Interpretation of Mold Tests

In Chicago and beyond, there are some mold inspectors that don’t really do an inspection at all.  They do basic mold testing, such as collecting a few air samples, and neglect to do a visual inspection of the home or evaluate the moisture problems leading to the growth.

To make matters worse, these inspectors typically hand you a laboratory report and make you fend for yourself to figure out what their mold tests mean.

In this blog post, I intend to freely assist anyone that had a sub-par mold inspection and is left with more questions than answers.  Post your questions at the bottom of the page in the “Leave a Reply” section.  Please note that it asks for your email address, but it will not be displayed on the blog.

Although this designed for people in the Chicago area, I would happy to answer everyones questions.  The more details you provide, the better!

Finally, if you would like to speak with us directly, you can purchase a 30 minute phone consultation for $98.  Or if you are looking for a mold test in Chicago, give us a call at the phone number at the bottom of the page.

 

UPDATE 9/18/17:  Although I’m not accepting or responding to new questions here, Dylan McIntosh at our office started a new blog post where he is actively responding to questions: More on the Interpretation of Mold Samples.

Ian Cull

Ian Cull

Ian Cull is a nationally recognized expert in the field of indoor air quality. He is the President of Indoor Science, a company he started in 2004. He speaks around the world on air quality topics and is a training provider of the Indoor Air Quality Association. Mr. Cull is a Licensed Professional Engineer (PE) and Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). His degree is in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign. Mr. Cull has developed 50 air quality related courses for the IAQA University and is the author of the book, “Fundamentals of Mold Remediation”. In his words… “Besides being passionate about indoor air quality, I enjoy cycling, music, the Chicago Bulls, and having fun with my three kids.”

167 thoughts on “Interpretation of Mold Tests

    We are looking at a home we want to buy in central Florida. My wife is sensitive to mold, has allergies, and asthma. I wonder now if we shouldn’t buy the home. It is a ranch style house on a concrete pad. Here are the test results… in amount/m3
    Ascospores 300
    Aspergillus/Penicillium 200
    Basidiospores 80
    Bipolaris++ 40
    Cladosporium 80
    Curvularia 460
    Myxomycetes++ 40
    Total fungi 1200
    Hyphal fragment 100

    What is your opinion of these measurements?

    Thanks.

    Great site with lots of good information/feedback

    I’m selling a home and the buyer had an air quality test performed in the basement. The basement has had minor moisture issues over the years but has been dry for many years recently. A small spot (about 1 sq ft) of moldy drywall was noted during the home inspection. The air quality results are back and the aspergillius/penicillium concentrations were 40 c/m3 outside and 1320 c/m3 inside. I believe these are results from a single indoor and outdoor sample. Is the elevated value a concern? They are requesting a big remediation. I wanted to remove the moldy drywall myself and clean the affected area since is was so small. Is that a good idea? Looking for some suggestions/guidance on how to tackle the proposed problemm.

    Greatly appreciate this service. A mold test on a rental home we owned showed no mold in house but concentration in basement was 2000 spores per cubic meter of air. After remediation cleaning total concentration is 210. Test company and remediation company have both said there was no visible sign of mold either before or after test but after the cleanjng there is one spore of stachybitrys . They Recommended that we detach all cedar cabinets in garage and reclean and rescrub the basement! They don’t know where spore came from was not found in first test.

    What are the right questions for us to ask before taking the drastic step of tearing out beautiful cabinets in older home? Isn’t this a guessing game since they don’t know why spore popped up? Is one spore in basement a health hazard when nothing was present in house? House is very well maintainec home built kn 1930s.

    Look forward to your answer. Thank you.

    Ian, After a roof leak caused water damage around a sliding glass door in a bedroom, we removed the surrounding drywall and found some mold on the drywall. The contractor then contained the area around the door with plastic. We had a hygienist come in to do air quality samples and they found the following:
    Outdoor control .. 40 spores/m3
    Containment area .. 120 spores/m3 (Chaetomium)
    General area in room .. 80 spores/m3 (Chaetomium)

    This doesn’t seem significant to me but my wife is panicked! They recommended an extensive remediation program. Should we worry about it or forget about it now that the problem drywall has been removed?
    Thank you.

    Your website is wonderful and thank you for the services you provide. I posted yesterday but not sure if it went through as I don’t see the post. Here it is again.

    We live in a rather different area which unique challenges, Hawaii (Oahu). We moved here in June and bought a house built in 1968 with plans to renovate the interior. We’ve had a record breaking hot and humid summer. We also live on the windward side of the island and receive much more rain and humidity than other parts. Humidity levels can range from 60%-98% and never drop lower. Dew points have ranged from 68 to 76 degrees F. Most homes, including ours, were build without air conditioning, so we have no ability to control humidity in the home.

    A few weeks ago, we started noticing a musty odor in our front room, which probably gets the least airflow from outside. We have an antique reupholstered (less than 1 year ago) sofa in there, 2 reupholstered chairs, a cow rug, and a wool runner rug. I haven’t seen any mold on the furniture, but we have pulled several items away from walls (pictures, books, etc) with mold. Same for the newly renovated guest room except a piece of furniture grew mold and several items in the closet. We’ve pulled a few items out of other closets with same issue.

    We’re hearing from multiple people on our side of the island that this is an issue. People are pulling leather belts, shoes, clothes out of their closets with mold. Our real estate agent came home from a trip to find mold on her cabinets. So, it’s not too uncommon here, I suppose.

    I hired a mold inspector because I was getting concerned. He came out, did a visual inspection of the downstairs, IR moisture assessment, and didn’t find anything concerning other than a small amount of moisture (and tiny amount of mold growth) on a newly placed piece of drywall (which had been up for 2 months).

    Air sample as follows:
    Guest room 48,000 spores/m3
    93% Aspergillus/Penicillium sp.
    02% Cladosporium sp.
    01% Ascospore sp.
    01% Basidiospore sp.
    01% Hyaline spores, e.g. Acremonium sp.
    01% Miscellaneous Unidentified fungal spores
    <1% Coprinus sp.
    <1% Myxomycetes sp.
    <1% Nigrospora sp.

    Raw spore count 496.

    Living room
    110,000 spores/m3
    96% Aspergillus/Penicillium sp.
    01% Ascospore sp.
    01% Basidiospore sp.
    01% Cladosporium sp.
    <1% Chaetomium sp.
    <1% Coprinus sp.
    <1% Curvularia sp.
    <1% Hyaline spores, e.g. Acremonium sp.
    <1% Myxomycetes sp.
    <1% Pithomyces sp.
    <1% Trichoderma sp.
    <1% Miscellaneous Unidentified fungal spores

    Raw spore count 1117.

    Given the background information, our climate, and the fact that we have absolutely no ability to control humidity in our home, do you have advice for remediation? They are recommending vacating the premises and having professional remediation (they do not do remediation themselves), so I'm unsure what that would entail, and I'm concerned that the problem will just recur since no actual source was found and we have no ability to control the factors that promote mold growth, other than buying more fans to improve air circulation.

