How to Test for Black Mold

The easiest way to test for black mold is to not test at all.  Doesn’t quite make sense?  I guess it’s our way of saying that mold is mold, whether black or not, and all mold should be removed as soon as possible, regardless of what a test might reveal.  That being said, there may be instances where a test is advisable — at the very least, it may be able to let you know whether you are dealing with a more toxic mold like black mold.  Furthermore, testing for mold can help you identify a potential infestation.  For that mold in hard-to-see places, a test can take measurements from the air quality in the home and identify whether you might have hidden mold and what type or species of mold you might be dealing with.

It is ALWAYS advisable for one to seek professional and qualified help in order to test for black mold or any type of mold.  A mold professional will help collect and analyze samples from the mold and be able to provide you with more accurate results.  Some people prefer to buy do-it-yourself home test kits for collecting the samples.  You can easily purchase these at your local hardware store, such as Home Depot, or Lowes.  Once you collect the sample, you send it in to a laboratory which can analyze the samples and send you the results.  While this method tends to be cheaper than hiring a professional to come take the samples and do the testing, only purchase these do-it-yourself kits if you know you can take the samples yourself safely.  When in doubt, call a professional!

When you test for black mold, it can help give you a snapshot of the potential quantity of mold particles in an area at a particular time.  The number of mold spores in the air, however, is constantly fluctuating and can change quickly.  One should therefore keep testing for some time and in various locations.  There are three main ways for testing for mold: bulk, surface and air testing.  For the best approach and most accurate results, you should use all three testing methods as each test has its own weaknesses and strengths.


The Three Main Ways To Test For Black Mold

The air testing method is one way to test for black mold.  It involves measuring the amount of mold spores in the air in your home.  The samples are collected from the air and then tested in a laboratory.  The air method can help you determine whether you have a mold problem, especially when signs of mold are present (sniff sniff!) but you can’t actually see the elusive fungus.  Remember to test multiple times in each location to ensure more accurate results.

Similar to the air testing method, surface testing involves calculating the amount of mold spores in the home.  Instead of measuring the spores in the air, however, surface testing involves taking your samples from surfaces within your home.  Surface testing can be accomplished by using various methods of collection, such as tape lifting and swabbing.  Samples are then taken to a laboratory for testing.  Just like in air testing, the results vary as mold spores can be distributed disproportionately on surfaces, even in the same room.  So again, it is best to perform several tests to get more accurate results.

The bulk testing method involves the collection of various materials around your home that show signs of mold growth.  Mold particles from the materials are then taken to a laboratory and examined under a microscope.  This scientific testing method can help you identify the type of mold you have in your home.  This is more that just a test for black mold.  Instead, it can identify one of the many kinds of mold.

Culture tests can be performed on the mold samples collected from your home.  The samples are grown into large mold “colonies” in the laboratory.  Culture tests can be very helpful in identifying the type or species of mold in your home.

Whatever test you choose to use, make sure you can do it in a safe and appropriate manner.  It may be best to consider having a professional test for black mold, especially when any health or safety concerns are present.  Be safe, be healthy, and happy testing!