Not a day goes by where I don’t hear the question, “What is a mold inspection and what does it consist of?”
I have great news for you, after reading this article, you will be able to determine if it is worth it to get a mold inspection in your home or business or if you should save your hard earned money.
You will hear terms in this guide such as Mold Inspection, Mold Assessment, Mold Evaluation, Mold Testing etc.
They are all used interchangeably and mean essentially the same thing.
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.
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.
The price of the mold inspection could vary depending upon the size of the home, how many samples are taken, and what kind of report needs to be reports. You can expect to spend on average $500 for a mold inspection on a 2000-2500 sq foot home.
The time required in the home can be up towards two hours depending on the size of the home. Once samples are collected, they are overnighted or dropped off at a third party laboratory for analyzation. Results from the lab are typically available within 48 hours and a report is generated by the inspector based on the visual findings and lab results.
A home mold inspection is an inspection that focuses on the presence of water damage and mold growth on building materials and personal contents throughout a home. Air samples and surface samples are generally taken to determine how mold is affecting the indoor building environment.
Getting a mold inspection before buying a home is becoming more common. A general home inspection typically excludes mold. A separate inspector with qualifications to assess mold can be done to ensure the home does not have any mold problems.
Some species of mold can present more of a health concern than others. For this reason, when mold is present within the home it should be tested as well determining the source. This will ensure the correct action to be taken to remove the mold within the damaged areas.
Mold inspections are typically done by a Mold Assessor. Special licenses are required in certain states to perform these types of inspections. A typical home inspection has mold listed as an exclusion.
Air sampling for mold is a common method determining how mold has affected the air quality. While air testing can determine if there is mold within the air it only provides a 5-10 minute sample. Air samples can be affected by many different factors during the course of a day. Air sampling can provide good data but should not be the sole factor in determining if there is a mold problem within a home.
Most mold testing kits will tell you if mold is present in an indoor environment but not how much and if the levels are dangerous. The most accurate mold testing kit available to non-professionals is My Mold Detective (Click here to check current price on Amazon).
Mold inspections are only necessary if a mold problem is suspected within a home. Every home has a certain amount of mold. Mold testing will be necessary to determine how much mold is present and what species of mold. Mold testing may also provide information regarding a possible hidden mold problem within the walls.
Trained individuals called mold inspectors or mold assessors can be contacted to inspect a home and test for mold. A special license may be required in certain states to perform a mold inspection.
If you fall into this category it’s because you know of a leak in your home or you can actually see mold growing on your home.
You may be thinking,
“If I see mold, why do I need to pay for an inspection?”
The simple answer is:
You don’t necessarily have to.
You can easily just go right to the mold remediatior and cut out the Mold Inspector.
But there are a few problems with that:
Most of the time the mold remediation company will just see mold in a certain area and just treat that particular area.
But what happens if the mold spores are airborne?
You won’t know with having the air quality tested (more on this in the section below) in other areas to see if it spread through the HVAC system.
A mold remediation company will generally not test the air quality for mold and also perform the remediation. And if they do, that may be something that should throw up some red flags for you. That brings me to my next point:
Just like anything else in this world, you need checks and balances. When you have a mold remediation company provide you with the scope of the work needing to be completed, you are at their mercy.
If you have another mold professional on your side, it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Honest mold remediation companies won’t mind you having your own mold assessor.
Proof For Your Insurance Company
Mold remediation is usually a separate part of your insurance policy. Your insurance company may ask for you to have a mold inspection.
Also, it could go the other way.
Homeowner’s insurance companies are notoriously known for not covering mold on insurance policies, so you may want to have the inspection to prove to them there is indeed mold in the home.
Having a mold inspection done is not always logical and necessary.
If you are looking to get peace of mind to ensure your home does not have a mold problem, it’s your money and you should not let anybody tell you otherwise.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years that I was called into an inspection where one spouse does not think that a mold inspection is necessary, only to find out they have a significant mold problem.
Let’s look at some of the reasons you may need peace of mind:
If you are having a symptom that may be related to mold inhalation or ingestion, it wouldn’t hurt to have the air quality in your home tested.
If you never had any leaks in your home that you know of or any HVAC problems, it’s unlikely that you will have mold growth in your home.
You are not a trained professional, so you could have a hidden leak or issue that a trained professional can identify.
Having a pre-purchase mold inspection is becoming more and more popular. Buying a home is going to be one of the most expensive purchases that you will ever make. It doesn’t hurt to protect your investment.
