Posts tagged ‘mold inspection’
This is my second posting in the series “Why You Need a Mold Inspection”
From my last post:
“One of the most common questions our offices receive is “Why do I need a mold inspection? Won’t mold sampling and testing tell me what I need?” From our experiences over the last 10 years, which includes tens of thousands of mold inspection projects across five states, we consider the mold inspection to account for about 75% of the puzzle and mold sampling and testing to account for the other 25%.
Both parts are important, but they must be done in tandem — you can’t just count on one to tell the entire story.
Rather than write abstractly about why you need both an inspection and testing, I thought it would be more useful to provide a number of examples to make my case. This posting will be the first of several hypothetical case studies I’ll present.”
My second case study…
Our client, Mrs. Black is in contract to purchase a new home. She did not want to pay for a mold inspection/moisture intrusion investigation. Instead, she wanted some representative air samples collected from some key areas of the home — master bedroom, living room, and kitchen.
All of the air samples collected came back in the normal range.
Mrs. Black moved into the home and about one week later, she noticed the kitchen floor buckling. She had us come back out to the home to inspect the kitchen for mold and moisture. Our inspector discovered that the kitchen hardwood floor was actively wet and retaining moisture. It was caused by an active leak under the dishwasher.
We collected microbial samples and the air in the kitchen was normal with respect to airborne mold spores. Our advice at this point was to have invasive exploration performed under the flooring to check for hidden mold growth.
The good news for Mrs. Black is that there was no mold problem. The bad news is that she had to replace almost half the hardwood flooring in the kitchen, which was thousands of dollars. Had she had us perform the inspection before she closed escrow, this problem would have been detected and she could have asked the seller to pay for the repairs.
I often tell clients on the phone that our mold inspection (water intrusion investigation) service is important even if we don’t find mold. Water intrusion in a home is always going to be an expensive project whether it has damaged carpeting, flooring, cabinets, etc., they are all expensive to repair or replace.
It is always important and prudent to have a mold inspection and water intrusion investigation if you are purchasing a new home, or if you believe you have a problem in your current home or rental property.
Mold within your home is typically considered to be…, you guessed it, a bad thing. Molds can begin to grow in a number of different ways, and can grow on many different things. When a mold problem is found, the safest and most effective way of addressing the issue is with a three step process including: 1) initial mold assessment, 2) mold removal (also known as mold remediation), and 3) post remediation verification.
The first step is the initial mold assessment inspection. This should be performed by a certified mold inspection company, and that company should be completely independent of any mold remediation work to avoid conflict of interest. The assessment should include determining sources of moisture, determining the overall area of impact (gross contamination as well as elevated airborne mold spore contamination), assessment of the affected building materials and putting together preventative maintenance plans. All of this information should be compiled into a final written report, which should include the mold remediation recommendations.
Next, is the mold remediation. This work should be performed by a competent, certified mold removal company. This can be a pretty in depth process depending on the area affected and materials that have been impacted, and will be unique to each situation. But, there are some basic steps that are almost always utilized including: containing the area from adjacent living spaces, installing engineering controls such as HEPA filtered negative air machines, removal of water damaged and mold impacted non-structural materials, cleaning and disinfecting of structural materials, scrubbing the air, HEPA vacuuming all surfaces, wet wiping all hard surfaces and returning all building materials to adequately dry conditions.
Lastly, a post remediation verification inspection should be done to ensure that the work has been performed properly. This inspection is typically done by the same company that performed the initial mold assessment. The inspection should be done while the remediation contractor’s containments are still in place, but before any materials have been installed. First the area must pass a visual inspection, meaning: All water damaged non-structural materials have been removed, all visible mold growth has been removed, all building materials are adequately dry and the area is visible clean. If the inspector deems that the visible remediation work was adequate, then air samples are collected within the work area to test for airborne mold spores. If the air samples are within industry clearance standards, then the mold inspection company will “pass” or “clear” the project. A final written report should then be provided to all relevant parties, verifying that the work was performed properly and effectively.
Facing a mold problem in your home can be a pretty daunting project at first. But, when the proper steps are followed, and competent professionals are utilized the process can be as low impact on you as possible. And, proper documentation of the entire process can save you a lot of headaches down the road when selling or renting a home with previous mold disclosures.
One of the most common questions our offices receive is “Why do I need a mold inspection? Won’t mold sampling and testing tell me what I need?” From our experiences over the last 10 years, which includes tens of thousands of mold inspection projects across five states, we consider the mold inspection to account for about 75% of the puzzle and mold sampling and testing to account for the other 25%.
Both parts are important, but they must be done in tandem — you can’t just count on one to tell the entire story.
