12 Essential Tips for Hiring A Great Mold Inspector

12 Essential Tips for Hiring A Great Mold Inspector

Are you concerned about how mold in your home is affecting the health of your family?

If so, then I invite you keep reading so I can help point you in the right direction.

It is common knowledge that prolonged mold exposure can cause health issues, especially for those who have sensitivities to mold, especially the very young or elderly. This has been well documented by organizations such as the Mayo Clinic and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as well as numerous other sources involved with mold.

Many suffer “cold or flu” like symptoms, when they are in the presence of mold affected areas, only to feel better when they leave the environment.

The more our awareness grows on the subject, the more important it is or us to cut through the noise, so we can pin point exactly what we need to do about it.

Sadly, very few people take the time to properly qualify me, or anyone else for that matter, when looking to hire a mold inspector. I can certainly understand and empathize with them because their emotions take over.

The main focus becomes “I’ve got to deal with this mold threat”, rather than “I need to find the right inspector for a solution.”

Aside from the details outlined throughout this document, the key focus of the mold inspection is to find the source of the issue (if there is one) and exactly what to do about it. You absolutely need to know if your inspector is capable of doing so.

In my follow up article to this one, Tips For Hiring A Mold Remediation Company, I explain the difference between a mold inspector and remediation contractor.

 

In this article I will clearly outline 12 essential tips for hiring a great mold Inspector for your needs…

 

1. The initial phone call – This is where you want to establish how open the inspector is for taking the time to understand your concern(s).

Ask if he is willing to discuss your problem over the phone and answer any questions prior to booking the inspection. This is also an opportunity to find out how well the person on the other line communicates with you. Effective communication skills are vital for mold inspectors to have, so you understand any problems and potential implications resulting for the mold inspection.

 

2. Adequate Training – Even in our modern age of technology and apparent sophistication, the mold and remediation field is largely unregulated. In many cases, a handy man will be called in to conduct a mold inspection. Many strata management companies do this to save on costs (hoping their hired handy man can fix all of the building related issues).

Mold inspections require proper training. Find out what their level of training is and if they have the appropriate certifications to understand what they are looking for… and the impact of what they find. Ask when they took their last training course and which institution it came from. Just like contractors, not all schools are the same… Some good, some bad, so it is important to research this thoroughly.

 

3. Associations – Does the mold inspector belong to an accredited association and follow a Standard of practice or Scope of work. Do they have a Code of Ethics?

Professional associations are there to help inspectors be the best they can through support and training. When a professional belongs to one, it is a sign that they pay attention to their education and training to best serve their clients.

 

4. Experience – Find how long the inspector has been conducting mold investigations, and if this is a full or part time job. There are a lot of people who try to take on mold work on the side (like a handyman) without the proper training or experience. This can lead to poor investigations, and possible health safety issues – due to mishandling of mold infected materials, for example. Try to find out their level of experience during the initial phone call.

 

5. Inspection Procedures – All experienced and well-trained inspectors will have a routine for finding any mold or potential related issues. Ask the inspector to explain their procedures. This is not meant to offend the inspector, but rather to give you some insight on required protocol. A seasoned inspector will know that you have been informed and appreciate your insight.

The inspector should be able to tell you specifically what they plan on doing, including what systems of the home and areas they will be checking. The first priority should be focused on investigating any immediate issue(s). If there are no apparent visible concerns, and the inspection has been requested for peace of mind, this is where a systemized, established routine is important.

The routine should be a specific and detailed… including the water heater, main water shut off (if accessible) visible areas under bathroom and kitchen sinks, ventilation, interior areas along the walls, floors, by windows, in closets, ceilings, behind and under furniture where appropriate, corners, attic and crawlspace as needed. In addition, the exterior and roof may be required as well.

 

6. Insurance – All inspectors should carry insurance to cover them, should they need it. If they are not covered, then you may have difficulty recovering any losses.

 

7. Limitations – Ask the mold inspector about any limitations to inspection. They should let you know this up front, and within their contract. This is important to establish clear expectations on what the inspector can and cannot do. You should have this discussion in the beginning, to avoid any confusion later.

