According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in most cases, if visible mold is present, sampling is unnecessary. An inspector may object to that statement, because of the assumption that what is present is actually mold. There may be many inspectors who are comfortable in making that assumption.
“That which is visible is mold” is a statement based upon assumption. The only way to actually know that what is visible is actually mold is through sampling. If neither you nor your client need to confirm that what you see is actually mold, you don’t need to sample. However, there may be others (affected by the findings of the inspector’s report) who will request proof or validation of the findings, including the occupant or owner of the building.
How Do You Know It’s Mold?
Don’t guess. It is essential for an inspector to report with a high level of accuracy. Reporting “the presence of visible mold” for a professional inspector should be based upon fact or evidence rather than assumptions and appearances. When the appearance of what is visible is at least questionable, the inspector should search for evidence to confirm what is being examined. For an inspector, it may be a great leap of faith to report that a moldy-looking building component is in fact actually visible mold (or microbial growth). Error comes with guessing.
Something that has the appearance of mold may not actually be mold. For example, spider webs, fine dust, paint spray, dried mud, and water stains may all give the appearance of microbial growth. The inspector whom reports the existence of mold growth based upon the discovery of something that appears to look moldy may be in error. It may be mold; it may not.
To report mold growth with accuracy and confidence is through sampling by a certified inspector and analysis by a laboratory.