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Got Mold? When to DIY and When to Call a Professional


Few things strike fear and anxiety in the hearts of homeowners as strongly as the possibility of mold. I had one client, a single mom, whose daughter had mold toxicity symptoms her whole life. Growing up, she told her mom that it was the home. This girl went to college and got well…if that isn’t a paradox!


Why didn’t her mother get mold testing? She was truly concerned for her daughter for years. One word…FEAR. She was afraid that her home would be condemned. Please be assured, I cannot condemn your home!


It’s always worthwhile to hire a qualified professional and have a Comprehensive Mold/IAQ Assessment done. However, it is not always financially feasible. The range flows from basic DIY…Basic Mold Inspections … to Comprehensive Mold/IAQ Assessments. I realize this is a lot to take in. I am providing you with adequate information to make an intelligent decision and use your financial resources wisely.


This article is detailed and not for everyone. It’s for those caught in the myriad of “What to do next? And Who do I trust?” My goal is to my clients get the most information with the least invested, so that finances can be used to solve the problem. Our hybrid program provides elements of DIY mold testing and Professional Comprehensive Assessments and is truly the best solution to get an excellent baseline without spending a fortune.


DIY Mold Testing Kit ($69-$170)

PROS

- Saves money

- No outside sales pressure

- Maintain privacy

- You know your home history and are very capable of a good physical inspection

- Subjective information (symptoms) is as important as objective information (lab results)

- Good option for renters and landlords


CONS

- Does it contain instructions on how to best inspect the exterior and interior

- Are samples obtained from a petri dish?

- Petri dishes are not dependable and even the pros do not use them

- They tend to have competing organisms and under report the problem

- Is it going to a lab?

- Will results show species, quantity and viability?

- Who will help you interpret lab results? Hint: the lab doesn’t interpret results or answer your questions.

- How do you safely get a sample?

- How do you get a good sample?

- What do I do with the information? Mold is everywhere. How much is too much?


Basic Mold Inspection ($375)

CONS

- Takes 3 air samples only

- Two samples inside and one outside. When interpreting lab results, the indoor is compared to the Outdoor Control, and indoor levels are expected to be lower than the Outdoor Control. This is an absolute minimum, and in my professional opinion, very inadequate. Air samples are like taking a snapshot. They have value, but are only a part of the puzzle.

- This system was started when homes did not have central heat and air. Logic must be used here. I live in Florida. If it rains for the afternoon, the mold levels will be higher outside. It is a Control without controls! The outdoor sample is basically worthless. Expert witnesses have successfully argued in court to throw out air samples

- Inspector will likely be in and out in under 30 min without good physical inspection of home

- Report will likely only interpret lab results and not provide solutions.

- Does air only and does not mold test surfaces. Surfaces give us a history of the environment

- Does not test for hidden mold

- Does not test if mold is viable (living)

- Toxic mold spores are heavy and stickier and may not be found in air sample

- Does not interview occupants


Professional Comprehensive Mold/IAQ Inspection ($1,200– 2,200)

PROS

- Minimum of 10 samples, air and surface – mold tested for species, levels and viability, Indoor Air Quality and hidden mold

- Physical inspection of interior is thorough, looking at all water prone areas with his tools.

- Report is clear and color coded with pictures. Usually about 30 pages

- Interprets lab results

- Gives solutions for elevated levels of mold

- Do you need to remediate? If so, where?

- If not, how can you solve the problem…. Very, very few do this. They are not motivated because it increases time spent and theoretically increases liability.

- Will attempt to locate the cause of moisture

- A must when purchasing a home with known mold infestation

- A must (before and after) if professional remediation is planned.


CONS

- Expensive. Expect to pay $1200-$2200 for a thorough whole home inspection (10-16 samples).

- $700 for a Limited Assessment (6 samples)

- Most do not test for Indoor Air Quality and hidden mold. This air test requires an air pump that runs for 2.0 hr.


Bottom line – Finding a good mold inspector is expensive, because there is a lot time and lab work involved, but that is the ideal. If you can afford it, do it. If you have more than ten square feet of visible mold or someone is having life threatening symptoms, then this is a must. Look for a professional that thinks holistically (its more than mold, trust me) and will give solutions. These are few are far between.


However, if you are looking to get a wealth of information and a good baseline, then our hybrid model may be just right for you!


She Knows Mold Hybrid Mold/IAQ Assessments ($199 - $399)

PROS

- Affordable

- “Test only” company – we do not benefit from recommending costly remediation

- 4 samples (air and surface samples) - identifies mold species, levels, and viability, over 400 chemicals, and hidden mold

- Includes Indoor Air Quality Testing

- Does not use petri dishes

- Gives an excellent baseline assessment

- No outside sales pressure

- Maintain privacy

- Evaluates your symptoms (Subjective information) (symptoms) as well as lab results (objective information)

- Evaluates physical inspection of interior and exterior

- Lab report is clear and color coded

- Interprets lab results

- Gives solutions for the problem

- Answers the question – “Do you need to remediate or can you solve the problem DIY?

- Thinks holistically – goal is to have a healthy home.


CONS

- Not appropriate with professional remediation

- Not if there is ten square feet of visible mold

- Occupants are experiencing life threatening symptoms

- Does not provide a whole home Comprehensive Mold/IAQ Assessment

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