In most states, the same company that inspects and tests a home for mold can also be the same company that does the remediation work.
That poses the potential for a huge conflict of interest.
“The more stuff a (mold remediation) contractor finds wrong, the more he gets paid,” said Tom Alford, a certified indoor environmental consultant and certified mold remediation supervisor with Enviropro in St. Louis. He does inspections and testing for mold, not remediation.
Only a handful of other states – Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas and Virginia – either have mold licensing requirements or laws in place that prevent or severely limit the ability of a contractor to offer both testing and remediation.
“In Florida, you can either be licensed to be a remediator, which we are licensed to be, or a (mold inspector), which is a person who goes out and does testing,” said Jon Hall, whose remediation company, Advanced Restorations Inc., is located in New Port Richey, Fla.
If an inspector finds mold, they provide the remediation protocol to the remediator. That company writes an estimate based on the work that needs to be done. When the job is finished, the inspector comes back for a final inspection.
Alford said a client reached out to him after a mold remediator told her she had dangerous black mold in her home that could kill her small children. The estimate to correct the problem was $50,000.
“I went downstairs and found a crack in her foundation that had mud coming through,” Alford said. “She got a $50,000 estimate when what she needed was a $400 crack repair.”
At the very least, homeowners who can’t find a separate tester and remediator should make sure the person who does the testing sends the samples off to an independent, accredited laboratory for verification. Get the lab to send the results back to the homeowner before allowing any work to be done.
Alford charges a $300 minimum for testing, with an average cost of $600. If mold is found, remediators will typically set up containment walls around the area being treated to prevent cross contamination to unaffected areas of the home. If necessary, air movers can be used to bring in fresh air or force air out of the area. Eliminating moisture as a food source is vital for controlling mold. The most common reasons are water damage from a flood, burst pipes or a leaky roof.
Look for mold companies that have verifiable credentials from reputable organizations such as the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification and the Indoor Air Quality Association.
Check with your local licensing authority to ensure the company meets your local requirements, and ask the company to show proof that it’s insured.
“A lot of companies that do restoration services may not specialize in mold,” Hall said. “That can create significant problems for the homeowners if it’s not done properly.”