Mould Inspections

Are you turning down mold inspections or requests for mold testing?

Both Cam…not as much “turning down” as I am talking them out of doing it. Some see visible mold and want it tested to find out what type. I’m doing one tomorrow, tape swab only, I couldn’t talk them out of it…Wife laughs, if somebody calls for a HI, then about 4 min later I’m hanging up, inspection booked. They call for mold, I spend 20-30 minutes on the phone telling them all about it, and why it’s a waste of their money…while they seem to appreciate my honesty, my bank account doesn’t appreciate the diet…

Just curious because I don’t turn down the inspections since it benefits any homeowner to know how to control and/or prevent moisture in the house. Often there is a moisture problem but it may not have led to a mold problem of any significance, certainly not one worthy of thousands of dollars worth of mold remediation. The inspections are really just walk-thru consultations or perhaps an inspection of the basement or inspection of an attic space. I usually end up doing a lot of education about exterior/interior control of moisture, ventilation and controlling air-quality as well.

Okay, I see that mould is not a great topic because, as Roy has noted, there isn’t a lot of response. I get the point that not a lot of faith is put into the testing of mould. I was trying to keep to the original thread but see that I cannot. Okay, the rest of the story is that I do actually have a borescope and was able to confirm a mould-like substance in the walls. The homeowner has moved out because she claims that she can’t breathe and has been told by one of the neighbours that the house was previously condemned but ‘cleaned up’ (aka - covered up). None of the mould was originally visible. The original attic had a new roof built on top of it. The top part was dry. The bottom part was wet. She wasn’t originally talking about litigation but doesn’t know what to do now besides foreclosure because repairing this home will probably cost more than it is worth. I will be talking to her tomorrow and will offer to do some limited destructive testing if she wants.

The truth is that I’ve sent samples to a lab in the past which looked like mould to me and turned out not to be. I’ve also sent samples to a lab which did not look like mould but ended up being mould. In the end, if it isn’t tested, it’s only a ‘mould-like substance’ (or whatever other term you use) and cannot confirm that what you are looking at is actually mould.

The reason why there are hardly no responses to mold questions is, smart home inspectors do not comment on things they do not know about.

Air testing is very usual is several ways:

  1. Can help determine how much area needs to be cleaned.
  2. Can help determine how thorough an area needs to be cleaned.
  3. Can help locate an area of hidden mold.
  4. Can help determine if a mold remediation is successful.
  5. Can help a trained doctor in determining how to treat a patient which is having a Building- related Illness (BRI).

Surface sampling is very useful in determining what kind of mold it is or if it is even mold.

In my opinion, air sampling supplies more useful data than surface sampling. A mold assessor can write a mold remediation protocol without surface sampling, but cannot without air sampling.

Outside of #4 and #5(and only partially), every other statement above is verifiably incorrect. They are common and often repeated misconceptions about air sampling.

The biggest problem with air sampling is that one or two samples is woefully inadequate to give any trustworthy results.

Ironically, if you replace the words air testing with “a visual inspection and a few surface samples if needed” you suddenly increase the validity of those statements above nearly 100-fold.

For the slower inspector above, I will explain:

If mold spores are not removed effectively, mold can more easily regrow and/or cause the occupants of the building health problems. Air testing can determine even if carpeting needs to be replaced or just cleaned.

Surface sampling only determines mold growth on the small area tested. You detect mold with a surface sample of a small area, but move over a few inches with another surface test you may not get any mold growths.

The spore level will increase as air testing is performed closer to the hidden mold. Air cavity testing can be used in detecting if a wall our ceiling contains mold growths.

A doctor needs to determine the environment which his patient is in to effectively treat BRI.

No forms of testing show be performed with out at least a visual evaluation first.

According to a legal opinion handed down in court, at least 4-5 air samples needs to be taken to come to a conclusion on mold. ( I have no idea why the opinion reads at least 4-5, instead of at least 4.)

There is no form of environmental testing that is absolute. Radon testing is a good example of this.

Thank you, James, for your response.

Mold spores can be seen? Wow, all these labs use microscopes. You guys have awesome eyesight. Congratulations!

