Where To Start?
Do You Suspect Toxic Mold? Have you or a family member been treated with medicine for any infection that does not improve? This may be a sign of a fungal infection. Physicians rarely identify fungal infections because obtaining tissue samples, culturing them, and testing for mold can take weeks. When physicians identify an infection, first-line therapy is broad-spectrum antibiotics. As an unintended result, antibiotics will eliminate essential bacteria from the system. these “good” bacteria are needed to keep fungi at bay.
Beginning in 2016, the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and its clinical partners have organized a week during each year to highlight the importance of recognizing serious fungal diseases early enough in the course of a patient’s illness to provide life-saving treatment. The core message from the CDC is to “encourage healthcare providers and patients to “Think Fungus” when symptoms of infection do not get better with treatment.
If you suspect you have mold in your home or have had a significant moisture issue like a plumbing leak, or roof leak, or weather damage for more than a couple days, an inspection by a mold professional may be necessary. Don’t wait until someone gets sick. This is because water damage to building materials left in disrepair can lead to the growth of many, many mold species that are harmful to your health.
By having knowledge of mold inspection, testing, and results, you can be engaged with the inspector to ask questions and have confidence in the remediation plan that may follow the inspection. The cost of an inspection ranges from $500-1500 or more. Knowledge and engagement can have a significant impact in selecting the right professional AND minimizing the final total repair costs. In addition, if you are handy and willing to spend a little money to take safety precautions, you can effectively inspect your home for water damage, staining, and moisture on your own.
Where Do You Start?
Taking the first step in recapturing your home is a complex issue to address. There are several different industries that may be required to repair a sick home. Plumbing, water damage emergency response contractors, general contractors, mold remediators, gutter installation, outdoor foundation repair and HVAC technicians are all the possible candidates for the job.
With older homes, finding mold can be problematic. Older homes will likely have more permanent foundations and structural components made of cement, brick, and metal piping. These materials are used differently today and costs associated with these issues can be significantly higher.
First Question: Why do you think you have mold?
There are many reasons to suspect mold in your home. Chronic illness that does not improve over time with medicine should be a primary motivator to investigate. While mold remediation may seem expensive, the costs are dwarfed by potential physician referrals, diagnostic expenses, medical bills, and lost productivity and human costs. Key physical indicators could also include:
- Musty and putrid odors
- Inability to keep infections at bay
- Inability to regain normal energy levels
- Debilitating symptoms. This includes many common symptoms that incapacitate a person. Headaches, cognitive dysfunction (brain fog, dizziness, and memory loss), respiratory difficulty, motor function issues, chronic fatigue, and pain.
- Visible mold growth on walls, around exterior doors, windowsills, etc.
- Evidence of water damage including drywall staining on walls and ceilings
Second Question: How do I confirm that there is a mold issue?
The first thing to look for are moisture issues. This can be done via DIY mold inspection, DIY mold testing, or hiring an inspector. Moisture is required for mold to grow. Key places to inspect include:
- Any areas with leaks, flooding, or excess humidityIndoor and outdoor pipe damage due to freezing
- Walls or ceilings with water stains
- Damaged gutters or drainage close to the home
- Standing water in your yard, next to the foundation, in the basement, or the crawlspace
- Decreased water pressure or a spike in water bills
- Appliances that use water
- washing machine
- drainage pan
- clogged drainage pipe
- Condensation on registers
- Mildew in shower or tub
- Discoloration under sinks
- Dark colored spots on grout or caulking
- Cracks in the foundation
- Wet concrete in the basement
In Summary, once you frame your observations to take notice of these specific clues, the potential solutions will become apparent. The remaining articles in this series will include:
- Detailed information on mold testing and methodologies
- How to hire the “right” mold professionals?
- How to be vigilant to avoid mold scams?