    No outside air sample was taken for comparison.

    I had my condo’s air tested. The condo had water in the finished part of the basement once but the unfinished part get a little nearly every time it rains.
    1) First floor. 2) Finished basement lower level 3) Unfinished part of basement lower level.

    1) first floor
    Asper/Penic: Raw Count 9; 400C/m3;
    Basidiospores: Raw Count 6; 300C/m3
    Chaetomium: Raw Count 1; 40C/m3
    Cladosporium: Raw Count 13; 540C/m3
    Myxomycetes: Raw Count 1; 40C/m3

    2) Lower Level Finished Part of Basement
    Asper/Penic: Raw Count 37; 1500C/m3;
    Basidiospores: Raw Count 2; 80C/m3
    Chaetomium: Raw Count 1; 40C/m3
    Cladosporium: Raw Count 18; 750C/m3
    Myxomycetes: Raw Count 18; 750C/m3

    3) Lower Level Unfinished Part of Basement
    Asper/Penic: Raw Count 25; 1000C/m3;
    Basidiospores: Raw Count 4; 200C/m3
    Chaetomium: Raw Count 0; 0C/m3
    Cladosporium: Raw Count 12; 500C/m3
    Myxomycetes: Raw Count 1; 40C/m3

    Should I be concerned about these levels. Are these levels ok to live with or should I take some action of making a few holes in the walls of the finished basement?
    The basement had water once when the hose was left on too long. The unfinished part of the basement gets water frequently when it rains or snow thaws.

    Hi again,

    Well, they said there was no moisture, and no actual mold.

    Here are the numbers they gave for the mold spores:

    KITCHEN:

    Ascospores
    Raw Count: 45
    Spores/m3: 450

    Basidiospores
    Raw Count: 1
    Spores/m3: 10

    Cladosporium
    Raw Count: 14
    Spores/m3: 140

    Penicillium/Aspergillus
    Raw Count: 8
    Spores/m3: 80

    BATHROOM:

    Alternaria
    Raw Count: 2
    Spores/m3: 20

    Ascospores
    Raw Count: 193
    Spores/m3: 1930

    Basidiospores
    Raw Count: 4
    Spores/m3: 40

    Chaetomium
    Raw Count: 1
    Spores/m3: 10

    Cladosporium
    Raw Count: 46
    Spores/m3: 460

    Myxomycetes
    Raw Count: 9
    Spores/m3: 90

    Penicillium/Aspergillus
    Raw Count: 37
    Spores/m3: 370

    LIVINGROOM:

    Ascospores
    Raw Count: 121
    Spores/m3: 1210

    Basidiospores
    Raw Count: 7
    Spores/m3: 70

    Cladosporium
    Raw Count: 10
    Spores/m3: 100

    Myxomycetes
    Raw Count: 13
    Spores/m3: 130

    Penicillium/Aspergillus
    Raw Count: 33
    Spores/m3: 330

    BEDROOM:

    Ascospores
    Raw Count: 87
    Spores/m3: 870

    Basidiospores
    Raw Count: 7
    Spores/m3: 70

    Chaetomium
    Raw Count: 1
    Spores/m3: 10

    Cladosporium
    Raw Count: 17
    Spores/m3: 170

    Myxomycetes
    Raw Count: 1
    Spores/m3: 10

    Penicillium/Aspergillus
    Raw Count: 37
    Spores/m3: 370

    Stachybotrys
    Raw Count: 1
    Spores/m3: 10

    Also, when I spoke with them and asked about the HEPA air filter, they did say yes, that it would get rid of mold spores. (But perhaps they don’t typically mention things one could do oneself unless specifically asked, because they’d like followup work.)

    Thanks again.

    Bedroom sample has a single spore of Stachybotrys and Chaetomium, which are water damage indicators. Something may be going on, but I can’t tell from these results alone.

    sorry…forgot to add that those are air samples and the quality of the outdoor sample was:

    Penicillium/Aspergillus – 80
    Chaetomium – 0

    Thanks Ian!

    Hello,

    Hoping you can help me out. I had some water damage and it resulted in them finding mold. I unfortunately had to remove the whole exterior of my house in order to remove the firewall which was the majority of the damage/mold. $39,000 later for construction + $15,000 for remediation + $5,000 for mold testing + living in a hotel for 3 months = mid-life crisis. The initial test 4 months ago was:

    spores/m3 – penicilium / aspergilus = 1,700
    Chaetomium = 10
    (one sample)

    spores/m3 – penicilium/aspergilus = 1,000
    (second sample in different location)

    My question is, after many google searches this doesnt seem that high to me. Are there regulation in Texas regarding what is sufficient and what isnt? I’ve had 3 tests done now and all end up being around the same as the initial test….they just keep cleaning and adding more scrubbers. I think it’s a scam to tell you the truth… Any thoughts? It would be much appreciated!

    Oh man, sorry about the serious damage. Pretty frustrating that after all that work, the numbers are the same. Texas, nor any other governmental agency, has clear guidance on interpreting mold spore trap results. It’s higher indoors than outdoors, so it seems like there were some faults in the remediation. If you’ve paid this much money, I would expect better results!

    Can you please help with these results. There is no visible mold in the mostly unfinished basement (there is a little drywall showing no signs of visible mold, can see both sides) except for peeling paint and discoloration on side of painted chimney. Other side of unpainted chimney does show effervescent, so thought is that there is some moisture possibly getting traped between paint and mortar on painted side causing mold. There is a workbench that was never examined and I do wonder if there is some mold hiding back there. The remediation company gave us a proposal of scraping and cleaning chimney with wire brush and Hepa vacuum, applying Epa registered sealer and registered eps anti microbial to all foundation walls, chimney and drywall in basement, applyin dogger anti-microbial to upper level and a Hepa filter scrubber upstairs and in basement. Our fear is the workbench may be a problem and when they examined the chimney they didn’t think it was mold. Now they think that could be causing the higher numbers. We want to resolve the issues due to our sons illnesses. But we want it done right the first time. Thanks!

    Sample volume 75 liters
    Limit of detection 13 spores/M3
    Background/fragments 2/ND (except for outside sample – 2/40/m3)
    Outside – raw count/ count-M3/%of total
    alternaria – 7/93/5.6
    Ascospores – 23/307/18.4
    Aspergillus/Penicillum – 3/40/2.4
    Basidiospores – 16/213/12.8
    Cladosporium – 61/813/48.8
    Epicoccum – 6/80/4.8
    Myxomycetes – 9/120/7.2

    Basement – raw count/ count-M3/%of total
    Alternaria – 2/27/<1
    Aspergillus/Penicillium – 288/3840/95.7
    Chaetomium – 1/13/<1
    Myxomycetes – 9/120/3
    Pithomyces – 1/13/<1

    1st floor – raw count/ count-M3/%of total
    Ascospores- 2/27/2.9
    Aspergillus/Penicillum – 63/840/91.3
    Cladosporium – 2/27/2.9
    Epicoccum – 1/13/1.4
    Fusarium – 1/13/1.4

    You can’t remediate mold growth that you haven’t found. Your counts could just be from a dusty, damp basement. Not sure, but maybe your basement just needs a good cleaning. Don’t have remediation contractors do the cleaning. Consider buying a $500 certified HEPA vacuum at a hardware store and have someone more reasonably priced do the cleaning.

