Mold Testing & Remediation

Some molds produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals

Mold is a common health hazard in many homes and commercial buildings. Improper ventilation, plumbing leaks, and other conditions allow rapid mold growth to occur. A regular source of moisture is all that is needed for harmful mold to occur due to indoor temperatures being suitable for many types of mold and other contaminants.

Mold remediation is the process of removing mold spores from surfaces and in the air and ensuring that the moisture source contributing to the mold growth is addressed so that the mold does not come back.  Mold remediation results in higher quality air.

If you think mold levels might be higher indoors than the mold levels that naturally occur outdoors, but you cannot see any visible mold growth, a mold inspection from Sky Blue Restorations might be in order. We will take samples, determine if you have a mold issue, and identify any water leaks or moisture sources that may be contributing to mold growth.

How can Sky Blue Restorations help?

With decades of experience dealing with black mold contamination, Sky Blues Restorations services residential, commercial and industrial clients, and provides the following benefits:

  • A thorough inspection of your home, business, or any other structure
  • We identify the type of mold and create a safe barrier to prohibit cross-contamination
  • Removal of mold
  • Structural drying and dehumidication
  • HVAC cleaning when necessary
  • Decontamination
  • Disposal – clean up services
  • Final clearance testing
  • Reconstruction – if necessary

We are on call 24/7/365, contact us at (949) 422-3419, toll free at (800) 973-0019, via email at, or use our contact form.

Mold Facts

Mold Remediation
Indications that you may have a mold problem:

If you have a mold problem, you will most likely be able to smell it.  Any musty or earthy odor is probably an indication that mold is growing somewhere in the building.  Occasionally, you will see discolored smudges and/or blotches that look like mold and sometimes you may see actually mold.

In some cases, indoor mold growth may not be obvious. It is possible that mold may be growing on hidden surfaces, such as the backside of dry wall, wallpaper, or paneling, the top of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and pads, etc. Possible locations of hidden mold can include pipe chases and utility tunnels (with leaking or condensing pipes), walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), condensate drain pans inside air handling units, porous thermal or acoustic liners inside ductwork, or roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation).

Some building materials, such as dry wall with vinyl wallpaper over it or wood paneling, may act as vapor barriers, trapping moisture underneath their surfaces and thereby providing a moist environment where mold can grow. You may suspect hidden mold if a building smells moldy, but you cannot see the source, or if you know there has been water damage and building occupants are reporting health problems. Investigating hidden mold problems may be difficult and will require caution when the investigation involves disturbing potential sites of mold growth.

For example, removal of wallpaper can lead to a massive release of spores from mold growing on the underside of the paper. If you discover hidden mold, you should revise your remediation plan to account for the total area affected by mold growth.

You should be concerned about the growth of mold if your home has had:

  • a flood
  • a sewer back-up
  • an overflowing toilet
  • leaking pipes
  • a leaking roof
  • leaking windows
  • condensation on windows
  • malfunctioning appliances
  • humidifiers
  • any other serious water-related problems.

Some of these situations can result in the growth of bacteria, which also can cause musty odors and health problems.

Once materials become wet, mold can begin to grow within 24 to 48 hours. If your home experiences a water-related problem, clean and dry any wet or damp areas as soon as you find them. If you live in a rental property, immediately report water problems to your landlord.

The earlier you can detect the growth of mold in your home, the better a chance you have to control it. Early detection and treatment are very important. If you smell a musty odor in your house, start looking for the source immediately and remove it as soon as you find it. Prevention and early detection may save you from paying much greater cleanup and repair expenses later on. If you own your home, damage from mold and the cost of removing mold might not be covered by your homeowner insurance. (Read your policy or call your insurance agent to find out).

Mold needs the following conditions before it can grow in your home:

  1. Mold spores
  2. A food source
  3. Darkness
  4. Warmth
  5. Oxygen
  6. Moisture
  7. Time (24 -48 hours)

Moisture is really the cause of a mold problem because all the other conditions always exist within every structure. Moisture is the only condition that can be controlled.

