Q: What is mold?
Mold is a fungi, which is found almost anywhere. Mold can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present.
Q: Why is mold a problem?
Mold growth may start within 24 to 48 hours of a water leak in your home. If left unchecked, problems from offensive odors to potentially toxic substances, known as mycotoxins, may develop.
Q: Can mold cause health problems?
Yes. Since molds are everywhere, indoor molds are usually not a problem. However, with a water leak, high humidity, or poor ventilation, unhealthy quantities of mold may develop. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions including sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rashes. Allergic reactions to mold are common and exposure can irritate eyes, skin, nose, throat, and the lungs.
Q: Can I clean the mold myself?
The methods many people use are incorrect and possibly harmful. For instance, bleach is a common product used. However, the EPA recommends not using bleach for a number of reasons. Merely killing the mold with a biocide is not sufficient because “dead” mold may still be toxic or allergenic. Cleaning the affected area without proper protective equipment may also be dangerous. Finally, should the mold source be inside the walls or ceiling, the mold could actually destroy the structural integrity of the building.
Q: I think I may have mold in my home. Who do I call first?
It is important to note that there are generally two types of professionals when dealing with mold: mold assessors and mold remediators. It is highly recommended that you call a mold assessor first. A mold remediation company is who you call after you have a mold assessor inspect for mold and determine if a mold remediator is needed. A mold assessor is there only to assess the mold infestation in your home.
Generally, a mold remediator’s pay will be determined based on the amount of work the remediator has to perform. Therefore, it is in the mold remediator’s best interest to do more work, whether or not all of the work they claim is actually needed. With a mold assessor, the assessor only has to assess the home and sets the “protocol” and “scope of work” for the actual work needed by a mold remediator so that the mold remediator does not try to tell you that more work is needed than what actually is needed.
Q: What kind of licenses should I ask for before hiring a mold professional?
In Florida, the Department of Professional and Business Regulation oversees the licensing requirements for mold assessors and mold remediators. A good mold assessor must have a Mold Assessor license, as well as, a Home Inspector license. A mold remediator should have a Mold Remediator license.
Q: In addition to licenses, are there any certificates a mold professional should have?
Yes. Ask if your mold professional is an Accredited Indoor Environmental Hygienist (AIEH) and ask if he or she is a Certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE).
Q: Can a mold professional be insured?
Yes. Before hiring a mold professional, ask to get a copy of their insurance certificate. Once you do, call the insurance agency/company and ask when their policy expires. Make sure the work being completed is done while the policy is still in effect.
Q: What types of tests will a mold assessor be doing in my home?
Many inspections involve sampling the air and surfaces within your home for mold. Specifically, the company will take a swab or a lift-tape sample of any mold found in the home. However, the most effective test is an infrared thermography assessment. Infrared thermography is the most effective method of quickly and accurately locating water intrusions and moisture problems. This is a cost effective and non-destructive investigative tool, designed to locate thermal anomalies consistent with water intrusion issues eliminating the need to un-necessarily open walls, ceilings, or floors to locate the problem. Furthermore, the company should provide a lab analysis report of any mold found in the home. This can determine the level of the mold spore count, and in many instances, may help the assessor to determine if the occupants of the home are at risk of becoming sick from mold.
Q: What kind of equipment is used by a mold assessor to assess mold in my home?
Some of the equipment used by a mold assessor are: 6-channel particle counter; infrared thermography camera; moisture meter; psychrometer; differential pressure manometer; boro-scope; multiple portable bio-pumps; electric sampling pump.
Q: What kind of certifications should a mold remediator have (in addition to a license)?
Water Restoration Technician; Applied Microbial Remediation Technician; Certified Indoor Environmentalist; Home Inspection. Make sure the company you choose meets ANSI standards for a mold remediation contractor.
Q: Does a mold remediator cordon off the mold infested area of my home?
Yes. A mold remediator should cordon off the mold infested area with plastic and use a special vacuum device to remove the mold spores.
Q: Who removes contaminated material with mold from my home?
A good mold remediation company should remove any mold infested material from your home for you.
What to Remember:
1. If someone has mold that appears on a wall or in a residence. If you try to remove the mold without proper protocol – you can spread mold spores throughout your property.
2. Get references !!!
3. Request a copy of their insurance and get their license number.