    I just found out that I have a PEN/ASP number of 147 in my house. Can you please tell me if remediation is needed or not. I really need an experts advice since the local companies are giving me two different answers. Also, is this a toxic situation. Thank you so much for your help.

    That information alone does not justify remediation. That is a level that is probably found commonly in your outdoor air, although I have no idea where you live. There may be additional information you didn’t mention (E.g. water damage), but if that number alone is the basis of their recommendation, I recommend you write a scathing review about the company online.

    You didn’t test for mycotoxins, so I can’t comment on their presence. Your pen/asp wasn’t very high relatively speaking.

    My work office tested at a total concentration of 1,600S/m3. I am having serious red itchy eyes. Is this at a dangerous level? Thank you, Janice

    Please let me know what type of mold is present. That would influence my opinion. Of course, I’m not a doctor so I cannot provide a medical diagnosis.

    Hi,

    I just had a mold test done on an old group house in Washington DC. The house was built around 1910, and has been a group house since 1960. The water damage is likely significant, since few people have ever lived here long enough to care. I live here on the 2nd floor of the 3 story house, and recently saw very dark mold growing under a mirror I had laying on my desk. I checked around the house, and found more dark mold growing behind cracked paint on the first floor.

    The mold inspector said we had a problem, and that our levels of Penicillium/Aspergillus are 5,190 sp/m3.

    How concerned should we be, specifically for health reasons?

    Thank you so much for setting this up, it is so confusing to get the results and to be told we have a problem, but have very little idea of what exactly it means.

    Hope this finds you well.

    Best,
    Anna

    It sounds like you have some pervasive moisture issues in the home. Your counts are high relative to a normal outdoor reading. Hire someone, such as a home inspector, with an infrared camera and dual-mode moisture meter to figure out the moisture issues.

    Hi,

    I had a some samples taken in an area where I have been noticing an odd odor. There is a small water stain on the ceiling that is damp, but doesn’t appear to be progressing. There is no visible mold and general humidity in the area has been below 60%.

    The results are as follows:

    ID/Spore Count/Count m3
    Basidiomycetes/14/747
    Cladosporium/12/640
    Penicillium-Aspergillus/21/1120
    Myxomycetes-Smuts-Rusts/0/0
    Mycelial Fragments/3/160
    Drechslera/0/0
    Ascospores/4/213
    Alternaria/7/373
    Stachybotrys/2/107
    Pithomyces/0/0/
    Chaetomium/0/0
    Fusarium/0/0
    Torula/0/0
    Epicoccum/0/0

    Other rooms in the house were negative for Asp/Pen and Stachy. As were outdoor samples.

    I live in a condo and so far, calls to the management haven’t produced any action regarding the potential moisture problem. Do these results indicate a developing mold issue? Is there any way to tell the extent of the problem without opening the wall?

    Also, at what point does one need to employ a someone with specific training in remediation to prevent creating a bigger problem as the moisture issue is repaired? I imagine this will be a point of contention as its typically cheaper to have a handyman just fix the leak without doing any real cleanup.

    Without opening up the wall, options including cutting a small pencil-diameter hole in the ceiling and viewing it with a borescope. Another option is to collect an air sample through tubing placed into a small hole in the wall.

    If the wall has been wet for a few days, you should presume mold is in the ceiling and take necessary precautions (set up plastic sheets around area, HEPA vacuum, etc.).

    Does this report show a house that is “free of mold”?
    Interior
    Sample Identification Raw Count Spores/cu. m Percent(%)
    – Fungi –
    Basidiospores 56 2,240 45.16%
    Cladosporium 34 1,360 27.42%
    Pen/Asp group 28 1,120 22.58%
    Ascospores 2 80 1.61%
    Rust 2 80 1.61%
    Curvularia 1 40 0.81%
    Mitospores 1 40 0.81%
    Total Fungi 124 4,960 100.00%
    – Other –
    Hyphal Fragment 1 40 100.00%

    Exterior Control
    Sample Identification Raw Count Spores/cu. m Percent(%)
    – Fungi –
    Basidiospores 600 24,000 78.33%
    Cladosporium 124 4,960 16.19%
    Pen/Asp group 18 720 2.35%
    Ascospores 10 400 1.31%
    Epicoccum nigrum 3 120 0.39%
    Nigrospora 3 120 0.39%
    Ganoderma 2 80 0.26%
    Mitospores 2 80 0.26%
    Smuts/Periconia/Myxomycetes 2 80 0.26%
    Cercospora group 1 40 0.13%
    Chaetomium 1 40 0.13%
    Total Fungi 766 30,600 100.00%
    – Other –
    Hyphal Fragment 4 160 100.00%

    I’m not sure what you mean by “free of mold”. Obviously there are mold spores in the home (as there are with every home) so in that sense it is not mold free. You could also ask if it is ” free of mold growth”. To determine that requires a thorough visual inspection. It is possible to have mold growth in a house, yet not have elevated spore counts in the air.

    I recently had a spore trap analysis done and the results that came back showed a high concentration of Aspergillus/Penicillium in the air sample of living room and the carpet sample of living room. Air sample had background of 2, Living room carpet had background of 4. No visible mold or water or moisture. Heath complaint is headache and nausea and smell? I am unable to smell. Results were as follows:
    Outside control count/M3 120
    Living Room Air count/M3 3040
    Living Room Carpet count/M3 468000
    I am not sure how to read this. I don’t know where this is coming from. And I am curious if the counts are accurate in the living room since the background debris is 4. Bedroom Carpet was also tested but they can’t analyze due to too much debris. Do you have some suggestions or guidance? Thank you.

    If this company did what I think they did, they are totally incompetent. While it is possible to collect a dust sample on a specialized cassette, it appears they took the sample with a cassette for AIR samples only. Your living room air sample was high, but I would disregard anything this company is advising.

    Hello again,

    Update: The mold inspection company did get back to me, but I would still be interested in a 3rd party opinion on the report that came back indicating mold spores, but no actual mold. Would you recommend an air purifier with a HEPA filter?

    Thanks.

    @Madeline,

    I would recommend getting to the root of the mold problem rather than just using a HEPA air cleaner. Usually the root cause is a moisture problem.

    Let me know if you still want me to look over your mold report.

    Ian
    Chicago, Aurora, Joliet, Naperville Mold Testing

    Hello,

    I’m so glad to find your site.

