Reduced airflow in newer homes spurs mold growth
Twelve years ago, Tom Flood started his business with the hope that he could improve customers’ indoor air quality. “Word of mouth, communication with our clients and continuing to do better than expected keeps us ahead of competition,” says Flood, who won a Super Service Award in 2008.
“We live by the motto: ‘We leave our work site cleaner than when we arrived,’ which is a pleasant surprise to our clients.”
Should I test my home for mold?
Tom Flood: "It depends on the needs of the people involved. If you can see the mold growing, or if you've had basement flooding, ongoing leaks or felt sick at home and are not getting better, you may want to test for mold.
"People react differently to mold. It's not only the mold type that can affect you, but also the amount of mold that you inhale. Common types of mold include cladosporium, penicillium, alternaria and aspergillus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing or skin irritation.
"Testing can be done by retrieving a physical sample of mold from a surface in your home, or by testing the air with what we call an air cell test. The surface test examines the mold type, and the air cell test examines the type and concentration, which tends to be a more efficient method in determining the extent of mold remediation needed.
"One spot surface test costs about $100. Air cell tests typically require a minimum of three tests: one in the affected area, one beside the affected area and one outside of the home, which is used as a control sample.
"The cost to test an entire house can range between $150 to $800, but that depends on the number of samples taken and the number of tests done.
"Unlike your grandparents' house, which may have been drafty due to having more airflow by design, newer homes have been made airtight with excess weather stripping, caulking and double-paned windows. There's little air movement.
"When water is introduced into an airtight environment, significant mold growth can occur. We've literally made our homes Petri dishes!
"To increase airflow, open your windows, use your fan rather than running your air conditioning and make sure your ventilation system is operating properly. Be aware of any water intrusion in your home. Stop leaks and dry them out. Reduce humidity and condensation by using a dehumidifier.
"Hire a mold testing contractor to work in tandem with your home inspector if you're looking to buy a house, especially if there's been anything out of the ordinary found there, or if the house has been left empty for more than three months.
"We recommend avoiding bleach as a remedy to remove mold, because it may spread its growth. Instead, the best way is to have a professional test and remove the contaminated material. That way, the mold can't come back."
For more information about mold testing and remediation, visit cdc.gov/mold or epa.gov/mold.