This is a common question I’m getting all the time. Mostly because I’m talking about it a lot on Instagram because it is a big part of my health story. And also because people want to know and it isn’t an easily found answer. And let’s not forget about mold newly found toxic partner… gram negative bacteria. It is good to test for that too.
Testing your house for mold isn’t necessarily a simple answer, although I wish it was. But before we begin, I’m going to say in order to test your home and remediate any issues is that you take this step-by-step. Step by step and taking the next right step is how you test your home for mold, wait for the results, remediate, and retest.
Testing your house for mold and doing the next right steps can be a big task, and I don’t recommend doing it alone. You can start the process on your own. It is so much better to have somebody that knows what is going on in order to help. It will save you stress and money in the long run.
Now, don’t go looking up the nearest mold remediator on an internet search in your area. Because well over 80 to 90% of the remediation companies or so called mold specialist don’t actually know true and proper mold remediation techniques. And can leave your house with a problem even after they said they took care of it.
It can be hard to test and remediate a mold issue while working with the biology of your home and biology of your own body. A well trained expert can help!
I’m a firm believer that if you have mold or bacteria in your house it only a matter of time before you get sick or symptomatic. And each of us have different toxic burdens and genetics that affect our ability to detoxify mold and biotoxins. This is a big deal. So big that I will never move into a house without testing it for mold and bacteria again. It is just that imperative for my own health. And it is my recommendation for you too!
Here’s how you start the process of testing your home.
1. Use your eyes
I would recommend going around your entire house, all of the nooks and crannies, looking at everything. Look underneath all of the sinks, next to the showers, basement, sump pump, utility room, concrete basement floors and walls, ceilings, sheetrock and look for signs of water damage.
Our eyes can show us a lot of things and see if there was a water leak. Especially if the house hasn’t always been under your ownership the whole time. Just dig in and look everywhere.
I know that homeowners need to disclose big water leaks when you purchase a home. Most people don’t think that a water leak of a little bit of water coming out of the dishwasher or sink leaking is even a big deal. So it may not be disclosed.
But it can be.
You also want to look for signs of trim that is warped, signs of drywall that have been wet and that doesn’t looks smooth. Use a flashlight to help you see issues. A flashlight will illuminate so many issues when the lights are turned off.
Look underneath your sinks if the wood has any signs of water damage look at the sheet rock around baths and showers. Look at rafters or ceiling joists for mold growth. Look for standing water in the basements or weeping concrete or moisture coming up from the cracks. Crawlspaces are notorious for mold and bacteria issues.
If you have a carpeted basement or carpet that’s on the other side of a bathroom that you suspect a water leak you can pull up the carpet and take a peek at the carpet and the carpet tacks. When you lift up a corner of the carpet, the carpet tacks and the carpet strips should look new. They should not be warped or water damaged and the tacks should still be shiny silver. If the tacks are rusty you know that there was either water or condensation which can create mold underneath the carpet or on the drywall.
2. Test your home
There are a lot of opinions and controversy around what tests are the best for testing your house for mold. All of the tests are going to have benefits and drawbacks. But based on my experience with all sorts of testing and the ease of getting a test done, my favorite is a dust test from Envirobiomics. I recommend the #7 or #8 tests. #7 is bacteria + HERTSMI test. And #8 is bacteria + ERMI test.
The dust in our home, believe it or not, contains a lot of stuff. And if your house has mold or bacteria then your dust will contain mold spores. Keeping our house clean and dusted, as much as I don’t like to say it because dusting is a lot of work, can keep the allergenic and toxic burden down in your home.
Testing the dust can show if you have spores, what kind, and how many in your house. Air samples are not very accurate and I don’t recommend them. The little petri dishes to test for mold that you get at the home-improvement stores for $12 do not work. Don’t even buy them.
Being able to test air quality inside of a cavity of your home or to actually do a sample of what is growing on drywall or wood is also good. But you can’t do those yourself. And if you don’t have a skill and knowledgeable remediator in your area, then the option is off the table.