    My son has been wondering if there is a mold problem in his small one-bedroom apartment, and I paid to have a mold inspector come out to his apartment, but I really don’t know what to make of the report.

    There is a chart with numbers that I, not being a scientist, of course don’t understand (and the company has not responded, at least yet, to my request for clarification), and I could arrange a session with you if you think it would make sense. But I’ll just share the summary here.

    The report says that no visible mold was detected, and no elevated moisture was found. But in the summary, it points to mold spores as an issue. Here is that summary:

    Air Sample Analysis Summary
    Based on analysis of the air samples taken at the property, the following observations have been made:
     Highly elevated levels of fungal spores were found in samples taken at the time of the inspection. Elevated levels of mold indicate a high likelihood of mold growth in the area tested at the time of the inspection.
     Elevated background debris was identified in one or more of the air samples taken, which can hinder the analyst’s view of the slide and potentially hide smaller mold spores such as Penicillium/Aspergillus. The true level of contamination may be greater than what the sample revealed. Excessive background debris also indicates poor air quality; decontamination is recommended.
     Some types of molds have species associated with an indoor environment are considered to be toxic and may cause serious health risks. If mold growth is in fact present, it should be remediated using appropriate controls and precautions by a trained professional and any associated water source that led to the problem should also be corrected.
     Please see the attached results for further details and recommendations.
    Moisture Content Analysis Summary
    Based on the analysis of the equipment readings taken at the property, the following observations have been made:
     No elevated levels of moisture were identified at the time of the inspection.

    Oh and by the way, I couldn’t find a clear recommendation, other than an estimate for some expensive work that would cost 2K.

    Anyway, I would very much appreciate your take on this.

    Thank you!

    @Madeline,

    I’m always suspicious when someone is told they have a mold problem and given a quote by the same company to remediate that problem. This “conflict of interest” is illegal in some states. It’s not always unethical, but it would be best to use two separate companies: one for inspection, one for remediation.

    If you share some of the numbers, I can let you know if they truly are elevated.

    Ian
    Chicago Testing for Mold

    Hi Ian.

    I closed on a small house on June 5th, which I’ve been unable to move into because of an odor issue that I have been unable to diagnose and mitigate. I’ve had lots of different trades people in and have done everything I can think of short of tearing out walls and floors.

    Here are some basic facts: There are no visible signs of water infiltration. House foundation is an on grade slab. All brick house with mostly plaster walls. 850sq ft. Flooring is tile (kitchen/bath) and wood laminate over linoleum tiles. Roof is in good condition but I’ve noticed that the shingles do not hang over the edge of the roof by more than 1/4 inch, if that in some spots. Stand up attic where the water heater and HVAC are, does not have the same odor that the house has. The odor is strongest at the south side of the house which gets the most sun and heat. The odor is strongest in the kitchen and adjoining living room along the south wall. An ozone treatment did knock out the odor for a few weeks, but a bacteria treatment fogging did nothing. The odor strength changes from low to high, and seems to be worse when it is hot or humid, but we’ve had moderate temps lately and low humidity and the house is on the higher end of smelly now, so I can’t say that there is a pattern. The driveway along the south wall did have a low spot where rain water would puddle. I recently had the drive lifted to drain away from the house. On two occasions I poured bleach along the drive/house gap after the lift. I have taped the gap but not yet resealed it (waiting till I find the odor source.) The guy who owned the company that did my driveway lift said that he’s seen cases where mold grew in voids under drives (under slab?) and caused interior odor issues. The remediation guy is dismissive of that theory. I’ve had all interior walls, baseboards and ceilings painted. Air ducts have been cleaned. The house is clean (used vinegar/water on floors and kitchen cabinets.) I’ve run the washer, dishwasher and sinks, etc. to keep traps filled.

    My most recent attempt was to call in a mold remediation expert. (I’d had an air quality expert in many weeks ago, but she insisted that testing wasn’t called for since there weren’t any water indicators.) The test results came back late Friday and I have them, but we’ve not been able to talk about them yet in detail, but he indicated in a voicemail message that the results did indicate that there is “something going on” that will require a search of wall cavities, etc. The report indicated the interior levels are “Elevated.”

    These are the counts from the test: Chaetomium 4/160, Epicoccum 4/160, Penicillium/Aspergillus 28/1,100, Pithomyces 2/80, Rusts 12/480, for a total of 50/1,980. Plus measurements for Cellulose Fiber 2/80 and Fiberglass 7/280.

    The guy who owned the company that did my driveway lift said that he’s seen cases where mold grew in voids under drives (under slab?) and caused interior odor issues. The remediation guy is dismissive of that theory.

    I detected an odor when I saw the house but it wasn’t very strong and since the house was on a slab and the attic didn’t smell I thought the odor would go with the prior owners. On the final walk through, the house smelled and I thought about bailing on the close, but I let me sense of decency get the best of me and I went through with it so the sellers could close on their new house immediately after. What a huge error that was!

    This has all been a very stressful and possibly financially ruinous experience, and I am terrified of being taken advantage of by someone doing unnecessary work, only to have the odor problem not be solved. Any advice you can give me about what I’ve shared will be greatly appreciated. Thanks. 09/26/15

    @Anna,

    My first thought was that moisture may be wicking up through the concrete slab and getting trapped under the kitchen’s tile and linoleum.

    I would suggest pulling up a few tiles and linoleum in an unobtrusive location and sniff around after the floor is up.

    Let me know if that turns anything up!

    Ian
    Mold Inspection in Chicago

    Hi Ian! We recently started a remodel on our converted attic bathroom and found water damage and mold growth behind the wall tile and under the floor tile. We had mold testing done, and here are the results:

    The air sample taken in the upper level bathroom had an overall lower airborne mold spore count 2 times lower compared to the outside baseline sample, overall counts – outside 1,547 spores per m3, bathroom 1,013 spores per m3.

    There were 347 Penicillium/Aspergillus type molds spores inside and 67 outside.

    The sample contained 107 spores of Stachybotrys mold with 0 spores outside. There were 53 hyphal elements (mold rooting structures) inside and 13 outside.

    There were 67 spores of Chaetomium mold in the room with 0 outside.

    The sample also contained 13 spores of Aureobasidium with 0 outside, 133 spores of Chaetomium mold spores with 0 outside, 67 spores of Petriella mold with 0 outside.

    A remediation company wanted to charge $15,000 to remediate the converted attic (includes the bathroom, and alcove, and two bedrooms). We opted not to go that route and my husband used a respirator and suit and bagged all mold-covered material to remove. He then treated all remaining bathroom materials with concrobium twice. We are wiping everything down with antibacterial wipes, painting all walls and ceilings, and replacing the carpet before rebuilding the bathroom from the studs.

    We have two small children and no one has shown signs of illness, other than the occasional cold we pick up from friends and family.

    I am asking for your professional opinion. I’m starting to second-guess our decision for not using a professional remediation company and wonder if we have caused unseen health damage based on the results taken from the sampling.

