is a problem.
When to Inspect for Mold
If you see mold in your home, then you can probably skip a mold inspection and go straight to a mold removal company. However, if you’re unsure, there are a few circumstances that warrant a call to a mold inspection company.
If you’re buying a new home, a mold inspection is never a bad idea. Regular home inspectors may note if they see mold, but they will not dive deeper than a visual once-over. A mold inspector can tell you if your potential new home has mold lurking somewhere and whether it needs to be removed by a professional.
If you see water damage from a basement flood, a roof leak, or a pipe burst that wasn’t completely dried within 24 hours, it should be inspected for mold growth.
If a home has been unoccupied for an extended period of time, it should be inspected for mold since moisture could have built up inside.
If you’ve had mold in your house before, regular mold inspections are a good idea to make sure it doesn’t come back.
If you have specific health concerns that could be affected by mold spores, such as asthma or allergies, you should be hyper-aware of the presence of mold.
What Happens During a Mold Inspection?
During a mold inspection, the inspector will do a careful visual investigation. They will concentrate specifically on places where mold is likely to grow. Usually, they will also check the HVAC system, as mold tends to grow there.
If the mold inspector thinks there might be mold growing in the walls, they may have to cut a hole in the drywall to get a better look. Once they’ve finished, the inspector will go over suggested next steps with you, if they found anything.
How Much Does a Mold Inspection Cost?
A mold inspection ranges in price from about $300 to $1,000. The price varies based on geographical location, the size of the home, and the time spent on the inspection process. For instance, if an inspector has to cut through drywall to look for mold, the price will likely be higher. Keep in mind that this is just the price for the inspection; depending on what the inspector finds, the removal of mold tacks on an additional cost.
How to Prevent Mold
If you don’t have mold in your home but are concerned that your home could be susceptible to it, there are some steps you can take to prevent mold growth.
Use a dehumidifier, especially in the basement
Repair leaks immediately
Dry anything that gets wet, like carpeting, as quickly as possible
Run your A/C during the summer to keep humidity down