Mold Exposed: How to Identify and Handle Mold in Your Home

by Brandon J. Faust

In this interview, Jeremy Slate speaks with Brandon Faust, the founder of Mold Solutions, about the importance of identifying and handling mold in your home. Brandon shares his personal experience with mold and how it affected his son’s health, leading him to become passionate about helping others with mold issues.

He explains the different types of mold and the health conditions they can cause, emphasizing the need to find the source of moisture to prevent mold from recurring. Brandon also discusses the process of identifying mold in a home, including using tools like the InstaScope to detect mold in real-time.

He emphasizes the importance of hiring a mold professional who is knowledgeable and focused on indoor air quality. If you suspect mold in your home, this interview provides valuable insights and tips on how to handle the issue effectively.

Please enjoy.

Meet the Experts

Brandon J Faust, Founder of Mold Solutions, Clearwater, FL

Brandon Faust, NORMI, IICRC

Mold Solutions

Brandon Faust is an indoor air quality expert, certified mold remediator, and the founder of Mold Solutions. He is certified by the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), and the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).

Jeremy Ryan Slate

Command Your Brand Media

Jeremy Ryan Slate is the host of the Create Your Own Life Podcast, which studies the highest performers in the world. He studied literature at Oxford University, as well as holding a Master’s in Early Roman Empire Propaganda from Seton Hall University. His podcast was named the #1 Podcast to Listen To by INC Magazine in 2019, as well as Top 40 Under 40 by Podcast Magazine in 2022.

How to Identify and Handle Mold in Your Home

Jeremy Slate:

What is up everybody? Jeremy here and guys, I’m very excited for today’s conversation because today’s guest, gosh, maybe like six months ago was a huge help to me as I was struggling with these like recurring sinus infections I could not explain.

And he goes, “Sounds like you got mold in your house,” and we did a lot of work and a lot of looking around and man did we find it, and man was it worse than I could have ever expected.

Our Guest today is Brandon Faust and he runs a really great company called Mold Solutions.

So we’re going to really dive into his story and a lot of what you need to know.

So Brandon thanks for hanging out with me today man.

Brandon Faust:

Absolutely. I’m excited to talk to you and I love the feedback in regards to what’s happened with you and your family. I mean that’s a really big deal and I’m glad that I can help. I’m super happy to hear that

Slate:

Well you’ve been definitely been a big help flow to us man like to realize that that was a situation and like I could actually do something about it I think that’s the most overwhelming thing to most people that maybe they have a mold issue in their house or and they know about it or they don’t know about it, and they really feel like they’re at effect of something they can’t handle and I think that’s what’s really interesting about what you do.

So I want to find out first and foremost like how did you get into this whole world and how did you become so interested in mold?


Faust:

You know it definitely was not something that I was expecting to become passionate about that’s for sure. It was not something that I had been planning you know as a little kid when I grow up I’m going to be a mold guy that’s not how it ended up going.

But what really took place was more that a buddy of mine knew that I had an entrepreneurial spirit and that I had done sales, marketing, head hunting, public relations, and he asked me to come on board with the company that he was going to be taking over.

And, initially, I actually turned him down because I was so not interested in being a mold guy. And as a matter of fact, my wife, when we first moved to Florida was like, “We should get a mold test,” and I’m like, “No I’m not spending the $400 on a mold test. We’re just not doing that.”

So it was a definite transition, let’s put it that way

He finally says, “Okay look, there’s equity involved if you come on board,” and at that point it struck my interest. I said okay well, hey, this could be good, you know. But I’m gonna at least learn something, that’s for sure.

So I started training, getting my certification, my mold training.

And then probably three months later four months later my son at two months old was waking up every morning struggling to breathe like almost like as if he was having an asthma attack and it was consistent it to a point where after the third day my wife was like, “That’s it, I’m taking him to the emergency room,” you know, there’s something wrong with him.

And I said okay, hold that thought. Like we can do that, but let me just check to make sure it’s not environmental.

From everything I’m learning, that could happen.

So I went into different areas of the home and started looking behind stuff because I’d been going into people’s houses and doing these deep dives and looking in all these cabinets and under vanities and [using] borescopes, and all kinds of stuff as I was looking.

