Essentially, mold is a type of fungus. There are numerous species of mold, and their spores are everywhere. It grows in hyphae, cellular thread-like structures.
Mold doesn’t discriminate and will grow anywhere when the conditions are right. It typically takes between 24-48 hours for mold to start growing and will thrive when left unchecked under the ideal conditions.
Mold is different from plants as they do not use light from the sun, but rather depend on dark, wet environments and derive their nutrients from organic materials.
Some molds are responsible for breaking down dead organic matter, while others play a role in food spoilage.
The mold we are most concerned about grows on damp or wet building materials due to leaks, floods or any type of uncontrolled moisture source.
Left undetected, it will cause rot damage, contribute to poor indoor air quality and can cause health issues for people and animals.
There are a few questions to consider that can help you…
Do you see anything that looks like mold?
Is there too much humidity in the home, especially along the windows?
Does your home smell musty?
Have there been any floods, leaks or signs of water ingress into the home?
Do you have a dirt crawlspace?
Was the home ever a Grow op?
Have you or anyone in your home experienced flu like symptoms, such as nasal congestion, chest congestion, shortness of breath, runny nose, throat irritation, cough?
If you notice any of the above points, then mold can be an issue.
Health wise, the people most at risk are infants, the elderly, and people with compromised immune or respiratory systems and asthmatics.
Mold needs moisture, a food source, moderate temperature and time. The most important ingredient for mold to thrive is moisture.
Outside, mold is an important part of our ecosystem as it breaks down rotting vegetation and other organics.
However, mold doesn’t discriminate and will grow anywhere when the conditions are right. It typically takes between 24-48 hours for mold to start growing and will thrive when left unchecked under the ideal conditions.
Food sources include anything that is organic like cellulose, dust dirt and debris. The temperature range is vast, as it can grow in a refrigerator, but grows best in moderate environments.
The infamous Stachybotrys chartarum, is what people are referring to as “toxic black mold”. However, the mold is not actually toxic. It is the mycotoxins released by the mold that makes toxic. Mold produces these mycotoxins (poisons) to take over or defend a territory from other mold.
In reality, many mold types can be potentially dangerous. It really depends on the mold type and what sensitivities a person has to each mold species. This topic is complicated and ongoing research continues.
Essentially, Mold is everywhere, so there is really no way to get rid of it completely.
However, the simple answer is to keep your home, warm, dry and clean. This means frequently cleaning all dust and debris from all areas of the home and especially those that do not get a lot of airflow. You need to keep your home well ventilated as well.
Allow for airflow behind and storage furniture (especially exterior walls)
A mold inspection is a non-invasive, visual inspection of accessible areas of the home, where we look to identify the presence of mold or moisture issues.
We rely on training and tools to investigate the home rather than damaging walls, floors, ceilings or other building materials.
The cost depends on the size of the home and if additional testing is needed. Every scenario is different, so it really depends on the circumstances. You should expect to pay a minimum of $450. Please call for details.
Although we are trained to perform mold remediation, and have the IICRC certification we are not providing mold removal or remediation.
As mold inspectors, our focus is to determine the source of the mold or moisture, to help people figure out if they actually have a mold problem and how to deal with it.
We provide testing for mold as well.
To avoid a conflict of interest, it is best to have the home inspected and tested by an independent 3rd party
inspection firm, rather than a remediation or restoration company. If there is actually a mold problem, we can assist you with choosing the best remediation contractor for your needs, which will save you precious time and money.
It depends on the level of contamination. When the mold is covering an area larger than 3x3 feet, according the EPA, it is best to call in a remediation contractor to remove it.
If the area is very small, then you can DIY (Do it yourself), but you need to take precautions. If you plan on taking care of it yourself, you need to have PPE (personal protection equipment) such as gloves, a mask, goggles, a long sleeve shirt and pants.
Use a cleaner such as Concrobium or an inexpensive “green solution” such as 1 part vinegar, to 1 part dish soap to 10 parts water in a spray bottle. I don’t recommend using bleach to remove or clean mold because it is not nearly as effective as many other solutions on the market. In addition, it is not healthy to inhale bleach fumes.
Mold testing should be done after a flood or a leak, especially when it has not been cleaned up or dried within a few days. You want to determine the level of contamination in the home prior to calling a remediation contractor.
When you smell a musty odour, and you cannot figure out where it is coming from, then a test would make sense, to confirm or rule out possible mold contamination.
If you are experiencing mold related allergies (flu like symptoms, itchy eyes, runny nose, skin irritations, rashes etc.) then sampling for mold is a good idea. For a detailed understanding of mold sampling, take a look at this article.
There are a number of times when a mold inspection is appropriate, however, I believe it is necessary when you have experienced one of the following:
A flood or leak that was not properly dried or cleaned
When you see mold beginning to form and don’t know why it is happening
Before buying a home, especially if it has been vacant or has a crawlspace
You smell a musty or mildew odour
If you know that you purchased a past grow op
If you are noticing signs of cold or flu like symptoms
If you are moving into a home with small children and you do not know the history of the home.
If you have too much humidity in the home (more than 55%)
Peace of mind
To lean more on this topic, take a look at this article
Mold removal requires training and experience to do it properly. When you hire a handyman or contractor to take care of a mold problem in your home, you may be causing more bad than good.
Consider this… Your handyman opens up a wall to investigate what you/he believes to be a mold problem. He finds that the wall is saturated, and the overwhelming musty smell permeates the room.
What just happened? Your handyman just inadvertently contaminated the room (and potentially the rest of the home) by releasing hundreds of thousands of mold spores.
Conversely, a properly trained and certified mold remediation or restoration contractor would arrive on site with the proper equipment to contain the mold so it does not infect or cross contaminate the home. Here is a detailed article on hiring the best mold remediation company.
The short answer is no. Mold thrives in dark areas without airflow. Painting over mold is really a temporary band-aid solution. If you see mold, it is best to have it removed or it will come back when the right conditions exist (moisture, moderate temperatures and an organic food source)
First, contact your landlord through email and let him/her know about it. It is wise to take some clear pictures, and send them to your landlord as well. If you landlord is not responsive (and you live in BC) you can check out this resource for tenants.
As a landlord, you must provide a safe living environment for your tenants. According to tenants.bc.ca “As per section 32 of the Act, the Landlord "must provide and maintain residential property in a state of decoration and repair that complies with the health, safety and housing standards required by law."
Ask your tenant to send you some pictures to look at. Call in a mold inspector to perform an assessment for mold of the property for mold and test for mold if needed.
Mold and water damage affects thousands of people every year in the lower mainland. Mold Insight is dedicated to helping:
Real Estate Brokers