Getting a Mold Checkup
Getting rid of the mold in your home is your first priority. Since CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines don't distinguish between different types of mold and recommend the prompt removal of all mold in your home, testing beforehand isn't a priority if you've already decided you have a problem. Testing can be useful when you want to make sure your property is free of mold after a cleanup, though.
There are a couple of ways you can arrange for a test. You can purchase an in-home test kit, follow the directions and submit the resulting sample to a lab. The costs for this can vary quite a bit, anywhere from $40 to more than $200, and the results might not be reliable. Consumer Reports conducted an evaluation of home mold testing kits in 2006, and none of the four kits they looked at received a recommendation. The problems ranged from the kits having no expiration dates, potentially compromising the results, to being difficult to use [source: Consumer Reports].
Your second option is to hire a professional to evaluate your home for mold. Professional mold assessment and cleanup will typically involve equipment and detailed testing that you wouldn't have access to any other way. There are obvious advantages, but only if you are careful about the company you choose. Check with your state's contractor-licensing board to verify that the company you select is licensed for mold remediation. If there has been a water-related disaster in your area, like a hurricane or flood, you can also check with the Federal Emergency Management Agency or your public health department for more information on how to make an enlightened decision.
There is a third choice. After a cleanup, you can make periodic, careful evaluations of the infected area yourself and monitor your family's health to see if the problem recurs. The time and effort you take with the clean-up and the extent of the mold damage may have an impact on how comfortable you feel with this option. If a foul smell alerted you to a mold problem in the first place, using your nose to check the area periodically might be a good way to gauge the success of your cleanup efforts.
Proceed to the next page for a list of important steps you can take to can keep mold away from your home and family.