Do you know the difference between a bad mold inspection and a good one? Most homeowners don’t and this may lead to disappointment or worse, missing some important mold issues in your home. Here are some questions to ask to get the best mold inspection.
How long should it take?
Some inspectors will check the basement, take one air sample on every floor and call it a day. This is a good business model with a high profit margin but is it sufficient and where does this leave you? A good mold inspection takes a lot of time – 3 to 4 hours for the average house. I’ve had some that took 5 or 6 hours, depending on the size of the home and how many problems I found. If several technicians conduct the inspection, they might split the work so a 6 hour inspecton can become a 2 hour inspection and that’s ok. The time spent also depends on how many instruments are used and which ones. Check out this page for more on what goes on during a mold inspection. The bottom line is, this can’t be rushed.
What tools or instruments will be used?
For example, a home inspector using an Instascope, the latest technology to instantly detect mold, can get a lot of information about the house in less than 1 hour. More investigating is then needed to follow-up on areas where the machine alerted. Will the inspector use a moisture meter and an infrared camera to detect hidden moisture?
These tools are not all necessary. The best mold inspectors can detect a lot with just a flashlight but extra tools may detect something not visible like a leak in the ceiling or under the toilet.
If one is using spore traps, several hours may be required to collect samples in all the suspect places. Spore traps collected in the middle of a room rarely glean valuable information. If mold is inside a wall cavity or under your bath tub, air samples collected from the middle of the room will rarely give you the necessary clues.
What questions should you ask?
Before hiring a mold inspector, ask these questions to gauge the inspector’s depth of knowledge and experience:
- Will you be testing my carpeting and how will you test it?
- Where do you typically collect samples?
- Will you be testing my HVAC system(s)? Evaporator coil? Air returns? Supply vents?
- What technology do you use to test for mold ? Spore trap, culture plates, DNA testing, dust analysis, mycotoxins testing, Instascope …
- What tools do you use to inspect the house? Infrared camera, moisture meter, borescope?
- Will you test under the kitchen sink shelf? behind the dishwasher? inside my ice maker? under the fridge (there is a nasty drip tray under there that often harbors molds and bacteria which the fridge fan blows your way!). How will you test these?
- Will you test under the bathroom vanity shelves, under the tub, behind the shower plumbing?
- Will you test my bedding (pillows, mattresses)? C-Pap machine? furnace? air conditioner coil? humidifier? How will those be tested?
All of these items can and should be tested if the occupant has biotoxin illness!
Check reviews, references and Better Business Bureau complaints
Other important questions are: How many mold inspections have you conducted? How long have you inspected homes for mold? Do you charge per hour or a flat fee? Are lab fees included?
Educational offerings and mold training in the US are limited. Mold inspector classes cover only the basics. It then takes years of attending professional conferences and continuing education to get the competency homeowners need. Anyone can obtain a mold inspector certificate in a few days and these require little time or knowledge to obtain therefore consumers are left to fend for themselves in a sea of bogus claims and empty promises. So ask a lot of questions and listen to your instincts before hiring!