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ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS - INSPECT, TEST, REMEDY
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT
ACTIVITY of MOLD in BUILDINGS
AGE of MOLD, HOW OLD
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR TEST SAMPLING CASSETTE STUDY
AIRBORNE MOLD COUNT NUMBER GUIDE
AIRBORNE PARTICLE ANALYSIS METHODS
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
BROWN HAIRY BATHROOM MOLD
BIBLIOGAPHY for ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, MOLD, IAQ
BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC
BLACK MOLD, TOXIC & ALLERGENIC
BLEACHING MOLD, Advice about
BOOK MOLD, Moldy Book Cleaning
BOOKSTORE - ENVIRONMENTAL
CACTUS FUNGI / MOLD
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CARPET PADDING ASBESTOS, MOLD, ODORS
CARPET FUNGICIDAL SPRAY
CARPET STAIN DIAGNOSIS
CARPET & other STAIN TESTS
CARPET TEST PROCEDURE
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CHAIN OF CUSTODY - TEST SAMPLE
CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS - MOLD CLEANUP
DIRECTORY of MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERTS
DIRT FLOOR MOLD CONTAMINATION
DISINFECTANTS & SANITIZERS, SOURCES
DISINFECTING BUILDINGS with BLEACH
DO-IT-YOURSELF MOLD CLEANUP WARNINGS
DUST ANALYSIS for FIBERGLASS
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
EFFLORESCENCE SALTS & WHITE DEPOSITS
FEAR of MOLD - MYCOPHOBIA
Fiberboard Insulation Sheathing Mold
FIBERGLASS INSULATION MOLD
FIND MOLD, ESSENTIAL STEPS
MOLD in BUILDINGS
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FLOODS IN BUILDINGS-mold
FOXING STAINS on books & papers
FUNGICIDAL SPRAY & SEALANT USE GUIDE
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
GAS EXPOSURE LIMITS & STANDARDS
GAS TEST PROCEDURES
HOUSE DUST ANALYSIS
HOUSE DUST COMPONENTS
HUMIDITY CONTROL & TARGETS INDOORS
LAB PROCEDURES MICROSCOPE TECHNIQUES
LIGHT, GUIDE to FORENSIC USE
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MILDEW ERRORS, IT's MOLD
MILDEW REMOVAL & PREVENTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO MOLD
MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
MYCOPHOBIA, STAINS MISTAKEN for MOLD
MYCOTOXIN EFFECTS of MOLD EXPOSURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
RENTERS GUIDE TO MOLD & IAQ
ROBIGUS & Wheat Rust Fungus
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
STAINS on & in BUILDINGS, CAUSES & CURES
THERMAL IMAGING MOLD SCANS
TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES
UV LIGHT BLACK LIGHT USES
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VOCs VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
WATER ENTRY in buildings
This article gives advice to home buyers concerned about inspecting and testing for mold in a building to be purchased but where there is not already a known mold problem.This website describes when and how to find mold and test for mold in buildings and how to correct mold problems.
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Mold is everywhere. You can't eliminate it. If you could we'd all be in trouble as nothing would ever decay and we'd all be so buried in junk and debris that nothing could grow on the earth. But we don't much like to see mold indoors and certainly not on our walls, ceilings, or furniture.
There we remove it or clean it off. Because there are potential health risks involved, especially for some people, and because there are significant costs involved in large mold remediation projects, home buyers often contact us to ask about testing a home for mold during the home buying process.
A thorough building investigation for problematic mold needs to address hidden mold reservoirs, for which our approach is to complete a detailed inspection and building (leak) history as well as to record occupant observations and complaints.
A low-cost superficial test or superficial "quick look" for problem mold (such as an "air test for mold", a "home test kit for mold" or a "mold culture test") is likely be a waste of money since those approaches to screening a building for mold contamination are unreliable. Certainly if problem mold is visible that's unambiguous. But superficial visual inspections and grab-tests for mold in air or on surfaces, performed without being accompanied by a very thorough building inspection, history taking, and occupant interview, have a high risk of missing important reservoirs of problem mold in a building.
