How Can I Check for Mold in Ceiling — Good Questions Apartment Therapy

How Can I Check for Mold in Ceiling — Good Questions Apartment Therapy

Q: We recently got a leak in our ceiling around the chimney and have started smelling mold so we are working on getting a new roof. We will be hiring pros to fix our roof and remove the unused chimney above the roof line. Is there is any way for us to check the extent of water damage and mold spread before we have contractors come out to give us estimates?

We will talk to the contractors about the problems before accepting a bid, but I would prefer it not turn out to be more than we expected or than the contractor can handle in the middle of the job. We do not have an attic. We have a crawl space that follows above the hallway of our L-shaped house. All rooms have vaulted ceilings that follow the roof line and have no attic space above them.


You are probably going to have to open up the ceiling in a couple of rooms to check for the damage and mold. Water travels the path of least resistance—while the water is showing up around your chimney, it could be entering the house quite a few feet away. And even though the water showed up in your house just recently, it’s possible that the roof has been leaking for some time, and that there is a lot more water damage and mold than you might expect.

You should also consider calling in professional help to get rid of the mold. In fact, if this were my house, that would be my first step. Experienced professionals will know where to look to see the extent of the mold growth, which will probably follow the path of the water damage. And they will know the best way to eliminate the mold.

Mold clean up can get expensive pretty quickly. Most likely your ceiling will have to be opened up to get a bid.a company like servpro or servicemaster should be able to do it. But first call your insurance company. Chances are you will have up to $5000 in coverage for hidden mold in walls and ceilings.

Don’t use Servpro. I used to work for them. They drive up their prices. Then again, they’re franchised, so maybe it was just the Servpro I worked for that did it. But yes, you’ll want to get professional help. That stuff can make you really sick and it grows quickly. Getting an air-quality test from a professional would be the first step, and they can refer you to a remediation company from there (like a Servpro or Servicemaster).

yeah there are separate contractors just for mold. When we bought our house we had one check out the basement and he even just did a swab or air sample or something because it was concrete, so who knows, maybe a contractor won’t even need to do too much ceiling damage! Either way, if mold isn’t taken out all the way (not just bleached, bu spores removed) it will for sure keep growing, and it could be really dangerous to your health. i definitely encourage you to hire a mold contractor.

Your biggest issue is addressing the water leakage. Water leakage around a chimney is frequently due to failure of roof flashing which seals the joint between the roof and the perimeter of your chimney where it penetrates the roof. If this joint fails, water will enter the home and soak your chimney, roof structure, insulation, wiring, and adjacent ceilings and walls. Persistent water infiltration will quickly destroy the infrastructure of your home.

It is important that you act quickly to resolve this problem which is frankly far more important than the presence of mold. Mold issues will be addressed when sources of moisture are eliminated. Visible mold in the interior of your home can be eliminated by spraying affected areas with a 1:4 ratio bleach/water solution.

As for making a mold claim against your homeowner’s policy, most homeowner’s policies only cover mold where its presence has resulted from a covered disaster. Therefore, if your water leakage problems have resulted from flashing failure on a roof that is past its expected lifespan, resultant mold will not likely be covered. If the water leakage resulted from recent storm damage to the roof, then mold remediation and any other repairs to the roof and interior are likely covered by your policy.

Good Luck!

Denise, reputable companies will charge you a small fee to come out and do a mold test which is like a swab. If it is positive, it will come off the cost of the removal. Yes, insurance typically will cover it, and a good company will work with you on the cost if your deductible is high. check out Thanks!

There are handheld meters you could use to test air quality or moisture content in your wallboard, but there’s no way to assess the EXTENT of mold spread without opening up wallboard (which would expose you & your family to greater concentrations of mold) and doing a full inspection of your fireplace inside and out. Since you can smell the mold, it’s already a health hazard, it’s really better left to pros. You might consider getting a reliable home inspector in, to give you an idea of the likely repair square footage, before having contractors come in but since the contractor will be the one doing the work they’ll have the better idea in the end of what areas were impacted and need replacement. I’m dealing with a similar problem around my fireplace and hoping to get it resolved before the Winter rains. UGH.

How Can I Check for Mold in Ceiling — Good Questions Apartment Therapy

Whatever you do, do not call your insurance company. You can get dumped for mold issues, and then have to disclose the issue with a new insurer, and they can deny you because of mold! Just my 2 cents!

First, let me say that I feel your pain! My husband and I discovered that the previous owner of our home had done a very poor DIY job repairing a roof leak, which cost us of lots of trouble, time and money shortly after we purchased the home. This person did not disclose the fact that there had been a leak or the fact that it had caused mold, and our inspector didn’t catch it either. A neighbor told us about the previous roof damage a couple of days after we moved in, but we didn’t realize the roof leak was still an issue until a couple of months later.

If you have a way of getting to that area through the attic, then you’ll be able to check out the damage without tearing a hole in the ceiling. Otherwise, you’ll have to open up the ceiling to find out.

When searching for contractors to come take a look and provide an estimate, ask them what they charge for that first visit. Some may be free or reasonable, while others may be quite pricey. We found that contractors in our area charge a wide range of prices. The very best contractor we found was actually the least expensive, so don’t assume that you’ll get better service by paying more.

I’d hire a professional to assess exactly what needs to be done.

Unfortunately, some types of mortar can be a great home for mold. and I would hate for there to be mold in your walls! So, a professional would be able to assess exactly what needs to be done on every level.

Stop. Reputable companies do not come in and do swab tests or any testing (except for moisture). After you stop the water intrusion, then you replace or dry the materials and remove/treat any visible mold.

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