    Your opinion is greatly desired and appreciated.

    Thank you for this site!

    @Kindra,

    You have touched on a problem I see in the mold industry: some remediation contractors have exorbitant pricing that isn’t in line with reality. I’m surprised how many cities don’t have a high quality, reasonably priced mold remediation contractor in the area.

    I probably could have provided you with some detailed advice on how to do remediation yourself while still following standards.

    You may want to hire a 3rd party mold assessor to come in and evaluate the space and independently confirm that the remediation was successful. His report would then be shared with any future purchasers of the property.

    Ian
    Indoor Science mold testing in Chicago and suburbs

    Dear Ian,

    Great site. Thank you. Recently we had a mold inspection and some air sampling done in our 4 story (including basement) house in NJ. The lab results are as following

    BAsement
    ascospores 1/7/<1
    aspergillus/Penicillium Like 86/573/79%
    basidiospores 3/20/3
    chaetomium 1/7/<1
    cladosporium 12/80/11
    pithomyces 1/7/<1
    smut/myxomyces/Periconia 2/13/2
    stachy 3/20/3

    control sample outside
    Ascospores 13/87/8
    asp/pen 24/160/15
    basidiospores 56/373/34
    cladosporium 56/373/34
    curvularia 2/13/1
    ganoderma 1/7/1
    pithomyces 6/40/4
    rust 3/20/2
    smut/myxomyces/periconia 2/13/1

    While other floors seem to have acceptable scores…The inspector and contractor have proposed a very intense protocol for the basement, airscrubbing, negative pressure, removal and replacement of some wallboard, <where there is apparently visible stachy, etc) cleaning, sealing everywhere, etc. cleaning the airconditioning systems (airhandlers and vents)

    no one in the house is complaining of symptoms.
    the house is old and while we never get water in the basement except during sandy had a little as we lost power to sump pump, I would classify the basement as "moist" or "damp"… no musty smell though. lastly we did get some standing water recently when the pump which pumps the condensation out of our airconditioning airhandler failed.

    The basement is large, 1500 plus squarefeet some of which is new and newly renovated and some of which is very old … the new part does not seem damp but the old part is.

    What are your thoughts about…
    1) the stachy is reported in two locations… Could we just clean those areas or even just remove those walls
    2) the elevated ASP is I guess a problem. is it possible to just completely clean everything… and then wait and see.

    Anyway, am looking for a less intensive protocol here…if there is one.

    THoughts
    Thank you

    Hi Ian,
    We are in the process of purchasing a 1934 home with slab foundation and no air ducts. Inspector found no visible signs of mold, though there are some concerns in the report, listed below. First number is raw, second number is per cubic meter and third number is percentage of total.

    Outside
    Alternaria – none
    Aspergillus/Penicillium- 11, 240, .1
    Bipolaris / Drechslera / Exserohilum- none
    Cladosporium- 13, 280, .1
    Curvularia- none
    Epicoccum- 1, 7, 0
    Myxomycetes/Smut/Periconia- none
    Pithomyces- none
    Pestalotia- none
    Spegazzinia- none
    hyphal fragment- none

    Downstairs:
    Alternaria – none
    Aspergillus/Penicillium- 55, 1200, 7.7
    Bipolaris / Drechslera / Exserohilum- none
    Cladosporium- 8, 200, 1.3
    Curvularia- 1, 7, 0
    Epicoccum- 2, 40, .3
    Myxomycetes/Smut/Periconia- 7, 100, .6
    Pithomyces- 12, 260, 1.7
    Pestalotia- none
    Spegazzinia- none
    hyphal fragment- 8, 200

    Upstairs:
    Alternaria – 1, 7, .1
    Aspergillus/Penicillium- 120, 2560, 40.5
    Bipolaris / Drechslera / Exserohilum- 1, 20, .3
    Cladosporium- 23, 490, 7.7
    Curvularia- 1, 20, .3
    Epicoccum- 5, 100, 1.6
    Myxomycetes/Smut/Periconia- 9, 200, 3.2
    Pithomyces- 16, 340, 5.4
    Pestalotia- 1, 20, .3
    Spegazzinia- 2, 40, .6
    hyphal fragment- 11, 240

    These are just the results for anything that yielded a slightly elevated or elevated result. Again, no visible damage. Also, I am having a hard time understanding where the pithomyces is coming from since it was not detected outside, any ideas there? Thank you so much! We are first time homebuyers and not sure if we should continue with the deal.

    They actually did find 3 areas of small patches of mold growing on the plaster walls, but no signs of a leak. What kind of moisture problem could we be dealing with? Something as simple as running a dehumidifier? Or could the entire structure be rotting behind the walls? I’m also still really puzzled and concerned about the Pithomyces in the house… Thanks!

    @Amy,

    Although Pithomyces can grow indoors, it’s not very common in my experience. Generally it is more of an outdoor fungi. Your results are a bit out of the ordinary as there isn’t much diversity in the outdoor sample. Aspergillus/Penicillium at 2,560 sp/m3 is high, so I would recommend inspecting upstairs, including an inspection of any attic right above it. Maybe you’ll find signs of a roof leak.

    Ian
    Mold Consultant Chicago

    I’m considering purchasing a house in Pittsburgh and had it tested for mold. The house has mostly been empty for the past 5 years, so there has not been a lot of air circulation or traffic. The results were:

    Basidiospores (inside) 975 spores/m3
    Basidiospores (outside) 1870 spores/m3

    Cladosporium (inside) 2110 spores/m3
    Cladosporium (outside) 702 spores/m3

    Penicillium/Aspergillus (inside) 3940 spores/m3
    Penicillium/Aspergillus (outside) 468 spores/m3

    Pithomyces (inside) 637 spores/m3
    Pithomyces (outside) 39 spores/m3

    No instances of Chaetomium or Stachybotrys

    Any advice on where I can look for the source of these? The recommendation is a HEPA Vacuum, Air scrubber, and HVAC System Cleaning, as well as just a good general cleaning because it is very dusty. Is that enough

    @Jessica,

    It can be difficult to interpret mold air samples in a vacant property. Are the elevated counts because of a mold problem, or is it just the accumulated dust that gets stirred around when the mold inspector was walking around?

    The Cladosporium and Penicillium/Aspergillus numbers are much higher inside when compared to outside. If you don’t see any mold, water stains, or perceive a funky odor, it may just be due to accumulated dust.

    I know you don’t own it- otherwise I would recommend to do a thorough cleaning of the space and have it re-tested. When they are testing it, make sure they do a thorough inspection for moisture too.

