What Happens During A Mold Inspection?
One of the key recommendations was to call a professional to do a thorough inspection.
The purpose of this article is to explain what the inspector does when they visit your home or business.
Mold Inspectors Have Two Key Goals
The primary goal of a mold inspector is to first determine what is causing the mold. That is, they want to figure out what the source of moisture is that is causing the mold.
The second goal is to determine the extent of contamination and what type of mold is present so that a proper removal and remediation plan can be put into place.
Like a detective looking for clues, during the mold inspection, the inspector will gather information about the property by taking four actions:
1. Visual Clues
2. Asking Questions
3. Measuring Moisture Levels
4. Sampling Suspect Mold
#1 Visual Clues
Prior to entering the home or building, the inspector will examine the landscaping and determine if seepage could be a potential problem by examining the drainage system to determine if water flows away or towards the property.
The inspector will also look at the facia, eaves, and drain spouts to determine if there are any potential areas where water could be entering the property.
The whole purpose is to rule out any external sources of moisture intrusion.
Once this is complete, the inspector will look for visual clues of moisture inside of the property, including water stains, under sinks, behind appliances, behind baseboards, window condensation, etc.
#2 Asking Questions
The inspector will likely ask many questions to gather information about the building history, health of occupants, and potential moisture events that could be causing mold.
- Does anyone have any negative health affects when in the building yet feel better when not in the building? Important to know because if occupants are suffering ill health, this could indicate that there are indoor air quality issues potentially caused by mold.
- What year was the property built? This question gives the inspector some idea of how old the the structure is and potential aging concerns that could lead to moisture issues.
- How long have you owned and or lived, worked in or been renting the house or building? If you have experienced ill health, the length of time in the building could give clues as to the extent of the air quality issues.
- Does the house have a sump pit and pump? Many homes have sump pits and pumps to prevent flooding, but it is important that they are functioning properly.
- Ever had any leaks such as dishwashers, water heaters etc? If the answer is yes, then this could provide further clues as to where the potential moisture issues originated from that caused the mold issues.
- Previous floods or sewer backups such as toilet overflows? Again, if the answer is yes, strong clue of the potential cause of mold concerns.
- Do the windows leak or sweat? If the windows leak or sweat this could indicate that there are moisture issues in the home causing mold.
- Are the windows original? If the windows were recently replaced and not installed properly, this could cause moisture issues leading to mold.
- What year was the roof last shingled? One of the most common causes of moisture in homes, is leaky roofs. If the home is older and the roof has not been inspected, this could be a potential source of the mold problem.
- Is the furnace high efficiency and is there a HRV heat recovery ventilation system in place? The HVAC system of the home is the lungs of the home. If it is not operating properly, the air quality could be poor.
- Do the bathrooms have exhaust fans? Bathrooms create significant amounts of moisture in the home. If there are no exhaust fans, this could be a significant source of moisture potentially leading to mold issues.
- Are the fans vented to the outside environment or just into the attic? Fans vented into attics is a common construction flaw that leads to mold problems in properties.
- Is the dryer vented outside? Dryers should be vented outside, if not, this will create significant moisture issues.
- Have any upgrades to the exterior been done within the past ten years? Important question because the potential moisture problems could have been caused by poor construction practices during the upgrade.
- Major upgrades to the interior? This is another important question because sometimes during interior renovations mold is discovered but not properly cleaned up and can result in cross-contamination throughout the home.
Answers to these questions will help the inspector assess how and where the potential moisture concerns are originating from. It is important to understand that any mold remediation that occurs should only begin once the underlying moisture problems are fixed.
#3 Measuring Moisture Levels
High humidity is one of the strongest indications that there are moisture problems in the property. During a mold inspection the inspector will note down the relative humidity and temperature of each room. If there are specific rooms that have higher levels of relative humidity, this could be a clue that there is a mold problem in the room.
#4 Sampling Suspect Mold
The last step is to try to figure out what type of mold is present. The sampling strategy of the inspector could involve taking actual swab or tape samples. Some inspectors may also recommend that an air quality test be done as well to measure the spore count in the home compared to the outside air. The samples from such tests should be sent to an independent third party lab for examination.
As a final note, it should be noted that a home could have moisture issues that are not found through a visual inspection. This is one of the challenges that most mold inspectors face because mold can be hidden and sources of moisture can be hidden as well. A perfect example is if the property has leaky pipes, creating moisture and mold. If, during the questioning process, the inspector suspects that the problem could be leaky pipes, they may recommend that a thermal imaging test be done to examine the hot and cold spots in the home which will help pinpoint the area where the leak is taking place.
A credible mold inspector will take a proper amount of time to determine if there are mold concerns and then recommend a proper course of action. If you have your home inspected and it takes less than 15 minutes and you are told it will cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix, then definitely get a second opinion.
— Mold B Gone (@moldbgonega) August 14, 2015