For example, the contract may say “The Inspection is a visual inspection of the readily accessible features and components of the Home for water damage and mold contamination. The Inspection is non-invasive and no destructive investigation will be performed.” In this case the inspector is stating that he is limited only to what can be seen, and therefore will not open up any walls or cause damage to find mold or moisture. Other limitations may come up during the inspection as well, such as areas of the home that cannot be seen due to furniture, carpets, wall hangings, appliances, etc.

 

8. Tools & Equipment – Mold inspectors should be using use a number of tools, such as a moisture meter, flashlight, hygrometer, humidity testers, infrared camera and air-sampling equipment, as needed to properly assess the home or building.

The infrared camera requires at least a level one certification by an accredited institution. Testing equipment for air samples and surface testing requires training as well. It is useful for you to know what tools they plan on bringing so you know they will be well equipped to perform the inspection.

 

9. Testing and Sampling – Note: Be cautious if the inspector plans on taking air samples at the beginning of the inspection, or suggests that it is standard practice. This is not the case! He may be insisting that you have testing completed when it is not always warranted. Regardless of the test results, each test sample taken will cost you money, which my not be

Inspection Tools

Mold Sampling Air Pump

necessary.

Air sampling should only be taken after the inspector has completed a full inspection. Air samples determine what the spore counts are at the time of sampling, and the species.

If samples are needed, there should be at least one sample taken on location outside of the home, one in an area of concern and one in an area of the home where the risk “appears” to be less likely. (This is the minimum. More may be required based on other factors, such as the size of the home or findings from the inspection)

Samples help determine if there is an unsafe air quality issue in a given location, but will not help to pin point specifically there the concern is. This is why a full inspection is needed.

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.

 

9. Reputation and References – Take the time to check the better business bureau to see if there have been any complaints. It the inspection company listed on the better business bureau? Not mandatory by any means, but it does show that they are accountable, transparent and willing to be held to the voice of public opinion.

See if there are reviews about the company to learn about experiences from others. Ask close friends and family if they know of reputable a mold inspector.

Ask the inspection company if they willing to provide you with a list of references, should you choose them.

 

10. Inspection Reports – Ask the inspector 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.

 

11. Price – The mold inspection fee will depend on a number of factors, including location & services needed (testing, reports, etc). The fees should range from approximately $300 to $1500.

You should expect to pay a minimum fee to have an inspector come out to investigate, regardless of how serious the issues may be. Be wary of free inspections by remediation companies, as nothing is truly free.

 

12. The X Factor – You want to ensure that the inspector has all of the resources at their disposal to provide you with the best inspection and information possible. This shows their dedication to the profession.

As mentioned, you want to avoid moonlighters or the part time guy looking for something to do. It is best to hire an inspector that is does NOT do remediation as well, to avoid any apparent conflicts of interest.

Trust your intuition, and gut feeling when you are on the phone to see if everything makes sense and seems reasonable. Although difficult, try to take any emotions out of the decision making process, while focusing on the facts presented.

 

Conclusion:

I have emphasized the importance of finding a great Mold inspector for the wellbeing of your health and pocket book. To summarize I recommend asking the flowing questions:

  • What kind of mold inspection training have you received, including certifications, and educational institutions?
  • Do you participate in ongoing education to keep current?
  • How long have you been practicing mold inspections?
  • How do you go about conducting a mold inspection? Do you follow a set of procedures?
  • Do you carry insurance in care there is an issue?
  • May I call you after the inspection for follow up questions?
  • May I shadow you throughout the inspection?
  • What are the limitations of your inspection (what cannot be done by the inspector)
  • How long will the inspection take?
  • What tools will you be using during the Mold Inspection?
  • If we decide to do business, do you have any references for me to call?
  • What kind of report is included with the inspection? Verbal, writing?
  • How long has the lab been in business? What certifications does the lab have? If appropriate, how long will the lab report take?
  • What professional associations do you belong to?
  • Will you provide a list of recommendations and next steps flowing the inspection?
  • What is the Price? Ask yourself… Do you think you are getting fair value?
  • Does your company do remediation as well?

Yes, there are a lot of questions to ask. Yet when it comes to mold, I believe that it is necessary to properly qualify the right inspector for the overall well being of you and your family.

If you have any questions about this article, send me an email and I’ll do my best to assist you.

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