Have you been agonizing over that unsightly mold in your home?
It is time to get rid of it, but what is the answer?
Should you clean it up yourself or hire a company to help you?
According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) you should only DIY (Do It Yourself) when the problem is isolated to one or a few small areas of the home.
The mold problem should fall within 10 square feet or 3 feet by 3 feet.
However, If you’re dealing with a larger mold infestation or not comfortable removing the mold on your own, then it’s time to call in a professional.
With so many mold removal companies to choose from, how do you decide?
Hiring the right company is necessary, yet a difficult decision… especially when it comes to the health and safety of your family. You can’t afford to cut any corners.
Before I show you how to find the right mold removal company, I’ll explain the main difference between Mold remediation companies and restoration companies because this distinction will factor into your ultimate decision.
Mold remediation companies are specialized in safely removing contaminated mold in until the home is once again safe to occupy.
Mold remediation companies do not rebuild your home after the mold has been removed, but they may recommend or arrange for a company to help you with that.
Restoration companies rebuild the home back to its original condition after the home after the mold has been removed. Many of these companies will remove the mold as well.
Emergency response companies specialize in assessment, testing and mold removal in short order, whereas the average mold removal company will deal with the mold in a more step by step process.
Now I’ll explain the process for finding the best company to remove the mold in your home.
The common cliché, you never get a second chance to make a first impression certainly applies here.
From the very first conversation, you want hire a company that is truly interested in learning about the mold situation in your home.
Ideally, the person on the other end of the phone will help assess the situation directly, or at least put you in touch with someone better qualified to help you.
The mold removal company should be qualifying you as a potential client to see if you are the best fit for them as well.
The company should begin the discussion by asking you a number of questions to understand your concerns first. Some of these questions include…
Are you a homeowner or a renter? (only home owners can decide whether or not any work can be done on a property)
Can you tell me about the mold situation in your home?
Hopefully the first two questions will give the company a good sense of whether they can help you. In addition, they should be probing further by asking some of these questions…
When a mold removal company takes the time to find out about the mold problem in your home, it shows concern for you as a client and their dedication to the seriousness of the job.
The information you provide will also help them develop a strategy for dealing with the mold.
Now it is your turn to find out a little bit more about the company you are looking to hire…
Before any work begins, it is vital to determine the actual cause of the mold so it doesn’t keep creeping back. This is where a mold inspection can help you.
Not all remediation companies perform mold inspections, as some of them believe it can be seen as conflict of interest. And besides, they really don’t make a lot of money from them.
In this case, they will usually suggest an inspector for you to work with.
However, many mold removal companies do include this service as they want to make the process more efficient.
The inspection may or may not include a written report.
If a report is provided, it will identify the magnitude of the mold problem, as well as any moisture related issues. The report serves two important functions...
1) It gives you (the customer) an understanding of how severe the mold problem is, and where it originated (if you don’t already know the source).
2) It can be a useful guide for the mold removal company.
Ideally, you will get a customized, detailed mold inspection report, with clear documentation and several photos. If you want to know more about mold inspection reports, click here.
Air quality testing for mold is a service offered by mold inspectors and mold removal companies.
Air quality testing for mold is performed to give the remediation contractor or home owner a snapshot of the type and number of mold spores in the air, when the samples were taken.
The samples will then sent to a 3rd party mold lab, where the lab analyzes the samples and generates a report of the indoor air quality inside the home.
All samples should be sent to a qualified American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) approved lab for analysis.
Indoor air quality testing for mold is typically not required prior to mold removal, unless the source cannot be identified or when the clients need this service for legal purposes or peace of mind.
However, mold air quality testing is vital after the mold remediation job has been completed to verify whether or not the air quality is clean, and the home safe to occupy.
If the air quality test fails, then not all of the mold has been removed. In this case the residents should not move back into the home until the job has been properly completed.
In order to remove the mold properly, the company you hire must provide a scope of work along with the quotation they provide. You need to know exactly what the company is doing and in which order they are performing their duties. Ask them to explain this to you.
Ask the mold removal company how long it will take them to complete the job and if you will need to move out while they do their work. You may need to plan ahead for accommodations.
Never hire a company that says they can seal or paint over the mold, usually for a lesser cost. This is a red flag.
Mold should never be covered up. This band-aid solution is usually performed by people looking to take a short cut, inexperienced or uncertified workers.
Will the company document the remediation job with photos? This is important to keep in your files in case there is a discrepancy that needs to be addressed at a later date.
Due to the complicated nature of the mold removal process, and lack of consistent regulation, some companies take advantage of people by charging for services and or products that are not needed.
For this reason it is important for the company representative to thoroughly explain the scope of work,
including the rationale for the fees they are charging you. If you are not clear about something, ask or call me.
In addition to the scope of work, ask for a written contract. All good companies will provide one.
You should also ask if there is a possibility of any extra costs that may come up after the work begins.
