Unfortunately, a mold company often will utilize certain practices or tactics that are frivolous and costly to the customer. Many independent microbial investigations note the abuse in the mold remediation industry as rampant. We have seen many tactics over the years. So, in this article, we are going to discuss the top 6 you need to know about.
Comparing Services by Educating Yourself on the Top 6 Mold Removal Practices
Smooth talk and embellishing facts cause these mold companies to sound good. They often claim to have a proprietary product or service that is better than anyone else, but the mold remediation industry is overseen by specific guidelines established by the CDC, EPA, NORMI, and IICRC. Anyone can claim a proprietary product or service, but if they are not following these guidelines then you need to be concerned about the validity of their claims, no matter how great they may be.
1. “Demolition Free Remediation” Process
Out of everything listed in this article, this item is our greatest concern. The practice of a mold company utilizing demolition free remediation as the cornerstone practice of their business is extremely troubling. This practice gives great risk to the occupants. Without demolition, less than 10% of mold remediation jobs can be properly cleaned. We are going to break this topic down in detail. We want to educate you with fact-based industry knowledge directly from our experienced mold pros.
Claim #1: Cleaning Mold Off the Surface is Sufficient
There are many concerns about this claim. First of all, you must understand what causes mold to form and how it grows. Most mold damage is a result of a water damage event or an ongoing leak. When water travels it passes through multiple layers of drywall, timber, insulation, and materials. Each layer of these materials absorbs the water and grows fungi. Hence, the wet porous building materials. As it sits in wall cavities and other hidden, dark places without air, this becomes the place where mold grows. This is the majority of mold damage.
Hidden Mold: SUBSURFACE
We have thousands of examples of mold that was not visible on the surface. Because hidden mold is the cornerstone of the mold remediation industry. It is the dangerous and toxic side of the mold. So cleaning only the surface mold, when a deeper problem is present is like putting a band-aid on a deep wound that needs stitches. Sub-surface mold will continue to grow at a rampant pace and continue to put off harmful mycotoxins.
Visible Mold: SURFACE
There are times where the mold is just on the surface. This occurs when mold has formed due to elevated humidity. Most often we see this in places like cathedral ceilings where elevated humidity in the room is what causes the mold to form. However, a roof leak and of the same cathedral ceiling requires demolition based sub-surface mold remediation to access all of the affected areas and solve the source of the problem.
So, the primary difference between sub-surface (demolition) and surface (demolition-free) remediation is the type of water source that caused the mold to form. Therefore, most of the time what we see on the surface is a fraction of the actual damage that is unseen. Cleaning off the surface without addressing the full extent of mold damage will only cause it to return to the surface at a later time.
Claim #2: Fogging or Enzymes Will Kill Mold on the Surface and In the Air
The claim that fogging or an enzyme treatment will affectively kill airborne mold spores and surface mold is only partially true. Yes, it can kill mold that is currently airborne and on the surface. However, it does not address the hidden, sub-surface, mold that continues to grow and produce mycotoxins. Thereby, causing occupants to continue being exposed to a breathing irritant, mold. Fogging is a temporary fix if the source of mold is not addressed.
2. Overemphasize Testing
It is becoming a common practice among mold companies, especially franchises, to require testing prior to removal. Also, these same companies tend to do their own post-testing after remediation. Both practices have concerns. Let’s discuss each:
a. Pre-Testing When Mold Is Visible
Pre-testing when mold is visible is an unnecessary expense. It is often a money-making ploy. Even the EPA states that when mold is visible that testing the mold is unnecessary because all mold becomes toxic with time. So, knowing the type of mold prior to removal is really unnecessary. Instead, utilize testing whenever mold is not visible. Or after mold remediation has been completed to verify the air quality is safe.
b. Risk of Altered Test Results with Pre-Testing
It is crucial to note that remediation companies make the majority of their profit on mold removal. So, if they are testing prior to their own removal project, there is a risk for exaggeration. The charges for mold removal are based on the size of the contaminated area. So, if they are doing their own testing they have the ability to alter the recommended area for remediation. Hence, risking exaggerated remediation and charges.
c. Post-Testing Their Own Work Gives Opportunity to Manipulate the Results
Due to the conflict of interest, mold companies that do their own post-testing should be avoided because the post-test results are vitally important to ensure there are no mold spores airborne. For companies that test their own work, it leaves room for the ability to manipulate the results.
