Testing for Mold

This comment was in a Home Energy article and I wanted to post to obtain opinions from other inspectors and especially professionals that are qualified to test for mold.

I purchase a best of CD when I subscribed to Home Energy magazine.
Now the article is old but here it is.

Article: Fundamentals of moisture in houses.
Subject: Testing for Mold

Here is the text from the article:

***“If you can see it or smell it you have mold. There is absolutely no point in trying to test for it. The human nose is far more accurate than all the testing money can buy, unless you want to identify the specific type of mold you are smelling or seeing.”


I attached the entire article as it is pretty good.

The text I quoted is on page 13 at the bottom of the diagnostic tests and tools section.

Thanks David, I will have to store that away.

Actually the EPA states if you can see mold there is no reason to test for it. I mention this to clients and they really rally want to know what type and how much. So I oblige them and give some education also.

That’s pretty much how I handle it as well.:smiley:

I can spend 2 hours doing a thorough visual/thermal inspection for moiusture iussues. And my clients won’t feel I have inspected for mold unless I run an air pump and take a sample. AT some point I have to weigh my time. I can educate until I am blue and they are still convinced there should be tests. So if I detect that the client won’t feel inspected unless I test then I do it. All the while making them understand (and it’s in my agreement) that my report is not determined by any one element and a negative test won’t override my own examination that documents moisture.

On the other side of that are the Remediators that are held to a Standard of Care that says they, as remediators, in remedying a mold “Condition” haven’t really remediated it until it is returned to “its normal ecological status”. The reasoning behind this is definition of a “Condition” of an environment can be a good one in some cases. While a bathroom may have had a leak causing mold to develop around a toilet, the moisture and mold may have had an effect on the indoor air quality of the adjoining room or system (like the HVAC) or could have affected the crawlspace below it. So, for a remediator trying to stay in compliance with the Standard of Care, they may want the IEP to inspection and generate the protocol as defined by the inspection.

That leads us to the question - where do we draw the line? In a home there can be a number of pre-existing problems. Both inspector and remediator alike has to use sound judgement and make sure to have legal disclosures and forms ready - just in case.

I only mention all of this to get your perspectives on where the industry is going as a whole. Too often inspectors (and the organizations that represent them) are looking after their best interest and expertise while the remediators (and the organizations that represent them) go a similar but different direction. A look at history shows us how one may make a big step while the other takes its time to address it before moving beyond the other. Hardly a concert effort towards understanding Action Levels, Permissible Levels, Remediation Verification Levels, etc., but that’s what’s been going on.

I’d like to hear your perspectives.