Superman can see through x-rays, but mold inspectors cannot. Without superpowers, your inspector will not be able to see into the wall cavities and look for mold growth. There are many ways to inspect the interior of walls cavities for mold growth. These include non-invasive methods as well as destructive ones.
Infrared cameras are not used for x-ray vision. They do not look for mold. An infrared camera detects very small temperature changes on the wall’s surface. When a material gets wet, water will evaporate from its surface. Evaporation is an exothermic process. This means that the surrounding heat gets absorbed and then released. The infrared camera image will show the area of evaporation as cooler. There are many other reasons for a wall’s surface appearing cooler. It is important to check the moisture meter to verify that it is damp. The key indicator for mold growth is moisture. Mold growth requires moisture to thrive on building materials. If you find moisture, it is likely that mold has already started growing on the material. An infrared camera detects temperature so a combination of an infrared and a moisture meter can be used to quickly assess a space for moisture. This will allow us to identify areas where mold might be growing in wall cavities. An extensive moisture analysis is essential for any mold inspection.
Borescopes and infrared cameras are useful tools for determining whether there are concerns in walls. However, they don’t directly check for mold. A laboratory sample is required to determine if mold is growing in a wall cavity. A wall-check sample is the most effective way to collect a sample from a wall cavity. A wall-check is an air sample taken directly from the wall cavity. After a location has been chosen, a small hole the size of a pencil is drilled into wall. To draw air from the cavity, an inner wall sampling attachment is placed inside the hole. This reduces the risk of damage and exposure by only drilling a small hole. Wall checks have some limitations. They only check a small portion of the wall cavity because studs or other obstructions can prevent airflow from the cavity. Proper site selection is important and luck is a must. It is easy to “overload” the sampling media with drywall debris and other debris. This makes it difficult for the laboratory analyze the samples.
Every mold problem is different, so an experienced inspector may need to use one or several of these methods in order to evaluate potential mold problems in enclosed spaces. Contact us if you have any concerns about mold growth in walls or other mold issues.