Mold Testing

Testing one, two, three – have you found any mold? Check out this guide for learning how to test for mold that might be lurking in your home.
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By: Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Just like a pop quiz in high school chemistry class, navigating the waters of mold testing can be a tricky business.

Before you consider testing for mold within your home, keep in mind that it is not necessary to test for mold if you simply suspect that there may be a problem brewing. Because a small bit of mold is present in every home, it is unnecessary to test as a precautionary measure rather than to assess the scope of an actual problem.

10 Home Maintenance Tips for Spring

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Examine Roof Shingles

Examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.

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Probe the Wood Trim

Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood.

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Check the Gutters

Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.

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Use Compacted Soil

Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage. Also, when water pools in these low areas in summer, it creates a breeding ground for insects.

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Examine the Chimney

Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.

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Inspect the Concrete

Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs except pool decks should drain away from the home's foundation. Fill cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. When weather permits, power-wash and then seal the concrete.

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Move Firewood

Remove firewood stored near the home. Firewood should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground at least 2 feet from the structure.

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Check Outside Faucets

Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you're at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.

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Service the AC Unit

Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Change interior filters on a regular basis.

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Check Power Equipment

Check your gas- and battery-powered lawn equipment to make sure it is ready for summer use. Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make yardwork easier.

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One of the best tried-and-true methods of testing for mold is by simply letting your nose do the sniffing. Most often, a mold problem will be readily identified by a musty smell that becomes obvious in damp environments.

Mold also likes to play a bit of hide and seek, so if you suspect there is a problem, then begin to check under carpets, behind drywall, inside ductwork, in between bathroom tiles and in other moisture-prone areas.

If you prefer a more formal form of testing, then consider a home testing kit to help keep your home healthy. You could also call in an expert, who will take a sample of the mold and determine the root of the problem.

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