Mold growth is a common problem in homes across Massachusetts. With its humid climate and old housing stock, Massachusetts sees frequent issues with mold inspection and remediation. In this blog post, we’ll explore why mold inspection is so important for Massachusetts homeowners and renters.
What Is Mold and Why Is It a Problem?
Mold is a type of fungus that grows in damp, warm environments. It produces spores that float through the air and allow mold to spread. Mold often starts growing indoors when excess moisture builds up in areas like basements, bathrooms, kitchens, and attics. Some common types of household mold include:
- Cladosporium – one of the most common molds found indoors, often black in color
- Aspergillus – various species found on food, dust, and building materials
- Penicillium – causes food spoilage, produces penicillin
- Stachybotrys – black mold associated with water-damaged buildings
Exposure to mold can lead to a variety of health issues like coughing, wheezing, eye irritation, and skin problems. Mold may also exacerbate conditions like asthma. Extensive mold growth can damage homes and belongings through moisture and microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs).
Some groups at higher risk for mold-related health issues include children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems or lung disease. That’s why it’s critical to identify and remove mold promptly.
Mold Inspection in Massachusetts is important because Massachusetts’ climate encourages mold growth. The EPA mold guidelines classify Massachusetts as Zone 5, with moderate to heavy mold potential. Massachusetts also has a large inventory of older homes, many over 100 years old. These older homes often have issues like roof leaks, plumbing leaks, foundation cracks, and poor insulation that can lead to excess moisture and mold.
Common Places to Find Mold in Massachusetts Homes
Mold can grow anywhere with excess moisture. Some of the most common problem areas for Massachusetts homes include:
Basements often have cool, damp conditions perfect for mold growth. Water intrusion through cracks or windows is common. After flooding events, basements may have standing water that soaked into porous materials like wood and drywall. Mold easily grows on basement walls, floors, and storage items if excess moisture isn’t addressed quickly.
Bathrooms contain lots of moisture between shower steam, sinks, toilets, and leaky plumbing. Tile grout, walls behind toilets, and bathroom ceilings are typical mold hotspots. Exhaust fans need to be used and ventilation improved to prevent moisture buildup.
Like basements, attics can get damp and humid in Massachusetts. Roof leaks and poor insulation lead to condensation that lets mold grow. Attic mold may appear on roof sheathing, rafters, insulation, and the backside of drywall. Improving attic ventilation is key for controlling moisture levels.
Kitchens generate a lot of humidity from cooking and washing dishes. Mold may grow in cabinets, on counter material like particle board, along the kitchen ceiling from steam, and around the sink from water damage or plumbing leaks. Keeping kitchens well-ventilated helps control moisture buildup.
The air ducts, filters, coils, and condensation pans of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can accumulate moisture that breeds mold growth. Supply ducts may distribute spores through the home. Professional HVAC cleaning and mold remediation for HVAC systems is often needed.
Crawl spaces are prone to mold growth from damp soil, flood waters, and condensation on surfaces like insulation and wood. Dehumidification, moisture barriers, and proper ventilation help keep crawl spaces dry.
When Should Massachusetts Homeowners Test for Mold?
Mold Inspection in Massachusetts should be performed if you notice any of the following signs of excess moisture or mold growth:
- Visible mold growth – fuzz, spots, patches, or colonies anywhere indoors
- Musty, earthy odor coming from an area
- Signs of water damage like warped floors or discoloration
- Condensation collecting on windows, walls, or pipes
- Roof leaks, plumbing leaks, or flooding
- Peeling, cracking, or bubbling paint or drywall
- High indoor humidity around 55% RH or greater
- Moisture on surfaces or furnishings
- Mold allergy symptoms when in certain rooms
Basements, bathrooms, attics, and other moisture-prone areas should be carefully inspected. Even if you don’t see obvious mold, hidden mold growth behind walls or under materials is common. Professional mold testing is the only way to identify all contaminated areas.
Professional Mold Inspection Process in Massachusetts
A professional mold inspection in Massachusetts involves:
An inspector first looks for visible moisture issues or conditions promoting excess humidity. The inspector will check humidity levels, look for water stains or damage, and identify potential moisture sources like leaks.
Air samples are taken to test for elevated levels of mold spores, which indicates indoor mold growth. Air testing also helps identify hidden mold in wall cavities and other enclosed spaces.
Swab, tape, or bulk samples are taken from visible mold growth or suspected contaminated surfaces. Lab analysis identifies the exact species of mold present.
Infrared thermal imaging helps inspectors detect areas of excess moisture hidden in walls, floors, and ceilings that may have mold growth not visible to the naked eye.
The inspector maps out all affected areas showing mold test results. This identifies the scope of contamination to guide remediation.
A comprehensive professional mold inspection takes 1-2 hours for a typical single family home. Same day or 24 hour lab results are available from the air and surface samples collected. An inspection report details all findings and includes a protocol for remediation.
Mold Inspection in Massachusetts services are available from a variety of home inspection companies and environmental testing firms. Look for a reputable, experienced company with certified mold inspectors, and check they follow industry standards like the IICRC S520.
Property managers, homeowners insurance providers, and contractors involved in water damage repair may also recommend trusted local inspectors.
Tips to Prevent Mold Growth in Massachusetts Homes
Regular mold inspections and testing helps catch problems early before they become severe. Here are some top tips to prevent excess moisture and mold in Massachusetts homes:
- Keep indoor humidity below 50% using dehumidifiers and HVAC systems. Run bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans regularly.
- Fix any plumbing leaks, roof leaks, or foundation cracks right away to prevent water damage.
- Clean gutters and drainage systems yearly to keep moisture away from the structure. Slope the soil or add drains around the foundation.
- Open windows after showering or cooking to ventilate moisture. Use kitchen range hood exhaust fans when cooking.
- Add insulation, weatherstripping and storm windows to prevent condensation on cold surfaces.
- Allow ventilation space behind furniture placed on exterior walls. Move stored items away from exterior walls and vents.
- Have appliances like furnaces, central air, and dehumidifiers serviced yearly to ensure proper operation. Change out HVAC air filters every 3 months.
- Clean any moldy surfaces right away using protective gear, scrubbing, and mold killing solutions. Discard any porous contaminated materials.
With diligent moisture control and maintenance, Massachusetts homeowners can avoid large mold problems and enjoy better indoor air quality. But if signs of excess moisture or allergy issues arise, contact a professional immediately for Mold Inspection in Massachusetts and remediation. Addressing mold promptly protects your family’s health and your most valuable investment – your home.