Why do I need a mold inspection?┃What is a professional mold inspection?┃Home inspection vs. mold inspection┃Specialized mold testing┃Lower-cost mold inspection options┃My house has mold. Now what?┃Professional mold remediation┃How much does professional mold removal cost?┃Mold inspection FAQs
The cost of a mold inspection ranges $150-2,600, with a $649 national average in the United States.
The price of a mold inspection is determined by a number of elements, including:
- The size of your home
- The type of specialized mold tests required
- The class of mold involved
- How easily the inspector can access the affected areas within your home
- Factors unique to your local market
If you’re considering purchasing a home, it’s important to know if it contains mold. In addition to its unsightly appearance and bad smell, mold can damage the structures of a house, including subflooring, insulation, and drywall. Additionally, mold can cause health issues for those living in its midst, such as respiratory issues and other allergic reactions.
Although mold in and of itself is pretty bad, it’s usually a symptom of a bigger problem.
Typically, mold means there is excess moisture in a home. This may be caused by past flooding, a failed window seal, inadequate ventilation, or even a leaky faucet.
It’s vital to know what is causing mold issues before purchasing a home. Otherwise, you may end up spending money on a number of unforeseen repairs. A knowledgeable real estate agent can guide you through the process.
Why do I need a mold inspection?
When you’re considering purchasing a house with mold, it’s crucial to enlist a professional to gain a complete understanding of the extent of the problem. Left untreated, mold can cause irreparable damage to a property.
When mold grows out of control within a home, it can cause health issues for those living inside. Some individuals experience cough, trouble breathing, and rashes. Prolonged exposure to certain types of toxic mold can even be deadly.
Because the wellbeing of your home and family are at stake, we recommend enlisting the help of a professional mold inspector anytime you or a home inspector suspect your property may have a mold problem.
The need for a mold inspection is not an automatic cause for panic. Sometimes, the fix may be as simple as a scrub with bleach and the installation of a bathroom fan. But, other times, the repair might be more along the lines of ripping out and replacing all the carpet and subfloor in the house.
In addition to killing the mold and removing any compromised structures and fixtures, a homeowner needs to ensure the root of the problem is also addressed so mold does not return. For example, if a leak under the kitchen sink caused mold damage to a cabinet, you must repair the leak and clean the cabinet with a biocide to rid it of mold.
What is a professional mold inspection?
A mold inspection occurs when a licensed professional examines and assesses the inside and outside of a home for mold issues. The mold inspector is looking for evidence of mold, including obviously visible mold and other cues like rust-stained walls or warped baseboards.
During the inspection, the inspector will survey the extent of any mold damage and attempt to locate the source of the problem. When mold is located, the inspector takes a sample of the mold for further laboratory testing to identify its type.
Following the inspection, the inspector will typically prepare a written report for the customer detailing their findings and the results from laboratory testing.
It’s important to note that a mold inspection does not usually include the cleaning and removal of mold. This is generally done by a separate mold remediation company.
Home inspection vs. mold inspection
Based on visual cues
Based on physical inspection, sampling, and laboratory testing
Non-invasive to home fixtures
Can be invasive to home fixtures, if necessary
Utilizes general tools (if any)
Utilizes specific tools for measuring mold and moisture
Requires general knowledge and certifications
Requires specialized knowledge and certifications
Does not involve any testing or in-depth examination of mold
Involves laboratory testing of mold samples and follow-up on removal recommendations
An important part of any home purchase transaction
Only necessary in a home-buying transaction if recommended by a general home inspector
A home inspection is a non-invasive visual examination of a home’s interior and exterior, as well as its various systems and components. A mold inspection is a more in-depth physical investigation of potential mold issues, including sampling and laboratory testing.
Most general home inspectors are not licensed to determine whether mold issues exist. Instead, if they find evidence of mold in a home, they will recommend that their report be followed up with a more in-depth mold inspection. It is at the discretion of the parties involved to contact and schedule a mold inspector.