For example… mold is discovered in another location of the home and there is now more remediation work to do. This will need to be done and it will cost more.
How will the remediation company dispose of the contaminated materials?
Do they understand the proper safety procedures to do so?
All materials need to be double bagged onsite, inside the containment area and removed immediately. This prevents the risk of cross contamination into other areas of the home. Does the company know this? If so, clarify with them to know for sure.
There are many options to choose from, so it makes sense to get quotations from at least three different companies to compare the fees, scope of work and procedures they perform. You are looking for consistency.
One great qualifying question would be “What happens if the job is not performed as promised?”
I bring this up as a point of caution rather than concern. Without a clear understanding of what happens when things go wrong, you may be put in a position to take legal action, which can be both time consuming and expensive.
Make sure you discuss this prior to the job so you know all of your options.
One of the most important aspects of mold removal is setting up the containment chamber. A containment chamber is a fully contained plastic isolation chamber that “contains” a contaminated mold location.
This is vital as it prevents the spread of toxic mold spores from disbursing throughout the home during remediation. HEPA filtered, negative air machines should be positioned inside the containment area to exhaust mold spores to the outside.
You need to make sure that the company performed everything that you were promised. Before you agree on a company, explain to the contractor that you will want him to walk you through the scope of work (after the remediation has been done) to ensure you receive exactly what you will be paying for.
All workers must protect themselves by using the appropriate Hazmat suits, eye protection, gloves, protective footwear and respirators.
Wearing an N95 respirator will minimize the risk of breathing mold spores. However, there are respirators that cover the entire face for large or severe infestations.
This means using the respirator properly for it to be effective… this is critical.
Only choose a company that provides the absolute best protection possible for their workers.
There are several commercial cleaning products and chemicals remediation contractors use.
Some of the chemicals in the cleaners are not approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
For example, industry experts know that bleach is not an effective solution for long term mold removal.
Properly certified contractors know which cleaning agents are safe and effective. Ideally, they should be using non toxic eco-friendly natural products.
Find out from the mold removal company if there have been any health concerns related to any products they currently use, or if they are trying any products that are “under development” or in the “experimental” stage. I would only advocate for products that have been proven safe.
If you hear something that sounds suspect, look into it further and compare with other companies for more clarification. Trust your gut instinct.
According to the EPA (environmental Protection Agency) remediation companies must remove the mold. It is not sufficient enough to just seal it.
You want to know how many jobs has the company performed. Essentially how much experience they have.
Can they provide verified referrals for you to call? Some companies may only do this once you have hired them, or may suggest that their clients wish to remain private.
I doesn’t hurt to try… Transparency equates to trust in my book.
With the internet, it is now very easy to conduct a search online to see if a company has any red flags or unresolved complaints. The BBB or the Better Business Bureau is the watchdog for all businesses.
However, another way to do this, is to check “company name and reviews”.
Many online reviews are fake, so you want to see positive and consistent reviews on several sites like Google +, HomeStars (Canada) & Yelp for example.
Not all companies have reviews, although I think they should try. Few or no online reviews does not automatically mean that the company is bad. Perhaps they have not focused on getting them as a part of their marketing strategy.
All good mold removal companies will have past references showcasing the quality of their work, along with a guarantee, so be sure to ask about this.
The best companies work full time on mold removal. Less expensive, random handymen are typically not trained, nor follow the procedures set out by the IICRC. So cross the handyman off the list, even if he comes in at a significant discount. There is a reason why he is so much cheaper.
One of the easiest and best ways to find a reliable mold removal company is to ask your friends, family and colleagues, or me. You should get a short list to work from.
You can also call a local mold testing lab to see if they can provide a few names for consideration.
A company is as only as good as the work they do, so when looking for a mold removal company you want to make sure that the workers are top notch.
It is now fairly easy for people to get the proper training they need to tackle a remediation project. Mold has become a mainstream problem, so there is no shortage of institutions offering training.
At the same time, just because training is offered, doesn’t mean the company is willing to pay for their employees to get the proper training. Some companies would rather do “on the job training” as it is less expensive.
The best companies proudly demonstrate their competence by showcasing the credentials their employees have along with the associations they belong to.
There are very strict protocols set out by associations and organizations offering mold training certifications.
The IICRC or Institute of Inspection Cleaning & Restoration Certification is considered the gold standard when it comes to mold removal training.
Important, yet strict protocols are in place for dealing with mold, so find out if employees are IICRC certified, and belong to relevant associations such as the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA).
When everything is said and done, you want to get the best value for the work you are paying for.
Value is hard to determine, unless you have something to compare it to.
When you review the quotations, see if everything makes sense and seems fair. If you are not clear, ask for further clarification.
Choose the company that meets or exceeds all the criteria you are looking for.
When it comes to health and welfare of you and your family, there is no room for compromise.