" I often get asked by clients:
"What about Mold", or "Do you Test for Mold?"
The short answer is "no, I don't think it's worth "selling" the customer on mold testing, and here's why:
A few years ago I looked into the addition of "air sampling" to my services. I had many clients asking about it, and several vendors trying to sell me kits to perform the tests. There are two different testings that can be done; one is air sampling, and the other is physical swabbing of areas. Both types are sent to labs for evaluation. I have read several articles from labs, and companies selling the supplies, and it seemed like it may be a good addition. Then I began looking at information from some Indoor Air Quality Specialists, the MN Dept of Health, the EPA, etc., and it changed my thinking.
Air sampling needs to be done in several areas of the home and can be expensive, and the test doesn't necessarily narrow down infected areas. Samples can be contaminated with various items, and the reports don't usually tell the amount of hazard; nor can the report tell you where it is located. Swabbing is only done after you find the source, and doesn't tell you how bad the problem is in the home.
As a Home Inspector and homeowner, I know that we need to prevent water from entering the home, and to keep moisture (humidity) controlled at all times. Excessive moisture and poor ventilation will result in mold growth, period! I tell my clients is this: Almost every home has some degree of mold or bacteria. They should try to accept this, or they should build a new home, but there's no guaranty there either... What the home inspector needs to do, is to be diligent during the inspection and call out the potential areas, concerns, and what (if anything) should be done to correct it.
Keep in mind; if you are buying a home that does not have a drain tile and sump system, I expect to find some signs of mold. If you are buying an older home, I expect to find some signs of mold. If there IS a sump system AND it's an older home, I expect to find some signs of mold... The key is to keep it in perspective, and as you discover mold, formulate a plan to deal with it. If the home smells musty, and/or there are signs of mold, you need to assume that you'll have to do some demolition if you want to find most of it.
With moisture and mold/organic growth in the home, there are 4 things to remember:
1) All exterior water needs to be managed away from the home's foundation; meaning gutters, downspouts, extensions, and drainage should run away from the home.
2) Running a dehumidifier in the basement is not a bad thing, and many times it is necessary.
3) You should keep a hygrometer in your home to measure/maintain the humidity.
4) Proper ventilation needs to be maintained in all areas, especially attics, bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.
The EPA and the MN Dept of Health websites, both state that if mold is visible, then mold sampling generally is not needed, but it should be removed or mitigated. The amount of mold will determine if you need a specialist, or if you can do it on your own. For more information about mold, visit the MN Dept of Health, http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/mold or the EPA https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-and-your-home or at their websites; type in "Mold in Homes".
Mold is real, and there are many people who are afflicted with breathing disorders and need to limit their contact with poor air quality. Those people need to make really good choices on potential homes and look for the signs of mold.
So should you test for mold? My answer is - not unless your or someone in your family is extremely allergic/affected by it. I don't recommend or perform mold testing in homes, but I do recommend removal or mitigation if is found; but be smart and be proactive.
Remember, a home inspector can only report on what they see, so it is important to hire someone who is willing to look. Contact Pinnacle Inspections at http://www.pinnacle-inspections.com
ASHI Certified, Pinnacle Inspections strives to give our clients the best reporting and advice. They regularly ask "how" to get things done, and hopefully we can share some useful tips or products on this blog.