So I decided just to apply it to my own house because it was a problem.

So sure enough, I moved this one shelving system we had just purchased it a few months earlier when my wife was getting ready for my son… and it was full of mold. Two feet of mold both ways

So it was a big deal. It was a lot of mold. And it was a mold called Aspergillus penicillium and I was shocked to see it.

But it was right behind the wall where there was a pinhole leak from the shower and my mom had come to visit too, because of the baby and she was obviously showering every day, but it was leaking every day.

And that water was wicking up the shelving system and it was in the same room that the air handler was located so it was taking wow this moldy, toxic air and distributing it all throughout the house.

And for him, at a month old, his immune system is super weak and developing, and it was wreaking havoc on his little body.

But I was so happy because once we found it, we did the cleanup. We ended up removing the contaminated material, fixing the leak, doing the micro cleaning, and then sanitizing the house using a non-toxic product.

And my wife and son were back in the house three hours later.

And the next day he woke up, and he woke up an hour later than usual with no trouble breathing at all and it never came back.

So that was a definite wow that was an aha moment for me. It was like holy cow because I thought of what would have happened if we would have taken him to the ER and to the docs and they would have been going around and around in circles trying to figure out what was wrong with him and they wouldn’t have gotten it.

Because it was environmental. So they would have been looking at something wrong with him but there was nothing wrong with him. It was the home that he was living in so that was a huge realization for me.

And it changed the way that I did my walkthroughs and my free environmental consultations, because I realized we were actually dealing with people’s health. That we were dealing with their well-being. So that was a game changer.


Slate:

You know what’s interesting Brandon is in a lot of my own research that was the one of the major things that was surprising to me is to see a lot of times when people are going to the doctor like and I’m talking about like traditional medicine not like you know functional or homeopathic or anything like that but in people are misdiagnosed with all sorts of crazy and wild things that actually don’t end up handling because they’re not treating mold and I guess I’m curious what sort of health conditions do you see coming up when people actually have mold exposure in their home and maybe they don’t realize it?


Faust:

I mean there’s the instantaneous sort of acute symptoms of like headaches, joint aches, respiratory issues, coughing, sneezing, and rashes.

But there can be stuff that’s like even mental depression, you know, this sort of dark cloud that hangs over your head, these types of things.

But then there’s the more long-term stuff where there’s neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s, you know people that look like they have MS and it’s not. You know obviously I’m not a doctor, that’s way above my pay grade.

But in terms of the patients from the doctors that get sent our way these are the types of things that we’re hearing I mean I’ve had I’ve had clients that are literally debilitated cannot operate.

They cannot function. They’re knocked out.

And then we do what we do on their home and then they recover and it’s like wow!

You know I had a friend of mine, a lady by the name of Kirsty who does Disaster Recovery type work you know and she went to Turkey and she got hit with some toxicity there, came home and wasn’t feeling great.

And little did she know that her home was a toxic plant.

She was having so much trouble in her own home and she didn’t know why so after four months of like itchy eyes, puffy face, you know, swelling in the morning, congestion, fatigue she finally you know was looking at I guess my Facebook post or something like that—were friends on Facebook—and she says you got to come to my house I think I might have an issue.

So I get in there and I start searching around and I first thing I do is I find out that she has a filter in her AC unit that she didn’t know about and hadn’t changed for like a year [oh my gosh] and that was it was there’s a term for it called bio nesting where that mold actually starts building and it’s like a it’s a concentration because there’s so much dust so much moisture that it’s just like Club Med for mold it’s loving that spot.

So there was that and we ended up fixing pulling that out replacing it obviously but then deep deep dive her coils had mold on her blower wheel had mold on it her the Box above her air handler had mold in it her Ducks had mold in it.

So we did a full duct handling from my with my company Real Duct Cleaning, which goes hand in hand with the indoor air quality business of course and then we did a whole home sanitization and clean up you know HEPA vac, damp wipe of her house.

And literally within 24 hours she said her symptoms went from a 10 to a one.

And she hadn’t been out of the house for months and now she just got back from Maui where she was doing work in Hawaii because of the fires, and then yesterday or the day before I talked to her, she was actually up in Tallahassee helping hurricane victims.