Mold inspectors have undergone special training and certification to demonstrate an expert knowledge of mold. They also have unique tools that help them do their job which general home inspectors likely won’t have. These tools include:
- Moisture meters to detect moisture in structural components
- Humidity gauges to measure moisture in the air
- Thermal imaging cameras to find moisture within structural components
- Borescope cameras that enter plumbing components to identify leaks and other issues
- Rotameters to measure air flow and whether conditions are conducive to mold growth
During a mold inspection, the inspector will survey the property, paying particular attention to places that are especially prone to mold, such as window sills, behind large appliances, in air ducts, and around plumbing fixtures. Sometimes, a mold inspector may need to perform invasive procedures like removing a small piece of drywall to access and examine difficult-to-reach spots.
Similar to a general home inspector, a mold inspector will prepare a report following their inspection. The report will include the results of any laboratory testing to confirm mold types, which will inform the best approach for remediation.
Specialized mold testing
There are two main methods mold inspectors use to gather mold specimens for testing: air sampling and surface sampling. The pricing of your mold inspection may depend on the quantity and type of sampling required within your home.
Type of mold test
Average lab processing cost per sample
Surface sampling is the most common method for testing indoor mold. It’s also the simplest to perform. This approach costs about $50 per specimen. Some methods often used in surface testing include:
- Tape sampling: The most common way to sample visible mold; the inspector collects samples across various areas of the home by sticking a piece of tape on the affected area to gather spores
- Swab sampling: The inspector uses a cellulose swab with a liquid preservative to collect suspected mold for lab testing
- Carpet sampling: In rooms with rugs or carpet, vacuumed contents can be tested for mold. Or, a snip of the material can be tested
Once they are gathered, samples are delivered to a lab for analysis.
Air sampling is conducted indoors and outdoors, using spore traps or canisters to contain mold spores from the air. The outdoor samples are used to create a control or baseline to determine the level of mold contamination within the home when compared to the indoor samples.
This less common form of testing is used when a high concentration of mold spores is suspected in a house. Because it’s a more complex test, lab analysis of air samples can cost about three times the amount of surface samples.
Generally, most homes will only require surface testing during a mold inspection. If the home’s inhabitants are experiencing respiratory health symptoms or a major mold infestation is suspected, air sampling may be necessary.
Lower-cost mold inspection options
You can find DIY mold testing kits at most large retailers and home improvement stores. These kits generally cost $10-40.
Sometimes, the results of DIY tests can be misleading, depending on how and where you perform the test. These kits also limit your mold analysis to the specific spores you’ve already discovered. Only a professional assessment by a certified mold inspector can help you truly understand the extent of a mold problem.
Some companies may offer free mold inspections. Don’t be fooled by these bids.
Typically, companies that tout free inspections actually specialize in mold remediation and use these offers as a way to get their foot in the door with potential customers. This can present a conflict of interest as mold remediation companies are incentivized to identify mold issues requiring their cleanup service.
It’s generally best to avoid using a mold remediation company for your mold inspection.
My house has mold. Now what?
In some cases, you might not need to pay for professional mold remediation if your mold inspector discovers a mold issue in your home.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if the affected area is less than 10 square feet (a roughly 3-foot by 3-foot patch), you should be able to handle the job yourself. If the surface of the area is absorbent or porous, you’ll need to remove and dispose of it.
Otherwise, mold can largely be cleaned by scrubbing the area with detergent. You can check out additional suggestions from the EPA on its Mold Cleanup Tips and Techniques page.
The EPA states that you should not attempt a DIY mold cleanup if:
- The mold covers more than 10 square feet
- The mold was caused by contaminated water
- The mold has gotten into your air ducts or HVAC system
- You have health issues that will be worsened with additional exposure
In these cases, it’s best to contact a professional mold removal company.
Professional mold remediation
Mold remediation companies can remove mold issues within your home. This may include the use of biocides, blasters, foggers, or other specialized equipment.
The approach used depends on the scope of your mold issue, the class of mold, and the type of material involved.
Since there are more than 10,000 kinds of different mold spores, it’s preferable to leave removal to a pro who knows how to best tackle the problem.
Once the mold is gone, you may have to employ the help of another professional to repair the issue that was causing it. Or it may be something you can address yourself like re-caulking a leaky window seal.
