Portland Home Mold Inspection, How to Test 2022

Mold is something we all contend with here in Portland, no matter where we live or the ages of our homes. Of course, mold occurs in varying degrees and can be more prevalent in some homes than others, especially if left unchecked and untreated. But the truth is, mold is everywhere. Microscopic mold spores travel through the air and because they love moisture, they thrive here in Portland.

One of your tasks as a homeowner is to keep mold at bay to prevent damage to your home and reduce health risks. In many cases, mold can be cleaned with a mild cleaning solution and cloth—for example on the grout in your shower. In other cases, mold can become pervasive enough to be considered a full on mold growth problem, requiring more extensive measures.

If this happens to you, don’t panic! There are ways to remedy the situation and maintain the integrity of your home. To know how to contend with a mold growth problem, it helps to understand what mold is and what to look for.

What We Know About Portland Mold

As we’ve said, mold is everywhere in Portland. Even when you can’t see it. While this may sound ominous, know that mold also has benefits. In nature, mold breaks down dead organic material—everything from plants to animals to insects. Think of it as nature’s built-in composter. Mold’s decomposition capabilities make it a valuable and needed facet of life. So, we don’t want to wipe it out completely. We couldn’t if we tried, anyway.

The most common interior molds are CladosporiumAspergillus, and Penicillium. Black mold or toxic black mold, Stachybotrys chartarum (or S. atra), can grow in high cellulose conditions with persistent moisture, like drywall, fiberboard, and water-damaged wallpaper.

Mold spores range in size, but most of them fall in the 1-20 micron range. Compare that to a grain of fine sand, which is about 125 microns. Because mold spores are so small and because they multiply and thrive in moist conditions with access to the smallest amount of oxygen, mold can grow virtually anywhere.

Older homes can have mold growth due to leaks, as well as bathroom and laundry room ventilation that gets directed into attic spaces. On the other hand, some well-insulated newer homes are so air tight they lack proper ventilation, which can promote mold growth. And of course, homes that flooded or have seen other kinds of water damage are also vulnerable to mold.

Now imagine damp interior areas like bathrooms, basements, and crawl spaces. Because of our climate, consider these spaces, especially basements and crawl spaces, perpetually damp. This means mold has a prime spot to grow all year long. This only amps up during the summer when temperatures rise and increases the chance for mold to multiply and thrive.

Mold in Your Portland Home Can Cause Health Problems

Due to both the size and pervasiveness of mold spores, it’s virtually impossible not to inhale and ingest them. Excessive exposure to mold spores can, in some individuals, cause allergic reactions and more.

Before you start to worry, though, know that the evil black mold mentioned above, said to be responsible for more serious health conditions, is not so common in Portland or throughout Oregon. While mold comes in all colors, black mold is truly black and has a slimy or fuzzy surface.

How to Know if You Have a Mold Growth Problem in Your Portland Home

There’s an easy way to know if you have a mold growth problem: do regular checks in prime areas. This means thoroughly inspecting your basement, if you have one, for visible mold. Be sure to look around and behind appliances, HVAC systems, and stored items, as well as drains and openings to the outdoors, like doors and windows.

Check around windows throughout your home, crawlspace openings, attics, laundry areas, and bathrooms, including under sinks. It’s also important to thoroughly check seldom-used closets and storage spaces where mold can grow without notice.

The reality is that a mold test will only confirm what you already know—if you can see an area with mold growth about ten square feet in size, you have a mold growth problem. No need for testing. This is backed up by both the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the EPA. If the area in your home smells musty, chances are you have a mold growth problem.

When to Test for Mold Growth in Your Portland Home

Homes can have hidden mold, which means you might have a mold growth problem in spaces not easily seen, like behind wallpaper or behind walls in your insulation. If you suspect this could be the case, especially after you’ve discovered a sneaky leak that went unnoticed for too long, you can take steps to find out.

  • Mold inspection—You can hire a professional contractor look into those hard-to-reach spaces and get advise about what to do if the problem is extensive enough. Note: Be sure to hire a contractor who specializes in mold remediation and repair.
  • Moisture testing—You can hire a professional home inspector to see if moisture is entering your home, from where, and if it’s sticking around in certain areas. This won’t find mold, but it will make you aware of spots where moisture accumulates.

What Mold Tests to Avoid in Portland

Not all products and services out there have your best interests in mind. As mentioned, both the OHA and EPA say testing won’t give you any new information. Here are a couple of options you might find that won’t really add to what you can already see.

  • Mold Analysis or Sampling—These kinds of tests won’t help you identify a mold growth problem. What they will do is identify what strains of mold you have. Not very useful! Especially because the EPA has no guidelines acceptable amounts of interior mold.
  • Air Testing Kits—You might see kits that claim to test for mold spores in the air. Remember: every home has mold spores. The airborne spores aren’t the problem. Excessive moisture is.

How to Clean up a Mold Problem in Your Portland Home—Especially Before You Sell

The good news is that cleaning up a mold growth problem isn’t complicated. If the affected area fits within the ten-square-foot range set by the EPA, it’s usually a DIY job. For areas larger than that, you’ll probably want to call a professional.

Believe it or not, the EPA recommends regular soap and hot water to clean up mold. If you’re working on a good-sized area, they also advise using protective gear, like goggles, gloves, and a mask such as the N-95. They don’t recommend using bleach. If you decide to go this route, be sure not to mix it with ammonia-based products, as this can create a toxic situation.

If mold has gotten ahold of fabrics and other materials like shower curtains, simply throw them into the washing machine. Larger, non-mobile materials, like carpets and big rugs, may need to be tossed, along with other materials like insulation.

How to Keep Mold Out of Your Portland Home

Preventing a mold growth problem is more about consistency and awareness than anything else. Once you develop a regular mold inspection routine, clean up any mold you find, and implement measures to keep it at bay, you should be able to live as close to a mold-free life as possible. Here are some steps you can take.

  • Clean and disinfect regularly
  • Repair water leaks and seepage
  • Run exhaust fans
  • Dry out wet items promptly
  • Routinely clean your HVAC system and ducts
  • Install double-pane windows

Get more information about how to prevent and clean up mold in your Portland home.

Ready to Sell Your Portland Home?

If you don’t have a mold growth problem or if you just took care of one and are ready to put your home on the market, get in touch with us. After working in the Portland metro area for 19 years, we know how to successfully list and sell homes in any market. We’d love to help you do the same. You can call our direct line at 503-714-1111 or chat with the bot on our site. Our top 1% seller’s team is ready to work with you!

July 13, 2022
AUTHOR

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

4% max to sell a home in Portland and SW Washington.
4.5% max to sell a home in Salem and Bend.
Over 2,000 homes sold.