James stated it well. But if your confused about MOLD then do not do mold. For the inspector that talks people out of it. That is absolute craziness! If you don’t know, then don’t offer advice! Without going to the house your telling them not to do it? Do as you like, it is your business and your decision.

Nothing wrong with stating you don’t agree with testing and don’t provide it. But decide on your own as to why or why not to perform the testing. I NEVER talk people out of something, I never even looked at, to me that is business suicide!

Got a call from a health clinic yesterday. They had an inspector check a home for mold using a new technique. They were quite impressed at the thoroughness of his report. The reason they called is the patient is now complaining that mold is becoming visible at the baseboards. I got to see his report.
He used a IR camera for the entire thing. No air sampling or swabs at all. The health clinic was taken back when I told them that IR cannot see mold behind a wall.

Insults do not make up for wrong information, but based on some of your statements below I see why you feel the need to go there. Let’s address these one at a time so no inspectors are tempted to repeat your opinions to their clients and be embarrassed when a slightly informed client calls them on it:

The number of spores present does not determine how easily mold will regrow. 1,000,000,000,000 spores or 1,000 spores will both grow at exactly the same rate and with the same ease if given the right growing conditions, primarily the presence of moisture and a food source. The number of spores is completely irrelevant, pile up a mountain of spores and without moisture they will just sit there. This is basic, basic stuff and I cannot believe an erroneous statement like that would be made in this day and age.

The number of spores in the home is variable due to the weather, variable due to equipment operation, variable due to occupants habits of occupancy and traffic, variable due to location of the test equipment, variable due to the mold growth/spores present near and around the home environment, variable due to the movement of airflow through the home and around the testing equipment, subjective due to training of the laboratory slide reader, subjective due to his/her interpretations of the test slide and even subjective due to the laboratory slide reader’s sleep the night before, effort & work ethic, coffee intake, day of the week, how close it is to lunch time and how distracted he/she is by the new hot lab assistant. Air samples are just a visual inspection under a microscope by a person, they are not performed by an objective piece of equipment or a machine, therefore they have error. There are plenty of ways an air sample result can fail to correctly represent the actual spore count in the area being tested. Regardless, the presence of spores does not equate to a mold problem, every home has spores. As such, any mold remediator which tells you removal of spores to prevent regrowth is the goal should immediately be replaced with someone who knows what they are talking about.

Testing air cannot inform you of the condition of the carpet anymore than running the kitchen faucet can tell you if the toilet needs a new wax ring. These types of made up facts about the benefits of testing have one purpose: to sell testing.

Ignoring the documented variability in spore trap testing and the potential for subjective analysis in the laboratory, there are factors in the construction of the home itself which debunk both the above statements. A high spore count in one area does not automatically correspond to the presence of mold in that area, to claim otherwise is junk science and not substantiated by the facts. Mold can be growing in a large healthy colony and not be releasing spores in any significant numbers simply because it has no biological need to preserve or spread the colony. Conversely a room with little to no mold growth could return a high spore count due to air movement through the home(including HVAC equipment) or even occupant traffic.

Hidden mold is often brought up as a reason for the need to air sample test, but actual hidden mold is just that, hidden. Hidden mold is not truly hidden if its spores can be disbursed from out of a wall or ceiling cavity and into the home. There is no mechanism by which mold growth sealed in a wall cavity or more likely sandwiched between drywall or paneling and insulation can force its way into the interior of the home. Even if this idea of tracking down mold by testing closer and closer to the source had merit, it would take many more tests than typically performed by a mold tester or home inspector to overcome the potential for error in air sample test results. Which is easier, cheaper and beneficial to your clients, spending thousands on testing without getting results which can be trusted, or patching a few holes in drywall?

The shear amount and type of testing needed to effectively and precisely evaluate a home’s IAQ in order to answer those kind of questions makes using this argument to support mold air sample testing by mold inspectors almost fraudulent. There are many allergens which can produce the same health affects which are often blamed on mold. Will the responsible IAQ inspector be testing for dust mites(the most common allergen in your home, which you put your face in every night), pet dander, pollen, dust particulates, insect pests, cigarette smoke, off-gassing from construction materials, furniture, computers & personal belongings? Nope. It is just another attempt at promoting unnecessary testing by bringing up health and doctors.