Either way, the underlying issue must be removed to prevent further mold growth.
How much does professional mold removal cost?
The price of mold remediation ranges $1,100-3,400. The cost varies based on:
- The size of your home
- The extent of the mold spread
- The type of mold and its associated removal method
- The ease of access to the location of the mold within the house
- Your local market conditions
A final word
Mold can lead to problems with a home’s structures as well as the health of its inhabitants. Therefore, mold inspections are critical if your home inspector feels one is warranted following their general inspection.
Although DIY methods of mold testing exist, it’s best to stick with a professional when it comes to a mold inspection, so you can get an accurate picture of the extent of the damage before committing to purchase a home.
Since mold spreads and problems can grow if not handled properly, be sure to take care of mold removal in a manner prescribed by the EPA or employ the help of a mold remediation specialist.
Mold inspection FAQs
Who pays for a mold inspection?
A home buyer or a home seller can pay for a mold inspection. It is dependent on the unique home transaction.
Generally, it is in the best interest of a buyer to move forward with a mold inspection if a home inspector thinks one is needed. This should be followed with a quote from a mold remediation company if mold is identified. Having the quote and a report detailing the extent of the damage will help the buyer negotiate a credit in the purchase process.
A seller may choose to complete inspections prior to listing to proactively address any repairs needed to make the property more appealing to buyers. If a mold inspection is recommended in this case, it’s in the seller’s interest to move forward with it.
Essentially, whichever party wants the inspection should pay for it. A buyer can’t force a seller to pay and vice versa.
How do I find a reputable mold inspector?
When searching for a mold inspector, choose companies that exclusively focus on mold inspection. Businesses that also do mold remediation may have a conflict of interest and should be avoided when it comes to inspections.
Ensure your mold inspector has the proper licensing and certifications necessitated by your state. There are a variety of professional organizations that train and certify inspectors, and your state will have its own unique requirements.
Mold inspectors should also have all the specialized tools to complete a thorough inspection, as well as a relationship with a laboratory to conduct sample testing. Tools can include a moisture meter, humidity gauge, borescope, and sampling equipment.
Recommendations are powerful when it comes to finding good local service professionals like mold inspectors. Your home inspector or realtor should be able to provide names of mold inspectors they’ve worked with previously.
You can also ask friends or neighbors for recommendations using a social networking site like Nextdoor or a neighborhood Facebook page. Additionally, the internet can be a helpful tool to search for mold inspectors and check out online reviews.
Once you’ve identified a reputable inspector, make a call to be sure you feel comfortable working with them and scheduling an appointment.
How should I prepare for a mold inspection?
When a mold inspector is coming to your home, it’s helpful if you clean up a bit so they can have easy access to the areas where mold is potentially growing. This includes:
- Picking things up off the floor to eliminate tripping hazards
- Removing anything blocking the entrance to the attic, basement, or crawlspace
- Pulling large appliances and furniture away from the walls
- Removing items from cabinets or under sinks where mold is suspected
- Moving items that have collected close to the outside of the home, like cardboard or wood piles
Be ready to discuss the history of the property with the inspector, mentioning things like prior repairs or flooding that could be influencing the current mold issues.
What if I have black mold?
Black mold (stachybotrys chartarum), is a highly toxic form of mold that grows in homes. Fortunately, it is not common and grows slower and less easily than other types of mold.
If you learn that you have black mold, it’s something to take seriously, but it does not automatically warrant panic.
Black mold requires a constant supply of moisture to remain alive, so it usually grows in areas with high condensation or that have sustained water damage from flooding or leaks. It generally grows in places like basements, crawlspaces, bathrooms, and kitchens on surfaces like drywall, carpets, insulation, and concrete.
Due to black mold’s toxic nature, professionals may charge slightly more to inspect, test, and clean this type of spore.
It’s important to address black mold as soon as you’re aware of the problem, or serious health issues might follow. Typical symptoms include chronic coughing and sneezing, eye irritation, fatigue, and headaches. In more severe cases, exposure can lead to nausea, vomiting, lung bleeding, and even death.