Questions & Answers about mold

How do I know if I have a mold problem?
Here are few of the warning signs of a potential mold problem:
  • A persistent and strong musty odour (although some dangerous molds have no smell at all. The persistent strong musty odour will sometimes change with moisture and temperature);
  • The visible appearance of mold – slightly furry, discoloured, or slimy patches that increase in size;
  • And excessive or persistent moisture or water damage.

While searching for mold it may also be necessary to look behind and underneath surfaces, such as carpets, wallpaper, cabinets, and walls, to determine the full extent of the problem.

How do I know if mold is affecting my family or employees’ health?
There are many potential health conditions that can be caused by indoor mold exposure. But there are no definitive numbers about how much mold is too much, as for some people just a few spores can trigger an asthma attack or other reaction. This means that any amount of mold in your home or business is undesirable. If you see or smell mold you should simply get it cleaned up and eliminate the source of any possible problem.
Are there tests I can do on my own?
The simplest tests are just to use your eyes and your nose to identify a potential mold problem. Anyone can do this kind of basic assessment. There are some consumer mold testing kits available on the marketplace, but these may not provide the most effective or safest method for determining the source of a mold problem. If your initial visual inspection does not answer your concerns or identify the problem, then it may be best to hire a professional to give you a definitive answer.
Why should I use professionals to test for mold and indoor air quality?
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association do not recommend testing the air for molds in single-family dwellings and similar buildings as a first step. The recommended first step is having a trained investigator check your house for mold. Choosing to get a professional mold remediation company to test indoor air quality will allow you to:
  • Provide a clean bill of health on a building with results from a trusted laboratory;
  • Locate a hidden problem and provide a remedy;
  • Have peace of mind.

Whether you suspect you have a mold problem or are doing due diligence for insurance work, a real estate purchase, or preparing to do renovations, a mold inspection and testing can be a vital part of the process.

If I have less than 10 square feet of mold, what do I do to get rid of it?
Small area mold removal processes include two basic steps:
  1. Clean the moldy surface with water and dish detergent. While there it is not necessary to use commercial products on small areas, that is a personal choice. You must make sure to completely dry the area after cleaning.
  2. Fix the underlying cause, whether due to water damage, excessive humidity, spoiled food etc.

You can clean the mold by yourself if the contaminated surface is small, but you should take precautions to protect your health if the affected area is large. In such a case, consider hiring a professional to clean it up.

Is professional mold remediation expensive?
If mold affects an area of 10 square feet or more, mold removal should be done by a professional and will unfortunately be an unexpected, unwanted expense. The expense is related to the following:
  • Documentation
    • If a building is contaminated with mold, it is unexpected, inconvenient and certainly not welcome back so a professional goes to great lengths to document:
      • the type or types of mold discovered and their known effects
      • the circumstances leading to the mold event
      • the remediation plan
      • steps required to prevent or reduce the possibility of future occurrences
  • Testing
    • samples, air and/or physical samples, are taken the sent to an independent lab for determination of mold type and concentration
  • Confirmation of the actual size of the contamination
    • as little as 20% of the area may be visible; pro’s look for what can’t be seen
  • Containment
    • once the size and location of the affected area is verified, the workspace must be properly isolated to prevent the possibility of airborne mold spores contaminating the rest of the building. Mold remediation without proper containment is dangerous and negligent.
  • Equipment
    • professional grade equipment used to detect, remove and verify success is expensive. Certified companies do not take chances on bargain equipment.
  • Safety
    • mold specialists work in a high risk environment and require the use of personal protective equipment. Certified professionals use certified safety equipment. Companies that do not enforce the use of safety equipment are not only negligent but potentially in violation of labour standards legislation.
  • Clearance testing
    • Professional mold remediation companies will not leave the job until the building has been clearance tested to verify the job is done. This requires additional sampling for lab analysis