Moisture and Mold Inspections
Employee or tenant complaints about water damage? Worry your building might have moisture intrusion or mold problems? See leaks, drips, or water stains? Smell “musty,” or moldy smells? It’s time for mold inspection and possibly mold testing.
Water damage in buildings and mold growth go together. Water problems do not usually fix themselves. A small roof leak, window condensation, faulty gutters, poor drainage, or leaky plumbing can start small but quickly create major problems in any building. Identifying and eliminating the source of moisture and the extent of water damage is key, and that requires a trained mold expert, the right equipment, and sometimes mold testing.
Healthy Building Science quickly and safely finds sources of moisture and mold using a flashlight, thermal imaging (IR) camera, and moisture meters. We identify the extent of water damage and microbial growth and report how to address the important issues. We provide mold sampling and lab testing if it adds value to the case. With our report, your contractor or builder knows how to go beyond superficial repairs and get to the root cause.
In some instances, HBS will write a detailed Mold Remediation Protocol (MRP) outlining requirements for the safe removal of mold from a building. Mold Remediation Protocols are very detailed instructions that include safety requirements and scope of work for your specific mold remediation project. Our MRPs are designed in accordance with industry-accepted standards (IICRC S520 Mold Remediation Standard).
Clearance Mold Testing services are available upon request, and often this will follow a mold inspection and mold mitigation. Mold clearance inspections are common when insurance is involved or when everyone really wants to be certain an area was professionally remediated. We also offer Mold testing air quality lab interpretation.
We are committed to helping all our customers, and we take special precautions to protect those with asthma or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Our industrial hygiene team does not wear offensive fragrances.
Bay Area Mold Survey Success Stories
Office Mold Inspection: A medical packaging plant had recently installed a new Reverse Osmosis (RO) water filtration system. Ironically, the RO system leaked in the walls and did more harm than good. We performed a Mold Inspection and defined the scope of work. We performed air quality monitoring during remediation, and mold clearance testing upon project completion. In the end, the company had sufficient documentation to satisfy their investors and regulatory agencies that they had done their due diligence and fully contained and mitigated the mold problem. We helped to minimize their downtime with a speedy response, and they were happy their employees were given peace of mind after our inspectors reported their final findings.
Home Mold Inspection: A client with severe mold allergies suffered inexplicably in two rooms of her fiance’s home in San Jose. During our mold inspection, we found four sources of moisture and three places with active mold growth of which the client was unaware. A week after her contractor had fixed the moisture issues and removed the mold, we got a call saying she could finally be comfortable in her fiance’s home. We may have even saved their marriage!
Mold Assessment and Testing
Mold testing and mold inspections are a combination of art and science. Many people jump right to mold testing. However, experts do not always recommend spending money and time on mold lab analysis. There is a time and a place for strategic sampling plans, but a mold expert will first recommend a thorough building inspection prior to developing a sampling plan.
Any qualified industrial hygienist or expert mold consultant will confirm that a mold assessment is a top priority. By using a flashlight, IR camera and moisture meter, two eyes and a nose, a good mold inspector can usually tell you whether mold is present, and often he or she can draw conclusions as to whether it could be toxic mold. Sampling in the absence of a thorough moisture and mold inspection is not recommended, and the data collected from such sampling is missing context and next to meaningless.
Healthy Building Science advocates the following steps:
- Qualified, professional mold expert provide thorough moisture and mold inspection of the building.
- Formulate hypothesis as to the presence of moisture, sources of moisture, and extent of water damage and mold damaged materials.
- Determine if sampling would add value to the mold assessment, or not (skip to #6, if not).
- Develop a sampling plan to test the hypothesis.
- Sample and review data.
- Report on findings from inspection, hypothesis developed, sampling results, and conclusion for next steps. Restart from #2 (refine hypothesis) if necessary.
If your mold inspector doesn’t offer a comprehensive moisture assessment, pushes a lot of biological testing, or does microbial testing and only shares the lab results without a clear interpretation of their meaning, they are not providing value or helping your cause. Unfortunately, the do-it-yourself petri-dish style testers are equally worthless in the absence of a professional mold investigation.
Microbial lab testing is useful for:
- Determining relative toxicity of mold species in presence of symptoms or sensitive populations,
- Establishing a baseline prior to remediation,
- Determining the scope of mold contamination,
- Clearance testing after remediation to confirm the area is clean, and, last but not least,
- Peace of mind for those really concerned.
