Mold & Mildew
How to Test for Mold
Mold is everywhere but you never want to see it in your house. There are some things you can do to test for mold by doing routine maintenance checks.
How to Identify Mold
You can easily spot the most visible type of mold, called mildew, which begins as tiny, usually black spots but often grows into larger colonies. It’s the black stuff you see in the grout lines in your shower, on damp walls, and outdoors on the surfaces of deck boards and painted siding, especially in damp and shady areas. A mildewed surface is often difficult to distinguish from a dirty one. To test for mold and mildew, simply dab a few drops of household bleach on the blackened area. If it lightens after one to two minutes, you have mildew. If the area remains dark, you probably have dirt.
Is it Mold or Dirt?
Probe the Area with a Screwdriver
Check for Plumbing Leaks
Look for Outside Leaks
Inspect the Ductwork
Testing the Mold
Know the Differences Between Mildew and Mold
There are differences between mold and mildew, but for our purposes, we can call the entire gang mold. Molds are neither plants nor animals. They’re microscopic organisms containing enzymes (responsible for digesting and decomposing) and spores (in charge of reproduction). Mold dwells within the fungi kingdom: a realm that includes mushrooms, yeast and other seemingly unsavory characters. But the truth is, these decay organisms aren’t unsavory at all. Without them, toppled trees, dead animals and fallen vegetables wouldn’t decompose. Our land would get piled higher and higher with dead stuff. We wouldn’t have foods and medicines like cheese and penicillin. The problems arise when mold starts chomping away at things we don’t want them to—affecting the look, smell and structural integrity of your house.
How to Remove Mold
- Wear old clothes and shoes that you can launder or throw away after the cleanup work.
- Wear special N-95 or P-100 respirators, in addition to goggles and gloves.
- Set an old box fan or a cheap new one in a window to ventilate the room while working. Throw it out when you’re done cleaning, because the spores are almost impossible to clean off. Tape plywood or cardboard around the window openings so the spores can’t blow back in.
- Wrap and tape moldy carpeting in 6-mil plastic, and double-bag mold-infested debris in garbage bags for disposal.
- To control airborne spores, moisten moldy areas with a garden sprayer while you work.
- Turn off your furnace and air conditioner and cover ducts and doors to contain spores.
- Keep your wet/dry vacuum outside when you vacuum.