Photograph: typical mold on attic side of ceiling drywall after a roof leaks - © Daniel Friedman Attic Mold Tests
What Tests & Inspections to Make Before Removing Mold - identify harmless black mold

  • ATTIC MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC? - CONTENTS: What Tests & Inspections to Make Before Removing Attic Mold in order to avoid wasting time and money. How to evaluate the risk of toxic (or harmless) attic mold
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about testing attics and other building areas for mold contamination: when, where, why, and how of mold testing
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Do we need to test attics or cathedral ceilings for mold?

If so when and how? This document gives advice on the tests & inspections that a building owner or mold investigator should perform before starting an attic mold remediation project.

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BEFORE REMOVING ATTIC MOLD - What Tests and Inspections Should Be Made Before Tackling an Attic Mold Problem?

Photograph: toxic mold on pine tongue and groove roof sheathing - © Daniel Friedman

Before starting an attic mold removal project, there are some important questions that should be answered.

If we fail to consider the points listed below there is a risk of spending a lot of money unnecessarily and a further risk of an eventually still higher cost to remove toxic or allergenic indoor mold:

  1. Is the attic mold the actual source of building air quality complaints?: if there are indoor IAQ mold or allergen complaints, let's be sure that the attic space is the culprit.

    I've seen cases where people did (an unnecessary) complete roof tear off to "fix" an attic mold problem spotted by their home inspector, only to discover that the real mold problem in the house was in the basement or crawl space.

    Think about the source of building moisture that is resulting in attic mold. Moisture usually moves UP through a home, riding warm air convection currents, finding its ultimate way into the attic where it condenses on sheathing or framing, inviting mold growth. That same moisture, if for example it's in a craw space or basement, often produces a more serious mold problem in those locations.
Photograph: typical cosmetic bluestain mold on new framing lumber, floor joists - © Daniel Friedman
  1. Is the attic mold harmful?: be sure that the mold in the attic is harmful - often in attics we identify an allergen such as Cladosporium sp. or "black mold" which turns out to be simply cosmetic and totally harmless.

    At left our photo shows harmless black mold on the sides of rafters or floor joists. This cosmetic mold is discussed at BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS.

  2. Is the attic mold entering the living area?: be reasonably sure that the attic mold is entering or likely to enter the living space.

    Other attic mold contaminants such as Aspergillus sp. or Penicillium sp. can be quite harmful to building occupants, particularly if the mold spores are being transported into the occupied space such as through leaks in HVAC return air ducts or through (less common) conditions that cause downwards movement from an attic or roof cavity into the occupied space.

    Air movement in buildings in many cases tends to be up and out through an attic, not down from an attic into the living space. If attic mold is not entering the living area and is unlikely to do so, the priority for addressing this condition may be lower than previously thought.

    However in some buildings where air conditioning is cooling the interior space of an upper floor, heavier cool air may actually flow downwards in the building, drawing attic or roof cavity air as well as airborne particles into the living space.
  3. What steps will be taken to correct the original cause of attic mold?: it is essential that the building attic can be vented and that abnormal moisture sources (such as leaks, missing insulation, or a wet basement or crawl space) are corrected the attic mold problems don't recur

In Summary about attic mold removal: Do not begin an attic mold remediation project without first having carefully examined the whole building, and without first having set priorities of remediation, making sure we have found the real problem mold reservoir, its source, and its extent. The real indoor air quality problem in some buildings might not even be attic mold at all.

This article is part of our series: MOLD in BUILDINGS which describes how to find mold and test for mold in buildings, including how and where to collect mold samples using adhesive tape - an easy, inexpensive, low-tech but very effective mold testing method.

This procedure helps identify the presence of or locate the probable sources of mold reservoirs in buildings, and helps decide which of these need more invasive, exhaustive inspection and testing.

Attic Mold Contamination Articles


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