We have seen it many times. An owner or family goes away for a period of time, whether a few days or a few weeks. They return to their home to find that their home smells like mold. There is no apparent source of water, but the smell is noticeable, and the owner has just concerns regarding the cause.
Mold growth requires an event to have occurred. This event may be major and obvious, or something that requires a thorough exam to determine what exactly happened. If the event is substantial., like a broken pipe, hot water heater, or a/c condensate leak, the inspection is pretty quick, and the answer definitive. There may be noticeable water damage and with a dwelling closed up for a period of time, the smell of the resulting mold growth can become concentrated and very noticeable.
There are other times, however, when there is no obvious sign of water damage, but yet there is a definite smell of mold. In this case, a more thorough investigation might be required. A moisture meter is typically used to moisture map the building, or infared photography can be used to locate moist, or cooler areas of building components. All this is done to find hidden moisture and mold. Sometimes a leak under a kitchen cabinet might allow water to remain trapped under the cabinets or tile. Sometimes a leak from the outside results in moisture that is contained behind baseboards. Wood or tile flooring can conceal water, and wet carpet from a slab leak might not be obvious. Leaks in A/C ducts could cause excess condensation in ductwork and leak into attic spaces. The investigator is looking for wet material, and the source of the water that caused it to get wet. In each of these scenarios, you may never see the water, but you smell the mold.
A qualified restoration company might well find the cause of the moldy smell, but sometimes they are stumped. In this case, you might call a “Mold Assessor”. If a mold assessor is called in for the investigation, he will be looking for all of the above once again, and then probably take air samples from the suspect room or rooms, as well as an air sample from outside the dwelling for a comparative analysis. He might also take a sample from a part of the dwelling that does not have that moldy smell. The object of this inspection would be to determine if you have an elevated airborne mold condition in your home.
If an undetermined water leak is suspected, you could call a “leak detection” specialist. Some plumbing companies have the equipment and expertise to do this, but many plumbers use specialists themselves. A very small leak in a pipe is often difficult to find. Sometimes the pipes need to be charged with compressed nitrogen. When this gas leaks through a break in a pipe, the noise is detectible with the use of sound monitoring equipment. Leaks that are difficult to find are often detected using this method.
If there is even a small amount of water intrusion into a property, and if the relative humidity goes up, and exceeds 65%, and if the temperature inside the building becomes elevated, there is the potential that a serious mold condition could develop. In such a situation, mold growth could be observed growing on anything organic in the building. Once these conditions occur, the whole property is usually treated for the mold contamination, and many content and porous items may be deemed unsalvageable.
Mold can remain dormant in a building for many years, and remain inactive until it becomes wet again. If it remains dry and dormant, it will not smell. The smell of mold is the result of the off gassing of the mold, or fungi, digesting whatever it attacks.
The State of Florida now regulates the mold inspection and remediation industry. It is important to know that if you hire a “Mold Assessor” or a “Mold Remediator” to perform services, you should verify their licensing credentials.
Restoration Xperts, http://www.restorationxperts.net offers its “Mold Remediation” services to property owners in Broward and Palm Beach counties in Florida. For quick help with your emergency 24/7 its crews are available to respond to water damage. .