Moisture intrusion can occur from a variety of sources and can have many causes.  Common moisture problems include:

  • Leaking roofs
  • Leaking or condensing water pipes, especially pipes inside wall cavities or pipe chases
  • Leaking fire-protection sprinkler systems
  • Landscaping
  • Gutters and down spouts that direct water into or under a building
  • High humidity  – over 60% relative humidity
  • Combustion appliances such as gas clothes dryers vented into a garage or an attic, etc.
  • Backing up of sewers and drains
  • Flooding
  • Humidifiers
  • Mud or ice dams
  • Damp basement or crawl spaces
  • Constant plumbing leaks or broken pipes
  • Houseplants
  • Steam from cooking
  • Shower/bath or indoor drying lines
  • Appliances vented indoors
  • Combustion appliances

A mold inspector is certified and trained to identify the source of the water intrusion in order to propose solutions. While the inspector may not always identify the exact location of the intrusion, the goal of the inspection is to determine the cause.  For example, this may involve determining that water is leaking in through a cold joint in the basement foundation wall.  Recognizing that water in entering through the cold joint rather than a leaking pipe is critical information for the client.

When a mold spore comes into contact with a moist nutrient source and humidity conditions are right it will begin to propagate.   This growth will appear as a circular spot.  As it grows it will form what is called a mycelium, which is made up of vegetative filaments of the mold called hyphae.

The hyphae will branch out to form a mat and at the same time, similar to a plant, penetrate down into the substrate of the surface of the material it’s on.  Eventually microscopic spores will form at the end of the hyphae. These spores along with a variety of chemicals (produced as a byproduct of the digestion of the nutrient source) are released into the air.

Mold is a very simple life form that exists in two stages.  In ideal conditions mold can complete its growth process in as little as 24-48 hours.  The growth stage is referred to as the mycelial stage.  Once spores have been developed, the mold can enter the second stage of its life called the dormant stage.  Mold can remain in this stage for a very long time.

Each colony of mold will reproduce and form millions of new spores thus continuing the process.  You”ll find mold in many different shapes, sizes and colors.  These variations are dependent upon the species of mold, the nutrient source and the conditions under which it formed.

Moisture is the key ingredient necessary for mold to grow.  Remember, mold spores are everywhere and unlike other plant forms they do not need light to grow.  This is why you find mold growing in dark damp environments. Little light and insufficient airflow is the perfect environment for mold to flourish.  Places like inside wall cavities, floors and ceilings, attics, basements or crawl spaces, showers, closets and cabinets are where you will typically find indoor mold.

Cross contamination occurs when one mold infested area spreads mold to a previously mold free or uncontaminated area.

Mold cross contamination is usually made possible by one or more of the following methods:

  1. Airborne mold spores are extremely light in weight and thus easily carried throughout a home, office or any other type of building by HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning), air movement, fans, mold laden breezes coming into windows and doors and ordinary room and house air flows.
  2. Mold spread by direct colony growth and expansion.  if mold spores or existing mold colony infestation have a water source such as high humidity, a roof leak or a slow water leak inside a wall, ceiling or floor, the mold  infestation can spread rapidly from the origin to adjacent, ever-expanding areas – such as growing and expanding throughout and INSIDE OR OUTSIDE entire walls, ceilings and floors.  A small mold occupation, if supplied by adequate exposure, can infect and occupy huge areas in just a week!
  3. Transportation of mold spores or mold colony growth by being carried by clothing, skin and hair of humans  and pets, personal possessions, stored food and any other physical movement that can carry mold spores or mold growth to new locations.  It is very common that families who leave a mold polluted residence can cross contaminate their new location by moving their mold laden clothing, pets and personal possessions,  such as upholstered furniture there.
  4. Improperly done mold removal and remediation procedures can expose previously uncontaminated areas of a home or building to airborne mold levels that are thousands of times greater than the previous mold levels in the formerly uncontaminated areas.
Relative humidity (RH) and condensation affect buildings in several ways.  In heating climates, such as the Pacific Northwest, condensation is regularly observed on windows, skylights and basement walls.  This occurs when the warm, moist interior air comes in contact with the colder exterior temperatures.  The point where this occurs is referred to as the first condensing surface.

The first condensing surface controls the moisture behavior of that particular room because it sets or limits the amount of absolute humidity that can exist.  Windows are usually the coldest surfaces in a room, therefore the place where you”re most likely to find condensation.

Relative humidity levels should be kept well under 60% at 70F within the home/building.  Structural changes and mechanical dehumidification may be necessary to maintain these levels.  It is important to note that although the relative humidity of a given area may not be excessively high, the RH near the first condensing surface could be at saturation levels.

The observation of condensation within your home or building should steer your investigation into several different areas:

  • How often condensation is observed within the home/building?
  • Is the house adequately insulated?
  • Are there unheated areas, such as a basement or closet?
  • Do bathrooms and kitchens have adequate ventilation via windows and fans?
  • Is there sufficient ventilation in the attic? (Attics are susceptible to condensation and should be carefully observed for surface moisture.)
  • Is the heater turned down at night thereby increasing the relative humidity?

