Over the years, I have figured exactly what works and does not when it comes to finding and documenting the presence of mold…
But, before we get into that, I want to explain why mold can be a problem for some people.
It has been well documented that mold exposure can cause health issues, mostly affecting, babies, toddlers, the elderly or those with respiratory issues.
Typically, the majority of people suffer symptoms similar to the “cold or flu”. Often the symptoms go away after they leave they leave the environment.
Now that we know the potential dangers linked to mold exposure, it’s time to get down to the business of finding a mold inspector that can give you the answers you need.
You absolutely need to know if your inspector is capable of doing so.
In my follow up article, How to Hire a Mold Remediation Company, you'll see some similar strategies for finding the best mold remediation contractor.
Now let's get into the 11 tips to hiring a great mold inspector.
There are times when an inspection is not needed, and they can easily advise you over the phone.
This is where you want to establish how open the inspector is for taking the time to understand your concern(s).
Ask if he/she is willing to discuss your problem over the phone and answer any questions prior to booking the inspection. This is also an opportunity to find out how well the person on the other line communicates with you.
Effective communication skills are vital for mold inspectors to have. You need to understand the problems and potential implications.
Inspectors use a number of different ways to arrive at a price.
Expect to pay experienced, detail-oriented inspectors who provide customized reporting and solutions the most.
Essentially, mold inspectors are paid for their time, experience, reporting, and mold sampling when required.
Some mold inspectors will give to a flat rate for their time. Others will charge according to the size of the home.
Air quality testing & surface testing will also be a factor. In addition, the detail of the mold inspection report will also be a consideration.
Inspection fees can run from $400 – $1000+ depending on the experience and services provided.
The mold industry is not yet regulated. For this reason, it is vital to choose an inspector that has adequate training.
Fortunately, there are several institutions out there where the inspector can acquire the appropriate training to do the job properly. In my opinion, your inspector should have a basic understanding of building envelop science, combined with certifications in mold inspection & infrared technology. (These courses require a serious investment in time and money)
The most qualified inspectors have a higher-level certification in water damage restoration, ideally from the IICRC (institute of Cleaning, Restoration and Certification) https://www.iicrc.org/
Professional associations are there to help inspectors be the best they can through support and training. This will ensure that they follow a code of ethics, and more importantly have the training do their job.
Next, you need to know out how long they have been performing mold inspections. As with anything, the more experience, the better.
Your mold inspector should explain specifically what their protocol includes to identify if and where a mold issue exists.
Priority should be placed on immediate issue(s). If your mold related issue is a mystery, a proper routine will help them identify this.
Some of the standard procedures should include the following:
All established mold inspectors have strong business relationships with other great mold removal companies. Ideally, your mold inspector will have at least two companies to refer to you.
Although a good recommendation will save you a lot of time and effort, you will still need to qualify them to ensure the companies fit well for you and your family.
It is the responsibility for the inspector to explain to you what they do, and do not cover. The main reason for discussing limitations is to establish clear expectations upfront so there won’t be any surprises later. For example, I do not open up walls or move heavy furniture…
The inspector should let you know their limitations up front, and within their contract, not after the inspection. Ask your inspector about this if they do not tell you.
Mold inspectors use a number of different tools to help them diagnose and confirm their findings. Some tools of the trade include…
Advanced training is needed for air quality testing and the infrared camera.
Once the samples have been taken, they will be sent to a lab for analysis. Following this, the lab will produce a report of the findings.
Note: Many inspectors will insist on taking air quality or physical (tape and swab samples) before, or in place of doing an inspection. This is not standard practice, nor it is always needed.
However, air sampling can be done without an inspection as a clearance test, to ensure that air quality is safe following a mold removal job, when the client insists on an air quality test for peace of mind or for a court order.
Under normal circumstances, and based on my experience, mold sampling is best only after a visual inspection has been completed, not before.
Sampling should be discouraged when physical mold is present. In this case it just makes sense to remove the mold, as there is no need to spend the extra money.
Air samples determine what the spore counts are at the time of sampling, and the species.
When air samples are taken, there should be at least one collected outside the home as a base sample, one in an area of concern inside, the where the risk “seems” less problematic.
Samples will help determine if there is an unsafe air quality issue of a given area, yet, will not pin point specifically where the concern is.
Ok, the last point about sampling… Some inspectors will claim that you can get your samples verified immediately because they can test and analyze the samples in their office or truck, etc.
However, In my opinion, the only way to know for sure if the test is truly authentic is for an accredited 3rd party lab to properly analyze and confirm the results of the tests.
All samples should be analyzed in a controlled environment, not the back of someone’s van. Besides, only samples from a lab will stand up in court.
Look for reviews online to see if there have been any complaints. Seeing a number of good reviews on a few different sites (Google +, Yelp & HomeStars) is good, as it shows consistency.
Normally companies will refrain from giving you references to call from their clients unless you book with them, but it is worth a shot to ask.
Ask the inspector what type of report(s) will be provided. It is not unusual to get a verbal summary, especially only if the inspection does not lead to any issues of concern.
It is important to check the contract and or make an agreement as to what types of report you will be getting.
For full investigations you should be getting a verbal & written report. Nowadays, most mold inspectors use software programs to generate their reports.
The best reports include, the findings, supporting photos, maintenance tips and an action plan for dealing with any issues.
You want to ensure that the inspector has all of the resources to provide you with the best information possible. This shows true dedication and professionalism.
You want to avoid moonlighters, handy men, or the part time mold inspectors.
Ideally, your best option is to hire a mold inspector who has dedicated his full commitment to the business of helping people understand the implications of mold and water damage, while providing realistic solutions for dealing with such issues.
By taking just a few moments to ask your mold inspector some important questions, you will be able to find the right person for the job, while saving money and protecting your family.
Mold Insight will continue to operate during COVID-19 pandemic. Please book an appointment today.