Mould inspection and testing
Does your home smell musty, earthy or mouldy, but you don’t see any mould? A hidden mould infestation could be the cause of the smell!
If you want to permanently remove mould damage, you must first find out why the mould infestation occurred in the first place.
What is a (hidden) mould infestation?
A mould infestation is the growth of mould with development of hyphae, mycelium, spore carriers and spores.
Only if the cause is known can mould be eliminated in the long term.
Treatment with anti-mould products is ineffective, because the mould usually makes itself noticeable again very quickly. This is basically not due to the quality of anti-mould products, but to the fact that they can only treat symptoms and not the cause.
Basically, there are only two possible causes for mould growth!
Either they are caused by leaks in/on the building structure or by a problematic temperature and humidity ratio (condensation damage).
However, one fact is indisputable: Nobody causes mould damage deliberately!
It is important that each case of damage requires an adapted examination, and not everything possible is inspected.
As a rule, there is no microbiological infestation without prior exposure of the affected material to moisture. At the beginning, the current or previous cause of damage should be determined by evaluating previous information, building moisture measurements or building physics investigations.
Without eliminating the cause of the moisture penetration, any treatment of the mould damage will only have temporary success.
A mould infestation usually differs from a mould contamination in that mycelium, spore carriers and spores are detected on the infested material during microscopic examination. This complete detection of infestation can be difficult if spore carriers and mycelium have grown into open-pored material surfaces and are difficult to analyse (e.g. with styrofoam insulation).
In order to be able to offer our customers a customized mould investigation, we divide the investigation into different modules that can be booked individually or as a whole package.
Do you suspect that (hidden) mould is the cause of strange odours in the home or health problems? Or have you already sighted mould and would like to know the cause of its growth?
Module 1: Preliminary Investigation
In a preliminary investigation, we first determine on the basis of indoor air parameters and building physics parameters whether mould growth is possible under the current circumstances or not or investigate the causes of a visible mould infestation.
For this purpose, the location (flat, office, etc.) is visually inspected for moisture and mould and the following parameters are measured in each room:
- Air temperature (room, outside air)
- Relative humidity (room, outside air)
- Surface temperature of the walls, especially at possible damaged areas
- Surface humidity of the walls, especially at possible damaged areas
The investigation usually takes a good 1h for up to 75 m² of building area.
After this preliminary examination, you will receive a verbal report of the measurement results and an explanation on site.
Module 1a: Optional written report
If you would like to receive the results in written form (pdf) with photos and measured values at the examination points, you can order a report in advance with the examination. In this case, the examination will take up to 3h for up to 75 m².
If the suspicion of a (hidden) mould infestation was confirmed by the preliminary examination or mould was discovered, the next module can be started.
Module 2: Determination of mould with surface samples
Tape samples (in the case of non-visible mould), bulk samples or swab samples (in the case of visible mould) are taken from the affected areas in order to have them tested for mould in a specialist laboratory afterwards.
Module 2a: Determination of mould with tape samples
For the tape samples, mould samples are taken with a transparent and adhesive plastic film. The tapes are stuck to the affected surfaces and pressed firmly. Spores, bacteria, mites, salt crystals, etc. remain stuck to the adhesive surface. The plastic film is then stuck onto a microscope slide and subsequently examined in the laboratory with a microscope. In the laboratory, the already dead as well as the still living (cultivable) spores and their components are detected.
This method will directly give insight in the presence of fungal growth.
This method can also be used to investigate whether it is a primary infestation or a contamination (absence of mycelium and hyphae)
Module 2b: Determination of mould with bulk samples
If mould infestation is openly visible, it can be examined immediately, i.e. material samples (e.g. pieces of wallpaper) can be taken and examined in a specialist laboratory.
Direct microscopy of visible fungal growth on building or industrial materials is widely used in indoor mycology. Many problematic fungi can be directly identified based by their morphological structures formed on the product. Furthermore, other materials such as mineral efflorescence crystals, termite excrements (faecal pellets), and accumulations of outdoor dust/soil may be rapidly distinguished.
Module 2c: Determination of mould with swab samples
In this method, a sample carrier with culture medium is pressed directly onto the surface to be examined or material from the surface is transferred to the culture medium with a cotton swab.
The samples are then cultivated and examined in the laboratory.
The measurement of cultivable fungi on the surface can be used to determine the types of fungi on the material.
Module 3: Determination of mould with air samples
Airborne spore sampling is used when hidden mould damage is suspected. In airborne mould collection, airborne spores are collected and cultivated according to a standardized procedure. The air spores are applied directly to culture media.
The results of the room air measurement are given as “colony-forming units” (CFU) per cubic metre of air (cfu/m³).
With the help of the measurement of cultivatable moulds in the room air, the types of moulds contained in the room air can be determined. These can also provide indications of moisture damage as well as the causes of damage. Furthermore, the room air can also be checked for indications of moulds that are relevant to health.
The measurement of the concentration of cultivable moulds in the indoor air is a snapshot, which is also influenced by the outdoor air concentration.
In order to determine the indoor contamination, samples of the outdoor air are also taken, because there are always mould spores in the air and only the comparison of the two samples can indicate a hidden mould infestation.