We are going to tell you something right away about mold inspections and mold testing that is going to make 99% of all other mold companies and mold inspectors squirm. We know of no other mold company that will reveal this but we have been doing so for years because it is our mission to get good factual information about mold out there to combat all the misinformation and fiction that dominates our industry.
Ready? Well, if you already see visible mold, you usually do NOT need a mold inspection or mold testing. If you already see visible mold, you simply need to remove it following industry standard guidelines as we discuss below.
Once you see visible mold, testing is usually unnecessary and a waste of money.
There are many cases where a mold inspection and mold testing IS a good idea, and we discuss these below. We also discuss below why home mold tests that you can buy at hardware stores are a waste of money.
Why is it so relevant that testing is unnecessary if you already see mold? Because it will save most consumers lots of money! In other words, many consumers who call us (and presumably other mold companies) already see visible mold and think they therefore need to get it tested to determine what type of mold it is, whether its toxic, and other characteristics.
Do you think most companies who inspect for mold care to reveal this when they have an easy $250-$1000 mold inspection on the table from a worried customer who is misinformed? Obviously not. Of course, there are some companies and individuals who are truthful and we commend them but they are sadly few and far between and drowned out by the others.
Are you in STL or CHI? Got a mold problem?
Why is a mold inspection almost always unnecessary if there is visible mold?
Don’t you need to know, for example, what kind of mold it is so you can determine whether its toxic? In fact, in most cases, the surprising answer here is “no.” For starters, so called “Black Mold” is a term that is badly misused and misunderstood as we already discussed in our other industry shakeup article on toxic black mold.
Secondly, once you already see visible mold, knowing what type it is, for example, is usually irrelevant because at this point, you or a Mold Professional (like Moldman!) simply need to get rid of the mold following proper Mold Remediation and Mold Removal Principles.
Doesn’t the type of mold matter in determining the right way to properly remove the mold? No. In fact, once visible mold is present, the same Mold Remediation Principles referenced above are followed to remove it regardless of the color, species, etc.
If this all sounds too hard to believe, especially coming from a mold company, don’t take our word for it. Here is what the Environmental Protection Agency says verbatim:
“Is sampling for mold needed? In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building’s compliance with federal mold standards. Surface sampling may be useful to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.” (Source: EPA)
Notice the EPA says that not only is mold testing usually unnecessary when visible mold is present, but they also tell you that there are no federal guidelines yet for determining the amount of mold spores that is safe or dangerous. This is also something we tell our clients all the time, and by now you can probably guess is a rather important fact that most other companies will of course not bother to reveal! (Although no federal guidelines exist on mold spore counts, we can compare the number of indoor mold spores to the number of outdoor mold spores, for example, to get a relative idea of the levels of mold present in the tested environment. Thus, when a mold inspection and test is needed, knowing the indoor and outdoor spore counts is essential.)
The EPA paragraph did give an indication that mold testing can be useful in certain circumstances, though. We will expand on this point further, and answer the question:
When should a mold inspection and mold testing be considered?
- When visible mold is not present, but the smell of mold is. Here a mold inspection and mold test can reveal whether there is indeed elevated mold, and where it is located.
- There have been plumbing leaks or water issues and there is a suspicion that elevated mold may exist in the air and/or behind walls.
- Post Mold Removal Clearance Testing to ensure that the previous mold issues has been resolved and mold counts have returned to levels found in normal environments of the same type.
- Health Concerns: In some cases a doctor or the patient has a health issue that they cannot pinpoint the cause but seems to be related to mold symptoms (coughing, sneezing, headaches, etc). Here, a mold inspection and test may help to confirm whether the doctor’s or patient’s suspicions that a mold problem exists.
- For real estate transactions for the protection of Buyers and Sellers.
- Landlord/Tenant disputes as to whether there is a mold problem.
- Someone thinks they see or smell mold but are not sure.
- Someone is interested in a general Indoor Air Quality test of their environment.
Now why hire a mold professional at all when you can just go to your local home improvement store and just buy a home mold test kit and do it yourself?
Why Over-The-Counter Home Mold Tests Kits Are A Ripoff:
- Mold samples are often misleading or simply wrong (i.e. due to error). You need a professional to interpret the results.
- Home Mold Test Kits don’t include a visual inspection conducted by a mold professional … very important! A professional mold inspection includes not only sampling but also a comprehensive visual inspection to detect issues and problems related to mold that are not apparent to most people without training in building sciences and mold inspections.
- Mold is everywhere. Yes, all homes have small amounts of mold. Therefore, when a petri dish from a home mold test tells you that you have mold, it is not telling you anything useful since every home has mold!
- If you suspect a mold problem but do not actually see it or smell it, these test kits do not help you locate the problem or tell you how serious it is.
- Don’t take our word for it. Here is what the U.S. Government EPA says, verbatim: “Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.”