Mold Inspections in Washington, DC

  • Mold Facts
  • Mold Testing
  • Mold Mitigation & Removal

Mold is a microorganism that occurs naturally in our environment. They are very small plant-like life forms that consume formerly-living material. Mold spreads over surfaces using a fibrous root system that supports primitive-looking plant-like stems and leaves. Molds frequently produce spores that can be carried by winds and by fans that circulate air in a home. When spores land in humid places on warm carbon-rich surfaces, new mold grows. Many of the things that we take for granted are the result of mold, such as leaves decaying, composting and the development of antibiotics, including penicillin. The problem is that while some molds are helpful, others are toxic and can be harmful to our health and homes.

Health Concerns 

Most molds, when ingested (some in antibiotics, beer, wine, cheese) are not harmful; some, when ingested (cows eating moldy hay; people eating moldy cereal grains and peanuts) are harmful to most people. Ingestion can cause burning mouth, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Similarly, most spores produce allergic reactions in most people. Very few produce spores that are toxic to most people, and some of these grow in regions with a climate like that of New England.

The greatest risk is in babies, elderly people, and people with chronic inflammatory lung disease (including allergies and asthma), pregnant woman, people recovering from surgery, and people with weakened immune systems.

The development of health problems depends on many factors:

  • Type of mold, length of exposure time, quantity of mold in exposure area.
  • Disposition to health problems (related to general health, age, sensitivity to other allergens)

Because susceptibility varies, even within the members of a family living in a home, it is not possible to determine safe or unsafe levels. It is possible, however, to identify which molds are present and to learn about the health risks known to be attributed to these molds.

The following is a summary of known health problems related to mold:

  • Molds produce spores that produce allergens (organic chemicals) that can cause allergic reactions (headaches, runny nose, red eyes, skin rashes, sinus problems, aches and pains, etc.)
  • Pathogenic molds cause serious health effects. These molds (often called toxic molds) produce spores that produce very dangerous chemicals called "mycotoxins" (mycology refers to fungi, a group of life forms that includes molds, mildews, mushrooms, plant rusts, puffballs and yeast) which are poisons.
  • Airborne spores can easily be inhaled. When these spores are inhaled, some people develop nosebleeds, skin rashes, hair loss, sore throats, memory loss, headaches, inability to concentrate or to learn, weakness and lethargy.
  • In extreme cases, mycotoxins may cause thinking difficulties (brain damage), blurred vision, chest pains, shortness of breath, dry cough, immune disorders, liver and kidney damage, cancer, and death.
Evidence of a Potential Mold Problem

The following points are to assist you in identifying a potential mold problem in a home or building. It is likely if any of the following are true:

  • Musty odor (volatile organic compounds from living mold that make an earthy smell, like the taste of beer) VOCs attract insects that carry spores to new locations.
  • Evidence of using a dehumidifier or humidifier, firewood stored inside, many antiques, inadequately vented rooms with books, room where crawl space has exposed soil, water condensing around cold-water pipes (particularly inside walls and above ceilings).
  • The indoor humidity is often above 50% (inadequate venting of kitchen, bathroom and clothes dryer).
  • There are stains of water damage on floor, carpets, furniture, wallpaper, paneling, woodwork, or ceilings, and/or evidence of a house fire that has been extinguished by water.
  • There are patches of growing mold (the mold "plant" is mostly below the surface; the surface tissue is rich in spores that are usually black, brown, blue, green, gray, yellow, orange, pink or white, in a patch that appears discolored, leathery, granular, velvety or cottony).
  • There is evidence of a "tight house" (stuffy air due to low air exchange with outside).
  • There is evidence of nests of bats, birds, mice etc. inside the home.
  • There is mold growing around the heating and air conditioning vents.
  • The bathroom has poorly maintained grout in showers and normally has a rug on the floor.

Lastly, there are molds which can sometimes produce spores that contain potent mycotoxins. Found in a least 20 of the approximately 100,000 molds, the discovery of pathogenic mold implies need for serious risk management, which includes a determination of the extent of mold colonies and a careful removal plan, all of which Property Preservation Specialists can assist you with.

If there has ever been water damage, plumbing leaks or flooding, mold could be hiding in your home or building and you won't even know it.

