If you suspect toxic mold in your home, you should consider a professional mold inspection and mold testing. Some molds can be very toxic and harmful to you and to your property, and if you see or smell signs of mold in your home, you should take prompt action.
Mold spores are everywhere, but only form mold when they land on a moist surface. So always try to keep surfaces dry by cleaning up and spills, inspecting for proof leaks or other signs of water damage such as leaky pipes or air conditioning units.
Mold can actually damage the surfaces of your property and possessions and can cause allergic or asthmatic reactions in humans or pets.
Be clear that mold inspection simply confirms the presence of mold in our home, and assesses the scope of the problem. Actual mold testing identifies the type of mold and the number of spores present.
When should you inspect for mold?
If you have visible mold, there is no doubt about its presence in your home. If you see it, that means you have mold growing and there is a good chance there is also mold growth in places that you can’t see such as in your air ducts or behind your walls.
There are certain times when problems with mold are most likely and those are times when you should investigate further for mold issues. Here are some times when you will want to be proactive in mold inspection and testing:
- If you actually see mold growing, whether it is white, black, green, or even blue it is evident you have mold. You may want to move right on to mold remediation and removal. According to the EPA, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. There are no federal guidelines for determining the number of spores that are safe.
- If you smell mold but it is not visible, this would be a time to inspect and test.
- If you have experienced any sort of water damage from flooding or a storm, leaky pipes or appliances, overflowing toilets, or other water encroachment you should inspect for mold to be sure you find hidden mold. Mold can form in 24 to 48 hours so if the entire area has not been quickly dried you run a risk of costly and damaging mold.
- If your home has been unoccupied for the season, or any extended period of time, it is possible that humidity has built up inside the home and allowed mold growth. This is a common problem in warm and humid areas like Florida.
- When you are purchasing a new home, there is no way for you to know the history of occupancy or past water damage. The way to be sure before you buy is to order a mold inspection.
- If you have had previous water damage and have completed the process of mold remediation and mold restoration, test to be sure the issue has been resolved, and schedule mold inspections from time to time to be sure the job was complete and there is no additional damage.
- If you or your family experience a health issue such as coughing, sneezing, or headaches, and the doctor can’t pinpoint it you may want to test your home.
What does a mold inspection include?
Mold inspections should be conducted by a qualified mold professional who has training and experience in this area. A mold inspection is looking for evidence of mold growth, past or present within your home, inside the walls and other areas. It is not mold remediation.
A mold inspection looks for sources of moisture, which is necessary for mold to grow. If the source of moisture is not located and eliminated, the growth will return.
If mold growth is suspected in an inaccessible space they may remove a section of drywall for a better view. They will try to identify the source of water and discuss a remediation plan. Ask about his experience in mold inspection and remediation.
If you know there is mold already, move right into mold remediation. Look for a contractor with the right experience and call around for several estimates and get references.
What about DIY mold testing and removal?
If you are considering a mold inspection, beware there are many home tests available. They are widely considered to be unreliable. According to the EPA, “Sampling should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods and interpreting results.” Work with an experienced professional.
If you have simple bathroom mold in your tub or shower this is likely something you can handle yourself. Buy mold cleaner, clean the tile and grout, and repair the caulking. If the issue is larger you should consider a professional.
The mold inspector should go over your home with a moisture sensor looking for where water is penetrating your home.
Avoiding Mold Inspection Scams
- Avoid the conflicts of interest of someone who offers both mold testing and mold remediation services. You may not be able to trust their results. Beware FREE or deeply discounted mold inspections.
- It is easy to be scammed in the area of mold inspection and testing. There are currently no official government licenses or certifications for mold inspectors, so no federal government standards. Some states do have legal standards and certifications for mold inspectors. One way to protect yourself is to hire an inspector who is a licensed general contractor.
- Once your mold remediation is complete you may want to call the original tester or another independent tester into re-test and confirm the mold is gone.
- There is no need for secondary sampling, surface swabs, and testing of your possessions. If the mold is in the air, it is on everything. Your focus should be on identifying the cause so the moisture assessment is the key here, not the sampling.
- Be present during the testing. A Scam company may turn up the heat or shake out rugs and pillows to release more spores in the air.
- Beware gimmicky mold killing solutions like ozone generators, biocides, or fumigants. The bottom line is the mold must be removed, the problem fixed and everything dried or replaced.
Can You Trust a Free Mold Inspection?
You may be skeptical of companies offering free inspections. Some states like Texas actually have laws preventing you from receiving a mold inspection from the same company that does your mold removal. If the inspection reveals no mold, they would make no money on the removal and so this is viewed as a conflict of interests.
How Much Does a Mold Inspection Cost?
Mold inspection cost will depend upon the size of the home and whether the inspector needs to take out parts of the home such as drywall to complete the inspection. The cost varies from region to region but it generally runs along the same cost as a normal home inspection.
The average cost is about $650. The cost for a small to medium sized house is $300-$400 and as much as $700- $900 for a larger home. Remember this is only for the inspection and does not include remediation, so if you already know there is mold present, you can skip this step..
How do I find the right mold inspector?
Find a contractor with specific experience in mold inspections and mold remediation. Ask about their experience, request local references, (and call them!) and check their online presence for reviews, Better Business Bureau rating.
Reach out to your insurance company for referrals. Do get several estimates and check with our state health department to see if mold inspectors have any licensing requirements in your area.