It takes a bit of time, but it’s a very simple procedure. An indoor air quality test involves sampling a known amount of air by using a small, quiet pump to draw air through a medium that traps certain contaminants. Then we mail the sample to a third-party, independent, and certified laboratory where they can use special analytical equipment and an algorithm to extrapolate what the contaminant levels are overall. When we arrive at the testing site, we interview the homeowner or other occupants to determine what their particular concerns are, if any, so that we can establish the best testing location(s) and the type of testing medium to best serve their needs. From there, we simply set up the air pump and collect the sample. It takes 2.5-3.5 hours to collect a single sample. We do have two pumps, so we can collect two samples at the same time, if needed. Formaldehyde testing uses a different collection media, so if someone wants both VOC and formaldehyde sampling, we would collect them separately. In general, a single indoor air quality sample of any type (radon, mold, VOC) reliably tests approximately 1,000-1,200 square feet of space as long as it is on the same level of the building and reasonably unobstructed (not overly compartmentalized). For one example, let’s say we set up a test on a 500 square foot upper level with a couple of bedrooms. Even though the upper level is only 500 square feet, the sample would not be representative of the air quality on the 500 square foot level below it. That would require a separate test sample.
The location that we place the air pump for sampling, again, can depend on several factors that may include where occupants are experiencing symptoms, where chemicals and cosmetics are being stored, how much time the occupants typically spend in different areas, where pets may be urinating, and what building or finishing materials and furniture have recently been installed (laminate flooring, carpet, cabinetry, sofas, mattresses, etc.). The accuracy of these tests can be incredibly high. Any variance inaccuracy depends on how much you want to spend on the analysis. To explain, Residential home inspector Gaithersburg MD I want you to imagine you are about to take a digital photo, and you must decide how much storage space to consume; what the minimum resolution of the photo should be to achieve the results you desire while consuming the least amount of space. When the lab receives a sample, they use something called chromatography to measure exactly what is in the air sample. If they take a low-resolution “photo” of the sample, you will get the overall levels of the various categories of volatile organic chemicals (home healthcare products, fragrances, building products, hazardous environmental pollutants, etc.).
So, you get an overall picture of the total VOCs and the breakdown of where they may originate. If the lab takes a higher-resolution “photo,” they can tell you exactly what chemicals are present in the sample, and with the higher resolution, they have the ability to “zoom in” to get even more detail if desired later. In other words, they can give you the levels of each individual chemical. They cannot do this if the original analysis was done at a lower resolution. Analyzing Quality home inspection Maryland the full sample in detail can be expensive because there can be hundreds of individual chemicals in a single sample. If someone is having symptoms, and they’re not sure what they’re from, the indoor air quality test would be a great option. The symptoms could be caused by a chemical or mold, and the test results will tell us what to investigate further. It can’t tell us what type of mold or where it is – it’ll just tell us if there’s active indoor mold growth and whether it’s elevated or normal based on accepted industry standards. It is important to understand that one person may have symptoms while no one else does. If everyone is having symptoms, it’s best to avoid the building and get it tested. If anyone who goes inside feels sick, it indicates a higher level of concern, and you’ll want to figure out the issue as soon as possible.