    Ian
    Mold specialist Chicago

    My mother painted drywall with “spoiled” zero-VOC Banjamin Moore Paint (Natura). It was 5-year old paint, which had been opened/used years prior without a problem. The result was serious allergies and an odor. Ben Moore said paint probably grew mold and bacteria bec. zero-VOC paint has no fungicides or biocides. (There is nothing visible tho.) There are still allergies and odor 1 year later, even after painting over it with Zinsser mold primer and Caliwel paint. Question: Have you heard of this working: using a smoke and odor sealer like Zinsser BIN primer (550 VOC, or their synthetic shellac is 12 VOC- doesn’t work as well though) or Fiberlock Recon (60 VOC) to seal in what is apparently growing in the paint? I wonder if the sealer actually kills what is growing in the paint tho?

    @Jennifer,

    Now that the paint is dry, the microorganisms would no longer be growing. Therefore, there is nothing alive that you need to kill. You are smelling the residual by-products of the growth. You should be looking more for odor sealers rather than mold sealers. There is very little peer-reviewed research related to sealing odors, so it is usually a process of trial and error with different products. Please let me know if you find something that works for you.

    Ian
    Chicagoland mold inspections

    Hi Ian,

    My son and his wife have been sick with sore throats, asthmatic symptoms and bronchitis since moving into their apartment. Recently, they had a professional perform a mold test with the following results:

    Basidiospores
    Bedroom: 10 raw ct…70 spores/m3…%29
    Kitchen: 8 raw ct…56 spores/m3…%33
    Living Room: 13 raw ct…91 spores/m3…%34

    Cladosporium
    Bedroom: 23 raw ct…161spores/m3…%68
    Kitchen: 13 raw ct…51 spores/m3…%54
    Living Room: 22 raw ct…154 spores/m3…%58

    Outdoor Counts
    Basidiospores: 17 raw ct…21spores/m3…%39
    Cladosporium: 15 raw ct…195 spores/m3…%34

    These counts seem high considering they both have had recent health problems. Can you give me some insight to the numbers and if we have reason to be concerned. My son’s wife is pregnant and they are not staying in their apartment do to their breathing problems.

    Thanks for any help you can provide! Tara

    @Tara,

    Nothing in these numbers really stands out to me. All the indoor counts and types are similar to the outdoors.

    Ian
    Mold Inspector in Chicago

    Just saw your blog and this post. Awesome. Wondering if it’s not too late to get your opinion on my mold situation. My dad has MS, had doesn’t have the strongest immune system. I feel like I should preface that to begin with. So, to make a long story short, a handy man left a pipe leaking under his caretakers bathroom sink and it wasn’t discovered till 2 weeks later when the carpet from the caretakers room (the room backing up to the bathroom) was soaking wet. I noticed mold on the back wall behind the sink and got an official mold test done. It said they found 5600 Penicillium/Aspergillus in bathroom and 8600 Penicillium/Aspergillus in the bedroom. They recommend work being done to the tune of $3500. Is this something we need to do? Thanks you very much for any answer you can supply. You Rock. Ryan

    @Ryan,

    Yes, I would recommend having the wall remediated. $3,500 seems expensive to remediate a single wall. Having been wet for two weeks, I suspect there will be significant mold growth in the wall.

    Ian
    Mold Testing Chicago

    Hi, we are so confused. Client buying new construction (vacant for 6 months) Did have water leak in basement which will be rectified by the builder. Had mold test. Here are results:
    penicillin/aspergillus 273 middle of bedroom 3rd floor
    1760 in same bedroom wall 3rd fl
    1310 downstairs living room 2nd fl
    cladosporium 741 downstairs living room.

    no test conducted in basement because testor said no air conditioning and not controlled environment?

    On 3rd floor moisture readings at 100% on drywall. We have remediator company come out his reading is 39%, but no staining no sign of water damage. He opens up the wall under the window where Penicillium read 1760 and it’s dry as a bone.

    Please help us we do not know where/how to proceed. The builder is having his own mold test.

    The mold tester said it’s a 50K remediation issue in that home. (large home 5500 square ft)

    @JoAnn,

    I’ve been terribly busy, so sorry for the delay in responding. Wow, you have a lot going on here. Let me know if you got things straightened out. If not, let me know if you have any unanswered questions.

    Ian
    Chicago Mold Inspection

    Just got back test results.

    Our kitchen with mold on subfloor and hardwood flooring is in process of getting removed. My flooring guy at first saw the mold, thought it was mildew on the subfloor, and sanded it, with no plastic up or anything. How bad was that? Now we have the following scores. Counted/ cts/m and %of total

    Aspergillosis/penicillium outdoor: 3/20/9% , indoor 4/27/57%

    Inside on main floor:
    Chaetomium: 1/7/14%
    Stachybortis 1/7/14%

    Also our basement has a score of chaetomium : 4/27/50%,
    Stachybortis 1/7/12%
    with no visible mold anywhere.

    Is it safe to stay in the house with these scores? How dangerous is the stachybortis ? Will air scrubbers work after we have removed subfloor and flooring with visible mold.

    Scott,

    Although you never like to see any Stachybotrys or Chaetomium, you only had a single raw spore of both in the main floor.

    HEPA air scrubbers will do a good job of filtering the air. HEPA vacuuming may be helpful too.

    Ian
    Mold Testing Chicago

    So the one spore count is not enough to be overly alarmed about with the airscrubbers and mold removal? What abut 4 and 1 in the basement. Is that cause for concern? If there is no visible mold anywhere in the basement do you have any suggestions? Thanks

    Planning to buy a house north of Detroit, MI. Am very allergic to penicillin. Should I be worried about the following air test results?
    aspergillus/Penicillium: Raw: 20 Ct/M3: 267 44% of total
    Cladosporium: Raw: 7 Ct/M3: 93 15% of Total
    Pithomyces: Raw 10 Ct/M3:133 22% of Total
    Myxomycetes: Raw 3 Ct/M3: 40 7% of Total
    Thanks for your help!
    Terri

    @Terri,

    I’m not aware of connection between Penicillium and penicillin allergy. I have always understood these to be different, but this is beyond my expertise.

    Ian
    Mold and Mildew Testing Chicago

    170,000 sp/m3 is pretty bad, right? We’re a little worried. The context:

    We own a small, old apartment in NYC. In May, a pipe burst in our bathroom, flooding our hallway. It took about 5 minutes to realize what happened and turn off the water, and 45 minutes to mop up the water, some of which leaked into the downstairs neighbor’s ceiling and walls.

    The pipe was promptly repaired. No leaks since then. We haven’t smelled anything since shortly after the incident, but the super said the apartment still smells musty, so we had a mold inspector (not a remediator) take air samples. Results are here: http://1drv.ms/1Ld6qCR

    The Pen/Asp sample from under the hallway floor seems *crazy* high (170,000 sp/m3, vs. 360 sp/m3 outdoors), while the sample from the hallway (above the floorboards) seems okay (160 sp/m3).

    There’s no visible mold or water damage in the apartment. The inspector checked the floorboards with a moisture meter and said they were fine (*maybe* a tiny bit of bulging).

    Other details that may or may not be relevant: the samples were taken a few hours after a heavy rain; and the under-floor sample volume was only 5 liters, while the other samples were 25 liters.

