At DryHero, we field a lot of questions from Lincoln Nebraska residents regarding the necessity of attic mold remediation. This presents a challenge for the mold remediator because the answer is not so simple. Without extensive attic mold testing, the true extent of the contamination is difficult to determine. In addition, testing for mold in other areas of the home may turn up elevated mold levels that the property owner was not even aware of.
We are cautious not to speculate about what impact attic mold could have on aerosol mold levels in the living areas of the home without the benefit of formal testing. Testing for airborne mold would be the only way to determine the exact levels of mold, but the cost may be prohibitive to some property owners. However, high levels of surface mold in the attic can only have a negative impact on the long-term air quality of the home.
Structures pressurize with normal living and changes in outside atmospheric conditions. These pressure differentials between the interior and exterior of the home result in air infiltration and exfiltration. This will push and pull air between various volumes within the home, including the attic. An attic is not airtight or completely isolated from the living areas. Bathroom ventilation, ceiling mounted electrical fixtures, framing voids and mechanical runs, just to name a few, all allow for the transfer of air between the attic and living areas (in both directions).
Regarding the terms “active” and “inactive” mold, they really have little relevance regarding the decision to remediate. When structural materials have moisture contents in excess of 16%, eventually mold will grow. When the moisture content falls below 16%, the mold growth suspends. However, regardless of moisture content, mold is never benign and the attic mold spores are always present to pose a potential respiratory risk to building occupants. Furthermore, unlike a clean attic, a contaminated attic with moisture contents below the 16% threshold will readily support mold amplification as soon as conditions allow.
In my experience, the presence of attic mold contamination in a home is a liability. It can only 1) eventually drift into the main living/occupied areas of the home, 2) allow for quick mold amplification with the addition of any additional moisture and 3) potentially impact the future sale of the property. Therefore, the tangible and intangible costs of not remediating attic mold could far outweigh the monetary cost of simply taking care of the problem.