Mold: Overview

What are molds?

Mold is microscopic organisms, presented virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Molds are fungi and are needed to break down dead material and recycle nutrients in the environment. For molds to grow and reproduce, they need only a food source - any organic material, such as leaves, wood, paper, or dirt and moisture. Because molds grow by digesting the organic materials, they gradually destroy whatever they grow on. Sometimes, new mold grows on old mold colonies. Mold growth on surfaces can often be seen in the form of discoloration, frequently green, gray, brown or black mold but also white and other colors. Mold release countless tiny, lightweight spores, which travel through the air.

How am I exposed to indoor molds?

Everyone is exposed to some mold on a daily basis without evident harm. It is common to find mold spores in the air inside homes, and most of the airborne spores found indoors come from outdoors sources. Mold spores primarily cause health problems when they are present. Large numbers of people inhale many of them. Air testing can help. This occurs primarily when there is active mold growth within home, office or school where people live and work. People can also be exposed to mold by touching contaminated materials and by eating contaminated foods.

Can Mold become a problem in my home?

Mold will grow and multiply whenever conditions are right –sufficient moisture is available and organic materials are present. Be on the lookout in your home for common sources of indoor moisture that may lead to mold problems:

  • Flooding
  • Humidity
  • Leaky roofs
  • Plumbing Leaks
  • Damp basement or crawl spaces
  • Steam from shower or cooking
  • Humidifiers
  • Wet clothes drying indoors
  • Clothes dryers exhausting indoors
For more information see:
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) document for mold: here
Center for Disease Control (CDC) mold facts: here

Mold Evaluation in the Attic


Attic mold is extremely common in our Northern climate; Mold growth is generally directly attributable to 5 basic causes.

  1. Lack of adequate ventilation or improper ventilation
  2. Existing, or past roof, or roof flashing leaks.
  3. Improperly exhausted bathroom fans, and or, dryer vents.
  4. Ice damming as a result of inadequate insulation.
  5. Failure to install enough "Ice Shield Membrane along the eaves.

By far the most common cause of all attic molds is improper ventilation.

Why the attic and how?

For starters, in the summertime most attics do NOT have optimal conditions for Mold growth. This is because the daytime temperature of the attic is far too warm for the mold to effectively grow and the humidity levels inside the attic are typically too low to allow mold growth. Most molds will only grow between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Some molds that belong to a special class of mold (the ones usually affecting northern climate attics) called the Chrysophile molds will grow in temperatures as low as the 20’s. Cladosporium is a black mold that we commonly find growing on damp attic ceiling sheathing. Another common attic mold is Aspergillus. It’s usually found growing in poorly ventilated attics on the ceiling joists.

  • We look for any indication of moisture intrusion or previous water damage.
  • Check the ventilation. On common issue is insulation blocking airflow to the soffit vents.
  • Inspect the condition of the insulation, If staining or any other indication of moisture intrusion is observed, we use a moisture meter to determine whether a hidden leak is still active.

Mold Evaluation in the Basement


Life Safety Services completes a thorough evaluation of the lower area of the home. There are many sources of moisture found in the basement; any water problem in the basement usually takes a long time to dry out. This is because the basement gets no sunlight, very little ventilation and is often humid. To improve conditions we:

  1. Locate and fix all sources of mold-causing water intrusion such as water damage from flooding, sump pump backup, plumbing leaks, poor drainage, blocked air-conditioning condensation drain lines, high humidity in your basement, and high indoor humidity [e.g., above 50 to 60%].
  2. Inspect and test for mold in basement (indoors). Outside testing should be done as a baseline. Find and locate all toxic mold infestations (visible and hidden) in the entire home or building by thorough, all-around mold inspection and mold testing (with mold laboratory analysis and mold species identification of collected mold samples).

The biggest issue in most basements is Condensation. High humidity plus the often cold temperatures in the basement produces a lot of condensation. Condensation collects on cold metal pipes, cold concrete basement floors and on block walls (even if there is insulation) on walls.

If the Basement has finished areas we use of a moisture meter on walls and ceilings to search for hidden mold growth. Other areas we inspect:

  • Foundation Cracks
  • Window wells for rain or snow melt
  • Poor grading around a foundation
  • Hydrostatic pressure cracks from a high water table
  • Water seeping through block walls
  • Clogged or cracked gutters
  • Clogged or unextended downspouts
  • Clogged drain tile

Mold Remediation: A 3 step approach

  • Step 1 - Clean

    Remove any water-damaged and mold contaminated materials that cannot be salvaged such as carpeting, furniture and wallboard. Thoroughly dry all materials to be left in place by exposing them to circulated dry air. Follow with a thorough cleaning and removal of all contaminants.

  • Step 2 - Sanitizer Application

    Sanitize the affected porous and non-porous surfaces with an approved Disinfectant/Sanitizer to clean, deodorize and remove any residual microbial contaminants. The sanitizer should remain on the surface as long as the product specification indicates to penetrate the surface.

  • Step 3- Coat /Encapsulate

    If applicable, Coat the surface with an industry approved protective coating to prevent reoccurrence. Ventilate well for proper drying. We use negative air machines or air scrubbers until dry or odors are reduced to acceptable levels.

Life Safety Services follows all IICRC S520-2008 guidelines for mold Inspection and Remediation

If you are looking for a quote, you can request one here, or give NY Life Safety Services a call at 585-202-0178