Mold testing is expensive. Costs can escalate quickly, depending on the condition of the property and the number of samples captured. Here are some points to consider when deciding whether to test for mold and how to get the biggest bang for your buck if you do decide to test.
Start small. Pay for a moisture investigation, with an option to test, depending on the results of the moisture investigation. The moisture investigation is at least as important as capturing air or surface samples. Understand that because the number one precursor to mold growth is moisture, it’s critical to begin by determining the property’s condition from a water damage perspective. The cost of a moisture investigation is much less expensive than a comprehensive series of testing. The moisture investigation will show the most strategic places to capture samples, if samples are recommended. The inspector can review his moisture investigation findings while on site, and you can opt to add testing after you understand his findings.
Hire a licensed Mold Assessor with multiple disciplines, such as a Division 1 General Contractor who is also licensed as a Building Inspector and Mold Assessor. Multi-trained professionals understand the property from a holistic perspective, such as how building systems interact with building materials and structures. Do your research, and prepare questions and a short history of the property to review with your Assessor. This critical information is helpful in determining why there is a mold problem. Hire a skilled Assessor who can use specialized equipment to find conditions that are not readily apparent to the untrained eye.
Discuss and understand your Inspector’s recommendations for testing after your Assessor performs a thorough moisture investigation, but before testing begins. This is the ideal time to learn about the health of your property by studying the moisture investigation results. Your inspector will be able to explain important information which can help limit the number of samples captured.
Reconsider testing visible mold-like discoloration. Generally, if there is ample evidence that mold exists, i.e. visible mold-like discoloration, coupled with excessive moisture, current and/or past water damage, and/or an obvious imbalance in humidity, clients may opt to move directly to fixing the cause of the problem and removing the mold without performing testing. In these instances, clients may also opt to purchase limited testing.
Testing is recommended under these circumstances:
Test when there is no visible mold-like discoloration, but the conditions are suitable for mold growth. For instance, during the moisture investigation, your Inspector finds wet or damp drywall, you suffered a past water damage incident, and a musty odor is present. Your inspector will recommend testing to rule out airborne mold spores that are not visible.
Test when you see visible mold-like discoloration in the air handler closet, you smell mold in the home, and your air conditioning system ducts look grimy. It’s not possible to visually determine if the grime is dust or mold. Your inspector will most likely recommend capturing a surface sample from the HVAC ducts to rule out mold growth.
Test if your insurance company requires proof that mold exists.
Test when you suffered a water damage incident and want to verify that the property is dry and that no mold has become airborne from behind wall cavities and behind cabinetry.
Test if your mortgage company, or other financial interest, requires clearance that a property that previously suffered water damage or mold has been satisfactorily restored.
Test if you require specific information about the type of mold and the level of elevation in each captured sample for health reasons.
Test if you want to satisfy a curiosity about mold.
Test if you require documentation due to an existing or pending lawsuit.
Always test after mold remediation to make sure that the remediation was successful.