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It's never good news when a homeowner discovers mold, especially dangerous black mold, somewhere in the home.
Homeowners can't solve a mold problem by selling their home to an unsuspecting buyer. Here's what buyers and sellers should know.
Is the cabin conditioned year round or at all?
Are there any grading or moisture issues that are allowing bulk moisture into the crawl?
Conditioning the crawl is usually the best answer but if it is sporadic use and/or makes better sense to leave as a vented space, you need to do the following for optimum performance:
- Install a vapor barrier across the floor. Seal all piers and penetrations as well as seal to the stem wall.
- Insulate the underside of the floor and ideally thermally break the floor joists from the earth.
- This is best accomplished by covering the floor joist with a rigid foam and sealing all the seams.
When you say vented to the roof, do you mean into the attic UNDER the roof, or through the roof with a duct up through a roof jack into a roof hood ? Hopefully the latter, otherwise you have the likely source of the problem.
You are clearly getting moisture in this area still, so more insulation will not help and may hurt - insulation does not stop moisture but does trap it, particularly if you add enough tht the freezing front moves well down into the insulation, so vapor coming up from the house freezes in the insulation (making it wet when it thaws) rather than venting into the attic and evaporating from there.
You need an expert check on the bathroom area - that the fan unit and any light fixtures are tighly sealed to the vapor barrier. Usually they are installed with about a 1/4-1/2 inch void all around for ease of installation, and not sealed at all, so moist bathroom air vents around themm into the attic.
Then the fan unit needs checking for openings - many have openings in the plastic or metal case from manufacturing that are not sealed but should be. Do NOT use any type of unit that, because of big lights or heat lamp, says it has to be vented and cannot be sealed in, because moist air goes right up through it.
Then the duct from the fan up through the roof needs checking for leaks (and should be insulated, at least if your attic goes below freezing ever), and should have a roof jack where it penetrates the attic - a rubber seal in a metal plate that fits tightly around the duct, so the air blown into the vent hood on the roof cannot circulate back down into the attic. Most installers just cut about a 1 foot opening in the roof (especially if they can install the duct that way without having to crawl around in itchy attic insulation), run the duct up through it into the roof hood, and walk away. That leaves that big opening in the roof sheathing for the wet air and condensation in the hood to corculate right back down into the attic. Some installers (like my house whenn I first bought it) really take the easy route and don't even connect the duct to the hood - they just terminate it a foot or so below the sheathing so ALL the moist air goes into the attic.
I would also check the kitchen and any other bathroom fans for the same leak sources or improper installation, and make sure all vent pipes are intact to above the roof, and that there are no furnace or HVAC ducts disconnected or damaged that could be adding moisture.
Also look around all roof penetrations for ducts and pipes for staining on the underside of the sheathing, which would be indicative of roof hood or jack leaks that should be repaired. (Hopefully, with a new roof you would not have any).
The area most affected should have the insulation moved away and checked to see if the vapor barrier has holes or tears, openings around pipes, ducts, light boxes or wiring, or was maybe totally torn out by some prior workman. If your vapor barrier is not effective, moist household air will move into the attic almost year around, but especially in cold weather, carrying moisture into the attic, where it will condense and cause mold.
Also - if you have a fireplace chase (wood boxout around metal chimney) in that area, it may connect to the house in the firebox area and be open to the attic (which is a real fire spread hazard but for some reason is not contrary to code), letting household air flow by that route.
The mold should be brushed and vacuumed away, then treated - there are commercial sprays that are fungicides that commercial mold and mildew removal contractors have, a sprayed chlorine bleach and borax solution has also been shown to work but you would have to have an air supplied respirator and chemical suit to work with that, which only professional remediation contractors have. Do NOT paint the area - especially the underside of the roof sheathing and trusses. They needs to be able to breathe, not have any moisture from above locked in.
Stains in the attic (assuming this is an unoccupied area) can be bleached, and then if you want the evidence to go away and make it easier to tell if there is new staining or mold, sanded to remove the worst of them.
Stains on areas visible from the outside like walls and rafters can be treated with Chlorine bleach (beware of dripping on good finishes below), painted with Kilz or similar anti-fungal primer, then painted. Stains on the underside of the sheathing visible in the soffit area can be bleached and then when dry, sanded away.
Ventilation is essential, but without removing the source of most the moisture you will not win this war no matter how many times you battle it.
While I would guess the fans and vents are the problem, is there anything different about the attic ventilation to this area versus the other parts of the roof - soffit covers, blocked eave openings, insulation-clogged bug screening or soffit cover openings, lack of air chutes or eave baffles, insulation pushed up against eave opening or up against roof, horizontal blocking that prevents or obstructs airflow, no ridge vent above it, etc ?
If you are not able to find an obvious source of the moisture, I woud consider getting a thermal IR scan of the attic. For typically about $200-300 an energy conservation expert with thermal scanner can scan the attic (might have to be done at night or VERY early morning if done in summertime, to accentuate the temp difference between house air and attic air, unless you have AC in which case turning the AC down low and blower on full can work by pushing cold air rather than hot up through any gaps or voids. If you have that done, check on price to add in the rest of the house too - probably not more than about $100 more, and can show you where your air leaks and poor insulation air. You should try to get one who can provide the entire scan to you on CD or DVD, so you can review it in the future. Here is a link to some images so you know what I am talking about -
Call in the professionals.