The problems of mold and mildew can be as extensive in cooling climates as in heating climates.  A common example can be found in rooms where conditioned air blows against the interior surface of an exterior wall.  Poor duct design, diffuser location or diffuser performance issues can create a cold spot at the interior finish surfaces and when outdoor air comes in contact with the cavity side of the cooled interior surface, a mold problem can occur within the wall cavity.  This condition is more likely in rooms decorated with low maintenance interior finishes, like vinyl wallpaper, that can trap moisture between interior finish and gypsum board.

Also, when interior finishes are coupled with cold spots and exterior moisture, mold growth can be rampant.

Common areas of elevated surface moisture include:

  • Exterior walls, especially corners
  • Areas where furniture is in direct contact with exterior walls, limiting airflow
  • Closets adjacent to exterior walls
  • Single pane or older style double pane windows. (Metal frame windows typically have increased likelihood of condensation)
  • Roof sheathing; look for sufficient ventilation in the attic area
  • Bathroom or kitchen ceilings where there is improper or unused ventilation
  • Wall cavities near the A/C unit.
Myth #1: Only messy or filthy houses have mold problems.

Mold spores are so minuscule that more than 250,000 can fit on the head of a pin. Millions of these spores travel through the air everyday and can enter almost any environment in seconds.

Mold spores tend to congregate in moisture-rich environments. Moisture from water damage such as floods and leaks can get inside ceilings, walls, carpets and other household staples. This means that even the cleanest house on the block can be a breeding ground for toxic mold.

Myth #2: There is only one type of black mold, and it’s very bad.

In actuality, there are a lot of molds that look black. The type of black mold that made the news years ago, associated with a lot of ill health effects, was called Stachybotrys. However, there are many other molds that look black, and are fairly common and generally not of concern.

Myth #3: Only black molds are bad. Other types shouldn”t be worried about.

A lot of people aren”t even aware that mold can be white, or orange, or blue, for instance. The shape, size and color of mold are dependent upon the species of mold, the nutrient source and the conditions under which it formed.  The color has absolutely no bearing on whether it is dangerous or not. There are some white molds that grow on walls and other surfaces that can be just as bad as some harmful black molds.

Myth #4: Bleach removes mold.

Bleach is generally not recommended as a fungicide (mold killer). It works by dousing the mold in toxic levels of a chemical. The problem is twofold: not only are humans just as susceptible to bleach”s damaging properties, but the bleach is generally a water-based solution. In the long run, this often means that water penetrates the surface, giving moisture to the roots of the mold, which happily begins to grow again. In the case of small patches of mold, ordinary household detergent will suffice. It is important to make sure that the area dries quickly (ideally within 24-48 hours) so that any small bits (too small to see with the naked eye) of mold left over don”t get the chance to start growing again.

However, just removing the mold without fixing the water problem will usually result in the mold coming back. Also, mold can grow behind walls in addition to just on them, so it is important to determine whether you”ve only dealt with a portion of the mold, or the whole thing.

Myth #5: I can just paint over the mold to seal it up.

Actually, mold can eat the paint. Many people attempt to paint over mold only to discover that in a few months the mold has either poked its way through the paint, or the paint has started peeling off. The mold really has to be removed before painting can be done, even if you”re using “mold-resistant” paint.

Myth #6: Mold and mildew are totally different things.

Mildew is mold. It”s a word that is used generally to refer to a few specific types of molds, but it”s still all mold.

Myth #7: Once a house has been treated for mold contamination, it is impossible to maintain its value. 

The difference between a home that loses value because of mold contamination and one that doesn”t depends on the remediation approach.

Mold spores are airborne particles. While they may congregate on moist surfaces, the particles in the air remain there if they”re not treated. Any remediation approach that fails to decontaminate an entire structure simply fails altogether.  If an effective and conclusive remediation plan is implemented, as well as proper moisture maintenance is employed post-remediation, you – and everyone else concerned – can breath easy because your home’s indoor air quality is clean and free of toxic mold.

Since the energy crisis of the 1970”s, “energy efficient” constuction techniques have contributed greatly to mold problems by reducing fresh air exchange and diminishing a building”s ability to shed excess moisture.

The problems are caused by:

  • Thermal insulation
  • Tight building enclosures
  • Recirculated forced air heating and cooling
  • the elimination of chimneys

Thermal insulation reduces the drying potential of a building enclosure.  It limits the flow of heat and air through building assemblies, diminishing their ability to dry if/when they get wet from interior or exterior sources.  This problem has nothing to do with climate.

