How Much Does It Cost to Test for Mold? A Full Breakdown (2024)

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By Franklin Schneider Updated July 7, 2024
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Edited by Katy Byrom

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Mold inspection costs in 2024

A mold inspection costs $299 to $1,014, with a national average of $656 in the United States.[1]

While this may seem like a broad range, several factors influence the actual price of a mold inspection, including the size of your home, the accessibility of areas where mold might be present, and the types of mold that need testing.

Mold inspections are crucial when purchasing a home. They cost an average of $656 but represent a significant investment in your property's integrity and your family's health.

Mold can damage structures such as subflooring, insulation, and drywall and poses serious health risks, including respiratory issues and allergic reactions.

Understanding the root causes of mold, which often stems from excess moisture due to flooding, failed window seals, poor ventilation, or leaky faucets, is essential before buying a home. Identifying and addressing mold issues early can save you from unforeseen repair costs.

“Heavy hitters like mold demand serious solutions,” says Crystal Olenbush, a real estate expert based in Austin, TX. “The seller must remedy before we take on health or monetary risks. Sometimes, walking away may be the wisest choice to avoid future trouble.”

In most cases, real estate agents will strongly advise potential buyers to ensure the seller resolves any mold problems before buying a home. This proactive approach helps prevent long-term issues and ensures a healthier living environment.

What factors affect the cost of a mold inspection?

The types of mold samples collected

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 sampleAverage lab processing cost per sample
Tape sample$50
Swab sample$50
Carpet sample$50
Air sample$150
HVAC test$50-80
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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 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

Air sampling is conducted indoors and outdoors, using spore traps or canisters to contain mold spores. The outdoor samples are used to create a control or baseline to determine the level of mold contamination within the home compared to the indoor samples.

This less common 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.

Once mold samples are gathered, they're delivered to a lab for analysis.

Lower-cost mold testing options

DIY mold testing kits cost between $8 and $162 and can be purchased at stores like Home Depot and Lowe's or through mold testing companies. 

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 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 specialize in mold remediation and use these offers to attract potential customers. 

But 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.

Do I need a mold inspection?

Left untreated, mold can cause irreparable damage to a property and health issues for those living inside. Some individuals experience coughing, trouble breathing, and rashes. Prolonged exposure to certain types of toxic mold can even be deadly.

Unfortunately, most general home inspectors aren't licensed to determine whether mold issues exist. Instead, if they find evidence of mold in a home, they'll recommend that their report be followed up with a more in-depth mold inspection. 

Ralph Hassard, of Criterion Home Inspections in New York City, agrees that a home inspector can point out early warning signs of issues like mold, and stresses that most inspectors will draw a buyer’s attention to these problems even if they technically fall outside the scope of their general inspection.

“As an inspector, if I see signs of concern regarding mold, asbestos, septic, foundation / structural, or termites, I [will] recommend consulting a specialist,” says Hassard. “I will definitely point it out.”

Because the well-being 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.

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 airflow and whether conditions are conducive to mold growth

» MORE: How to Handle an Inspection Objection

What happens during mold inspection?

During a mold inspection, the inspector will survey the interior and exterior of your home, paying particular attention to places especially prone to mold, such as window sills, behind large appliances, in air ducts, and around plumbing fixtures. 

In addition to looking for visible mold, the inspector will look for other cues that a mold problem exists, such as:

  • Warped or discolored walls and baseboards
  • Discolored surfaces
  • Dank or musty odors
  • Persistent leaks
  • Other signs of water damage

Sometimes, a mold inspector may need to perform invasive procedures like removing a small drywall to access and examine difficult-to-reach spots. While a general home inspection usually only takes a few hours, a mold inspection can be a longer, more involved process.

When mold is found, the inspector takes a sample for further laboratory testing to identify its type. They also survey the extent of the damage and attempt to locate the source of the problem.

Like 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

It’s important to note that a mold inspection does not usually include mold cleaning and removal, generally done by a separate mold remediation company.

My house has mold. Now what?

Sometimes, if your mold inspector discovers a mold issue in your home, you might not need to pay for professional mold remediation.

The fix may be as simple as scrubbing with bleach and installing a bathroom fan. But other times, the repair might involve 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 addressed so that mold doesn't return. 

