Testing for Mold: Scam or Worth It?
By: Julie Day
If your house has mold problems, or you’re considering buying a house with mold, here are some things to consider before paying for a mold assessment.
About Mold Testing
My first house had obvious mold, so I had a professional mold assessment done. When the inspector finished assessing my house, I was provided a lengthy report showing the various mold strains and concentrations. While it was a relief to know I didn’t have the infamous toxic black mold, Stachybotrys chartarum, the conclusion that the house was full of mold came as no surprise.
However, what was valuable was the water assessment. The mold inspector went over the house from top to bottom with a moisture sensor, and he showed me exactly where water was infiltrating the framing of the house and causing mold and rot. It turned out that in addition to a problem with water in the basement, rainwater was seeping in around both chimneys and through some invisible roof leaks.
As we inspected the house together, I was also able to determine that it was structurally sound. Learning that my problem was more about cleanup, than carpentry, helped ease my peace of mind.
Despite how helpful the mold inspection was; if I were doing it again, I think I could skip the expensive assessment. Water damage and mold are pretty easy to spot, if you’re willing to crawl around with a flashlight, so I probably wouldn’t pay for another mold inspection unless:
- I was buying a house that had been remediated for mold and wanted to verify that the job had been done right.
Facts About Mold
Here’s what you need to know about mold in your home:
- Repairs Can Be Expensive: Mold growth can point to larger problems such as leaks, poor drainage, or foundation problems. Making the needed repairs is usually more important than the presence of mold.
How to Avoid Mold Inspection Scams
In recent years publicity about “toxic mold” has turned mold inspection and remediation into a massively profitable industry. It’s also paved the way for plenty of scams designed to scare you into paying top dollar for unnecessary testing or sketchy “remediation” plans.
If you do decide to proceed with a mold inspection, keep these tips in mind:
- Don’t Fall for Gimmicks: Ozone generators, biocides, fumigants, encapsulants, and other mold-killing (or covering) measures can be more toxic than the mold itself; and they don’t actually stop the mold at its source. Remember that mold has to be completely removed, the moisture problem fixed, and the wet materials either dried or replaced. Any other mold killing services are a wasted expense.
- How to Prevent and Remove Mold in Your Home (article)
- Removing Mold and Mildew Inside Your Home (video)
- Eliminating Mold In Your Home (video)
- A Brief Guide To Mold, Moisture, and Your Home (EPA)