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Reliable kits to test for molds?
Old 10-20-2010, 10:10 AM   #1
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Reliable kits to test for molds?

Please let me know if you have ever suspected the presence of molds in your home, particularly your basement? And if you had purchased any test kit to use to confirm that the problem exists before contacting a mold removal company. Please give me names of any such test kits and/or any other ideas that you may have, especially DIY ideas since I am really trying to do the work myself to save money. I sneeze frequently and am not sure if it is due to ragweeds outside or if there is molds in my house. Thank you.
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:25 AM   #2
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The house we bought 2 years ago had black spots all over the wood in the attic. We had to get a Mold specialist that cost $300 to inspect it. I knew it was common mold by sight, the Mold specialist spent even less time than I did looking at it, about 5 seconds, to tell me I have mold! He didn't use any test, just a visual inspection. His suggestion was to paint over the wood using I think Zinsser permguard paint (this just seals it) or to sand it off (removes the mold, but causes more spores to be airborn in the attic). The main point of using the mold specialst was to ask for a credit on the purchase price of the house. The attic was in need of increased ventialation, I just added eave and ridge venting over the last 2 months. My family isn't that sensitive to mold.

Mold exists in the environment in general, best thing to do is try to eliminate any water leaks and excess humidity in the home. Since you mentioned the basement, get a dehumidifier, can't tell you enough about how these help reduce moisture and reduce the stress on an AC unit in the summer.

Did a quick google search and there's a bunch of mold tests for under $11. Don't know if they're any good or not.
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Old 10-20-2010, 01:01 PM   #3
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During my wallpaper removal project I thought I saw a little mold under the wallpaper in my bathroom right by my shower. So, I bought some Zinsser 123 primer which is a mold retardant. Then I investigated further and discovered it wasn't mold at all, but simply hacked up drywall . (I am remarkably unskilled at drywall work.) I applied the Zinsser anyway after patching the drywall and before I painted, and had no further issues. In New Orleans, it is standard procedure to prime with Zinsser before painting. My painter who just painted my entire house primed the whole place with Zinsser 123 first.

If you have serious mold problems, Zinsser is not enough. You need to get a certified mold remediation expert in there and spend some serious $$$. Luckily I haven't had to deal with this.
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Old 10-21-2010, 04:32 PM   #4
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In Texas, we call a loaf of white bread a mold test kit
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Old 10-21-2010, 06:12 PM   #5
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Mold spores are everywhere. They can't be eliminated. All you can do is reduce the moisture to the point where mold can't thrive/reproduce.

Some thoughts:
- If I recall correctly, you are going to be selling your house.
- If you know that your house has mold, this is something you arer required to disclose in writing to a potential buyer.
- Insurers are very concerned about mold claims--if you file a claim they may raise your rates or cancel you policy.
- Right now you don't know for sure that you have mold. You haven't done a test and (as far as I can tell) you know nothing more than any prospective buyer could tell from walking through your house. You have nothing to disclose.
- No test kit is 100% reliable.

- If your basement feels damp, I'd recommend that you buy and use a dehumidifier. You should also address any other likely sources of water (a dehumidifier won't help much if you've got wet walls). You might first want to purchase a hygrometer--it will tell you the relative humidity (RH) in your home. Mold will not be a problem if the RH is kept below 60%, and is generally not a problem if it is below 70%.

- Bottom line: A "mold test" isn't very useful, since it doesn't help you solve the problem. If the RH is high you'd still want to lower it regardless of what the "mold test" told you.
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Old 10-21-2010, 06:29 PM   #6
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I agree with earlier writers. You really need to reduce the moisture level in the suspect area. Sealing up your house isn't really the solution, you want your home to breathe.. prevent moisture from coming in while permitting humid air to escape. There are vapor barriers which do that - not 'house wrap', please use the state of the art products (not the cheapest).

Also reduce the amount of humidity with a dehumidifier (empty the water tray daily, at least). If you see spots that could be mold treat them with the products above. If you suspect it could be in insulation behind your drywall remove a section of drywall in what you think is the most problematic. Take a look at the insulation, if you see signs of mold or dampness remove it - keep going right & left until all is well, address the source of the moisture, apply retarder and re-build the wall.

Ventilate the space but don't use a high-powered fan as they can pull moisture from the outside into the home.

If you have allergies you may not be the best person to remove insulation.
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Old 10-21-2010, 06:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
Mold spores are everywhere. They can't be eliminated. All you can do is reduce the moisture to the point where mold can't thrive/reproduce.
I'm not sure about this statement, I know bleach and vinegar will kill mold.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
- If you know that your house has mold, this is something you arer required to disclose in writing to a potential buyer.
I just had to fill out a disclosure form Monday and the only items on there are lead, flooding, radon, but not mold, although my agent mentioned it is going to be required item on the disclosure form in the future. Maybe this varies by state?
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Old 10-21-2010, 06:55 PM   #8
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I would not file an insurance claim mentioning mold and if you have taken the steps listed above to prevent mold (note my careful phrasing) say that and no more.

Killing mold it now will not prevent it from coming back if the conditions for growth have not been addressed. The paints mentioned by others have a long lasting chemical that will retard mold growth.
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Old 10-21-2010, 07:03 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Dimsumkid View Post
I'm not sure about this statement, I know bleach and vinegar will kill mold.
Yes. And then millions of mold spores blow in on the next gust of air. If the environemnt is right (enough humidity, suitable temperature, and something to eat--which can be many things, including dust) the mold will flourish. Lowering humidity is the key.

There are some chemicals which will not only kill mold but will also temporarily prevent new mold from growing on a surface. Bleach won't do this, but borate/boric acid solutions are somewhat effective in preventing some molds. There are also purpose-designed commercial solutions that will do this--for a time. But if it is wet, mold will be back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dimsumkid View Post
Maybe this varies by state?
Yes, that may be.

I'm not a lawyer or a certified mold control expert, so take all the above with a grain of borax.
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:03 AM   #10
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Dear All, Thank you for all of the thoughtful advice and recommendations. I have a dehumidifier that I have been using in the basement and I have been monitoring the humidity level in the basement. It is not humid. I use a fan as well at a low rate. I've removed the first 2 feet of drywall to inspect the studs and anything behind the drywall, etc. and saw no molds. I also have had several contractors who came to give estimates on putting back the drywall as well as doing the floors, etc. and I asked them to see and smell and they ALL said that they don't see any molds or smell anything mildewy. I do have wet leaves outside in the front and backyard which may be the cause for my sneezing. I have already fixed the wet basement issue with proper drainage, regrading the slope where soil had eroded, etc. put in a French drain, etc. I had removed the carpet and padding that had gotten wet and left the bare floor and the exposed stuff behind the drywall while running the dehumidifier and a fan (on slow speed) so my basement has looked, and smelled dry for some time now. I just want to check everything out first before putting down new drywall and recarpeting the floor, etc. So I thought I should check to make sure all is fine before doing that. It's time for me to take the Zyrtec (allergies meds) and not worry anymore about molds in my house. FYI, the Zyrtec has begun to help. I have not sneezed in the last 5 days. Yeah!!! To reassure everyone: I will continue to use the dehumidifier and a fan on slow speed to make the environment unfriendly to molds.

Again, thank you EVERYONE for your help. This Forum is such a wonderful community. Have a great day!
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