Rather than write abstractly about why you need both an inspection and testing, I thought it would be more useful to provide a number of examples to make my case. This posting will be the first of several hypothetical case studies I’ll present.
Our client, Mr. Brown, is in contract to purchase a new home. He wants to make sure that he has no water intrusion or mold problems that could cost him money to repair or that would cause his family health problems. But, Mr. Brown is concerned about the cost of the inspection and the testing. He believes his home inspector will do a thorough inspection, so he just wants mold testing in a few rooms and wants to skip the mold inspection. We warn him against this decision and try to explain the need for the mold inspection, but he won’t be swayed.
He asks us to collect air samples in a few rooms in the home; including the master bathroom and master bedroom. All of the air samples come back from the lab as “normal”. Mr. Brown purchases the home and believes everything is ok from a water and mold standpoint. About a month after moving in, he notices a really musty odor in his master bedroom and is seeing some swelling of the drywall adjacent to the master bathroom shower. He hires a plumber to investigate. The plumber opens up the access panel to the shower plumbing and finds the inside of the wall full of mold. Mr. Brown is upset because he had mold testing performed in both the bedroom and bathroom and the air samples were normal. How could this happen?
A proper mold investigation requires both a mold inspection and mold testing. Had Mr. Brown paid for the mold inspection, the inspector would have used their moisture meter around all plumbing areas and places where water and mold are often found — like the areas adjacent to the shower. The inspector would have found elevated moisture and would have observed the staining and swelling of the drywall. The inspector would have recommended a wall cavity sample or invasive testing or both. The mold inspection service would have uncovered the mold problem.
Now, Mr. Brown is faced with a very expensive mold remediation project and repair of the drywall and shower. Since he has already purchased the home, he will likely have to pay for it himself. Had he spent just a little more money for the mold inspection during his due diligence, the responsibility to repair the shower and pay for the mold remediation would have been the seller’s.
That said, Mr. Brown did pay for mold testing of the air in the master bathroom and bedroom. How were those samples “normal”? The mold growth had an active source of water and food. Thus, it was not actively sporulating. And, it was trapped inside a wall cavity. Under these conditions, it is perfectly normal to have an air sample with no elevated spore counts in the air even though there is active mold growth in the area.
Again, this is why you need both a mold inspection — a big part of which is a moisture intrusion investigation — and mold testing.
How many times in life do we really get something of value for free? Not very often…
The same holds true for a “free” mold inspection. There are two primary, and necessary, services when it comes to indoor mold problems — mold inspection and testing and mold remediation (mold clean-up). Those two services should be performed by two different companies.
Mold inspection and testing companies perform a professional consulting service that will:
- Inspect your home or business based on industry standards;
- Collect microbial samples as needed; and
- Prepare a written report of findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
In the recommendations section of the report, the consultant will write a “scope of work” for remediation (clean-up) work, if needed. This scope of work is what the mold remediation company will follow when they prepare their estimate for the work. Mold remediation companies make their money based on the size and scope of a project. Most companies are honest and want to do what’s right for the customer. But, it is a conflict of interest for a remediation company to perform an inspection or to bid on a project without a scope of work from a consultant.
A quality mold inspection and report can take from a minimum of 3 hours to hundreds of hours. Even for the smallest of jobs — say a bathroom, the drive time plus the on site inspection time, plus the report creation time, plus the telephone consultation time adds up to real hours of professional level work. Ask yourself a simple question: “would anyone actually do this work for free?”
A “free” mold inspection is simply a way for some remediation companies to get their foot in the door and to get money from you for mold remediation and likely build back construction services.
Do yourself a favor and actually save yourself money and headaches in the big picture. If you believe you have a mold problem, hire a professional, certified, mold inspection and testing company to perform an initial investigation and a post inspection and testing, after mold remediation, if applicable.
The heavy rains we recently experienced in Southern California remind me of the rains of 2005. In 2005, we were flooded with calls from home owners and business owners about mold and water damage.
The bulk of the calls started occurning about 2 months after the heavy rains. This is when people started noticing the visible mold growth. Unforunately, the non-visible mold started growing long before. The longer water damage sits unaddressed, the greater the damage will be from mold.
My advice to everyone living in rain soaked and flood damaged areas of California is to perform their own personal inspection of their home or property. Grab a flashlight and look everywhere. If you see water damage, staining, or mold growth, call us immediately. The sooner these problems can be addressed, the lower the impact and the lower the cost to remedy.
Or, to be on the safe and pudent side, call us today at 310.451.9333 to set up an inspection. We can provide a detailed, thorough investigation to ensure your home is in top shape and to make sure you don’t have a lurking moisture and mold problem.
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