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Are free Mold inspections scams?

Sep 23, 2021 2:33:00 PM / by David C Sulock posted in mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold contractor, Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold survey, mold professional, Mold, Mold growth, mold remediation

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It is not uncommon for mold to be found at a residence. Mold will grow silently over years in areas of your home that you may not even go in. 

Free mold inspections
During the home inspection or a mold inspection, mold  will show up during a real estate transaction. The rub with mold is that someone may see staining and call it mold or during a  home inspection, the inspector may test a surface for mold and confirm mold and then you are left with the knowledge that mold is present. What you won't know is why it grew, how to prevent it in the future and to what extent the mold is present.

The mold dilemma is there are only 11 states that have mold regulations so the industry lacks real mold professionals. If you are in NJ, PA or DE there is no mold licensing so in theory you can't find a mold professional or you can't find a state licensed professional.

The lack of mold regulations create no barrier of entry for someone wanting  to do mold work.  If you don't need a license  that saves you a lot of time and brain power.

Companies try and drum up work by offering "Free Mold inspections".   Are mold inspections truly free?    The time to give professional advice is not free,  as there has to be a cost involved to evaluate a property and provide professional advice. Free mold inspections, should read, "You are going to pay me to remediate mold if you need it or not". In the photo below, an inspector said that was mold and recommended remediation. 

Mold or water damageProfessional mold inspections can average around $500, plus or minus depending on size of property and if surface or airborne sampling is performed.

mold inspectionsLet's be clear we have given thousands of 2nd opinions over the years and there is always three common threads we find with mold advice.

  1. Many owners of properties that are told they need mold remediation, do not actually need mold remediation.
  2. Mold often grows back when the mold was inadequately addressed. Read, consultant never stopped the actual cause of the mold. (Leak, moisture intrusion, humidity, etc)
  3. The mold testing person doesn't understand the results of the mold testing, the cause of the mold growth or the actual extent.  Case in point inspector sampled a crawl space and a basement that were connected. We were asked to provide a cost to remediate the crawlspace, when in fact the basement had the bigger mold issue and people used the basement to exercise, so the mold exposure was greatest in the basement, but that is not what the consultant recommended.    The problem with non-mold professionals is they like to take a samples because they will get a really long, slick looking report of lab data, which is all pretty boilerplate, but it looks nice.  Because the lab gives such a nice package the actual mold consultants feel they do not have to provide an opinion in writing, it happens all the time.    So they find mold but they can't say it doesn't have to be remediated, why it would need remediation, what would be the difference or really most important what is the cause, causes or even likely causes for the mold.  

Regarding the "report".  A mold inspection report isn't the lab data from the lab, it should be a written report detailing the inspection, what was found, what wasn't found, and most importantly is why was there mold in the first place.  The report should also go over, in detail, what the lab data means, along with photos.

The bottom line is many mold companies work in their best interest not that of the owner or client.  This is particularly true if you are being offered free advice.

 

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Bank Owned Homes & Mold

Jun 19, 2020 8:45:00 AM / by david sulock posted in mold, mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold contractor, Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold survey, mold assessments, mold consultant

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The recession of 2008 can still be felt today in the form of foreclosed properties that have been flipped.    These flipped homes look nothing like the home when it was bank owned.   Flipped homes certainly hold appeal for homeowners who want move in conditions homes.  The photo below shows a house that went through renovations.

flipped home-1

This is a photo of the same home same area pre renovation.   Note the mold on the wood furniture on the left hand side of the photo.

mold in home before flip (002)

Bank owned houses due to no occupancy, have wildly ranging temperatures and humidity fluctuations.  In short, the house gets hot and humid in warmer months, which allows mold to grow.  We have done homes where we come across mold on walls, trim, furniture, attics, basements and crawl spaces due to the house not being heated and cooled.  These homes also may be like this for years.  This certainly makes for homes that are in desperate need of rehabilitation, the question you have to ask is was the mold addressed?

Almost certainly mold in attics and crawl spaces are typically not addressed as these are not areas where the flipper will get bang for their buck or even look for repairs.

Basements typically get partially redone because it creates a living space that was not present before.  The problem is mold that has grown during the foreclosure process gets covered over by clean sheetrock, concealing the mold.  We have seen cracks in foundation walls covered by fresh sheetrock.

Basement mold

 

Basements in bank owned homes typically will have some levels of mold growth.  Again, when these homes are not occupied, there is a high possibility of mold growth.  

Why Mold Test a Flipped Home?

Many house flippers tend to look over the mold growth in basements, one because they are not aware it is mold growth and two, they are unaware of any water issues.  It is Curren's recommendation to always do  Mold Testing in basements of those homes that are being flipped, especially if they were once not occupied and a Foreclosure, sheriff sale, tax sale or bank sale property. There are times when basements are finished or re-finished and the mold growth is covered up, but not specifically remediated.  Meaning, mold will continue to grow and fester in these areas and will not just disappear.  

