Category: Home Inspection

Must Know How To Find Good Mold Inspection

QUESTIONS TO FIND A QUALIFIED MOLD INSPECTOR

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR INSPECTION PROCESS?

This is such a simple question, but you can learn so much from their answer. The visual assessment is the most important part of the visit. Without a thorough and comprehensive inspection, how would they know where to sample? Here are some things to listen for. If they don’t mention these, then they likely aren’t the company for you.

HOW LONG SHOULD I EXPECT FOR A FULL HOME INSPECTION?

If their answer is anything less than 2 hours, then they are likely not performing a thorough and comprehensive inspection. Our average time for a full house inspection ranges from 2.5 to 5 hours depending on the size of the house. Sometimes we’ve been at homes for 8 hours!

WHAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR CLIENTS SUFFER FROM LYME DISEASE, CIRS (CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE SYNDROME), MCS (MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSITIVITY) OR ANY OTHER SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION THAT CAN BE IMPACTED BY MOLD?

If the bulk of their clientele are people dealing with similar issues as you, then they will understand your situation and the need for a thorough inspection and complex sampling methodologies. About 75-80% of our clients suffer from these or other similar issues.

WHAT IS MSQPCR?

Mold-specific quantitative polymerase chain reaction. This is a sampling methodology used to identify the species of molds that may be present within your home. It’s basically DNA formatting of mold. If they don’t know what this is, then they are not educated enough to provide the deep dive inspection you deserve.

WHAT ARE ERMI AND HERTSMI?

Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) is a panel of 36 molds developed by the Environmental Protection Agency. It uses MSqPCR to identify species of molds that may be present, then compares those to an index to provide a score that rates the relative moldiness of your home. Some doctors prefer to see an ERMI score.

 

IS TESTING FOR MOLD A SCAM, OR WORTH IT?

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.

 

Should I Get A Mold Inspection When Buying A House?

What Is A Pre-Purchase Mold Inspection?

A pre-purchase mold inspection is when a professional who is trained to look for mold — it may be a home inspector, contractor, or technician — performs such an inspection prior to a home purchase. The mold inspection may be purely a visual inspection of the property for mold, or it may include swabs and air tests that is sent to a laboratory.

What Are The Benefits Of A Pre-Purchase Mold Inspection?

As a licensed home inspector, I have seen many properties that had hidden mold issues — where the average person simply wouldn’t see it. I have seen mold growing in corners, under stairs, on windows, inside furnaces, in the air ducts, and a variety of other locations. With some states, a seller may not be required to even disclose that the home has or had mold contamination — check your state disclosure laws!

Do Home Inspectors Check For Mold?

Not all home inspectors check for mold — we are all a bit different — there isn’t a national standard for mold inspecting. There is also an extra cost for inspectors to buy mold detectors in the form of air pumps and lab testing. In my home state, there also is no state licensing for mold inspections or mold detection.

Inspecting The HVAC

Most of the time, mold is in the indoor air handler or furnace and on the air vent covers. In my home inspections, I would say about 90% of the time, I find mold in the HVAC system. Of course, this is also the most problematic, because the mold spores can circulated throughout the entire home — compared to mold growing in an isolated location.

Inspecting The House

It’s important to know if the professional will be inspecting the entire house for mold. During my home inspections, I am already thoroughly evaluating the entire home for mold, literally going over every square inch with a flashlight. Most mold professionals (not home inspectors) do not usually inspect an entire home the way a home inspector does — it will be much more brief.

 

Important information regarding mold inspections

Mold testing in southwest Florida, Bonita Springs.  What Is Mold Testing? How Is Mold Testing Performed?

Broadly speaking, most mold testing involves taking a sample of either the air or a surface. Essentially, a mold inspector “tests” the air or surface to find out what kind of mold exists and/or if the mold found is able to grow in the area tested.

Mold Testing: Air Samples

Air samples can be taken and analyzed in a variety of ways. The most common method uses a “spore trap” and is called a “spore trap sample.” Spore traps work by having a known volume of air pass impact a sticky surface as it passes through the spore trap sampling device. Most of the particles in the air also impact this sticky surface and consequently adhere to, and are captured on, this sticky surface. Mold spores comprise a subset of these ‘particles in the air’ and also are captured on the sticky medium inside the spore trap. When the spore trap is sent to the mold testing laboratory for analysis, the mold laboratory opens the spore trap, applies some stains to the sticky surface that the mold spores can absorb, and then identifies and quantifies the types of mold spores captured during the sampling process. There are other methods of mold sampling, including culturing or growing the mold spores captured from the air, but these are less commonly used.

 

Residential Mold Inspections

Awarded by unanimous vote of a nationwide panel of industry peers, the Council-certified Residential Mold Inspector (CRMI) certification identifies a professional with at least ten (10) years of verified field experience in microbial sampling investigations.

Each CRMI has verified his or her knowledge of proper techniques for mold inspection, microbial investigations and sampling by passing an accredited, psychometrically rated examination based on peer-reviewed industry standards.

The CRMI examination ensures that certificants understand how to (1) distinguish among the significant types of microbial contamination, (2) identify, select and calibrate appropriate microbial sampling equipment, (3) design an effective sampling regimen, (4) employ proper sampling techniques, and (5) correctly interpret data collected from a microbial sampling regimen.

To maintain the CRMI designation, certificants must participate in 20 hours of professional development activities each year to ensure that they stay up to date with current trends in the field of microbial investigation and sampling.

Find Out How To Do Water Testing In Your Home

How to test water quality? Chemical tests for limited budgets

Chemical water quality parameters

Having identified various test formats, the next question is: What do we test for?  UNICEF recommends prioritizing fluoride, arsenic, and nitrate for chemical monitoring.  In areas where the earth is naturally rich in minerals that contain fluorine and arsenic, levels in well water can be high enough that chronic exposure is dangerous to human health.[1]

How can we test for these elements?

