Mold Inspection Misconceptions

What about Black Mold or Stachybotrys?

Recently, there has been heightened concern regarding exposure to a specific type of mold commonly referred to as black or toxic mold. Currently there is no conclusive scientific evidence linking the inhalation of black mold spores or any type of mold in the indoor environment to any illness other than the previously described allergy symptoms. The term “toxic” is an inaccurate description of this mold. There are many common molds that are black in color.

If you see mold growing in your home, the most important thing to remember is not to panic. You do not have to leave your home or belongings behind or destroy everything in the house. Instead, seek the help of someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with mold. Contact your local public health agency or state health department for more information on mold.

Mold Cleanup

Professional cleaners or remediators may use methods not covered in this publication. Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage. It may not be possible to clean an item so that its original appearance is restored.

Protecting Yourself During Mold Cleanup

Before starting your cleanup process, make sure you have the proper equipment and take precautions to protect yourself.

  • Avoid breathing in mold or mold spores. In order to limit your exposure to airborne mold spores, you may want to wear an N-95 respirator, available at many hardware stores and from companies that advertise on the Internet. Some N-95 respirators resemble a paper dust mask with a nozzle on the front; others are made primarily of plastic or rubber and have removable cartridges that trap most of the mold spores from entering. In order to be effective, the respirator or mask must fit properly, so carefully follow the instructions supplied with the respirator. Look for the label of N-95 and NIOSH to assure the respirator will provide the protection needed.
  • Wear gloves. Long gloves that extend to the middle of the forearm are recommended. When working with water and a mild detergent, household rubber gloves may be used. If you are using a disinfectant, chlorine bleach or a strong cleaning solution, you should select gloves made from natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane or PVC.
  • Wear goggles. Goggles that do not have ventilation holes are recommended to avoid getting mold or mold spores in your eyes.

 

Who should do the cleanup?

This depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3-foot by 3-foot patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself, following the guidelines below.

  • If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult with an InterNACHI inspector.
  • If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations of the EPA, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygenists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations.
  • Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold. This could spread mold throughout the building.
  • If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water.
  • If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.

Tips and Techniques

The tips and techniques presented in this section will help you clean up your mold problem. Professional cleaners or remediators may use methods not covered here. Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage. It may not be possible to clean an item so that its original appearance is restored.

  • Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
  • Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely.
  • Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold.
  • Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces.
  • Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel. If you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a specialist. Specialists in furniture repair and restoration, painting and art restoration and conservation, carpet and rug cleaning, water damage, and fire or water restoration are commonly listed in phone books. Be sure to ask for and check references. Look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations.

 

Why Shouldn’t You Get a Free Mold Inspection?

A free mold inspection is usually a bad idea. Here are some reasons why you should think twice about that free inspection:

Inaccurate Results

If a company offers a free mold inspection, it’s unlikely that they are giving you the best. Often, things that sound too good to be true are too good to be true. Thorough mold inspections aren’t cheap. A company that offers high quality inspections needs costly equipment and skilled workers. For that reason, they can’t afford to offer free inspections.

When you receive a thorough inspection, you get more accuracy. You can learn exactly what types of mold are in your home. Furthermore, you can find out where your mold is coming from. When you do hire a mold testing specialist in Houston, you can get better results. Unfortunately, free inspections don’t involve precision. The specialist might tell you that you have mold, but they might offer no other specifics. It’s also likely that they have less training, which causes inaccurate results.

More Costly Than Paid Testing

Typically, a free mold inspection is more costly than a paid one. This is due to the inaccurate nature of free testing. If you have a mold problem that goes undetected, you could be in for thousands of dollars worth of damage. Mold spreads quickly. Failing to diagnose the problem early on means it will only get worse. As the problem progresses, the cost of repair only increases.

Scams

These days, most people are targets for scammers. Regardless of your age or situation, you could be a victim of a scam. Some companies offer free mold inspections and try to take advantage of you. For instance, some businesses shake out rugs and pillows to release more spores into the air. The result is higher mold concentrations throughout your home. Other companies use gimmicky equipment that don’t actually get the job done. This point comes back to the lack of regulation in the mold inspection industry. If a company wants to make money off of you, they could argue that you have more mold than you actually do. To remedy your “problem”, you could spend money in unnecessary mold remediation.

 

How do you keep mold out of buildings and homes?

Inspect buildings for evidence of water damage and visible mold as part of routine building maintenance, Correct conditions causing mold growth (e.g., water leaks, condensation, infiltration, or flooding) to prevent mold growth.

Inside your home you can control mold growth by:

  • Controlling humidity levels;
  • Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes;
  • Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding;
  • Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.

 

How Mold Home Inspections Work

The first step in a mold inspection should be an IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) or MAS (Mold Air Sampling) test to determine what irritants or possible mold strains are present in the home.

As mentioned before, not all mold is toxic black mold, despite the color. A visual inspection alone will not indicate how dangerous a mold growth is. Only mold testing can accurately identify the specific strain of mold in your home.

During your inspection, we will also look for signs of mold, past mold growths that could become active again, or areas with signs of moisture that could lead to future mold problems.

Next, any samples collected during the mold testing and home inspection will be sent to a certified lab for analysis and identification of the exact nature of the problems found.