There is no sense addressing the mold issue until you resolve the basement leaks.
High ground water that is seeping into your basement is going to lead to long term, serious damage to your foundation and basement walls. Any mold you remove will just keep coming back. The first question is the age of the home and whether or not you have working perimeter drain tile installed. If you home is pretty old (30+ years) it is possible you do not have a drainiage system, or the system is clogged / deteriorated beyond function. For a newer home, perimeter drain tile was a requirement, but doesn't mean it was installed properly.
I recommend you hire a licensed architect to review your house's construction, the site and look for indications that a drainage system is in place and functioning. They should be able to find out where the drain comes out, and to check it (after a rain or by doing a water test) to see if it is working. If it is working, it is possible your system is undersized or only failing in a specific area. It is also possible a second, lower water table exists that is below your current drain system. A site change, to change the current flow of ground water or above ground water may resolve your issue as well. Something as simple as a new drainage ditch, retention pond or higher grades around your building may resolve your issue.
Working with a professional will prevent you from worrying about a 'draingage expert' recommending a high cost repair when another option may be available.
Some drainage people will propose installing a new perimiter drain inside your basement walls. This system gets the water that gets through the walls and under the floor, and carries it back out. This is a last ditch idea. The best method, to solve the issue for good, is to dig back down to your footers, repair the waterproofing on the wall, then place drainage board over it (this protects the waterproofing while allowing moisture a travel path to your drain tile). Then place gravel fill with geo-fabric over it, then backfill. Now, no matter how much water you have in your ground, it will be directed away from your basement.
A sump pump in the basement to handle flooding or low water tables below your basement slab will augment this system.
Once you have the moisture issue resolved, then worry about stopping mold. In the interim, any materials that are growing mold need to be removed (use protective measures). Make sure you run a dehumidifier at all times and keep air moving by turning on the basement hvac vents or putting some fans in the area.
Working with a licensed architect will help ensure you pinpoint the exact problem, and have a knowledgable person to discuss the options with before doing any costly work. The architect will also be able to assist with finding contractors and overseeing that the work is installed correctly (It is worthless to redo the drainage if any one area is not done correctly). Good luck.
Mold Removal reviews in Boston
As soon as I signed the contract with them, I didn't hear from anyone for a week. I asked what the hold up was and was told they were securing permits. Another week went by, someone else contacts me and says there is no permit needed at this time, the rep was wrong and they would start the work the next day. For the next 10 weeks everything was stop and go. The bathroom tile job was so poorly done by a subcontractor they had to redo it. That same subcontractor did the bamboo floors, which looked good but instead of buying new trim (which the contract called for) they put on the old trim and did not even paint it. The scuff and gouge in the walls were unbelievable. The floor contractor had to come out several times more to replace the trim and patch the walls.
On to the bedroom ceiling, after it was installed and painted, I noticed a wet stain forming. Called my rep and was told it was moisture in the air and they put a fan on it for a weekend. Water stain got bigger, turned out the toilet was installed incorrectly and was leaking. (Side note, plumber also installed vanity poorly - inch gap from wall to back of vanity - they had to redo that as well. Like I said above, we no longer use that plumber.) They had to rip out the entire ceiling and redo it. The first time the ceiling was hung, before the wet stain, it looked fine, flat and smooth. The second time they had to redo the ceiling after the water leak, the drywall was hung or patched so badly, you could see where each individual screw was by the plaster mound over it. After trying to tell me that's how drywall is done (despite the fact it looked fine the first time they did it) we had them redo it a 3rd time. Finally, it was a flat ceiling again.
Painting - the painters missed numerous spots, we had to point out spots on the trim, behind doors, around frames that they just skipped over. Also, the contract called for painting the hallway and they tried to tell me it wasn't included. I had to pull out the contract several times to make sure they did all the work they were charging the insurance company for.
Finally, the basement. It is the 3rd month into the project and they still haven't gotten to the basement. At this point I was so fed up with them I asked for the invoice and said I would find someone else to finish the work. It took another 2 weeks to get the invoice and several discussions with my rep. The invoices he sent me simply did not add up. I pointed out several mistakes (most in their favor) because I wanted to make sure I was paying the correct amount and I would never have to deal with them again and the rep kept telling me I just didn't understand how the billing software worked. Well, I can understand that 2 + 2 = 4 and 3 + 1 also = 4 and in the end, the totals should match even if the breakdown categories were different (which wasn't the case on this invoice). Finally, after speaking with an office manager and head guy over there, everything was worked out and I was able to pay the bill.
I did encounter some nice people there, the office manager, the owner, and one of the site managers. After speaking with some of them it sounds like I did have a problem rep who was fairly new. But still, a lot of their subcontractors (floors, drywall, paint, plumbing) were not good and needed more oversight to ensure the job was done correctly. I did get a great electrician out of the process who we subsequently hired to rewire our entire basement.
What made this entire ordeal so much worse was the fact that due to the damage and work in process, we couldn't use our two bedrooms. It was a small 4 room apartment and 2 of the rooms were out of commission for three months. My husband, toddler and I had to sleep on the pull-out in the living room for the entire time. was well aware of that fact and still took 12 weeks. To say it was an inconvenience is a massive understatement.
I would never use this company again and I would not recommend them to anyone.
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