So, you have a mold problem that has been corrected and you want to know if it is okay to move occupants back into the unit? Get a clearance inspection. But not from the company who did the work! For the purpose of this article, post-abatement, post-remediation, and mold clearance are synonymous terms. Essentially, it means check the work after it has been done. As a general rule, owners can solve a mold problem in-house if the total repair cost is $500 or less, and/or the affected area is less than ten (10) square feet. Otherwise, the work should be done by a mold remediation company that is licensed and insured. 

Clearance Inspection

In either case, a clearance inspection should be done to verify the mold has been adequately removed prior to reconstruction. It will also satisfy disclosure requirements for buyers in the event of sale or transfer.  The clearance inspection will demonstrate your due diligence in having the problem handled properly in the event of a formal complaint or lawsuit.

The purpose of a mold clearance inspection is to provide a final report based on the work performed by a mold remediation contractor. A post remediation inspection, both visual and analytical, is performed to ensure a return to a pre-mold contaminated environment. The clearance inspection is based on the following four (4) criteria:

  1. Absence of dust and debris within the containment area(s):
  2. Absence of visible fungal growth within the containment(s);
  3. Moisture content of construction materials are within normal limits; and
  4. Balance of the airborne fungal spores found inside when compared to fungal spores found outside the containment.

If all four (4) of these criteria are met, then the mold remediation efforts are considered to be acceptable (PASS) and no further remediation is recommended. If any of the four (4) criteria are not met, then the remediation efforts may be considered unacceptable (FAIL).

In the event the containment area fails inspection, a re-inspection is recommended. The inspection company should be willing to perform the re-inspection at a lower price since there is less work involved with verifying the recommendations have been implemented.  Lower pricing may also give the customer a level of confidence the inspection company’s motivation is not to keep re-inspecting to generate additional revenue.

When a mold remediation contractor says they will do their own clearance testing, there is a conflict of interest!  Not all remediation projects require clearance testing, but some form of post-remediation verification (PRV) should be performed and it should be done by someone working for the building owner, not for the contractor who did the work.  Clearance inspections assure the contractor has adequately cleaned the work area according to industry standards.

The remediation company has a vested interest in passing any type of PRV inspection because it costs more time and money to continue working on your project if it fails inspection. Sometimes they want to keep third parties away from the work being done so they can wrap up, get paid, and move on. Any cost savings they are offering you to perform the PRV is already built into the cost of the repair either through the initial estimate or subsequent change orders.

Buyer Beware

Hiring a “Test Only” company means one that only performs inspections, testing and consulting. This is an important distinction from a “Testing and Removal” company, and it is up to you as the buyer to know that distinction. Since the mold industry is self-regulated, it is a classical case of “Caveat Emptor: Let the Buyer Beware.”  

Remediation companies may offer “100% Guarantee Pass Clearance” or even low-or-no-cost post-remediation verifications. But think about it: it’s like the proverbial fox guarding the hen house. Of course, the fox is going to assure nothing will happen to the hens under his watch. But if no one else is watching the fox, how do you know what’s really going on?  

Case in point: The tobacco industry. For years, the tobacco companies denied any harmful effects of smoking cigarettes. They vehemently defended their position for decades until the statistics from the healthcare sector and release of the dreaded internal memos from Big Tobacco. Then it became obvious the tobacco industry was concerned with profit over consumer safety. Several class action lawsuits and billions of dollars later, the tobacco companies are no longer credible when it comes to self-regulation.  

Another example: Smog testing for motor vehicle registration. Auto repair shops that offered both services used to recommend costly repairs to pass smog inspection. Later it was determined auto shops were padding their profits by abusing their authority when testing, repairing, and clearing the smog compliance of many vehicles. The state stepped in and regulated this practice which resulted in “Test Only” smog check centers.  

Use Two Companies

This article is not a case for regulating the mold industry; it is a reminder to use one company to inspect and a separate company to remediate. Now that you have been educated there is a lesser likelihood of recurring problems, occupant health and safety can be optimized, and the legal aspects of the situation will be addressed objectively. 

The above article was produced by Same Day Mold Testing, Inc. (SDMT), which offers fast, affordable results for landlords and property managers concerned about the indoor environment of their buildings. SDMT has over 15 years of mold experience and has performed thousands of mold inspections for commercial and residential customers. 

For more information about our services and competitive pricing, visit us online at www.SameDayMoldTesting.com. You can even schedule appointments online 24/7! 

If you have questions about this article, send an email to samedaymoldtesting@gmail.com.

If you suspect a mold problem or have a tenant concern, contact our office to discuss the matter at (800) 609-4214.