Thermal imaging can also be useful in detecting the presence of water that could lead to a mold problem. For example, if you smell a musty odor but have not had any recent water damage, thermal imaging can be used to determine if there is a hidden leak inside your walls causing the mold growth.

Mold home inspections must follow strict requirements to get an accurate reading of the air quality inside your Florida home. Don’t trust this process to just anybody. Always make sure you hire an inspector that is certified to perform mold inspections and beware of prices that are too low or too high.

Tips To Choose The Best Mold Inspection

Mold Inspection – What Is Involved?

What Is A Mold Inspection?

A mold inspection focuses on determining if there is water damage present within the home that is causing a mold problem. Because some sort of mold content is present in just about everyhome, a determination is made during the mold assessment if it was caused by water damage.

How Is A Mold Inspection Done?

A mold inspection consists of a visual inspection for mold growth, moisture mapping for hidden leaks, air sampling, surface sampling, and checking the air conditioning for mold. Every inspection can be different as some could be limited in nature.

 

When should a mold inspection and mold testing be considered?

  • When visible mold is not present, but the smell of mold is. Here a mold inspection and mold test can reveal whether there is indeed elevated mold, and where it is located.
  • There have been plumbing leaks or water issues and there is a suspicion that elevated mold may exist in the air and/or behind walls.
  • Post Mold Removal Clearance Testing to ensure that the previous mold issue has been resolved and mold counts have returned to levels found in normal environments of the same type.
  • Health Concerns: In some cases, a doctor or the patient has a health issue that they cannot pinpoint the cause but seems to be related to mold symptoms (coughing, sneezing, headaches, etc). Here, a mold inspection and test may help to confirm whether the doctor’s or patient’s suspicions that a mold problem exists.
  • For real estate transactions for the protection of Buyers and Sellers.
  • Landlord/Tenant disputes as to whether there is a mold problem.
  • Someone thinks they see or smell mold but are not sure.
  • Someone is interested in a general Indoor Air Quality test of their environment.

 

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR A MOLD INSPECTION?

While there isn’t really any prep work needed for a mold inspection, there are a few things you can do to make things easier for the mold inspector.

  1. Make sure that all areas of your home are accessible. A lot of people have their attic access inside closets. It is helpful to have the closet entry clear before the inspector arrives.
  2. Since the mold inspection process in both an interior and exterior inspection, try to move items away from the exterior of the home so the inspector can get a good visual.
  3. Be prepared to answer questions about your home. A good mold inspector will want to gather information about the history of your home including leaks, flooding, or other water intrusions.
  4. If you have pets, please inform the mold inspector ahead of time and let them know if they need to make sure the cat doesn’t get out or if the dog is leery of strangers. Mold inspectors may choose to wear protective gear. They also carry equipment that may startle a pet.

 

Why Should You Have a Mold Inspection?

There are several reasons to have a mold inspection performed in your home. Any one of these situations would be enough cause for an inspection:

  • You frequently have allergy-type symptoms in one room of your house. Or you have allergy-type symptoms in your home that go away when you’re somewhere else.
  • You’ve had a water leak or flooding somewhere in your home.
  • You smell mold, but don’t see any.
  • You’re about to make a real estate transaction.

If you see visible mold, you can typically proceed to the mold remediation process without having an actual inspection. However, if you’re unsure that what you’re seeing is mold, an inspection is wise.

 

Six Important Things You Should Know About Mold Inspections

  • Mold inspections need to be performed by a qualified mold inspector who has formal training and experience with mold inspections. Training and experience are necessary.
  • Mold inspections should look for evidence of past or current mold growth. Past mold growth may indicate a water problem which will come back when certain conditions return such as a recurring leak. Past mold growth may also cause sensitized individuals to have an allergic reaction or, conceivably, cause some individuals to start becoming sensitized to mold.
  • Mold inspections should look for mold within the building, inside walls, and in other areas where mold growth is undesirable, including areas where mold growth could be causing structural issues such as wood decay in crawlspaces.
  • Some mold growth in buildings may be perfectly normal. For example, Ceratosystis and Ophiostoma are two molds that grow on lumber (sometimes referred to as lumber yard mold) and are frequently found growing on two by fours or other structural framing within buildings. These molds grow on the sap of wood and stop growing once the wood has dried. Although they cause black staining on the wood, they do not cause any structural issues. If black staining is found on wood, the mold inspector can take a sample and send it to the mold testing lab for analysis to determine if it is one of these molds.
  • It is very important (and some would say essential) that the mold inspection look for sources of moisture. Water is essential for mold growth. Without a source of water, you will not have mold growth. Consequently, if there is mold growth, it must be associated with a source of moisture. If this source of moisture is not found and eliminated, the mold growth will return and remediation efforts are of negligible long term value. The importance of looking for sources of moisture cannot be overstated and must be included.
  • Mold inspections are a subset of investigations called “Indoor Air Quality” (IAQ) investigations. These investigations look at the broader question: “What irritants are present in the air causing discomfort to the occupants?” If you are having a mold inspection because you feel ill when you are in a certain building or room, you might consider whether other irritants may be causing the discomfort and include these in the investigation.