For example, if a leak under the kitchen sink caused mold damage to a cabinet, you must repair it and clean the cabinet with biocide to remove the mold.

Buying a house with mold

Don’t be shy about asking the seller to handle the mold problem before you proceed with the sale. It’s not an unreasonable request for a buyer to make, and according to a new Clever Real Estate survey on the true cost of selling a home in 2024, the average home seller spends $19,773 on repairs, renovations, and improvements after negotiating with the buyer.

They likely anticipate doing some repairs for you and have budgeted for them. Of course, if the problem is very bad or the seller refuses to negotiate, you could also try to back out of the sale.

Steve Nicastro, a real estate investor and former agent from South Carolina, mentioned that he has seen buyers withdraw from contracts because of mold issues discovered in crawl spaces. 

He advises that if you decide to back out of a sale because of mold problems, you may be able to recover part or all your earnest money if the sale agreement includes an inspection contingency that allows for it. 

🧽 DIY mold cleanup: Is it an option?

Since there are more than 10,000 kinds of mold spores, it’s preferable to leave removal to a pro who knows how to tackle the problem best.

However, 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 may be able to handle the job yourself. 

Mold can largely be cleaned by scrubbing the area with bleach or detergent. If the surface of the area is absorbent or porous, you’ll also need to remove and dispose of it. 

The EPA states that you shouldn't 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

It’s best to contact a professional mold removal company. The EPA has additional suggestions on its Mold Cleanup Tips and Techniques page.

Hire a professional mold remediation company

In most cases, professional mold remediation companies are the best option for removing mold issues within your home. Depending on the type of mold you're dealing with and the extent of the problem, their removal methods may include biocides, blasters, foggers, or other specialized equipment.

The approach depends on the scope of your mold issue, the class of mold, and the type of material involved.

Once the mold is gone, you may have to hire a professional to repair the issue that caused it. Or you may be able to address the issue yourself, like re-caulking a leaky window seal.

Either way, the underlying issue must be removed to prevent mold growth.

The bottom line

Mold inspections are essential for maintaining the integrity of your home and protecting your family's health. With costs ranging from $299 to $1,014, the average expense of $656 is a worthwhile investment. 

Mold can cause significant structural damage and pose serious health risks, so early detection and remediation are crucial. While DIY testing kits are available, professional inspections provide a comprehensive and accurate assessment. 

Always address mold issues promptly to prevent further problems, and consider involving a mold remediation specialist for effective cleanup and prevention. Prioritize mold inspections during the home-buying process to protect your health. 

Mold inspection FAQs

Who pays for a mold inspection during a home purchase?

Depending on the unique home transaction, a home buyer or a home seller can pay for a mold inspection.

Generally, it is in the buyer's best interest to move forward with a mold inspection if a home inspector thinks one is needed. If mold is identified, this should be followed by a quote from a mold remediation company. Having the quote and a report detailing the extent of the damage will help the buyer negotiate a credit in the purchase process.

» MORE: 6 FAQs About Seller Credits for Repairs

A seller may complete inspections before 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.

» MORE: Must-Do Repairs Before Selling Your House

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 exclusively focusing on mold inspection. Businesses that also do mold remediation may have a conflict of interest and should be avoided regarding inspections.

Ensure your mold inspector has the proper licensing and certifications your state requires. Various professional organizations 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 and 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 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 for searching for mold inspectors and checking 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 comes to your home, it’s helpful if you clean up a bit so they can easily access areas where mold is 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 property's history with the inspector, mentioning prior repairs or flooding that could influence the current mold issues.

What if I have black mold?

Black mold (stachybotrys chartarum), is a highly toxic 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, you should take it seriously, but it does not automatically warrant panic.

Black mold requires constant 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 basements, crawlspaces, bathrooms, and kitchens on drywall, carpets, insulation, and concrete surfaces.

Due to black mold’s toxicity, 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, sneezing, eye irritation, fatigue, and headaches. In more severe cases, exposure can lead to nausea, vomiting, lung bleeding, and even death.

How much does professional mold removal cost?

The price of mold remediation ranges $1,100-3,400. Like with a mold inspection, 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
  • The general costs of goods and services in your local market

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