Mold Testing – Difference between DIY method and Hiring a professional.


More and more property owners are having testing done for mold and asbestos, there are many methods and costs associated with these tests. Some tests out their, though cost effective usually don’t tell you what you need to know or tell you what’s going on. There are a lot of DIY test kits out there for mold but there are many differences between the type of results and interpretation.

You can get a test kit from most home improvement stores that is a petri dish style or swab, these will tell you whether you have mold or not and some may offer a limited selection of what type. These tests range from $15 – $60 depending on type, the problem with these tests are their limits of analysis and lack of accuracy.

The petri dish test will tell you if you have mold by placing a dish in a suspected area of your property and leaving it for a period of time, if mold starts to grow you have mold, simple right? The problem is the dish creates an environment that supports mold growth, mold is in the air always whether indoors or outdoors. You can’t completely remove mold from your home unless you live in a bubble so basically all the petri dish test does is take mold that is already in the air makes it visible in growth. This test doesn’t tell you what type, quantity or comparison to the exterior conditions on that day.

Many people we have talked to that say they have mold because of this type of test usually don’t have an issue after professional testing is done.

The swab and solution type test again takes a sample of suspected growth from an area then adds a solution to it to identify if its mold and in some cases what type. This is a little better than the petri dish test but lets look at it logically. If you have some form of mold growth in your home you don”t need to know what it is you need to know how to remove it, more importantly you need to know if it has been disturbed and cross contaminated other areas. Most mold remediation professionals when contacted will come look at mold growth problem to offer a solution and cost, the only time they will recommend testing is if there is a concern for cross contamination in areas outside the affected one.

Both these types of tests also don’t offer you any support in interpretation of the results.

Professional testing usually ranges in price depending on the situation, we will talk about the general testing not getting into required engineer or hygienist types. Most remediation contractors also perform mold testing among other types, these tests usually range from $125 and up depending on how many samples you require. The minimum amount of samples required for air is two, One sample needs to be done inside and one outside as a control. the reason for this is to determine if indoor environment is elevated or non-elevated when compared to the exterior. Bulk/Swab/Tape lift samples are usually done in conjunction with air to determine if the mold growth on a material has gone air born, this is shown when the bulk/swab/tape sample has the same type of mold on it as the air sample.

These tests  not only determine if there is mold present in elevated levels but also helps determine a scope of work for remediation, what the possible source of the problem is and what types/concentration of molds are found. These results will also tell if the mold is in a dormant or in a fruiting (growth) state.

Professional testing also gives you access to a remediation contractors knowledge of mold and someone to interpret the lab report. Ultimately the choice is the your’s but the minimal extra costs is outweighed by the amount of information gained from using a professional.


If you have questions on Mold, Asbestos, UFFI or other types of testing please contact us anytime our inspectors would be happy to help.

800 349 7106