Photograph of mold found behind paneling in a bathroom.How to Find Mold Contamination in buildings

  • FIND MOLD, ESSENTIAL STEPS - CONTENTS: How to find hidden or less obvious mold contamination sources in buildings. Mistakes to Avoid when Locating Mold for a Mold Cleanup Project. What a Mold Inspector and Mold Test Consultant Need to Know. Essential Steps to Follow When Screening or Testing a Building for Mold
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to find & test for mold contamination in buildings

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How to find indoor mold contamination sources:

This document is the starting point of our mold guide that describes the essential steps needed when searching for problematic mold in buildings. This article provides an easy to understand step-by-step guide for dealing with toxic or allergenic indoor mold and other indoor contaminants: what to do about mold.

The steps in this document will be sufficient for many building owners who want to do their own mold investigation, mold testing, mold cleanup, and mold prevention in their home or office.

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HOW TO FIND MOLD: How to Inspect Homes and Other buildings for Mold - the Basics of How to Find Problem Mold Indoors

Photograph: mold hidden behind basement wall panelingMold Testing & Cleanup Mistakes to Avoid

Much too often we are contacted by a property owner who has just paid a substantial sum to "remove black toxic mold" from a building only to learn that conditions in the property are no better, sometimes worse, than before. What went wrong with the mold cleanup project?


  1. Incomplete mold cleanup projects: The owner or mold remediator was quick to address a visible mold problem without first making sure that all of the important mold reservoirs in the building had been found and listed for cleanup as needed.

    The result unfortunately is that another cleanup may be needed. Worse, we sometimes find people addressing the wrong mold problem in a building, for example scrubbing off cosmetic black mold that was harmless while leaving a real problem with mold-contaminated building insulation that looked "ok" to the eye.
  2. In-valid mold testing: relying on a quick air test, swab, or culture to locate the problem mold or to pass a post-mold-cleanup clearance test without including a decent inspection of the premises, the remediation containment system, checks for cross contamination, etc.

    Sometimes this happens because the same people are providing the mold assessment, the mold cleanup, and the post-cleanup inspection and testing. These conflicting interests are risky for everyone concerned.
  3. Questionable mold cleanup procedures: were followed such as inadequate dust containment, or reliance on simple biocide sprays where physical cleaning or removal of moldy materials was needed.

What does an Effective Mold Investigator Need to Know?

  1. Building science: where do leaks and moisture problems occur in buildings, how do air and moisture move in a building
  2. Mycology: what molds are harmful, which are cosmetic, how, when, where, and why does problem mold grow n a building
  3. Industrial Hygiene or Sampling Methods: what sampling and test methods are sound and produce valid results, and which are magic and speculative.
  4. Field Investigation & Mold Test Lab Experience: Where do problems occur in buildings, how do we find them, what test methods are valid, what do labs do with mold samples, what do lab results mean, how do we interpret "mold counts" or other measures of moldiness in buildings?
  5. Listening & looking skills, writing skills: listen to the experience and concerns of the occupants, owners, clients; look carefully everywhere at the site. Write down mold investigation findings and recommendations that are sound, clear, and easy to follow.

Essential Steps in Screening a Building for Harmful Mold Contamination:

List of Detailed Articles on Finding Mold in buildings

If you are looking for evidence of a mold problem in a building you should review these articles.

Mold Inspection Articles


Continue reading at HARD TO SEE MOLD, SPOTTING or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.



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