Mold Air Sample Testing

Date Published: July 21, 2017

During a general home inspection of a house, we typically rely on what we can visually see and observe.  And while we can often see signs of moisture damage or mold, we can’t know what amount of mold may be present in the air when no visual indication of concerns are present.  Performing mold air sample testing is a very effective method of determining the mold spore counts present in the air, providing valuable information about potential hidden moisture damage present in a home. We offer this test as one of our many add on services that can be performed with your inspection.

When to Perform Mold Air Sample Testing

We recommend that anytime you are purchasing a home, you should perform mold air sample testing with the home inspection service, especially if the home has been vacant, has had a water event, or if someone is particularly sensitive to mold.  This test can also be performed on your existing home. A home inspector can visually observe areas of a home and try to identify moisture leaks or moisture damage that may have resulted in mold growth, but at times this can be hidden or not visible.  A mold air sample test can help to identify if elevated levels of mold spores are present in the air, which can be an indication of potential elevated moisture concerns.  Typically mold growth can only occur where water or moisture is present.  Mold spores are everywhere in the air, but do not reach elevated levels that are harmful to humans unless elevated moisture levels are present.  Controlling water/moisture is the key to controlling mold growth.  Construction materials provide the food source for mold, but water is the trigger to mold growth.  And if any hidden moisture or water leaks are present that are not readily visible to a home inspector, then mold air sample testing can be an effective way to test the mold spore counts in the air, and alert the inspector and buyer to the need to investigate further if elevated results come back from the lab.

How is Mold Air Sample Testing Performed?

A home inspector will use a pump and sample collection system that will take a sample of the air present in the home.  There are small cartridges that have a tiny slide within them, and when air is pulled at a steady rate by a pump through the opening in the cartridge, samples of the particles in the air stick to the internal slide.  The inspector will run each sample for a designated amount of time and at a designated air flow rate.  This provides consistency in the sample collection.  One sample is taken outside and acts as a control sample to provide a reference for what levels of mold spores are present in the air at this time.  Then indoor samples are taken in common living areas, or in the area of concern.  Typically we would recommend one sample per floor in a home, when performed with a home inspection.

How are the Results Evaluated?

Once the mold air samples are taken, each cartridge is sealed and the samples are shipped overnight to a lab.  The lab analyzes each cartridge and prepares a report outlining the mold spore types present and the count of mold spore types for each sample.  A written report is prepared showing the breakdown of mold counts per type.  The lab will make a determination on whether the counts present are within a normal or elevated/problem range. If results come back in an elevated or problem state, it means the mold spore counts as compared to the outside reference sample are elevated to a point where exposure could represent a concern to occupants.  Based upon the results, action can be taken to investigate that specific area of the home further to try to determine where a moisture or water concern may be present.

For the health and safety of the future occupants of a home, Scott Home Inspection recommends that all buyers consider having mold air sample testing performed during the home inspection process.  The test results come back fast, allowing peace of mind if levels are normal, or further evaluation and action if levels come back elevated.  For more information on our mold and moisture evaluation and mold air sample testing services visit our Mold-Moisture page of our website.  You can also click here to view a Mold Air Sample Test report.


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About the Author: George Scott

George founded Scott Home Inspection in 2006, and has grown the business into a multi-inspector firm serving the Colorado Front Range, from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs. As an ASHI Certified Home Inspector and Certified Energy Rater, George is an excellent resource to help with inspection and energy-related requirements.

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