Some "mold inspectors" may charge as much as a true expert to examine your building ($750 to $2000) but in fact may be doing little more than a quick inspection for visible mold and a few superficial tests. This is also an unreliable approach.
Since water and moisture are gating factors for indoor mold contamination I recommend that you start with a thorough inspection of the building for conditions likely to produce a mold problem - leaks, moisture traps, bad ventilation, history of flooding, etc.
Why Can't I Just Collect a Mold Sample and Based on That, Decide if the House We're Buying Has a Mold Problem or Not?
Question: Quick Lab Turnaround on Mold Tests
Dear Lab Director:
We desperately need the results of the mold sample we collected yesterday ASAP. We cannot proceed with the closing process until we have these results, and our house purchase closing is scheduled for Friday. - Worried in Po-Town.
Reply: Don't Decide to Buy or Not Buy a Home Based on a "Mold Test"
While most mold test labs and forensic laboratories can provide very fast mold sample analysis - 24-hours or less after a sample is received, a home buyer who is worried about a possible costly mold contamination problem in a building should certainly not be deciding to go ahead with the sale or not simply based on a "mold test".
This is even more true if the mold test or mold sample was collected by someone who is not an expert.
If there is a reason to be worried that there is a significant mold problem in a building, and if you have not had an expert perform a very thorough, visual inspection, even the most technically proficient "test", alone, is unreliable.
A mold test, even a good one, is a screen that might detect evidence of an indoor mold problem.
But absence of evidence of mold in a building is not, unless accompanied by an appropriate, expert, onsite investigation, never evidence of absence of a mold problem.
If you have a particular concern about the building, and regardless of the outcome of the lab work, we recommend that you discuss this with your attorney, your realtor, and your home inspector. Your attorney may recommend that you either delay the closing, or if agreeable to the seller, obtain some estimates to establish a "worst case" guess of possible mold remediation cost and escrow that amount long enough to give yourselves time for an expert assessment.
Does this mean every home should be inspected and tested by an expert to look for mold?
Of course not. At MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE we discuss some criteria that help decide if it is appropriate to bring in a mold expert, such as pre-existing evidence of a problem: large areas of visible mold, evidence of or an historical report of building flooding, significant plumbing leaks, or other leaks, etc.
Why to Hire a Good Home Inspector for a Preliminary Check for Mold-Producing Conditions in a Building
If your "mold inspector" is simply going to enter the building, collect a few air, surface, or culture samples, and perhaps report on obvious visible mold in the living space, you're not receiving a very professional nor very reliable service.
An experienced, thorough, detailed, qualified home inspector will be much better at recognizing those (mold-conducive) conditions than a typical "mold inspector" or a typical industrial hygienist who does not know building science and who lacks experience in identifying where and why mold problems occur in buildings.
Home inspection standards, training, and experience teach inspectors where water, leaks, and moisture problems occur in buildings. Here are some examples of water or leak history problems that can create a hidden mold problem in a building:
A home inspector is expected to recognize these leak and moisture problems even though s/he is not performing an environmental inspection.
Also see MOLD TESTING by HOME INSPECTORS? for an opinion-text on the marketing of mold tests as a revenue source for home inspectors.
A Home Inspection is not an Environmental Survey of a Building
Unless the inspector happens also to be trained in mycology, forensic microscopy, and aerobiology, s/he will be focused on the condition of the building, not just on the presence of mold, but such a person is the best expert to identify leaks and moisture problems among other building risks.
Don't try to force the inspector to give an environmental report - it's outside the scope of a home inspection.
But do ask the inspector to be extra thorough and detailed about leaks, moisture, ventilation defects. And of course any conscientious and respectable inspector will also tell you if s/he happens to also actually see mold (or other out-of-scope hazards) during the inspection.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Mold Contamination Testing, Cleanup, Prevention: references & products
OTHER IAQ ISSUES: How To Find and Address Other Indoor Air or Indoor Environment Contaminants Besides Mold
Mold or allergens may not be the only or even the main indoor environmental contaminant. Don't let media attention to mold cause so much enviro-scare fear that other, possibly more urgent hazards go un-addressed.