Mold Testing is typically an air quality test. In most cases we take 3 samples: one sample is taken from outside (the control sample), another sample is taken from the lowest living area or where moisture issues are suspected, and another sample is taken from upstairs or where an issue is not suspected. We use a pump that pulls 15 liters of air through a ‘trap’ over 5 minutes (75 Liters total). We send these samples or traps to a lab to count and identify the fungal spores.
Tape lifts can help identify the type of mold but do not provide any information about how prevalent it is in the air. Often times visible mold can be identified so a tape lift is not necessary.
Spores are everywhere
The purpose of the test is to confirm that the air quality inside the home is not significantly out of range from what is taken from outside the home. Spores are everywhere, especially in our area which is a sub-tropical rain forest– there is a lot of decaying matter (leaves, branches, etc…) which will naturally cause spores as they decompose. This is why we always expect to find a number of spores in every home and sample.
Air Quality Issues
A possible air quality issue can be indicated by spore samples (usually taken from the basement or lowest level living area) that are significantly out of range from the outdoor sample. Most air quality issues, in our area, are caused by un-controlled moisture issues in crawl spaces or basements (the moisture is generally caused by water penetration from grading and drainage issues at the exterior). Over the long-term moisture and fungus can seep upward into the living areas from the below ground areas. Long-term plumbing leaks and sometimes roof leaks can also cause air quality issues but this is less common.