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General questions about mold

What is the difference between black mold and regular mold?

Most of us associate the term “black mold” with mold types that are toxic. However, that’s not always the case. The most common black molds are Strachybotrys chartarum and Aspergillus niger and these are both harmful to humans and animals. However, there are thousands of other types of molds, many of which have never been shown to be harmful and others that impact health in different ways. In fact, we come in contact with some types of mold every day.

Just because a mold appears black doesn’t necessarily mean it’s toxic. You should test to confirm the type of mold so you can deal with it appropriately.

How do you know if mold is making you sick?

The most common symptoms of mold exposure are:

- Irritation to the eyes, nose, or throat

- Persistent cough, congestion, or sinus headaches

- Aggravation of asthma

- Dizziness

- Fatigue

- Sore throat or flu-like symptoms

- Bleeding in the lungs and other lung complications

- Skin rashes, hives

Some people with allergies or Asthma will notice improvements in symptoms when they leave the contaminated area overnight or for a few days. Their symptoms will typically return when the re-enter the area.

It’s estimated that 25% of the population has a medical predisposition to mold

Do air purifiers work on mold?

Air purifiers clean the air to some degree, but it does not eliminate the mold problem. If you don’t eliminate the source of mold growth, an air purifier is really just a band aid to the real problem.

An air filter will only filter out a percentage of the mold spores. The remainder will settle on the ground and be recirculated in your home or building. If you don’t remove the mold and fix the reason for the mold growth , it will continue to grow and add more and more spores to your air. Mold can also cause structural damage the longer you leave it to grow.

What are acceptable mold levels in a home or building?

A building can be considered to have a normal mold level or what’s called “fungal ecology” when a visual inspection shows no signs of concern and that’s verified with professional air quality testing.

Mold spores are everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. Proper air quality testing compares your indoor air to an outdoor reference or known good air sample and tests for the presence of indicator type spores. Your indoor air mold levels are deemed acceptable as long as the total spore counts are equal to or less than that of the outdoor air and all indicator type spores are ruled out.

Mold identification and testing
How can I tell if I have mold in my walls?

Since we can’t see behind walls, it’s difficult to determine the presence of mold inside them. Typical signs include the smell of mold or staining on the walls. If there is a concern, wall cavity air sampling can be done, or a more intrusive investigation that would involve removing the wall at the area of concern. Some companies have mold sniffing dogs that can also identify hidden concerns. Other options include testing for moisture after rain falls to help determine potential mold growth behind a wall, or air sampling in the immediate area.

Does a musty smell mean I have mold?

We used to think grandma’s basement smelled musty because it is old. That’s not the case. If you smell a musty, earthy, or urine-like odor, it’s likely that mold is a concern. Mold excretes what we call “microbial organic volatile compounds” into the air. That’s what gives off the smell and a sign that the area should be investigated for the presence of mold.

How do professionals test for mold/ How do I check for mold in my house?

If you’re concerned about mold you can start by doing your own visual inspection, in particular at all water sources. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there an odour?
  • Is there any discolouration on walls and ceilings?
  • Were there ever any water events, leaks, flood, pipe break, roof problems, high humidity?

Then it’s best to contact professionals to be sure. We start with a visual inspection and then use different types of testing methods, both invasive and non-invasive, including moisture meters and thermal hygrometers. After inspection and testing, we can determine a sampling strategy that makes sense and that will allow us to gather the data needed to provide you with a detailed report.

How much should mold testing cost?

Depending on how much data is required, the cost of mold inspections and assessments can vary. The more data needed, the more costly the assessment. The typical inspection and sampling in a single-family dwelling can range from $200 all the way up to $1500 for elaborate investigations with a detailed report. The initial inspection is most important as it allows us to set up a proper sampling strategy.

Are mold tests accurate?

The mold testing we conduct is very accurate. All the mold samples we take are sent to a third-party, independent, and accredited lab where a microbiologist reviews the samples under a microscope. Once analysis is complete, it is typically reviewed by the Principal Microbiologist to verify.

What do mold test results tell you?

This depends on what type of testing is performed.

There are various types of surface samples or bulk samples that can be taken. We can then get two different types of analysis from the lab.

  • Determination of the Genus only, known as non-viable analysis
  • Identification of both the Genus and the species, which is when the lab cultures the mold

In the case of air samples, the most common type of analysis is non-viable analysis. In this case, we are looking for total spore counts in a spore trap. The lab counts each type of spore in indoor samples as well as a reference or control sample. Interpretation of the mold level is done by comparing the indoor samples to the reference/ control sample.

Can you test for mold yourself?

It’s best to have mold testing performed by a qualified mold professional. Hiring a professional mold tester who is experienced in collecting and analyzing mold samples will always lead to the most accurate results.

Mold Removal
How much does it cost to hire a professional to remove mold?

The cost of mold removal and remediation will vary depending on the location of the project, the location of the mold, the size and severity of the contamination, and the complexity of reaching and removing the mold. We always provide full estimates before beginning any work.

How long does it take to remediate mold?

There isn’t a single answer to this question as there are many variables when it comes to finishing the work: size of the project, area of contamination, material the growth is on or behind, and more.

Can I remove mold myself?

Yes, but with certain conditions. If you and other building occupants are healthy, with no underlying health conditions, are not immune compromised, and you wear proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), you can remove up to 10 square feet of mold growth yourself.

Can cleaning mold make you sick or impact your health?

Yes, most definitely. When mold is disturbed, it releases spores into the air at a very rapid rate. It may not bother some people, while it could make others seriously ill. It is always best to leave removal of more than 10 square feet to the professionals.

Does bleach kill black mold? What is the best product for mold removal?

Bleach is known to render mold colourless. However, even killing the mold does not solve the problem. That’s because the dead mold spore is just as harmful to the human lungs as living mold spores. If it is a toxigenic type of mold, it can still carry the toxin even when it’s dead.

Can a handyman remove mold or does it have to be removed by a professional?

We recommend that removal of any mold of more than 10 square feet be left to a professional. A handyman may state that he or she has done such work before with no problems. But if the proper professional controls are not in place, or the work is not done thoroughly, the mold could still negatively affect the health of the building occupants.

How do professionals remove mold?

As experienced professionals, we have a system that follows these steps:

  • Set up containments to isolate the contaminated area from non-contaminated areas.  
  • Establish DOP tested HEPA air filtration devices and exhaust them outside.  
  • Remove the affected materials and place into bags immediately.  
  • Ensure the bags are HEPA vacuumed and wet wiped prior to being removed from the containment shelter

Once all the affected building materials have been removed, we complete a thorough HEPA vacuuming and wet wiping, covering the entire area from ceilings down the walls. All vertical and horizontal surfaces are thoroughly cleaned.    

We then allow everything to settle overnight and repeat the HEPA cleaning and wet wiping process one more time. Finally, we complete a visual inspection, black glove test, and conduct air clearance testing to ensure the work has been completed properly.

Is it safe to live in a house after mold remediation?

Yes, under certain conditions: the job was done properly, the building was inspected and verified to be of a normal fungal ecology, and the source that caused the mold has been rectified.

Can mold come back after remediation?

That will only happen if the source of the moisture problem isn’t fixed.

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