Mold Detector Guide

How a Home Mold Test Works  


We receive a number of emails from people asking what type of mold detector or home mold test works best. People want to make sure their homes are free from mold, and if they do find mold in their homes, they want to know if it is toxic black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum). You can buy a surface mold detector at many hardware or home improvement stores to test mold you find growing on walls or floors or other surfaces, or you can buy an air sampling test to check for mold spores in the air even when you can’t find mold growing on any surfaces. You can also hire a professional to test your home for mold, if you prefer.

Surface Sampling Mold Test

If you spot mold growing on some surface in your home, you can purchase a surface mold detector. They are fairly easy to use. You use a swab, provided with the test kit, to wipe up some mold, then wipe that on some special film and apply a bit of activating liquid. After several days, mold colonies will begin to grow. Different types of mold will be different colors and the instructions that come with the test kit will tell you how to interpret the results.

Air Sampling Home Mold Test

You can also purchase a mold detector that will test for mold spores in the air. If you have found mold in one room but want to know if it’s spread to another area, or if your basement smells musty but you can’t locate any mold there, an air sampling home mold test is what you need. You just squeeze some testing solution into a plastic dish and allow it to sit in the area you want to test for an hour or so. Then you store the dish in a dimly-lit area for a few days and see what grows. As with the surface sampling mold test, different types of mold will appear to be different colors and the instructions that come with the test kit will tell you how to interpret the results.

Accuracy of a Home Mold Test

A home test for mold will be fairly accurate, provided you test the right areas and follow the directions precisely. Keeping your mold detector test kit at temperatures that are too high or too low may affect results. In addition, failing to test the correct areas may give you false negative results; for instance, if you test your basement for mold, but the mold is growing in your HVAC ducts, the test may come out negative if you only test in the center of the basement instead of actually testing inside the HVAC ducts.

Keep in mind that home mold tests will only test for certain types of mold. The label should list the strains that will be identified by your test kit. There are more than 100 types of mold sometimes found in homes in the U.S., but home test kits will only test for the most common of those. If you discover something that looks like mold in your home and conduct a home test and the result is negative, or if you are experiencing symptoms of exposure to mold but your mold test is negative, you might want to hire a professional that can test for additional strains of mold.

Why We Suggest Calling a Professional to Test Your Home for Mold

  • A professional will know exactly where to test for mold in order to get accurate results.
  • A professional is trained and experienced in testing for mold and should not make errors that homeowners sometimes make, giving false negative results.
  • A professional will have the equipment needed to test for a wide variety of mold strains.
  • A professional can give you helpful advice about removing mold from your home, if you prefer to handle that job yourself instead of hiring someone.
  • A professional will return to your home after the mold has been cleaned up to make sure none was missed.

Click here to find a list of local professionals that can test your home for mold.



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