    It seems we’ll have to call in remediators and rip up the hallway floors — and maybe all of the floors in the apartment, if the mold has spread to the space under other rooms.

    We’re trying not to panic. We’re hoping the mold is contained under the floor, and not in the air we (and our toddler) are breathing (yet?). But the repair and expense will be enormous. So we’re hoping you can tell us if the interpretation of the test results seems accurate, and see if you have any general advice.

    Huge thanks for helping people with their test results like this. It’s very kind and generous of you.

    @Joe,

    Yes, 170,000 sp/m3 is very high. However, let me put things in context. One square inch of mold can have over a million spores. So if the inlet to the sampler was placed very close to a mold colony, you could end up with really high numbers.

    The numbers indicate a problem, but alone they cannot tell us how extensive the problem is. Look for an honest remediation contractor who will start in the area that is known to have visible mold growth and work your way out from there. It will be hard to know how large the affected area is without opening up the floors so I would work from ground zero outward.

    Ian
    Chicago Mold Testing

    Ian, you site are very helpful! These nubmers are really confusing.

    We recently tested our condo for mold.

    Here were our results from the test.

    Count/CountM3/%

    Alternaria- 0/0/0 outside; 4/27/6 inside; 4/27/1 basement
    Aspergillius/Pen- 0/0/0 outside; 0/0/0 inside; 264/1800/68 basement
    Cladosporium- 0/0/0 outside; 12/80/19 inside; 52/370/14 basement
    Curvularia- 0/0/0 outside; 4/27/6 inside; 0/0/0 basement
    Epicoccum- 0/0/0 outside; 0/0/0 inside; 4/27/1 basement
    Ganoderma- 0/0/0 outside; 0/0/0 inside; 4/27/1 basement
    Other Ascospores- 0/0/0 outside; 0/0/0 inside; 4/27/1 basement
    Other Basidiospores- 0/0/ outside; 8/53/12 inside; 0/0/0 basement
    Pithomyces- 0/0/0 outside; 16/110/26 inside; 20/130/5 basement
    Rusts- 0/0/0 outside; 8/53/12 inside; 12/80/3 basement
    Smuts/Myxomycetes- 0/0/0 outside; 12/80/19 inside; 24/160/6 basement

    Could you pls comment on it and let us know if we need a treatment?

    Thank you so much for your help!!!!

    @Larry,

    Thank you for organizing your data. However, it looks like the total for the outdoor sample was zero. Is that correct? That would be highly unusual.

    The Aspergillus/Penicillium level in your basement looks high. Why is the basement damp? Seepage or a crack through the walls? Identify the moisture source and control it. That might mean a perimeter drainage system or something as simple as operating a dehumidifier in the basement.

    Ian
    Chicago Mold Inspections

    Ian,

    Thank you for providing this blog for us consumers. I own a condo in Miami. The unit above mine had a leak from her toilet that landed on my ceiling. I noticed it a month ago as a stain and reported it to management. Subsequently, the building turned off the air conditioning for repairs that lasted in my space several weeks while away. When I returned I noticed the ceiling turned black over a 1 sq foot area. I called maintenance and they cut open the ceiling and confirmed the mold. My neighbor had fixed the leak and the building had a air sample done. Without getting into too many specifics the mold count m3 was around 400 (collected was much smaller of course) in the bathroom area and 250 in two other areas of the home. The testing company said the concern. Was the counts for black mold of 4 collected and 37 m3 in bathroom. The count was zero elsewhere. They wanted 6k to remediate. I did it myself. The area that had mold was about 5 sq feet in my ceiling. I cut out the drywall and bleached the surrounding area for good measure. It took me about 2 hours. Should I suspect these counts to now decline and should I be worried that I could of contaminated the space further since I did it myself without much fanfare? Thanks

    @Wayne,

    The best approach was probably somewhere between a $6,000 scam and a DIY project. For others out there contemplating a Do it Yourself project, you should reference the EPA’s document, “Mold Remediation in Schoools and Commercial Buildings”. The sound advice would also work in a home.

    Ian

    You are doing such a wonderful thing in having this blog. I personally want to thank you for this information. I am trying to decipher my air quality test that I had done on property that I have a “pending contract” on to buy in SW Florida and time is of the essence. Could you please give me your thoughts the following results?

    Cladosporium (in): 7 raw / 280 per m3 / 13%
    (out): 0
    Penicillium/Asper: (in) 26 raw / 1,000 per m3 / 45%
    (out) 0
    Curvularia (in): 2 / 80 / 4%
    (out): 2 / 80 / <1
    Gandoderma (in): 9 / 360 / 16%
    (out): 26 / 1000 / 4 %
    Other Basidiospores (in) 11 / 440 / 20%
    (out): 600 / 24,000 /94%

    Note that during the inspection it was found that the water heater under the stairwell had visible mold on the wall behind it, but looked like it had been recently replaced. So it's possible that there was a bad water heater issue that has since been remedied, but my concern is the possible unseen mold issue that could be in the entire stairwell. Thank you in advance for any assistance you may be able to provide.

    @Tammy

    Just like in my response to Quentin, your Asp/Pen is elevated.

    It’s impossible to tell if the elevated Asp/Pen was from the visible mold found, or if is from a hidden mold issue.

    Ian
    Chicago Mold Tester

    I am concerned about the reading of the mold test in my daughters “rented” home. She is 8 months pregnant and they have had her kitchen ripped apart for over 2 weeks now — “treating” the mold.

    The inside reading is

    Aspergillus/Penicillium
    600X Mag. Counts 7
    Calculated counts./m3 93
    Approx. Calc. Percentage 87

    Is this dangerous?

    @Deb,

    Aspergillus/Penicillium at 93 spores per cubic meter is a level commonly found outdoors. Put another way, this doesn’t show a level indoors that you wouldn’t expect to see outdoors.

    Hopefully the test was conducted by someone other than the company doing the remediation work themselves. They have a conflict of interest and are unable to impartially evaluate their own work.

    Ian
    Chicago mold inspection

    Hi, I am facilities manager at my office building. The building is part of a large complex of buildings and some of the other buildings have had mosquito problems in the buildings. The county sent out someone to address this and she needed to look under our building. When I opened the access hatch which is in an employee bathroom I could smell a strong odor of mold and the underside of the wooden access hatch was covered with green mold. What would be the appropriate steps to take next? Is mold under a commercial/office type building a concern? Thank you

    @Chris,

    Mold is a concern no matter the type of indoor environment. I suggest you download a free copy of the EPA publication titled, “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings”. It will give you the appropriate steps to remediate the mold in an acceptable manner. Of course, don’t forget to address why the mold was there in the first place. Otherwise, you’ll end up with the same problem again in a few months.

