Mold growth can be a problem in many homes, and as a home inspector, it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of finding mold during an inspection. When you do, as a professional you want to be able to help your client know how to take proper steps to ensure that any mold found is properly remediated.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what to do if mold growth is found during a home inspection and how to follow the guidelines set out by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) S520 standard and R520 reference for mold remediation.
Note: this blog is only focusing on what to do with the mold and does not cover addressing the underlying moisture issues! In any remediation project, it is crucial that the underlying moisture source is resolved; otherwise, the mold will return in the future even after remediation.
Step 1: Identify the Mold.
Before you can begin to remediate mold, it’s important to identify the extent to which mold is present in the home. Collecting surface samples can help determine if discoloration on a surface is, in fact, mold. And collecting air samples are a key element in determining if a mold issue is impacting indoor air quality.
Step 2: Determine the Extent of the Mold Growth
Next, you’ll need to determine the extent of the mold growth. Some home inspectors may have the experience to do this step themselves, while most will likely want to refer to local environmental consultants or mold remediation companies. This will help you determine the level of remediation required. Some professionals use 5 levels to guide the response to mold growth:
Level 1: Small Isolated Areas (10 square feet or less)
Level 2: Mid-Sized Isolated Areas (10-30 square feet)
Level 3: Large Isolated Areas (greater than 30-100 square feet)
Level 4 (>100 square feet)
If the mold growth is larger than 10 square feet, hiring a professional mold remediation company to handle the job is typically recommended. Some states have regulations on who can perform remediation. You will want to learn the rules for your local area to ensure you give your clients the best advice possible.
Step 3: Contain the Mold
If mold has been found in a property, and the inspector has determined the extent of the mold growth, the first step in addressing the mold is setting up containment. This helps prevent the mold from spreading to other areas of the home. Since mold remediation is a physical process, there can be huge releases of mold spores into the air. Containment is a crucial step to make sure these airborne mold levels do not spread to unaffected areas of the home. Generally speaking, areas that are impacted by mold will be contained using methods such as plastic sheeting and possibly negative air pressure machines.
Step 4: Remove the Mold
Remediation methods differ depending on the surfaces and materials that are involved. Industry guidelines like IICRC S520/R520 have great informational sections devoted to how to restore materials. To generalize, porous materials such as paper, drywall, etc., are best removed and replaced, whereas non-porous surfaces like tile can simply be thoroughly cleaned.
Step 5: Verify Remediation
After removing the mold, it’s important to verify that the remediation was successful. This can be done by conducting a post-remediation verification (PRV) inspection. During the PRV, you will check the affected area for any remaining mold growth, and you’ll inspect the area to ensure that it is completely dry.
As a home inspector, you aren’t expected to be an expert on mold remediation. It is, however, advantageous to understand the basics, so you can guide your clients to make the best choice for themselves. Mold doesn’t have to be a deal killer, and if you can build a network of reliable mold remediation contractors in your area, it can turn into a positive interaction between you and your client!