The term “mold” is commonly used and often mistaken for some other harmless microorganism. Although mold is harmless and found in healthy environments, it can cause serious health problems in humans and pets. If you have or think you have mold, call a mold inspection professional immediately. They will come to your home to evaluate the situation and find the source of the problem so it can be addressed before it becomes a more serious issue.

Most people believe they can inspect and clean up small mold spots on their own before moving into a new home; however, mold inspection is an essential step in any home improvement project. Mold, also sometimes called “fungus,” is an aquatic plant-like organism that grows on damp, wet materials. Molds are a natural element of the living environment and play an important role in nature by breaking down deceased organic matter like fallen trees and dead leaves; inside, mold growth can also be tolerated, if not encouraged.

A new home generally presents its own mold inspection risk. This is because all new homes are often built in damp, humid conditions. Mold needs moisture in order to grow properly, so new homes usually present a high concentration of mold. Testing the air inside a new home for moisture content is not something most owners consider until mold inspections are called in. By that time, the mold may have already spread, causing health problems and building damage.

When your mold inspection begins, the first step is to determine whether the source of the problem is structural or cosmetic. Structural issues may include deteriorating building materials, such as cracked drywall, missing trim, wooden frames, or other wood damage. In some cases, structural problems are so severe that a remediation process is necessary. In this case, your insurance company may suggest that you bring in an engineer to inspect the entire property, make repairs, add waterproofing and paint, among other possible solutions.

Many insurance companies are now offering mold inspections as a part of their overall homeowner insurance policy. While this policy will typically cover the cost of remediation and repair, it will also often cover the cost of an inspection, which will allow you to know upfront what the extent of the damage is. Often, a specialist can come in and test the air quality of a building, visually inspect any affected areas, evaluate the moisture levels and other key components of the building, and provide recommendations for remediation.

One reason that your professional might suggest an indoor mold inspection is to confirm the presence of visible mold. Mold grows best in areas where the relative humidity is high, but it can also grow where it is winterized, like on the ceiling. To determine if you have visible mold, your mold inspector will perform a visual inspection. If he or she detects visible mold, your professional may take samples for testing to the Office of the State Health Department or the mold analysis laboratory. If there is detected the mold, your expert may recommend that your building be tested for air quality by the local chapter of the American Lung Association. Some states also have specific statutes of limitations on the time that the mold inspection company must perform the air sampling or test.

Once the mold inspection is completed, your inspector will provide a detailed report, describing the condition of the inside of the building. Specifically, he or she will report any moist, wet spots, and how much water or humidity (if present) in the air. In addition to the report, he or she may give you recommendations for improving the condition of the inside of the building. Some suggestions might include installing a dehumidifier or installing fans to draw the moisture away from the area. For visible mold, your inspector might suggest using ultraviolet light or putting plastic sheets over the area that has been inspected to control the spread of mold.

It’s not enough for a mold inspection company to make a mold inspection. You need a mold remediation company as well. Specifically, when you hire a mold inspector with specific experience in this type of work, he or she will be well-equipped to handle any mold problems that might occur after the inspection is complete. On the other hand, if you hire someone without specific experience in this area, you run the risk of encountering problems that you are not equipped to handle. For more information on the services available through a mold remediation company, contact the SCORE (Schluter Institute of Greenhouse Environmental Quality) office.