  • Fluoride: At least one color disk test kit is available for fluoride. However, portable digital colorimeters are often preferred because of concerns over accuracy.  Ackvo Caddisfly, a testing system, recently described a colorimetric fluoride test that can be read by a smartphone app.
  • Arsenic: Portable field testing options for arsenic are limited; this contaminant is best measured in a laboratory.  Commercially available test kits do exist, but they are relatively complex and require several steps.  Although the arsenic concentrations “measured” with these test kits may be inaccurate, the kits do detect arsenic in nearly all samples greater than 100 micrograms per liter (ug/L), as well as in most samples in the 50-99 ug/L range. UNICEF has therefore recommended reporting arsenic monitoring results from these portable tests as “present” or “absent” using a reference concentration of 50 ug/L—the drinking water standard in many countries that are affected by natural arsenic contamination.
  • Nitrate:  Both test strips and color disk test kits are available for nitrate testing. Nitrate can also be measured  with a digital meter. High levels of nutrients are associated with agricultural pollution from fertilizers (nitrogen and phosphorous) and animal waste (nitrogen).  Latrines, sewage, landfills, and industrial pollution can also contribute nitrogen.  Monitoring for nitrate is a simple way to assess the impacts of agricultural and human waste on water quality.

 

How to Test Your Tap Water

If you’re on well water, you won’t get a CCR, so you should get your water tested. That’s also a good idea if your home was built before lead-free pipes were mandated in 1986: Even if your CCR says that the municipality’s water is free of lead, it can leach into your water from the pipes in or leading to your house.

Many kits are available for do-it-yourself tap testing, but it’s not always clear what they test for or how accurate they are. The EPA recommends using a certified lab. Find one on the EPA’s website. Testing typically costs $20 to $150; your community might provide test kits free of charge.

Once you know what’s in your water, choose a filter that suits your needs.

For multiple or high levels of contaminants, reverse osmosis filters are often best. They can remove lead, arsenic, bacteria, and other contaminants. But they take up a lot of space (typically under your sink), require additional plumbing, and often go through several gallons of water for every gallon of filtered water. They’re pricey, too, some costing $1,000 or more. You might also have to pay a professional to periodically service the system.

 

How to Test the Quality of Your Drinking Water

How Does Our Water Become Contaminated?

The contaminants that degrade the water quality come from a number of sources. Some of it gets there from people dumping it down their toilets, while other chemicals show up thanks to runoff from farms or mining, leaching from landfills, or improper storage and disposal at manufacturing plants. In addition to the chemicals, many of our waterways are filled with harmful bacteria, such as E. coli.

Is Your Drinking Water Safe?

The Environmental Protection Agency regulates a number of harmful substances, such as uranium, lead, and arsenic. For each of these, the EPA sets a Maximum Contaminant Level indicating at what concentration these chemicals and minerals can exist in our drinking water before it is considered unsafe to drink.

The Downside of the EPA’s Annual Water Quality Report

While these reports are a great resource that provide a high-level overview of what’s in the pipes in your home, they cannot reliably provide a complete picture of your water quality.

When Should You Get Your Water Tested?

The EPA recommends you test your water annually to get a sense for what you may be drinking and if there are changes over time. In addition to yearly water tests, some of the things that should prompt you to test your tap water immediately include.

 

How to Test Water Quality

Understand what you will be testing for. The quality of water depends primarily on the concentration of bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrites/nitrates, chlorine, hardness, and the water’s pH. Chlorine aids in disinfecting; nitrates leached from fertilizers are harmful to infants; calcium and magnesium (“hardness”) can cause scale buildup in pipes; and water with very high pH levels (acidic water) can corrode fixtures.

Purchase a home water quality test kit. There are many manufacturers of these kits, but they all function similarly. They will contain test strips that you will expose to water, causing them to change color based on the water’s mineral content. You will then match the strip’s color to a color chart.

Read the directions. In your test kit, there will be some directions. These will explain exactly how long each type of strip should be exposed to water, as well as what temperature the water should be. These directions can vary from test kit to test kit, so even if you have done this before, it is crucial to read and follow the instructions.

Expose each strip to water. Follow the guidelines in your test kit to expose each strip to water. Typically, you will start by filling a glass with room temperature water. Then, you will dip the strip into the water and keep it submerged for about 5 seconds, moving it back and forth gently.

Remove the strip from the water. Pull the strip out of the glass and shake off any excess water. Wait for the strip to slowly change color, as you compare it to the color chart included with the testing kit.

 

Afraid of Contamination? How to Test the Water in Your House

Water. It comprises more than two-thirds of the weight of the human body and nearly 95 percent of your brain. You need it to live, and hopefully, you’re consuming between 2-3 liters of water a day. But if you are, what else are you drinking? What is in your well and what microscopic baddies have hitched a ride on your H2O? The DIY experts at Stack Exchange offer a few tips on spotting contaminents in your drinking water.

You can buy a test kit from your local home center or online. The kits usually come with a package of strips that contain reactants that change color to indicate the presence of various contaminants in your water.

But beware: the kits are not terribly accurate, and they don’t test for all harmful contaminants. If there are very high levels of certain contaminants in your water, the kit very well may flag the problem. But don’t expect high accuracy or a guarantee that your water is safe.

There are currently (to my knowledge, at least) no continuous processes for checking bacteria — though I do know of at least one company who has been working on it for commercial applications (I would guess it would cost upwards of $20k). There are some sensors that can monitor other attributes. Most are prohibitively expensive for a home.

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