Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mold Testing and Home Inspection

Occasionally, clients ask us about mold testing. Specifically, testing the air for mold spores to find elevated mold levels and “hidden” mold at their new home.

Below are some common questions and answers about this testing.

We do not do this testing.

Q. Aren’t some inspectors certified to test for Mold?

A. Not really – these certifications are often made up by the companies that sell the mold testing equipment. Usually the training involves watching a DVD or attending a short course. There is no real certification.

Q. Can an air test reveal if my home has “elevated” mold Levels?

A. There is no such thing as an Elevated Mold Level. There is no published guideline on safe or unsafe Mold Levels.

Q. What about comparing indoor Mold Levels, to an outdoor level for a reference.

A. There is no scientific basis for this comparison. As a matter of fact the same home, tested at different times can have dramatically different results. See the chart below:

Lehigh Valley Home Inspection

These above tests were taken at the same home at different times of the day. Which result is correct?

Answer: They are all correct!!

Q. Do any states have advice on mold testing or outdoor air comparisons?

A. The Wisconsin Dept. of Health has this to say about outdoor levels : Outdoor counts will vary greatly and may in turn cause similar variation in indoor levels. Because of this variability, it can be difficult to differentiate true difference between outdoor and indoor samples without taking a large number of samples. Soil and plant materials are major sources of airborne mold. Studies indicate that outdoor fungal levels vary greatly by region, season, weather conditions, and air movement. According to data published by the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (, outdoor mold counts for major U.S. cities regularly exceed 10,000 spores per cubic meter of air during much of the year.

Allentown Home Inspection
Q. Is mold dangerous or harmful?

A. Yes, it can be, if you are sensitive or allergic to it. Just like peanuts, cats, or bee stings can be dangerous or harmful.

Q. What does the EPA Say?

A. Sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal mold standards.

Q. What does the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) say about Mold Testing?

A. Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds.

Q. Is mold a defect in a home?

A. No, not really. Mold is a symptom of a problem. Namely High Relative Humidity (RH)

Q. Isn’t this the same as Radon Testing?

A. No it is not. Radon Testing is regulated by the State of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Testers need to be licensed by the states. There are approved protocols for testing, as well as an accepted action level.

Q. Well, There must be some benefit to the test?

A. No doubt about it. The test benefits the testing company and the Lab that does the analysis. (It’s often been said – "Mold is Gold") The test will also lighten your wallet or purse.

Some people want a Mold Test, because they read about mold in a magazine or bought another house and had a test. “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” ~Mark Twain

Q. So what’s the bottom line?

“A. It's ludicrous for a home inspector to think that he can take a sample, send it to a lab, and let the lab interpret the results without bearing any responsibility. The inspector is promising something that is not being delivered – a reliable, technically accurate assessment of the building for the presence or absence of problematic mold.

In summary, we can conclude that in almost every case, routine sampling performed by home inspectors or so-called certified mold inspectors is completely worthless. The unscientific results lack accuracy, validity, and are not reproducible.” (1)

Easton Home Inspection

(1)Portions Reprinted with permission from the ASHI Reporter:

Home Inspectors and Mold Sampling – Hype or Help?

The article's author Mark Cramer"s website can be found here:
Mark Cramer Inspection Services Inc