3. Fail to Use EPA Guidelines Resulting in Cross Contamination
EPA guidelines clearly outline step-by-step procedures to prevent cross-contamination of mold spores into non-contaminated parts of the property. Guidelines also include specifics on occupying the property during remediation.
We have witnessed mold companies first hand carry molded materials directly through clean living spaces without the use of containment barriers, bagging or personal protective clothing. As a result, these actions cause cross-contamination of mold spores throughout non-contaminated portions of the property, resulting in mold spores circulated throughout the HVAC ventilation system and compounding the mold problem.
EPA Guidelines Overview for Mold Removal of 100+ Square Feet of Surface Area or Black Mold
- REMOVAL – Project managed by an on-site supervisor certified and experienced in mold removal.
- PERSONAL PROTECTION – professional-grade full-face respirators with P100 particulate filters. Hazmat, disposable protective suits, covering the entire body including the head, shoes, and hands. Tape the ankle and wrist to prevent any skin exposure.
- CONTAINMENT – containment Barrier built around the affected area. Complete isolation of the work area. Seal off any vents or openings. The containment barrier must be under negative pressure. The use of air scrubbers with professional-grade HEPA filtration for a minimum of 24 hours.
- OCCUPIED – the work area and surrounding areas should be unoccupied for a minimum of 3 days to allow for thorough air cleaning.
- DISPOSAL – remove contaminated materials from the building in a sealed trash bag and dispose of.
- CLEANING – Cover surfaces in work area with sheets of plastic and tape in place. Do this prior to any remediation process to prevent further contamination. Dust suppression methods, such as misting (not soaking) surface before remediation. Clean all small debris with the use of a specialty HEPA vacuum. Also, the area is to be dry and visibly free of contamination and debris.
4. Use Mold Sniffing Dogs
Have you heard phrases like “a dog’s nose works better than the cutting-edge technology” or “a mold sniffing dog is trusted and proven”? We are going to dive into the claims of mold sniffing dogs today. Let’s review some of the questions our mold experts ask when considering a “new mold trend” and the results we discovered during our research.
Are Mold Sniffing Dogs Supported by Third-Party Mold Certification Organizations or the EPA?
Within Kansas City and across the country, mold remediation companies are starting to use mold sniffing dogs. Even though it has gained popularity among mold remediation companies, many reputable mold professionals and third-party mold training and certification organizations like NORMI and the IICRC have not jumped on board this trend. In addition, the EPA is the most educated, researched and thorough organization in regards to mold, mold testing and mold removal processes. And despite all of their years of research, they have yet to recommend or support the use of mold sniffing dogs. So if the leading third-party organizations in the country are not supporting this trend we must ask the bigger lingering question. “Are mold sniffing dogs accurate?”
Mold Experts Have Consistently Seen Inaccuracy
Our mold experts do a lot of mold estimates, testing and removal every year! It is not uncommon for our mold experts to provide an estimate for our customers who have had a previous estimate and “detection” by a “mold-sniffing dog”. Our experts continually find a mold that the dog did not detect. The other extreme is that we have also not found mold in the area that the dog provided a cue, providing our customer an unexpected surprise! In addition, we have had multiple jobs where we were called in to find and remove mold that was a continual problem after the dog team had already serviced the customer. Our mold experts and their network of other mold experts cannot find any supporting evidence, nor research to support the use of mold sniffing dogs as an accurate or legitimate form of mold detection.
5. Certifications and Experience of On-Site Project Managers Cannot Be Verified
It is common in the remediation industry for the company as a whole to obtain certifications in water damage and mold remediation. However, the actual technicians or project managers overseeing your job do not. Unfortunately, it is far too common. Also, national franchises are notorious for training via computers and fail to employ people with the proper certifications and experience for your job.
6. Speak with a Fear-Based Tone
One of the primary things we encourage customers to do is to take notice of the tone used throughout a company’s advertising. Some websites use scary pictures especially of microscopic mold spores which scare people. They also use phrases like ‘killer mold’, “deadly mold”. This could be a signal that they are just trying to scare the public. Some companies may decide to over-emphasize the potentially dangerous effects of the molds vs. educating the public on the effects of mold. Yes, it is necessary to take precautions with mold. However, if the company or its representatives over emphasize getting sick after being around the mold, it could just be a scare tactic.