Testing Methods

There are many testing methods that can detect molds. They can be used to find mold particles suspended in air, in settled dust, or growing on surfaces of building materials and furnishings. Some methods can identify a portion of the types of live (viable) molds in a sampled environment, but these may also miss or undercount those that are not live or won't grow well on the nutrients used to incubate the sample. Other methods are better able to characterize the total amount of molds in a sample (including the non-living portion), but are not very effective for identifying the specific types of molds. Even tests that are done well only give a partial estimate of the amount and types of molds actually collected in a sample or in the sampled environment. Property Preservation Specialists offers various ways to test and detect if your home or business has a mold problem.

Bio Aerosol Air Impactor

Mold can eat through building materials, and if undetected and untreated, can cause structural damage to your home or building. Toxic mold or high levels of allergenic mold can cause severe health problems for you and your family and even make the home or business uninhabitable.

Everyone is affected differently. Molds that may not bother you may severely affect someone else.

There may be several signs in your home or business that may suggest you have a mold problem: visible mold, musty odor, visible water damage or stain, construction defects.

If any of these signs are present, we at Property Preservation Specialists can help you in determining if your home or business has a mold problem.

Household Environmental offers various ways to test and detect if your home or business has a mold problem.

Air Sampling

This test is done with a bio aerosol air impactor for the viable sampling of mold and fungi. When air is drawn through the sampler, multiple jets of air direct any airborne particles toward the collection surface, which then can be collected and analyzed for a wide range of molds and fungi that are present.

Results of air samples vary according to sampling techniques, sample duration, and sample dates which are compared only with results taken with the same techniques and procedures.

There are general guidelines. Air samples that are taken in the home should also be taken outside using the same sampling procedures. The reason being is that both samples can be compared and analyzed to determine if the mold and fungus in your home is a problem or if it consists of the same mold and fungus spores that are present outside.

Swab Sampling

Swab or surface sampling is a sound approach to locate and identify sources of mold and fungus growth. For swab sampling, a sterile swab is dipped in a suspension solution and then used to swab a suspected area. The swab is then returned to a vial and sent to the laboratory to determine the types of mold and fungus that are present.

Carpet Sampling

Carpet sampling can effectively uncover previous or undetected mold problems because carpet tends to contain a "history" of mold that has previously been present in a property. Mold spores can land between the carpet piles where they can lay dormant or grow while protected by all but the most vigorous vacuuming or carpet-cleaning efforts. The same air pump used for air sampling is utilized for taking carpet samples.

When approaching a mold mitigation and cleaning project, one of the most important considerations is the potential risk from mold exposure. Mold counts in the air can be 10 to 1,000 times higher than normal during a remediation project. Because of the potential health risks from mold exposure, it is advisable, particularly for larger (greater than 10 square feet) contamination situations, to contact a mold remediation contractor. Individuals who have allergies, asthma or respiratory disease, or have other health problems should not take part in or during mold removal/cleaning project or be in the general area of the project.

Mold Containment Barrier

  • Set up Polyethylene Containment Barrier
  • Set up Negative Air Machine
  • Remove any damaged materials and discard in 6-mil polyethylene sheeting
  • HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Air) sand and vacuum any contaminated horizontal and/or vertical surfaces
  • Apply antifungal biocide with sprayer
  • Encapsulate with antimicrobial paint
  • Apply cold-mist air fogger (if applicable)
  • Treat the HVAC system (if applicable)
  • Reconstruct/replace any items that were damaged/removed during remediation (if applicable)
Client Review Process

Once the remediation has concluded, the project manager will then inform the client of remediation completion and schedule a post-remediation testing to ensure all mold has been removed from the area, per the request of the client. A Certificate of Remediation will be issued to the client when the remediation is completed, or after the results are given from post-remediation testing, if the client had testing.

The Certificate of Remediation

This is a warranty of our remediation treatment. This will guarantee that if the area we remediated has any mold contamination within the certificate's designated time period, we will come back to the property and remediate the area again for no charge!

Follow-up with Customer

The follow-up will occur when we have completed all remediation and testing. The project manager will call the client and ask if the remediation was satisfactory and if there are any further questions they would like to address.

What It Costs

As there are so many variables involved in mold remediation, this cost can only be determined at the time of the mold inspection. Mold remediation can also include the cost of repairing water-damaged materials, repairing leaks, removing fiberglass insulation, cleaning carpets as well as cleaning, abatement and preventive treatments. Contact Property Preservation Specialists to have one of our professionals give you the best price and service possible.