Attics are yet another area that are not in the realm of a house flipper.  When an house is not occupied for a period of time, humidity and moisture builds up, especially in an area that has no air flow.  Non-occupied homes do  not always have electricity and whole house attic fans, attic fans and humidistat attic fans will not turn on when necessary.  These situations lead to mold growth in attics.

mold can grow in an attic

Curren Environmental suggests Mold Inspections and testing in homes that have not been occupied for a period of time.  Mold growth will occur within 72 hours in the right environment.  Its not to say that home flippers are hiding the mold, they may just be missing that what they see is mold growth.  They are not mold experts.

Questions?

Call Curren Today

or email at info@currenenvironmental.com

 

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Mold Testing & Mold Inspections

Oct 3, 2019 10:19:27 AM / by david sulock posted in mold contractor, Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold survey, mold consultant

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Mold is truly a four letter word and also a very misunderstood term.  You've heard of "Black Mold" (not a real mold term) or "Toxic Mold" (no such thing)? In the mold testing and mold inspection industry "black toxic mold" should not be used.  Misinformation abounds, so here are some important facts about mold, mold remediation and mold testing

when do you test mold?

Growing mold off-gases, causing that musty odor you smell, and if you think your basements smells that way because it is a basement, you're wrong,  it's not supposed to smell musty.  Mold growth stains surfaces and is visible if you understand where and what to identify as mold.  If you see mold growing inside a building, something is wrong, it is not normal or typical, even at the shore/beach.  Curren knows because we have inspected thousands of properties and, no, they all do not have mold growing.

Pertaining to mold testing, when obvious mold is present the EPA agrees testing is not necessary.

If you have discolored building materials and are not 100% if its mold, surface sampling can be performed for verification of questionable staining indicative of mold.

mold testing

Mold Testing can verify if a stained or discolored surface is impacted with mold growth, such as  surface sampling and/or air testing (non viable spore trap sampling). These mold tests quantify both mold spore count in a room and also evaluates for hidden mold in a complaint room where no visible mold is present.

Call Curren Today

Pro Tip:  Buying a house that is being flipped and the basement is finished, get a mold inspection with mold testing.

Pro Tip:  Buying a home that was bank owned and rehabbed?  Get a mold inspection with mold testing.

mold air testing

Our ratio of finding hidden mold in both situations is around 90%, but 70% of the time we get called in AFTER someone has bought one of these types homes, in cases such as these, mold is found after you own the property.

Proper mold remediation is the removal of an unwanted condition, such as mold. This follows a multi-step process which typically entails containment of work area, followed by physical removal, cleaning and encapsulation of remaining organic surfaces and air scrubbing, all of which are appropriate and proposed for the subject site.

Curren Environmental has over 20 years’ experience in the environmental field and we provide Certified Education (CE) classes on environmental topics, including mold, so we know what we are talking about. There are only 11 states in the country that have mold regulations and licensing  programs and New Jersey is not one of them. Curren nor any other company in New Jersey holds a New Jersey license for mold remediation as the license does not exist. Generally speaking, mold remediation follows asbestos abatement guidelines to contain a workspace, establish air filtration and remove (remediate) mold. Curren has personnel that hold asbestos licensing and our personnel follow these procedures from independent training schools as well as in-house training program.

Expert advice from mold experts

888-301-1050

 

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Why do I have Mold?

Sep 30, 2017 9:36:24 AM / by david sulock posted in mold, mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold contractor, Mold Testing

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                                                   Why is mold so prevalent?

Mold is a four letter word and strikes an emotional cord in people when spoken and encountered. Health concerns are a major factor on people’s perspective of mold. Mold is ubiquitous in our environment and to have a mold free environment is practically impossible. That said, if you see growth (often described as discoloration), you have mold that is or was actively growing and spreading. In short there is an environment that is allowing the mold to grow, which is a preventable situation. Here are some of the environmental and situational causes of mold growth.

mold prevention5

 

Aging Housing Stock. (Deferred Maintenance)

As the homes in the United States get older, the repair and maintenance needs for these homes are on the rise. Older homes are in need of much more care. Gutters clog, caulk dries out, foundations settle and cracks appear, soil erodes away from foundations, dehumidifiers break and don’t get replaced, sump pumps die, exhaust fans break. Homes that have been missing general upkeep have been labeled deferred maintenance abodes.

When gutters are filled with debris water cannot flow from the roof and away from the dwelling perimeter. Water can pour over lengths of horizontal gutters placing water close to the structures foundations and allowing moisture to enter subterranean spaces.

Downspout

 

Caulk around windows dry out and holes appear. Rain events can allow water to enter through worn caulk and enter the building structure.

