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Tips for DIY Mould Testing Kits

  • Posted by: Alex Wilkie

What is the first step in a situation where you suspect mould is involved? You are probably wondering how to test for mould in your house or workspace, and the whole concept can be a bit confusing.

IECL offers hassle-free services from inspection to removal, but if you’re inclined to understand the situation yourself, this guide will break down each step for you. DIY mould testing targets surface and air sampling, and our expert tips will make things easy.

As with many things, DIY mould testing kits are as reliable as the user who conducts the test. Accurate results can easily be obtained by following good practices.

Best practices

  1. Know the question you are trying to answer. If you are asking if there is mould present either in the air or on a surface, almost always the answer will be yes. However, if the question is more on the lines of ‘are there harmful levels of mould in the air?’ or ‘is this just a stain or actually mould?’ the testing is very useful.
  2. Prepare before you take samples. For air sampling, it is important to close the room being sampled for at least several hours before sampling. This is because if the room is left open before or during sampling you will only be sampling the outside air, with a little of whatever was actually in the room mixed in.  For surface sampling, either pick a location that is representative of the area or in a location that will answer the question you are trying to ask.
  3. Keep good records. Photograph the area and photograph where the sample was taken. Make sure to label everything and fill out chain of custody forms correctly.

 

Where to test

If there is a particular room in the property that makes you feel unwell – start there. If a room is maintained very well and vacuumed and cleaned often consider taking a sample in a hard to reach location – such as on top of a door or window trim. If there is a suspicious stain or a specific question you are trying to answer take a sample directly on it.

Air samples are very variable and open to interpretation – which is why an external reference sample is very important. In order to know if the mould growing in an area is abnormal – something to compare it to is vital. When taking an outside air sample make sure it is upwind of the residence, not too close to the building, trees or bushes, hold the sampler away from yourself and not on the ground. Also make sure you take all air samples at roughly the same time – as even morning compared to afternoon can vary by a large amount in mould composition in certain circumstances. Despite these restrictions, air sampling can be very useful in determining if mould in a room is a problem or if that problem is affecting other rooms.

 

How to take a surface sample

Preparation: wear gloves during sampling.

**Note: When sampling surfaces you should still be able to see through the slide after taking the sample. If you cannot, the laboratory may not be able to read the slide at all. The image below shows 3 slides taken well, and one which is unreadable.

Mould Slides

  1. Photograph test location
  2. Label slide and remove from case
  3. Remove sticker
  4. Gentle press on surface – no grinding or scraping slide – careful as the adhesive can remove paint
  5. Put back in case (make sure case is closed properly)
  6. Fill out chain of custody form – or at the very least label with:
    1. Name of sampler
    2. Date of sample
    3. Location of sample
    4. Contact information.

 

How to take an air sample

Preparation: Close doors and windows to testing areas the night before. Determine where to take a sample upwind of the premises which is not too near to trees/bushes or other obstructions.

**Note: when sampling hold the sampler away from yourself, or place it on a clean surface off the floor.

  1. Photograph test location
  2. Label cassette
  3. Remove both stickers
    1. Keep stickers on sampler to replace later
  4. Place cassette on pump with the rectangle side facing out
  5. Press start
  6. Once 5 minutes of sampling are finished replace stickers on both sides of cassette
  7. Fill out chain of custody form – or at the very least label with:
    1. Name of sampler
    2. Date of sample
    3. Location of sample
    4. Contact information.

 

Know your limitations

If you follow the above practices and recommendations you should be able to take good air and surface sample. However, if you have larger mould issues, a mould inspection and testing done by a professional may be a better option. This sort of mould inspection will often also provide recommendations on how to fix the issues causing the mould and safe removal of the contamination.

Please feel free to get in touch with us through our website, or call us at 1300 032 004.