Mold Testing Methods
Most mold consultants will perform a mold survey that includes some form of microbial lab analysis. Like testing for any pollutant, there are myriad ways to collect samples and have them analyzed in the lab. Here we summarize a few of the more common testing methods:
- Spore trap: A known amount of air is drawn over a greased slide. The slide is analyzed by a mold testing lab technician who can extrapolate a “spore per cubic meter” number for each sample. Spores can be identified to the genus level, but not to the species level. Penicillium and Aspergillus cannot be distinguished between each other in this microscopic analysis. Comparing indoor samples to other samples from outdoors and elsewhere indoors can help a mold expert draw conclusions about a building.
- Bulk mold testing: A tape lift or swap or bulk building material such as a small sample of drywall can be analyzed through a microscope. This mold testing method has the same limitations as a spore trap.
- Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): This method utilizes microbial DNA analysis to identify molds to the species level, but only a relatively few species of mold have been cataloged so unfortunately, this rapid testing method can miss the majority of molds present. Many environmental doctors and naturopaths are familiar with this method and it has gained more traction in recent years.
- Culturing mold: Viable mold spores can be sent to a mold testing lab to be cultured. The spores are placed on petri dishes with a selected growing medium, sufficient moisture is provided and the temperatures are regulated to simulate optimal growing conditions. Some spores may be present (and toxigenic and allergenic) but not viable and therefore will not grow and colonize. Mold colonies that do form can be identified down to the species level. This form of analysis takes the longest compared to all options presented here, and fewer mold testing companies are offering viable mold testing.
Mold Assessment and Inspection Benefits
Moisture problems generally don’t fix themselves, and as moisture continues to damage building materials the extent of water-damaged materials and the costs of remediation increase by the day. As microbial growth spreads so does the risk of cross-contamination and health symptoms related to occupant exposures. Therefore finding the source and fixing any water intrusion quickly is of paramount importance to occupants and building owners.
Mold testing does not always provide a clear benefit. However, when it’s needed it’s needed. Whether mold tests are for clearance testing, to determine the extent/type of contamination, or simply to provide peace of mind – sometimes it’s the only way to add a level of certainty that is otherwise impossible without professional mold lab analysis.
Water Damage Assessments for San Francisco Bay Area
We provide moisture and mold inspections to clients located in the following counties: San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.
We presently have mold inspectors located in Berkeley, Oakland, Sebastopol, San Rafael, and San Francisco.
Bay Area Mold Consultant Case Studies
- Cupertino office mold inspection
- San Jose mold testing for home inspection
- Santa Rosa mold expert witness support
- San Francisco mold consulting for retail stores
- Sunnyvale mold air testing for data center
- Fremont mold assessment for a manufacturing facility
- Oakland moisture survey for multi-family residential buildings
- San Francisco affordable housing mold consulting
- Walnut Creek microbial survey for medical office
- Sacramento mold inspection for office
Mold Inspections San Francisco Bay Area
Healthy Building Science is an environmental consulting firm which provides mold inspection services for commercial, residential, multi-family, buildings, offices, industrial and manufacturing workplaces, hospitals and medical facilities, and single-family homes in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and all of Northern California including the cities of San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Hayward, Sunnyvale, Fremont, Concord, Salinas, Santa Clara, Berkeley, Vallejo, Fairfield, Antioch, Richmond, Daly City, San Rafael, San Mateo, Vacaville, San Leandro, Livermore and Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, Napa County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Solano County and Sonoma County.
What are you waiting for? Let our industrial hygienists help with all your mold inspection needs!
Call (415) 785-7986 or complete this form today!
Who is Healthy Building Science?
Environmental Testing Services at HBS
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Mold Inspections: Testing BenefitsHBS brings qualified inspectors and high-tech testing equipment to every job. Through strategic partnerships with high quality labs we are able to offer affordable and reliable mold testing. We provide user-friendly interpretation of scientific lab reports. Our reports include photos to help convey what we found and instructions on how to mitigate and create a healthier indoor environment.
Water Damage and Mold Inspection Services
- HBS meets you onsite
- We do not spread spores and cross-contaminate spaces.
- We usually inspect the whole house
- We take mold samples only if it adds value
- We email or mail our report
- We follow up with a phone call
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