And to me that’s the thing that is the most rewarding. It’s talking to people like her, talking to people like you—you’re fit, you’re healthy you know what’s going on with your body, you were kind of explaining to me these mysterious sort of illnesses that were reoccurring, you weren’t shaking it and I’m like dude, I’m pretty certain you got mold right.

And to be able to help on that, that’s what gets me up every morning. That’s the thing that matters to me.


Slate:

Yeah and I think that’s really important man because it’s it is interesting like I have a lot of these conversations and I feel like the people that are really lit up are the ones that really feel like they’re they’re helping people with what they do right it’s not just a job it’s not just a career. Like it’s it’s something you were meant to do and I think that’s really, really important and I but I guess looking at it one of the things I feel like is I guess might make it difficult for people to handle the situation is, they don’t quite know like, well what does it look like to like find mold in my house?

Like what does that process look like right they might have the idea that it’s like you know going to the mechanic where you know they they tell me to fix all these things in their car and they don’t really know so they have this uncertainty so I guess when you’re when you’re looking at it what does that process look like when you’re actually looking through a home like where are you looking how are you looking like what does that look like.


Faust:

Absolutely and I think that you nailed it on the head I think there’s a lot of skepticism in this industry and some of these industries that you just don’t know kind of what you’re going to get and you know is the person honest are they taking advantage of me or what’s what’s going on right so and I think that mold is one of those industries that could happen and it’s really important to anybody in our industry has a moral compass and they have Scruples and they actually are doing it coming from the right place.

Now I can’t obviously vouch for every person in the industry and I can’t, you know, change their ways necessarily but I can definitely lead by example or set an example.

But to answer your question, “What does the process look like?” Well first thing is you know you could get an inspector to come in and take air samples but the only problem with that is that the air samples are about 70 percent inaccurate which is horrible right that’s like failing in almost everything.

But it’s not it’s not good right. 70% is not a good rate.

So then there’s another sample that is accurate almost 100% of the time which is the direct sample but that requires you finding what looks to be mold and then testing it.

So then there’s other tests. Like there’s the Instascope which is actually something I’m really excited about because you can it’s almost like the difference between analog film and digital film where it’s testing it in

real time and giving you your answers right there on the spot and letting you know is this a hot spot and then you can start honing in.

Because a lot of times the mold is hiding and you know you don’t want to tear down a home to find the mold and find out that it was just in one spot right so the Instascope is a great tool but there’s not a lot of people that have it because they’re expensive they’re about 40 Grand you know to for that instrument and 

Slate: Can it see through walls and stuff like that like?


I can absolutely guarantee you that is not a fact. I’ve been in homes that were immaculate, there was no smell, and there was black mold behind those walls.

Brandon Faust, Founder, MoldSolutions

Faust:

It’s not able to do that it’s basically picking up readings in terms of particles that are 2.5 microns or 10 microns you know in real time so it can tell you you’ll see when it spikes or you’ll get around a nest because usually if you get around a nest you would have higher level of on that on the instascope you know so.

But the most important thing is knowing what it looks like and knowing where to look because you can find most of the situations with that alone.

Unfortunately olfactory [smell sense] is not always reliable like you’re not always going to smell mold and I think that’s one of the myths about mold is it, “Oh if you don’t have a musty smell or if there’s not some sort of mold smell then it’s not there.”

I can absolutely guarantee you that is not a fact. I’ve been in homes that were immaculate, there was no smell, and there was black mold behind those walls.

Slate:

Well you know what’s interesting about that too Brandon I know like for me I had a confusion on a lot of what I thought was dust in my home was actually mold when we looked at it and I and I and I think there I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there that have had that confusion as well I’m not saying all dust is bold but what I’m saying is like there’s a lot of there’s mold types that look very similar to dust.


Faust:

That’s absolutely true so one of the molds, Cladosporium it starts growing on the vents a lot of people will mistake it as just dirt or Grime no it’s actually mold and the other one like the the white mold Aspergillus some people do think yeah that’s dust no it’s actually mold so as a as a trained professional you start getting used to the actual patterns in the colors and what it looks like you know it starts as a little Dot and then it becomes like it starts to spread out as a film and then as it gets stronger the roots start growing longer and deeper and then it starts becoming fuzzy.