You may have a general inspection, a roof inspection, a Radon inspection, or an HVAC inspection, why not mold?
A good home inspector may be able to tell you where a leak could be present, but may not be trained to look and test for mold. They have so many tasks to complete during their inspection, it’s hard to focus just on water leaks and mold.
Some home inspectors will take air samples to tell you what kind of mold and how many mold spores are present in the air, but won’t be able to tell you why it’s there. Bottom Line:
If you want to know if you have mold in the home you are purchasing, get it done by a mold assessor.
Some people have an allergy to specific species of mold. If you have been tested and want to make sure that spore isn’t in the home, this could be a reason to have mold testing in your home.
It’s important to know that even if you are having some symptoms related to your mold allergy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a mold problem in your home.
Maybe it could be an issue at your place of work?
Also, don’t forget, there is usually more mold spores outdoor compared to inside. During some parts of the year there tends to be more outdoor mold spores.
By now you should have determined your reasoning for wanting a mold evaluation in your home.
But here’s the real question:
What exactly does a mold inspection consist of?
First, you need to identify your goals of the inspection.
Are you looking to:
These types of questions will all determine exactly what will be done and how much the cost will be. For this section, we will assume that you suspect you may have mold somewhere in the home but you aren’t sure and just want to have the home tested.
Here is just a basic step by step of what your inspection will consist of:
Have The Exterior Of The Home Inspected For Any Moisture Intrusion
The licensed mold inspector will walk around the exterior of the home looking for such things as:
The main objective is to ensure the building envelope is completely sealed not allowing moisture into the home.
Survey The Interior Of The Home To Develop A Sampling Plan
Mold sampling is not always necessary in every area of the home, but again your preferences will determine that.
The inspector will survey the house and determine what areas if any will be sampled.
Conduct Moisture Mapping Throughout The Home
This is meat and bones of the inspection. The inspector will generally be armed with at least three tools:
A good inspector can perform a high-quality mold assessment with these three tools.
Moisture mapping involves checking around all doors, windows, plumbing fixtures, HVAC air handlers and any other areas of the home where moisture can be affecting the building materials.
This part of the inspection cannot be skipped. During the moisture mapping, the inspector may identify other areas where sampling is necessary.
By this point during the inspection, the inspector should know exactly where samples should be collected.
The inspector may test both the air quality and any visible staining. A sample will also be taken outdoors to compare how much mold is outdoor compared to inside the home.
The mold inspector may also test the air behind the walls to determine if there is mold present, however, this is considered controversial to some in the industry.
The American Industrial Hygiene Association says this about taking samples within the wall cavity:
Air samples collected from within a wall cavity when the wallboard is aggressively disturbed (e.g., by drilling or pounding) hardly represents normal bioaerosol exposure of room occupants and can result in possible false positive results. Courtesy Of: The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)
The collection of air samples may be done during the moisture mapping to save time in the home.
Once the samples are collected, they are sent off to a 3rd party laboratory for analysis. If the inspector is a microbiologist, they may be able to examine them themselves.
*** If the inspector is examining the samples themselves, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just keep in mind with what we were discussing about the remediation companies. You don’t want them being the judge, jury, and executioner, well an inspector that examines their own samples can technically be the judge and jury. If you have trust in the inspector, then, by all means, let them analyze the samples. If not, you may want to look into another inspector or ask that the samples be sent off to an accredited laboratory.
Check The Attic
This can technically be part of the moisture mapping process however, this should not be completed until any air samples are taken.
The reason why…
There will generally be more mold in an attic space compared to the living space of the home. Unless you have foam insulation of your roof line, there will generally be open soffits which will allow outside air into the attic.
Also, you may have tons of structural wood that was wet at some point.
Look Bottom Line is This:
The attic doesn’t get inspected until air sampling is completed in the home. Only under special circumstances does the attic be air sampled.
During the attic inspection, the inspector will look for any roof leaks, condensate line leaks, or any other areas that can cause moisture. If there is a known leak, the inspector will look to see if there is any mold present on the backside of the drywall or anywhere else in the attic.
Check The HVAC System
Checking the HVAC system involves both checking the coils and the duct work. Mold generally won’t grow on the ductwork or coils themselves, but the dirt and dust that accumulates on them.
Having mold in your ducts can cause particles in the air when your system is running.
This is the section you have undoubtedly been waiting for. The cost of a mold inspection, of course, varies from inspector to inspector. Without knowing exactly what your goals are and what is being conducted I cannot tell you accurately if the quote you receive is good pricing or not.
