How is Mold Testing Done?
Maybe you’ve noticed a moldy smell. Or you’ve had water leaks or spotted visible signs of mold. For many homeowners, the thought of having mold in their home is terrifying, but if you’ve seen the signs, it’s important to take the next—and safest—step, which is to schedule a mold assessment with a trained professional who can help you understand whether you have a mold problem and what you can do about it.
You might be wondering, how much time will it take? Will they pull up my rugs? Is the process safe? After you’ve scheduled it, what can you expect from your mold assessment? What about results?
“Knowledge,” says Robert Weitz, a certified microbial investigator and Principal at RTK Environmental Group, is key. “A big part of scheduling and our investigation is education. We help our clients understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Our inspectors are all well-educated and often have years of experience in environmental testing, construction, and other related fields. They understand how homes are built and how mold can cause them to deteriorate. And they are eager to share information.”
Homeowners should expect a highly trained professional to show up for the job, according to Weitz, who notes that he and his team perform independent testing services and not remediation or repairs.
“That unbiased information is really important,” he says. “There’s no conflict of interest, which means we’re potentially saving homeowners thousands of dollars in unnecessary remediation costs,” he says. “New York State law requires that two different companies do the testing and remediation on the same job to protect consumers.” Laws in other states are soon to follow.
Here’s a closer look at what you can expect from an RTK mold assessment professional:
Before the Inspection
RTK will provide you with any specific information on the test that you will be having. Depending on the location and type of assessment, we will provide you with information about proper protocol to ensure you get the most accurate results. Don’t worry – you’ll be fully prepared, and it is very easy to do.
During the Inspection
Your RTK professional will need to ask you questions in order to gather critical information, such as when you first noticed the problem; if you have had recent water, moisture, or weather-related issues; whether you’ve had recent renovations to your home; or if you’ve noticed roof or plumbing leaks. Don’t worry—it’s a conversation, not an interrogation! By the same token, don’t be afraid to ask questions and tap into the expertise of your very knowledgeable and experienced inspector.
In addition to asking questions, the home visit includes a complete visual assessment. If the RTK professional suspects a mold contamination, your inspector won’t disturb walls, baseboards, or raised floors because it might launch and spread mold spores into the air. Instead, RTK will look for standing water, wet, or damp areas. They’ll start with the area you may have noticed but will also look in the basement and other areas where moisture can enter the home. RTK will also use moisture meters and thermal image cameras to identify hidden moisture concerns that may be causing mold. Also, the inspector will take digital photos or video to aid in the assessment.
Mold is everywhere in our environment. RTK takes air and surface samples during an investigation in order to determine the amount of mold, the types of mold, and the location of mold. Mold spores are microscopic, move easily on air currents, and can get picked up by heating and air conditioning units and move to other areas of the house.
Air samples—taken not only in the area of concern, but in other areas of the house as well, can identify any cross-contamination of mold spores and determine the levels of mold in the air. As mold is naturally occurring in the environment, an exterior baseline air sample is also taken.
Surface sample are also taken, usually with either a cotton swab or tape lift, a microscope slide with a sticky surface. This sample can be taken from a suspect mold area to assess types and quantities of mold or from flat surfaces to identify spores that have settled out of the air.
The entire process typically takes 1-2 hours but could take longer depending on the size of the area to be inspected, what information is discovered along the way, and what kinds of questions you may have.
After the Inspection
To ensure reliable results, RTK sends all samples to labs accredited by the American Industrial Hygiene Association. RTK takes those results and combines them with what they saw and learned during their investigation, providing a clear and complete report to you via email. Essentially, the report puts results in layman’s terms and based on findings, makes recommendations on what needs to be done. You’ll know whether the health of your family is at risk and if professional remediation is necessary. While other companies might take samples and send raw data results to the client—leaving interpretation up to you—RTK fully explains the analysis and provides contact information for clients to reach them directly to answer any questions.
Should mold remediation and/or cleaning be necessary, RTK professionals offer clearance testing to ensure that the work performed by the remediation contractor was done correctly and effectively and that air and surface samples have returned to normal.
That’s it – we make it easy! If you would like to speak with one of our highly trained staff, call us at 800.392.6468 or visit RTKEnvironmental.com.