But not all mold it’s fuzzy. In most cases, I’m not seeing fuzzy mold. In most cases.

I’m actually seeing more like a film starting to grow on surfaces that if you look at that color compared to the original you know material or substrate, there’s a difference and then you test it and it actually is microbial, it’s actually mold, starting to spread its roots across that that surface you know

So that to me is the most important thing having somebody who’s experienced and knows what to look for and where to look you know in your cabinets and behind paintings behind pictures under beds the crawl space um you know the attic can be an issue the AC unit especially in humid climates like Florida that’s a huge thing um.

Even just kind of poking behind the paneling behind the cabinet and then the drywall and looking in those zones, or popping a kick plate and looking underneath the actual vanity.

So it’s knowing all these spots and knowing and having the discernment that, “Hey that’s not a mud spec. That’s actually a mold called Chaetomium, let’s get it tested to verify.”

Because for me I’m not [a microbiologist]. 

The only person that in Florida that’s legally or officially allowed to say oh hey that’s mold is the lab so anytime I go into a home and I’m doing a free environmental consultation I have to put the disclaimer there, look anything I’m letting you know this is based on my opinion we an get it verified by an independent inspector get it sampled to the lab to confirm this is actually what this is.

But until then, it’s just suspect growth.


Slate:

That’s that’s super interesting too because I think I think it’s also to me as a consumer that would make me feel a little bit more certain then you know that like there’s at least a lab involved in that way that that would make me feel better about the process the thing I’m curious about is you talked a little bit about you know like under cabinets kick plates like things like that I’m curious what are places that maybe people aren’t considering that are actually really big places harboring mold in your home that maybe you’re like hey that’s not it like for me I mentioned it was it was a closet in my guest room that happened to be behind like the bathroom was on the other side of the wall and there was a leak in the Wall, so what are places that we’re not considering that are actually harboring a lot of mold in our house?

Faust:

Well one of the one of the ones that I’ve seen is kind of a shocking visual when you actually see it is um you have like laminate flooring that gets placed over a concrete slab and sometimes people want like sound soundproofing or they want the floor to be a little bit softer so they put down almost like this cloth that has like a plastic kind of covering where it acts as a vapor barrier and when I’ve seen that I’ve seen homes that every room had a massive colony of Chaetomium which is a highly toxic mole 

[Slate: Oh no, I just put that underneath the hardwood floor I put in my father-in-law’s house. Oh no.]


Faust:

So if it’s if it’s like you gotta think with this right you have a concrete slab concrete is porous right it does actually have capillary reaction it’s only about four to six inches so if there’s water if it’s not dry underneath there it’s gonna soak water up and then if you have stuff that’s going to trap that moisture right especially if it is organic and material like you know it’s almost like a fabric sort of underlayment and then you put wood on top of it you’ve set up a situation where there can really be a tremendous amount of growth you know so that’s you know sorry to hear that about you know.

And look, obviously we don’t know that particular house or that particular home. But definitely in Florida, it’s something that I’ve seen in multiple homes.

So the other place is of course the attic the crawl space is a major spot that gets missed because it tends to be cooler because it’s being covered it’s like dark and cool but then that hot humid air will move in right because hot moves to cool just like wet will move to dry so that hot moist air moves in and then it goes up hot heat rises but then you have the home being cooled on the inside so that air hits a cooler surface and it starts to have condensation.

And before you know it you can have a microbial mess a moldy mess underneath your home where you know you have that subfloor maybe two feet space and about 50 percent of the air you breathe comes from your crawl space so that’s another spot that a lot of people miss and you actually have to climatize that space and make sure that it is dry as possible in order to prevent you clean it first and then you do the whole climatization and put in a dehumidifier and fans to keep it dry so that’s another spot.


Slate:

So let me ask you this then, Brandon. Like, okay, so we’ve identified it. We found it. There’s different types. What do we do about it?

Because I think the terrifying thing as well is, you see these pictures on the internet of people that have their drywall that’s been ripped down and there’s sledge hammers and all these different things and I’m like….

So what do we do to actually handle this man?


Faust:

Well and look, the thing that you just said there’s many types there’s actually about 100,000 different types of molds and there’s only, gosh, 50,000 in the U.S only but on a daily basis probably about 10 to 15 pretty consistently and there might be different species.

