It is important to have the facts about mold. A little education does go a long way. We recommend that you refer to the California Department of Health Services Indoor Air Quality’s website for helpful information regarding mold in your home. You will find answers to the questions listed below.
What are molds?
How am I exposed to indoor molds?
Can mold become a problem in my home?
Should I be concerned about mold in my home?
What symptoms are commonly seen with mold exposure?
How much mold can make me sick?
Can cleaning up mold be hazardous to my health?
What can I save? What should I toss?
Are some molds more hazardous than others?
Should I test my home for mold?
How can I prevent indoor mold problems in my home?
Tips for Hiring a Mold Remediation Contractor/Consultant
By Gordon Glasnow, CR
If you can see mold or if there is an earthy or musty odor, you can assume you have a mold problem in your home or building. When molds are present in large quantities, they can cause allergic symptoms. Look for previous water damage. Visible mold growth is found underneath materials where water has damaged surfaces or behind walls. Look for discoloration and leaching in drywall, baseboards, and/or carpet tack-strip. If you are concerned that mold is present in your home, it is best to contact a trained professional for advice. Here are some important guidelines to consider when locating a “Mold contractor/consultant”:
Get more than one estimate. Make sure all parties are bidding on exactly the same work. Make sure the contractor comes to the job-site rather than giving a telephone estimate. Be leery of extremely low estimates and cautious of a contractor that uses SCARE tactics.
Does the contractor/consultant carry general liability, pollution, and worker’s compensation insurances? They should be able to provide certificates of insurance.
Is the contractor/consultant trained and certified in mold remediation? As of December 2003, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration (IICRC) established Standards & Guidelines (S-520) for mold removal. IICRC is the most nationally recognized certification institute in the industry. Is he/she a general contractor?
Ask for the names of the contractor’s/consultant’s recent customers, and call to see if they are satisfied. Would they hire the contractor again?
Did the mold contractor/consultant provide a written inspection report that included a summary of all the areas inspected, the cause of the mold growth, and how the remediation work will be performed? In a case-by-case situation, air and/or surface sampling performed by an indoor environmental professional may be recommended. This is often necessary when young children, people with compromised immune systems, or the elderly are living in the home.
A building cannot be made mold free. Avoid a contractor who claims to remove all mold from your building.
Contact the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Bureau of Consumer Protection, (800) 422-7128, and/or the Better Business Bureau, (800) 273-1002, to find out if any complaints were filed against the contractor or consultant.
Ideally the firm that conducts the inspection or air sampling should not be financially related to a firm that conducts the mold remediation due to potential conflict of interest. Ultimately it is the homeowner’s responsibility to ask about such a relationship.
Laboratories selected for the analysis of air samples should be either American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) or an U.S. EPA accredited Laboratory.