    Ian
    Mold inspector Chicago

    Hi ian
    About two days before closing, there was a refrigerator leak at our new house, which leaked to the basement. We had an air mold test done, and the kitchen has very low levels, but the basement has 11,000 spores per meters cubed and a raw count of 286. This is after they placed two commercial dehumidifiers and fans in the basement. Should we still buy the home?

    @Lily,

    This is a classic problem… water damage restoration contractors focus on drying (which is a good thing) but they neglect to think bigger picture (regarding mold). There is a possibility that the elevated counts were just from the fans stirring up all the settled spores. You should do some detailed cleaning in the basement and as always make sure you address any moisture problems.

    Whether or not to purchase a home is a complex question. Those levels are very high but it can all be cleaned and removed. Good luck!

    Ian
    Chicago mold testing

    Hi Ian,

    Today I got my results back from a basement air and outdoor sample and wanted your feedback. Using TSP, Shock wave, a garden sprayer, a brush, dehumidifier, and air scrubber I cleaned by basement which was very dusty and muggy reducing the Pen/Asp group from:

    Indoor
    Raw/c Spores/cu.m %
    1,886 101,000 99,74

    Outdoor
    – – –

    With a post test of what you see below. Please let me know if these are safe levels for my family. I use the dehumidifier on a timer now @ 35%.

    Outdoor Raw/C, Count/m3, %

    Mycelial Fragments 5, 50, n/a
    Ascospores 61, 610 ,29
    Aspergillus/Penicillium 2, 20 <1
    Basidiospores 53, 530 25
    Cladosporium species 76, 760, 37

    Total 208 2080

    Indoor Raw/C,Count/m3, %

    Mycelial Fragments n/a, n/a –
    Ascospores 3, 30, 6
    Aspergillus/Penicillium 32, 320, 59
    Basidiospores 16, 160, 30
    Cladosporium species 1, 10, 2
    Ulocladium species 1, 10, 2

    Total 64 640

    @Quentin,

    Those numbers look a lot better. By keeping your basement dry and clean, I’m sure you’ll see the Aspergillus/Penicillium levels go down below 320 sp/m3 as time goes on.

    Ian
    Mold Specialists in Chicago

    Ian, I really appreciate your feedback.

    Is the current level of Aspergillus/Penicillium 32, 320, 59 considered safe without any additional precautionary measures of cleaning.

    *Excluding basic ongoing measures like a dehumidifier & keeping a clean dust free basement.

    Quentin

    @Quentin,

    It sounds like your concentration is 32 raw, 320 spores/m3, representing 59% of the total sample. If I’m reading your cryptic numbers correctly, these are slightly higher than what I normally see outdoors. However, sometimes I see Asp/Pen over 1,000 spores/m3 outdoors.

    Ian
    Mold Testing Chicago Suburbs

    Hi Ian,
    My husband and I bought a newly renovated colonial built in 1976. The previous owner gutted it and redid it. We had tons of inspections done and there were minor problems. Mold air tests can back very low and normal. Outside mold was very high. There was mold in crawl space which we had remediated and then encapsulated with a dehumidifier. On one side of the house, where the master bedroom is. There is a mildew smell.we were in this house for weeks and hours at a time before we purchased it but no smell ever! Then first night we move in, turn the ac on on that side and boom-mildew smell. We replaced the hvac on this side but couldn’t get to all ducts due to them being inside Sheetrock. We also installed air scrubbers in all hvac units. Had those ducts cleaned. But smell is still there? Underneath these 3 rooms is the basement that is sheet rocked and conditioned. We have had everyone in and are throwing our hands up, we have to sleep upstairs due to the smell. I am very sensitive to mold. Our mold people said if the air samples are fine then there’s no mold but there is still an awful smell. We have not had the walls looked at or holes in them yet to look for hidden mold.

    @Jammie,

    I would recommend keeping a log to see what makes the odor worse. Is it worse on a rainy day, worse on a hot day, worse with direct sunlight, worse in the afternoon, etc?

    Also, sniff at all the electrical outlets and let me know if one is any worse than the others. My first place would be to look at the basement.

    Ian
    Chicago Mold Services

    Hi Ian, Your site is incredibly helpful in navigating the mysterious world of mold. Thank you so much. We had a roof leak after a bad storm came through our area and part of the ceiling fell in our bedroom. We hired a company to do a mold inspection of the bedroom before just putting up new drywall in the ceiling. Can you help us interpret the results?

    spores/m3

    Ascorpores:
    130 (outside)
    221 (bedroom)

    Basidospores
    949 (outside)
    1420 (bedroom)

    Cladosporium
    221 (outside)
    195 (bedroom)

    TOTAL
    1400 (outside)
    1840 (bedroom)

    Thanks so much, Ian!

    @Mark,

    Ascospores and Basidiospores rarely grow indoors, so their presence just indicates air exchange with the outdoors which is totally normal. I don’t see anything concerning here.

    Ian
    Chicago Mold Expert

    Hi Ian

    I live in a 91 year old house in northern nj. We recently had central AC installed and the air handler was out of level causing the condensate to overflow the drain pan. The air handler is above my sons bedroom and we noticed water leaking thru his ceiling almost immediately, and the unit was leveled and the water issue was solved. I assumed the ceiling was plaster and would dry itself out.

    Fast forward 2 months (water issue was Mother’s Day,
    now it’s early July) and I began to remodel my sons bedroom by removing wallpaper and I noticed the ceiling had some water spots on it and was a bit spongy, and I discovered there was drywall screwed to the plaster ceiling, so I removed approx 1.5 sheets of drywall and found mold growing in between the sandwich of drywall and plaster (and btw none of my drywall take down was down under negative pressure nor was debris bagged upon taking it down the stairs and out of the house).

    This was all happening the day after a new baby was born and coming home the next day, so I had a mold test company come just to see what was up and here are the test results.

    insulation sample from joist bay in ceiling
    1060 raw count, 6574 m3, 98% (asp/pen like)
    Hyphal fragment: 283 raw, 1755 m3

    Attic air test
    130 raw, 867 m3, 94%

    Bedroom air test
    71 raw, 473 m3, 84%

    First floor air test
    117 raw, 780 m3, 91%

    Outdoor control
    1 raw, 7 m3, less than 1%

    All of above is aspergillus/penicillium like.

    I paid $2k for the testing, and remediation company quoted an additional $9k for remediation including air duct scrubbing and putting in new insulation and re dry walking the ceiling.

    Being that I removed the contaminated drywall, and I am suspecting the contractors insurance will fight the claim, and I will be calling my own insurance company tomorrow.

    Based on the numbers what are your thoughts? Scrub air and ducts to get levels normal only? Or also rip ceiling down from bedroom and remove insulation and treat wood framing and replace the ceiling?

    Thanks!

    Brian

    @Brian,

    If you paid $2,000 to a testing company, they should be providing you answers to all these questions. A platinum level price should carry with it platinum level service. Ask them and let me know what they recommend. They have eyes on the ground and would be much better suited with providing you with a remediation protocol.

    Ian
    Mold Check Chicago