But the thing that most people don’t realize is there’s wet molds and then there’s dry molds and the most important aspect of a mold handling is actually determining the source because until you do that okay there’s a very good chance that that mold is going to come back.

Because where there’s water…

[Slate: That’s a good point, too, because that’s exactly what you went over with me. Right, you’re like, where’s the source? And were able to locate that and actually handle that, then actually handling the problem is easier. But continue, I just wanted to mention that was part of what you did with me.”]


Faust:

Yeah that is the most important element so you have a detective hat as a you know mold guy even if you’re not the mold inspector as the mold remediator, the person fixing the problem you really need to find the actual cause what is the thing that’s bringing about The mold problem and it’s always going to be moisture related it’s always going to be whether it’s liquid or it’s vapor or humidity which you know humidity and Vapor same thing it’s always going to be moisture related so if it is if it is a water intrusion issue like a leak there’s a good chance that that mold is a wet mold and that and that’s part of the testing is if it’s like Stachybotrys or Chaetomium or Fusarium or some of these other molds that are wet molds you know you need to look for a leak.

Now if it’s Aspergillus or Penicillium, or this mold, there’s another mold called Cladosporium, then you can start looking, it’s most likely going to be in this spot.

So Aspergillus and Penicillium are dry molds that can come about because of humidity or vapor so in some cases you might have like a some sort of area of your home that is not sealed from like the attic to the building envelope and because that hot air is going to move towards cool air you get this flow of air and around that spot there’s going to be condensation because that hot air is meeting that cool surface and then you have water it hits dew point and then you know okay well this is coming because the water forming on that surface and then it’s a particular it is localized to that one spot.

But let’s say your house is at 70% humidity, your AC goes out and you’re out of town for a week or two weeks and you’ve had no airflow for two weeks at 70% percent humidity you might walk home and open your door and find you know a green garden on every surface.

Because there’s enough moisture in the air that those spores that are present [are going to grow].

It’s similar to a pool, where once it starts going green and that algae starts taking hold, it goes greener and greener, faster and faster, if you don’t stop it in its tracks so that can happen with a home as well where it starts growing everywhere so that’s a humidity driven issue.

And in that case I’m not necessarily going to recommend tearing out all the walls or tearing out… Why? It’s surface you would have to vacuum it you would wipe it down and you would you would remove the mold and then you’d have equipment going and you’d have negative air but then you can do through the micro cleaning to have a vacuuming the wipe down the negative air and then like a whole home sanitization you could bring that home back to health without tearing out all of its walls.

So depending on the type of mold gives you an idea of what’s actually what your project looks like.


Slate:

All right so you guys may notice we look very different than about 95 percent of this other interview. The technical gods were not with us and we had to complete this interview I don’t know like four days later so sorry for the difference in clothes.

Brandon, for people that got a chance to check out this conversation, where can they find you, where can they connect with you?

I know you have a really great ebook that everybody should grab, so tell us about that.

Faust:

Absolutely. So the the ebook is coming out and it’s gonna it’s hot off the press actually we just kind of finished writing it so it is moldebook.com

And it goes over how to prevent mold in a humid climate but it’s these are tips that can be utilized for any home any climate really but of course the ones here in Florida we’re in a subtropical climate you want to have that no doubt about it.

Slate:

Very cool and where can we find you on the socials?

Of course so Instagram is really where we’re most active, at mold.solutions and we’re you know we’re always checking our DMs and of course on Facebook as well, it’s also @Mold.Solutions and then also our website people can reach out to us from the website and you know we also have a little discount code on that website so it’s moldsolutions.com.

Slate:

Awesome so go grab that ebook everybody and as I’ve mentioned guys, Brandon has been such a help to me I’m not just blowing smoke up your butt so definitely check out what he’s doing he’s he’s a real helpful to people out there so Brandon thanks for coming on today man.

Faust:

You got it. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to let people know about the ebook.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Free Environmental Consultation

Schedule a free environmental consultation from the experts at Mold Solutions. Our clients are family to us, and our roots in the industry go back to our own experience with mold in the home and how it affected our youngest and most precious.

New to Mold Solutions? Take 10% Off First Order