Mold does not always produce a musty odor and is not always detectable through a visible inspection. It is often hidden inside walls, behind wall paper, underneath flooring or behind built-in cabinetry. Mold inspectors are trained to find these infestations. Different mold inspectors have varying qualifications, equipment, experience, reporting methods and yes, pricing.
Certification of Mold Inspectors
In order to reclaim your costs from damages caused by mold you may need to have an official mold test results and analysis by Certified Mold Inspectors. The mold inspection and remediation industry is unregulated so you do need to some due diligence to make sure you are dealing with qualified and certified mold inspectors. The good news is that you can, in general, count on companies that hold a verifiable, current certification from IAQA (Indoor Air Quality Association), NAMP (National Association of Mold Professionals) or NORMI (National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors).
In Canada choose mold inspectors certified by the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification) or an equivalent industry organization. We would recommend getting checking with the CMHC for mold inspectors and remediators.
Beware of mold remediation firms doing mold assessments! A Certified Mold Inspector should do independent mold inspection and testing only. While many firms offer both inspection and remediation, we consider this a conflict of interest with far too much potential for deliberate misinformation and abuse.
What is a Mold Inspection?
A mold inspection is a customized home inspection of the house focused on moisture control, plumbing leaks, floods, and storm water drainage. Before starting, there is a client interview and tour of the property. A mold inspectors work begins with a full review of roofing, attic ventilation, siding, utility penetrations, windows, doors, foundation, crawlspace, gutters, and grade drainage. A check is made to see if all components are installed and sealed properly.
Moisture control features of the house are observed and may be operated, including ventilation, the heating and cooling system, supply and return ductwork and humidity control. Relative humidity should be less than 50%, where 35-40% is ideal.
Next, a thorough sampling of airborne mold may be conducted. While every house has a certain amount of airborne spores, only a professional mold testing specialist well versed in sampling and analysis will tell you if the concentration of airborne spores points to a larger problem in your home.
Finally, mold inspectors will provide a written report with recommendations based on industry standards that you can take to a separate mold remediation company … or, if you’re lucky, you’ll receive a clean bill of health that you can take to the bank when the time comes to put your home on the market.
Mold Inspectors’ Toolbox
Some of the methods mold inspectors use include:
• Visual Inspection of the building for evidence of moisture intrusion and visible signs of mold growth.
• Mold Dog Inspection to pinpoint areas of the building that have active mold growth.
• Moisture Meter to determine if walls, floors and ceilings show signs of active moisture problems.
• Air Quality Testing to determine air patterns and relative humidity in the building which could lead to mold issues.
• Thermal Imaging to locate hidden home moisture issues inside wall cavities without any holes, marks or other destructive techniques.
• MVOC meter (Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds) to determine off gassing levels for mould in the indoor environment.
• Airborne Laser Particle Counter to determine which areas of the building show the highest dust load (which could be mold spores).
• Tape lift sampling for source identification.
• Viable Laboratory Testing (living mould spores) by drawing air into a petri dish with an agar solution that will grow active mold spores.
• Non-Viable Sampling (dead mold spores) by drawing air into a spore trap which will identify dead or killed mold spores
Mold Inspectors’ Cost
Depending on the size of the house, the extent of the mold growth, the types of testing done, and the equipment used the price can range from $200 to $1500. It is also important to realize that if any additional paperwork needs to be completed, such as to file an insurance claim, it could involve additional costs.