How To Tell If There Is Mold In Wall Insulation

Among the most worrisome tasks confronting property owners and facilities and maintenance coordinators: How to tell if there is mold in wall insulation.Men inspecting an exposed attic

Mold is more than just a sign of weakened or compromised wall insulation. It also poses health and safety risks to employees and customers who come in contact with it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold.”

Mold grows in moist environments. There are ways to prevent mold from growing — but how can we detect mold in places that are normally hidden from view, such as insulation?

Mold Detection

One main problem with detecting mold is that it often is invisible to the naked eye. It sometimes takes a trained professional to find it and root it out.

For those of us who aren’t experts in mold detection, it sometimes comes down to using one of our good ol’-fashioned senses: smell.

Hopefully, your office, warehouse, or facility schedules regular inspections. If not, and if mold has been allowed to spread, then the first indication of a mold problem is usually going to be a musty smell.

Your Nose Knows

HomeGuides at SFGate.com puts it this way: “A musty, earthy smell, like dirt and rotting leaves, is a telltale sign of mold’s presence.”

Once you’ve identified that there is something going on behind the scenes, you’ll want to verify that it’s mold. A professional can help pinpoint the precise origin of the odor and tell you whether it’s mold and whether it’s in your attic or on your window sills — even up in the chimney!

If an expert’s inspection determines that mold has infiltrated your wall insulation, then you’ll likely need to replace the affected insulation.

Spray-On Foam & Coatings

May we suggest spray-foam insulation? Unlike many other types of insulation, foam insulation helps prevent mold growth. Why? Because — again, unlike other types of insulation — spray foam is a super-effective moisture barrier.

And we all know how much mold loves moisture.

Spray foam insulation helps limit humidity and moisture, which can lead to mold and mildew and generally poor indoor air quality. This, in turn, helps prevent water leaking into occupied spaces and water damage to floors and equipment,

Spray foam insulation doesn’t retain water and can last three or four times as long as fiberglass insulation. In fact, spray foam insulation can provide an effective barrier for 80 years or more!

In addition to its moisture-and-mold-prevention magic, spray foam insulation also reduces the risk of rust and corrosion. It can also prevent condensed water from dripping on your expensive electrical equipment or from becoming standing water.

Long story short: Insulating with spray foam is a form of mold remediation because it reduces moisture buildup; prevents mold from taking up residence in your insulation; improves air quality (no mold spores floating around); reduces humidity; prevents condensation.

If you smell a musty odor you should hire a professional to test for mold, find mold, determine the type of mold (black mold, for example), and remove the mold. Good news: Replacing your old insulation with spray foam insulation takes care of a lot of this in one fell swoop.

Questions? Contact Spray-On Foam & Coatings today!

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