“Tight” buildings have led to increased moisture that can result in mold and mildew.  Some suggest that buildings build in the 1990”s were nearly twice as tight as those constructed in the 1950”s.  While buildings were getting less airflow efficient, new chemical compounds were being introduced to interior air.  Low air change rates began increasing hte potential for mold, mildew and indoor pollution from the new chemical compunds, materials and products.

Recirculated foced air heating and cooling within a tight building have let to health, safety, durability and operating cost issues.

Chimneys acted like exhaust fans that extracted large quantities of air from the conditioned space, resulting in frequent air changes and dilution of interior pollutants.  Their elimination has added to air quality problems.

These “improvements” were meant to conserve energy while making homes more comfortable.  Instead, they”ve contributed to structural deterioration, insurance problems and comfort, health and safety concerns.

Construction materials have also changed in recent years.  They have shifted from substances that discourage mold or bacteria to materials that invite problems.

Builders have gone from plaster on cedar lath (with a lime coat that was to oalkaline for mold and bacteria) to drywall, which holds moisture.  Pipes have gove from iron to copper to plastic – which is more likely to leak.  Outer walls and shower stalls may leak into unventilated cul-de-sac wall spaces.

Adding to the problem – today”s air conditioning ducts are poorly insulated and depend nearly exclusively on ducted air.

As mold develops on a surface, it produces enzymes to digest orgainc materials, such as wallboard, wood, carpet backing, paper and personal items, etc.  Some are especially fond of cellulose materials like wood, wallboard and ceiling tiles; these molds can cause health and structural problems.

These properties require professional mold remediation in order to be brought back to normal fungal ecology.

Remediation involves:

  • Reversing conditions that favor fungai growth
  • Correcting defects in construction and services
  • Reducing or isolating available nutrients
  • Monitoring the building to prevent conditions that favor fungal growth
If there is a moisture problem in your home or building, then there most probably is a mold problem.  If there are areas in your home or building that indicate water damage, then moisture is present and possible mold growth.

When looking for water damage pay attention to the following indications:

Concrete Flooring:

Vapor transmission in concrete slabs is the leading cause of flooring material failure.  The same vapor that causes a failure in floor coverings can be the source of microbe promoting moisture.  Vapor naturally transmits from the ground, through the slab, and into the building envelope by a difference in vapor pressure.

Poorly installed vapor barriers, imporperly poured slabs and stress cracks from settling and geological movement can all contribute to excessive vapor transmission.  Potential indicators of excessive concrete slab vapor transmission include:

  • Discoloration or bubbles in sheet vinyl flooring
  • Dark lines and curling in vinyl compostion tile
  • Dampness under boxes and chair pads
  • Carpet that was directly glued to slab peels back easily
  • The slab is a dark gray under the flooring
  • The slab has no vapor barrier
  • Tests and inspection of underground pipes show them to be in poor condition

Other visual indications of water damage that may be found around your home:

  • Discoloration and bulges on drywall or plaster
  • Peeling wallpaper
  • Loose and/or crumbly plaster
  • Deteriorating and crumbling mortar on masontry interior walls
  • Solid wood paneling will show signs of bulging, loose sections, stains and delaminating of layers
  • Discoloration and/or buckling of ceiling tiles
  • Condensation on windows and/or skylights
  • Malfunctioning windows and/or doors
  • Threshold seals on doors are not functioning as designed
  • Cracked grout between tiles
  • Crumbling tiles
  • Discoloration and curling of vinyl tiles
  • Hardwood floors will buckle and the finish will be discolored
  • Carpet stains
  • Obvious wetness in the carpets
  • Cracked caulking

These are the most prevalent visual signs that you may have water damage, however, hidden water damage can only be found behind walls and under floors and in ceilings using various moisture detection equipment such as infrared technology and/or moisture meters and borescopes.

Whether you have an annoying clogged drain, water, mold, fire or wind damage, Sky Blue Restorations can handle all your restoration, cleaning, and maintenance needs!

We are family owned and operated, located in Mission Viejo, Orange County. We have earned a reputation of honesty, integrity and trust. Our goal is to make the process of restoring and/or enhancing your work or living environment as fast as possible in an efficient, economic manner. We utilize the latest in diagnostic and cleaning equipment with a professional and caring attitude. All estimates are written and presented in an honest fashion and when we earn your business, you can count on us to follow through until you are fully satisfied with our service. Read more.

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Sky Blue Restorations

Corporate Information:

(949) 422-3419
(800) 973-0019

15500 Rockfield St., Suite 100B
Irvine, CA 92610