Mold Testing, NOT a Good DIY Project

indoor air quality

While I am a HUGE fan of DIY projects and can frequently be seen taking apart and putting together small (and major) appliances while playing a fancy YouTube video, buying your own testing kit, and testing your own home for mold is NOT something that I recommend you ever do.  Why? Well simply put you will fail the test every time, mold will be shown, and it will send you into a panic! It never fails, I see this over and over again and while I try and explain this to many homeowners, they never listen. 

It seems easy enough right, buy a kit, put a dish out for a given period of time, and then send it off to the labs.  Yes, it is easy, and yes the plates/dishes are great at collecting information, however the problem lies in the fact that mold is ubiquitous, or everywhere.  If you sample almost any surface (unless in a hospital clean area, or in my home…ha ha) you will find mold spores. Mold is a part of our everyday life, and as soon as you open windows or doors, you are letting spores into your environment.  So with this known, great, you bought a kit and just spent a good deal of money to prove that you are normal and don’t live in a bubble.  

If I am coming off negative or sarcastic, and you are a homeowner that has done this, please do not take my words in a negative way.  I commend you for recognizing you may have a problem, and am simply trying to get others from making the same mistake. Big box stores are great at advertising DIY mold kits, and I am trying to keep you from wasting money and than going in a panic state. 

How is our testing different then you may ask, won’t you always find mold as well?  The answer is yes, and that we do not look at “if mold was found”, but rather expect that and look at the levels and the species of what was found to determine fungal ecology levels.  In a typical home, and if doing air testing, we will take one or multiple samples both inside and outside. We will then compare the levels to each other and will look for the inside samples to have less than or equal to the same amount of spores as outside, and that there are no additional species in the interior that are red flags.  We are aware that some species may come up that are simply from your houseplants or mulch, and to ignore them, or that while you may have slightly elevated levels the count may have been extremely low outside that day which is a rarity. 

I personally use lab information ONLY to support already gathered information from a very thorough investigation and assessment, and never as the sole basis of determining if there is a possible issue that needs addressed at hand.  Perhaps what trumps all is the homeowner and the interview with them. As mentioned as a running theme in many of my articles, mold doesn’t affect everyone, and affects everyone differently. Therefore, what may be considered “normal fungal ecology levels to some”, may be extremely high for the homeowner that is mold sensitive or has a compromised immune system.  Visa Versa, a room may have “elevated fungal ecology levels” and no one in the home notices. I cannot personally tell you how many times I have had to leave a conference or move hotel rooms because there was active mold growth, and my husband just looks at me like “really?”. It is this difference in how the mold is accepted or rejected by each individual that always needs to be accounted for. Lastly lets not forget identifying the cause.  If you have mold, or think you have mold, you have to identify the source before anything and last time I checked, those DIY kits do not include cameras with built in meters or inspectors.  

Hopefully if your are on the line or thinking about testing your own home with a DIY kit, this article has helped your understand why this is something that can, but SHOULDN’T be done.  If however you find yourself in a store not being able to escape the testing kits that drag you into buying conveying the added emotion to “protect your loved ones” on the front of the kit, please don’t freak out when you get the results and ask The Mold Girl at 843-765-2812.