Over time, foundations can settle and cracks can form. Hydrostatic pressure is strong (ever get pushed down by a wave at the beach?). Water from rain events or melting snow can enter these cracks and crevices; again allowing moisture to enter the space.

All perimeter foundations should have what’s called in industry parlance as “positive drainage”. Meaning the exterior grade around a foundation should slope away from the foundation, thus diverting water from the foundation.

mold prevention4

 

Dehumidifiers can be called the devil’s machine, how many times are you going to trek down the basement and empty the dehumidifier? Until you simple stop doing it (leaving a full tank) and just simple turning off the unit. Dehumidifiers don’t have to break, they just have to stop capturing moisture and discharging it. Eighty percent (80%) of residential single family units that have mold below grade (basements and crawlspaces) had a dehumidifier present, but it was not operating.

Set dehumidifiers to 55 and plug a hose into the unit and drain it directly to a sump or sink. You do not need the unit set to 60 or 65 like the one in the photo

IMG_3323

 

Sump pumps are the workhorse of a high water table and wet basements. They are your last line of defense to keeping storm events out of your home. These electric pumps will eventually clog and burn out and some simply die from years of unappreciated faithful service.

Mold Prevention1

Sump sumps? Cover the crock, water evaporates and adds to over all moisture.

humidifier set up

.Exhaust fans are loud and who wants to exhaust anything anyway from a bathroom? These fans just make you cold and in an attic, it just makes a lot of noise. But these locations when fans operate, help control environmental conditions that can hinder mold growth.

Bathroom mold

All these seemingly minute items can allow a conducive environment for mold to grow. Truth be told most mold impacted areas did not get moldy over night, most have had a slow steady mold buildup for years and the older the home the more time mold has to grow. The environmental disaster event, where a dwelling is flooded, roof leaks, plumbing line breaks, do happen but they are the minority on average. Attics, crawl spaces, basements by nature of their unconditioned environment are hot beds for mold growth.

 

attic mold

 

Aging Population.

As long time homeowners get older, they age out of skill sets required for homeowner maintenance. As general mobility decrease so does the ability to climb a ladder or walk downstairs. Some people just throw in the towel knowing that the fight they had with mother nature was lost and water will get in and it eventually dries out so why bother?

First Time Homeowners.

Much has been said about younger generations, and not always in the most flattering light. There are no courses you get about home maintenance when you sign a mortgage, more people buy books about rearing kids than about how to take care of a home. Television is no help, the home improvement shows don’t show you how-to-do mundane tasks, they show you backyard retreats you can build, bathroom and kitchen makeovers. All sexy cool stuff, that doesn’t help with home maintenance when it comes to mold.

New Home Construction.

You would think a new home would be a problem free home, well - not for mold. Today’s tighter building envelopes trap moisture indoors allowing mold to grow. New homes tend to have wetter, less dense wood than older homes, primary because the wood comes from new growth forests making the wood young or immature. In short, the wood hasn’t had decades to dry out. In addition, this newer wood often is not kiln dried, which means it did go through a process to fully remove all the moisture, why, because it’s more expensive.

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I’m selling my house & I have mold. Do I need mold remediation?

Jun 20, 2013 9:08:00 AM / by david sulock posted in mold, mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold contractor

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When a home inspector finds mold, it’s time to call an environmental mold professional.  Having mold in your home risks damaging your real estate deal. It causes alarm and can deter potential buyers. 

What does finding mold mean?

If you have mold, there is an underlying moisture problem that was fixed and the mold went undetected or you still have a water problem that has to be fixed.  The moisture issue causing the mold growth must be addressed or the mold will grow back.  Trying to fix the mold problem yourself is not advisable.  Mold professionals are trained in the use of proper personal protective equipment, including respirators.  When remediating mold specialized equipment is used to create a containment area and an air filtration system is used during mold cleanup and remediation.  Attempting to remove the mold without training and appropriate equipment risks spreading the mold.  Handling mold without the proper protective gear can cause allergic reactions and adversely influence health.  Many people are under the impression they can simply kill mold using bleach, but that is not enough.  Dead mold spores can still cause allergic reactions. MOLD REMEDIATION

Mold needs an organic surface (food source) to grow.  Homes and buildings are filed with organic material for mold to consume. Mold can grow on the paperbacking of fiberglass insulation, sheetrock, wood, dust, cardboard, pretty much anything organic.   The problem with mold it tends to grow where we won't immediately see it, such as behind walls, basements, attics and in crawlspaces. 

 

Have an environmental professional make certain that all of your mold is removed and help you move forward with your home sale.  Paying for a mold inspection and dealing with a mold problem early on can end up saving thousands of dollars in the long run.

Mold Questions? Click Here

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