Sure, a doctor can use the confirmed presence of mold in a home to verify his own diagnosis of a person’s reaction to certain types of mold, but at that point a highly trained and educated expert in fungal biology should be involved and the testing will be extensive to accurately determine the IAQ. Health issues are too important and should not be trusted to the interpretation of a home inspector or 4-day certified mold tester/remediator. What is more dangerous than not knowing something is not knowing what one doesn’t know.

I have no idea what court case has determined all of the sudden that 4-5 air samples will provide a conclusion on mold, but I’m astounded any professional would point to the judicial system or worse, a single case, as an authority on testing protocol.

Looking forward to what you will make up next… :slight_smile:

I am not going to get involved in one of your stupid arguments.
Do your clients a favor and stop being a hypocrite. Stop testing for mold if you do not believe or understand testing.

Post accurate information about mold minus the ill conceived insults and you won’t find yourself engaged in one of these discussions.

So prove anything what I said is not accurate.
I proved everything to you in the past was accurate, but you still come up with the same stupid arguments that have been proven time and time again to be wrong. This message board is here so inspectors to learn, not for you to be giving out false information.

You have proven you do not understand this, nor listen, so what you are calling insults are the truth about you.

Russel, maybe I should have been more clear. Not that I’m talking anybody out of it-I’m educating them about it, because I DO know. I educate them on the facts only. I tell them what caused the mold, and let them know how to keep it from returning. I don’t need to go to the house for that. You’re a smart guy, and a great inspector. You know every house has some mold, and you know that water intrusion somewhere has caused it. You know that getting rid of the water problem will get rid of the mold. I stopped telling the client this over the phone…

Since my last post in this thread, I have performed 4 mold inspections, to some very happy and appreciative clients. In short, instead of educating them over the phone, I’m simply educating them at their home during the inspection and testing, and collecting $$ for it!!

They’re happy, I’m happy, and my bank account is happy. No suicide here! :smiley:

My two cents…

A year ago I took a mold course and started doing mold inspections/testing. From a business standpoint it has added hundreds and often thousands to my bottom line every month.

On Wednesday a landlord called me up and needed several properties inspected for visual mold and moisture problems, and air quality tests performed on each one.

I spent half a day driving around to his properties and found several ventilation and moisture issues, took samples and dropped them off on the way home.

He called me and was thrilled with the service and has since recommended me to several top performing realtors in the area.

I cashed a huge four-figure check yesterday and will be getting more business from his associates.

Hope that helps someone out there make their decision…

Thanks, David…Dat’s what I’m talkin’ bout!!

You have never proved one thing. Your MO is to make that exact claim every time this topic comes up. You get logically and scientifically shot down time and again. Making up promises and facts about mold based on your opinions isn’t educating anyone.

Why don’t you instead prove any one of these:
**Show any recognized and respected source which uses the term “considered toxic”, as you do, to describe molds which produce mycotoxins. **

**Show any recognized and respected medical source which uses the term “mold toxification”, as you do, to describe a person suffering from a physiological reaction to mold. **

Show any recognized and respected source which corroborates your claim that spores not being cleaned up properly will increase the ease with which mold will regrow.

Show any recognized and respected source which corroborates your claim that air sampling can tell you the condition of the carpet.

Show any recognized and respected source which corroborates your claim that air sampling can be used to find hidden mold.

It is important to note that I am not supporting or agreeing with everything the above links may contain. They certainly come from from “both sides of the aisle” so to speak. What is notable is that they all dispute the statements and mold facts made up by Mr. Braun. These are just a sample; there are many, many more out there.

You might want to call them back and apologize. IR combined with a good moisture meter can determine if mold may be present. Example… IR picks up a temp differential (cold spot)… I pull my moisture meter to verify. Anytime your moisture meter hits 16% or over (rule of thumb) mold is likely present and invasive measures need to be taken to further investigate/correct the situation by how… finding the source of moisture. PS… I agree with James here. Doing a visual inspection alone will not tell you everything you need to know in order to give your clients the correct picture. You guys should also know hidden mold can and will eventually find it’s way into the livable portion of home if not corrected. Yes I do understand mold is already inside the envelope but a client needs a good picture regarding how much and how to control it aka by controlling moisture.

16%? Where did that rule come from?