But Good News:
I can give you my tips and guide for what pricing structures you may encounter and what a reasonable amount you should be paying.
Ok, great so let’s look at some of the pricing structures that you may see:
Some companies will charge based on the number of samples that they take. The common amount the inspector will charge is usually between $75-125 per sample. When an inspector charges per sample, they generally won’t charge for a visual inspection.
Some companies will charge a flat fee for the inspection ( usually $150-200) and then per sample at a lower rate.
Yes, you can negotiate the price.
Something to keep in mind is that the inspector sends the samples to the lab to get analyzed, so they need to make sure their fee is covered plus, of course, everyone wants to make a profit.
Another model inspection companies will use is based on square footage. The number I have seen a few times. $150 per 700 sq feet. They will usually round the price up, down or add $75 if the square footage is in the middle of the 700 sq feet.
So if for example, your home is 1800 sq feet it would be $375.
This model is the one my business adapts. I personally will give my clients a flat fee based on what their needs are.
By talking to them on the phone, I am able to determine approximately how many samples I take and how long I will be at the house.
My pricing is very straight forward and if I have to take a few extra samples than originally planned, I will let it cut into my profit.
Ah hidden fees, everybody loves those, right?
In the mold inspection industry, mold inspection companies can get you by charging you for more than originally agreed to.
One thing to look out for is the mold remediation protocol. The mold remediation protocol is a play by play guide on how to fix the issue. I have seen inspectors charge anywhere up to $250 to write up the protocol. While I must admit, writing these are a pain, I have never charged that much. As a matter of fact, with my flat fee pricing, I don’t charge at all.
Bottom line is this:
When setting your appointment, ask if the remediation protocol is part of the price quoted for you. If they charge, so be it. At least you will know.
So you now know what a mold inspection consists of and approximately how much it should cost, but what should you expect to find out about your home after your mold inspection is completed?
You would hope if you to know if you have mold in your home, right?
That’s definitely the goal!
Your expectations shouldn’t be to know if there is mold behind every wall of the home. You cannot determine if mold is behind the walls unless you actually sample behind each and every single wall which is not only very costly but also unnecessary (and possibly not effective).
Your expectations should be to determine if you have any present, past or possible future water damage issues that have caused or can lead to mold growth. You should also want to know if there are any mycotoxins present that can be affecting the health of you and your family.
The mold inspector should only be pulling samples to support their hypothesis. In plain English, sampling should only be done to prove a point!
Here’s a real life example for you:
An underground pipe leaked in a home that the occupants only lived in seasonally. The leak went unnoticed for an extended period of time caused water damage to various areas of the living room and kitchen.
When the entertainment center was removed from the wall, this is what was present:
Real yummy right?
Well, long story short, I did take a swab sample on the wall just to prove to insurance that there was mold present, however, if it weren’t for that I would not need to take a sample to prove anything because the mold was already visible.
Where I did find it necessary is to sample other areas that are in the same air conditioning zone as well as the Master Bedroom.
Why did I sample in these areas when the leak was in the living room?
To prove my hypothesis that the mold growth in the living room was airborne and the entire air conditioning zone needed to be treated for mold.
A mold inspection may reveal areas that affected, but in most cases, you won’t actually how much mold is inside the wall cavities or under floor coverings until you actually remove them.
Once the inspection is complete, the mold inspector may have a general idea of the mold conditions of the home but should hold off judgment until they receive results back from their lab (usually anywhere from 24-48 business hours).
Once they have received their results from the lab, they should not only issue you a lab report that may look something like this:
But they should also have a report with their visual findings and hypothesis based on the lab results.
A mold remediation protocol may be present also if necessary, although again, this may be an extra charge.
So you had a mold inspection performed on your home that confirmed you not only have mold growth in your home but its airborne throughout many different areas.
What do you do?
You are going to need Mold Remediation.
Once mold remediation is done correctly you can have your beautiful house back to normal.
A licensed mold remediator, that makes sense right!?
Depending upon who your insurance company is, you may have to use their vendors. If the insurance company gives you a choice, I always recommend finding your own contractor.
Here are some ways to find the proper mold remediator to take care of your home:
Always Get Multiple Estimates
Unfortunately, mold contractors just like any other profession have some not so honest people. That’s why it is always recommended that you get multiple estimates.
Your health may very well be on the line.
Just think of it like getting a couple of different opinions from a doctor.
You have made it through this mold inspection guide and now you are more equipped to handle a mold issue in your home (hopefully you will never have one!)
Have you had a mold inspection in your home?
Tell me about your experience, good or bad!