Back in November 2014, I accidentally discovered the answer to years’ worth of horrible health issues. Toxic mold. My cat actually discovered just one teeny portion of the issue. Unbeknownst to me I had a super feline mold inspector under my own roof. Without him, I may have never discovered the issue as we had NO visible mold.
I hired several “mold inspector” type people to help determine what exactly was going on in my house. While they all used different methods, the conclusion was the same. My house was killing me and I needed to walk away from it.
If you have mold or suspect mold, it might be difficult to decide if you need to hire a mold inspector. Today, I will give you some tips on when to consider bringing in a mold inspector, questions to ask before hiring one, titles mold inspectors go by, as well as a list of trusted professionals that came highly recommended by the world renowned toxicologist I hired.
When should a mold inspector be considered?
- When visible mold is not present, but the smell of mold is. Here a mold inspection and mold test can reveal whether there is indeed elevated mold, and where it is located.
- There have been plumbing leaks or water issues and there is a suspicion that elevated mold may exist in the air and/or behind walls.
- Post Mold Removal Clearance Testing to ensure that the previous mold issues has been resolved and mold counts have returned to levels found in normal environments of the same type.
- Health Concerns: when someone has a health issue that they cannot pinpoint the cause of and/or mold related illness symptoms are present.
- For real estate transactions for the protection of Buyers and Sellers.
- Landlord/Tenant disputes as to whether there is a mold problem.
- Someone thinks they see or smell mold but are not sure.
- Someone is interested in a general Indoor Air Quality test of their environment.
Questions to ask a mold inspector before hiring them
1. Do you consider mold to be a health hazard? If the inspector answers “no” or is on the fence about it, do not hire this person. A mold inspector should understand the health conditions associated with toxic mold exposure and not downplay their severity.
2. What types of mold testing do you perform? There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer here. Different tests can be used in different situations. I would caution you to avoid anyone who relies heavily on air sampling. This only gives you a 5 minute snapshot of what might be circulating in their air. This isn’t a full picture of what might be happening throughout your entire home. A quality mold inspector will use thermoimaging, take moisture readings, do an in depth visual inspector, and then take sample of any visible mold. Sampling may be done through core sampling, dust sampling, or tape lift sampling.
3. Do you take pictures as you make the inspection? A quality mold inspector will document his or her journey through your home making it a point to take photos of any areas with visible mold, water damage, or areas that look suspect.
4. How are the samples analyzed? Some mold inspectors will claim to verify samples immediately through their own testing procedures (in a van or home lab). Your inspector may in fact be trained to analyze samples under a microscope, however, the only way to know for sure if the test is truly authentic is by an having the samples sent to an accredited independent, third party lab to analyze and confirm the results of the test.
Find out about the lab the inspector uses. You should inquire about what types of testing the lab does, how long they have been in business, what their qualifications are and how many locations they have.
If any lab testing was completed, you should find out how long it will take for you to get the results. The typical turn around time for lab reports is three to five business days. If you need the results within one day, it is not unusual to pay an expensive rush charge. The larger and more established labs will usually be able to get the sample(s) completed and back within a reasonable time frame.
5. What type of report(s) will be provided? It is not unusual to get a verbal report only if the inspection does not lead to any issues of concern.
However, full investigations should be followed up with a verbal & written report. Almost all mold inspectors use software programs to generate their reports. It is best if they have a summary section detailing any significant issues, followed up by an action plan and recommendations with regards to remediation as needed. Good reports are detailed, with photos for reference.
6. Do you also provide mold remediation or cleaning services? In my opinion, it is a conflict of interest to perform both the initial investigation/testing AND profit from the cleaning/remediation of mold. It is in your best interest to use an unbiased and neutral third-party for your initial investigation and testing. The bottom line is: your mold inspector should not profit from the discovery of mold.
7. Does the inspector have any certifications and do they do any continuing education? California doesn’t have any licenses for mold testing, but there are certifications which require classes and continuing education to keep current. Examples are: Certified Microbial Consultant (CMC) and Certified Microbial Inspector (CMI). All states vary so be sure to come up to speed on the requirements in your area.
8. And finally, do you carry Professional Liability Insurance (Errors and Omissions insurance, commonly called E&O insurance)?
Most quality companies carry general liability (GL) insurance. However, E&O insurance is expensive and cost prohibitive for most mold inspection firms. The vast majority of mold inspectors do not carry this form of insurance that provides you with a higher level of protection.
Other titles mold inspectors go by
- Industrial hygienists
- Indoor Air Quality Specialists
- Mold and Construction Professional
- Mold Assessor
- Indoor Environmental Advisor
- Contaminated Drywall Assessor
- Certified Mold Worker
Trusted mold inspectors in the United States
Phone: (520) 290-6653
Kevin Riley, CIH
Phone: (800) 550-7806
Woodland Hills, California
David Harris, CMI
Los Angeles, California
Phone: (310) 384-7011
Phone: (707) 769-2289
Archie Yu, CIH, CSP
Phone: (808) 383-5511
American Mold Experts
Phone: (317) 837- 6665
Connie Morbach, M.S.,CHMM, ASCS, CIE
Phone: (248) 435-2088
You can also visit the International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness for a list of their recommended professionals.
If you have used a mold inspector and were pleased with their services, please forward their information to me so I can reach out to them.