Do I need a mold inspection?

Do I need a mold inspection?

Mold! The very thought of it gives homeowners concern and leaves them wondering whether lurking moisture might be putting their homes and health at risk.

Here are some tips from highly rated mold remediation experts on what you need to know before calling in a professional and what to expect from the job.

1. Keep it dry

Any place moisture tends to collect can present a risk for mold.

“The key to mold control is moisture control,” says Tom Schultz, owner of highly rated Certified Mold Inspection & Remediation Services in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

He says he most often finds mold in moisture-prone areas that homeowners don’t frequent, such as basements and attics, followed by kitchens and bathrooms. He also notes windows with poor caulking frequently develop mold.

“Use a dehumidifier in your home, especially in cold climates,” he says. “Be diligent about using your bathroom exhaust fans during and after bathing. I often see mold developing on the ceiling above a bathtub where condensation has formed after a bath.”

Think you’ve got mold? Read this to learn more.

2. Watch those exterior walls

Schultz says homeowners don’t often consider the extent to which placing things against exterior walls creates a mold risk, especially in cold climates.

“If you’ve got a sofa right up against an exterior wall and you can see the sofa’s profile when you move it away from the wall, that’s mold,” he says. “When you put something up against an exterior wall, it inhibits air circulation. Closets are a big problem, too. People will shove boxes and clothes up against an exterior wall, close the closet and forget about it.”

3. Use your senses

Odds are, you’ll smell mold before you see it.

“There’s a distinctive, musty odor to mold,” Schultz says. He says when people can’t tell where the mold smell is coming from, he advises them to turn off the HVAC system at the beginning of the day, wait a few hours, close all the doors and go room by room to find the strongest odor.

4. Call the experts

Homeowners underestimate mold’s resilience and how far it might reach, so Schultz advises seeking professional aid once you detect mold in your home. He charges between $195 and $250 to inspect an average-sized home.

“We have meters that can check moisture on a surface, as well as measure moisture inside a wall using small probes,” he says.

5. Check their qualifications

Licensing laws vary from state to state, so check your local regulations and make sure your mold contractor holds the proper licenses.

In some states, the inspector who detects mold cannot also be the contractor who remediates it, so be aware of those rules as well. Also ask whether your contractor is certified by reputable groups such as the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification or the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors.


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Mastercat remediation workers George Lopez, right, and Jorge Lopez put on protective suits before clearing the mold out of a Palatine, Ill., home. (Photo by Gilbert Boucher)

Angie's List members and contractors share tips and advice on what you need to know before hiring for mold remediation in Chicago.

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