Mold Remediation Co's Pass Hidden Test

by Michael Schwanke

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It’s the time of year when mold isn’t typically a problem, but this winter mold companies say they are busier than ever. Removing it is costly, usually in the thousands of dollars.
You have many options when it comes to removal, and around the country there are reports of mold companies lying, deceiving, and over-charging customers. We wanted to know if it was happening in Wichita and found surprising results.
“My dad used to tell me as a kid growing up always tell the truth because then you don’t have to remember the lie,” says Stuart Ciccone with Eagle Environmental.
Ciccone says he uses that same philosophy in his business.
His company was one of three mold removal companies we chose at random to see if they were being honest.
We enlisted the help of a certified mold consultant, Steve Moreland with American Metropolitan Environmental. His job is to find mold, not remove it.
For more than an hour Moreland searched nearly every inch of our test home and found problems in three places. But, in his opinion, the mold was something a homeowner could handle.
With that information, we looked to the phone book for mold removal companies. Using hidden cameras and a KWCH-12 employee we tested the companies. All three told us the same thing our consultant told us.
“I think it was a good idea. It never hurts to have someone watching over your shoulder once in a while. Keeps an honest man honest,” says Ciccone.
That’s why we did the story. We know it’s happening in other areas, so we wanted to know if it’s happening in Wichita.
While our sample was small, the news was all good, and we wanted to report that.
Still, Ciccone says deception does happen here, and homeowners need to know how to protect themselves.
“People don’t always know what they’re dealing with. It would be real easy to take advantage of folks and make a bigger deal than it is.”
How do protect yourself? First rule our experts say is to get another opinion.
“It’s a good idea to consider a third party investigator who has no vested interest in remediation at all,” says Moreland.
Also, don’t believe anyone who says the mold is “toxic” without testing it.
“You cannot identify what kind of mold it is by looking at it.”
Third, whether you hire someone or do it yourself, any visible mold inside your home is a bad thing.
“Our philosophy is that anytime we find a visible mold issue, then it is a problem and it should be addressed.”
And finally, if you suspect you have mold, educate yourself.
“There’s a lot of bad information out there on mold and it can lead a homeowner down the wrong path.”
The EPA has released “Ten Things You Should Know About Mold.”

  1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
  2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
  3. If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
  4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
  5. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60% ) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
  6. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  7. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
  8. Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
  9. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
  10. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.

Thanks, DPlummer. Very good article!! The public needs a lot more of this.

I got a call yesterday from someone who wanted his roof inspected. He mentioned that water was dripping from the sheathing and coming through openings into the attic. First thing I did when I entered the home was check the humidity…60%. Went to attic access hatch and saw soffit vents had no baffles to allow air flow. 1 small roof vent. Explained need for ventilation and reduction of indoor humidity.(humidifier was cranked up) Sent him to for info. It was a simple solution.

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It may be too simple a solution!

In some houses, increasing attic ventilation can actually increase moisture flow to the attic, especially if there’s a damp house below from whatever reasons. The “closed” (relatively speaking) attic is actually slowing down warm, moist air movement from below. By adding attic ventilation, an open system is created which allows more air leakage from below which (1) brings more moisture from below and (2) increases heat loss.

Following are some Canadian websites on the air leakage issues:

Notice the emphasis on airsealing throughout these sections. The rest of the booklet is quite good also.

Here’s a list of energy brochures from my old gov. dept. I had input to many of these and originally wrote the "Ventilation for New Homes" in 1994/5. It’s been changed a bit since then; I don’t fully agree with some items now.

OOPS: Just realized I left the website URL out:

Well said ,Close the home to the attic here is his post above as a PDF if some one wants to print the book. 136 pages
You might have to cut an paste I did.

There were two attics. The other attic was well ventilated and was dry!!

But that doesn’t mean that it’s not losing house air and **heat **through air leakage! Was the kitchen, bathroom/s, laundry under that attic? Maybe there weren’t as many air leakage sites or as large as in this attic there were in the other attic.

There are other structural/architectural features that cause a lot more air leakage/moisture problems in different parts of a house. In split level homes, for each of the half walls where a lower level with attic abuts the next higher floor’s wall…usually the loose fiberglass insulation in the upper half common wall visible in the attic is shoved down a few inches into the lower half uninsulated warm common wall cavity…this is not airsealing.

This area is one of the larger air leakage sites in this style of home. It must be airsealed by cutting and fitting XP foam or other material to fit and then caulk/foam any gaps. Another quicker means would be to stuff a bit of fiberglass down into the cavity to the lower ceiling level and then use a foam gun to fill/seal the whole 3.5" (or 5.5") x14.5" opening.