I think Envirobiomics does a fantastic job, the price is affordable for testing, and the results easy to access and fairly easy to interpret.
3. Consult with an expert
After you do the dust test on your house, You are going to want to ask for help at this point. Once you get your results, if your results are all negative or really low, then you’re probably fine and don’t need outside consults.
Our house had an extremely low endotoxin number and the HERTSMI score of 0. I was comfortable with our house being as mold free as you can get and free of endotoxins so I didn’t need to consult with anybody on those two tests.
But we did have too high of levels of actinomyces. That is where I personally needed help. My practitioner I’m working with knew enough to help us figure out that it was almost positively the same pump and she knew enough about remediation techniques for actinomyces. But if we would’ve had mold in the house, I wouldn’t have known where to start and we needed to have consulted somebody.
There are people who now do virtual walk throughs and consulting for your homes.
4. Remediate if necessary
I could write seven books all about remediation. Well, I would not actually write the seven books, but you could find seven books worth of content on house remediation. It’s a lot.
With mold, you cannot kill it with bleach, bleach actually makes it worse. Don’t use it! You can’t just paint Killz paint over the top of it. You can’t cover it up with some more sheet rock or other material. You have to completely remove the source and completely clean the house, clean the ducts, and make sure the whole house has been top to bottom cleaned and the hepa filter air purifiers.
This is point in searching for mold where you can feel like your house is out to get you, your house is no longer a home because it’s making you sick, and it feels overwhelming and very expensive. But take heart, it will get done and you will have a clean house again!
I have been in a moldy scenario with a rental home that had mold that we actually moved out 3 months after moving in. They were very kind and let us get out of the lease because they were not going to remediate it 100% the way that we want it. That meant that we would get sick living there.
So we have moved, and another house (our current house) we had remediated from actinomycetes bacteria.
Oh yea, in 2007 I lived in a super moldy apartment I didn’t find until 18 months later and chose to move out of there too because they wouldn’t do a thing to remediate it. They literally did NOTHING, and were the worst people to work with.
Sometimes the answer is moving, and sometimes the answers is remediation. It all depends on your house and how sensitive your body is. And only you, your functional practitioner, and a qualified mold inspector can decide that. I can’t tell you what to do.
My note of encouragement is if you feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath, realize that yes, it takes a while, and you only can go step-by-step. It will get done! Try not to make decisions in fear or live in a constant state of fear. It’s our natural go-to emotion to feel fearful and to feel overwhelmed by this. But that will do nothing for your health. So relax as much as you can and put your eye on the prize of a clean and healthy home.
5. Test your body and get healing
The next phase is testing your body and to start healing from mold illness if that is what you have. You need to heal the biotoxin cascade of hormone imbalance that occurs with living in mold. And like I said, we are all different.
I can’t give you advice on how to heal or protocols to do. But I can give you some resources.
- Wellness Plus by Dr. Jess: I recommend everyone join this. She teaches you how to be your own best doctor. And gives a wealth of info. As a doctor myself, I learn from Dr. Jess. You can do this alone or with the help of a practitioner of your own.
- Surviving Mold: Dr. Shoemaker is the pioneer in mold illness and CIRS. It is worth reading more about his work and information.
- VCS Test: This is a visual contrast test. You take this to see if biotoxins and mold could be affecting you. If you fail the test it is 90% accurate in saying mold and other biotoxins could be affecting you. 10% of people with biotoxin illness will pass the test (I always have passed it), but it is quite accurate.
CIRS is chronic inflammatory response syndrome. It is the name put on mold and biotoxin illness and is well researched in the literature. It is diagnosed with a HLA-DR genes. They are genes that don’t allow you to get rid of biotoxins in your body and they recirculate. 20-25% of the population has these genes. About 1 in 4 people will respond very poorly living in mold.
If you want to learn more about CIRS, you can read more about this and see if it sounds like you.
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