Mold assessment and testing is a combination of science and creative judgement on the part of the mold assessor. There are no firm industry standards that designate one single “right” way to assess and test a structure, which makes it imperative to select an experienced, reputable mold assessor.
For this reason, we have prepared the following mold assessor tips and designed support material to get you up and running quickly—knowledgeable in industry terms and standards—to aid you in the process of interviewing mold assessors.
The Fast Track to Information
Don’t get overwhelmed. Remember, you don’t have to become an expert in mold assessment yourself. You only have to be able to identify a real mold expert who specializes in mold assessment. To help you learn what you need to know BEFORE you start interviewing mold assessors, we have prepared a short list of support material condensed with need-to-know information. Read the material in the following order:
- Finish reading this blog, Mold Assessor Tips
- Become familiar with our Mold Assessor Selection Form (see below)
- Read the Explanation of Criteria for the Mold Assessor Selection Form (see below)
- Additional helpful information is in the first three chapters of Section I of our book, MOLD: The War Within (see below)
Now that you know the quickest route to gaining the base knowledge necessary to make an informed decision, let’s take a look at what mold assessors actually do and how you can best prepare yourself for the interview and screening process.
What is the Job of the Mold Assessor?
The mold assessor is essentially the architect of the project, a common industry phrase referencing their pre- and post-project responsibilities. Due to this managerial role of the mold assessor, selecting a qualified and experienced assessor is the first step to take when faced with a mold project.
The mold assessor carries out the following functions:
- Performs a visual assessment of both the structure and the property under and around the structure. This visual assessment is subjective, so experience is a critical component that enables the assessor to make the correct determination based on the visual inspection.
- Identifies the source of water or moisture, when possible. Keep in mind that mold assessors do not perform invasive investigations, such as removing walls or shower tiles, so they may not be able to visually see the cause of moisture to identify it. Conversely, since mold remediators do perform invasive investigations by removing structural building materials, it is legally their responsibility to locate the moisture source and make sure it is fixed before closing up and putting the investigated area back together.
- Designs and implements testing protocol according to industry standards. Ideally, a combination of testing methods should be used to give the broadest picture of what is going on in the structure.
- Interprets objective test results in the context of the site visit. Reports findings in a written mold report.
- When applicable, outlines a generalized mold remediation protocol that includes the specific criteria that must be met for the project to pass Post Remediation Verification (PRV).
- Confers with the mold remediator on the remediation protocol. Please note that it is the responsibility of the remediator to notify the mold assessor if the scope of the plan needs to be altered based on the additional information gained during the invasive investigation.
- Confirms completed execution of remediation protocol by mold remediator.
- Performs PRV testing to determine that PRV criteria have been met. Keep in mind that the initial mold assessor can perform clearance testing, or another company can be brought in to do it.
Having a water leak or flooding incident in your home or work place is stressful, but stay calm. Don’t let the shock of it all panic you into making rash or ill-informed decisions. Moving too quickly can result in an outcome far worse than the initial water leak or resultant structural mold. Worse yet, by the time you realize you have made a less-than-optimal decision in your selection of a “professional” mold assessor, it is often too late to undo the damage that has already been done or recoup the money that has been spent without costly litigation, the outcome of which can be uncertain.
Find Temporary Housing
In certain circumstances it may be advisable for some or all occupants to locate alternative housing or relocate work activities until a mold assessor has determined the level of indoor air quality or until a mold remediator has completed the tear-out and cleaning phase of remediation. Some of these scenarios include the following:
- When the entire structure is flooded, and unsafe conditions clearly exist
- When structural mold is visible in every area of the structure, leaving no less-affected area in which to live or work
- When occupants experience life-threatening levels of respiratory distress when in the affected structure
- When medical professionals advise patients to remove themselves from the affected structure. This may occur when occupants are environmentally sensitive or in a high-risk group designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To learn more about high-risk groups, read our brochure Disaster Area Residents.
Do You Even Need a Mold Assessor?
Keep in mind that one of the main jobs of the mold assessor is to identify the source of moisture and locate any resultant structural mold. However, in cases when you already know the source and location of the water damage, such as from roof leaks, broken pipes, faulty sump pumps, etc., it may be best to just call a mold remediator to remove and dry out the water-damaged building materials ASAP. Remember, mold will start to develop within 48 hours.
By initially not calling a mold assessor, you may save both time and money, but do realize that mold assessors and mold remediators carry two very different types of insurance, which affects the type of coverage you would be eligible to receive should a problem arise due to an error on the part of one of these mold professionals. In brief, a mold assessor should have professional errors and omissions insurance where as a mold remediator should have general liability insurance with a pollution control clause.
Should you decide to initially forego bringing in a mold assessor, it is always advisable to contact one after the remediation process has been completed. At this point, the mold assessor would perform an initial assessment and test indoor air quality to confirm no elevated levels of mold (and possibly bacteria too) are present. If no criteria for PRV were set prior to remediation, there would be no PRV criteria to meet.
Do Your Research
To be able to identify a mold assessor who knows—or doesn’t know—his trade, become knowledgeable on the mold basics, testing methods, terminology, and common mold scams. That way when you are interviewing a mold assessor and he gives an incorrect answer, you will know to move onto the next prospect on your list. Preparing yourself in this manner can help ensure an effective assessment and successful remediation, saving you untold amounts of money and potentially years of health problems.
Researching this type of information can be time consuming, which is why we did the research for you and compiled it in Section I of MOLD: The War Within, a book we wrote after recovery from mold-related illnesses after Hurricane Katrina. The book contains a foreword by Dr. Doris Rapp, a renowned pioneer in the field of environmental medicine. It also has received accolades from other medical professionals, including Dr. Joseph Mercola who describes the book as “one excellent resource”. For immediate access to this comprehensive source of information, download a copy here.
Hire a Pro
Learning mold lingo can be confusing. It can be like learning a foreign language. To help simplify the process and shorten the learning curve, download our Mold Assessor Selection Form to use as a guide when researching mold assessors. We custom designed the form in a way that would make it easier to compare companies, using four stages of information gathering and criteria screening. The form is a simple and effective support tool to help you make an informed decision.
Two Usage Options
- Download our Mold Assessor Selection Form and type in the fields
- Print our Mold Assessor Selection Form and write in the fields
By using our Mold Assessor Selection Form, you will remember to ask all the appropriate questions and have an organized way to keep track of answers.
The next step is to understand each area of the form and how it may apply to your situation. For Explanations of the Criteria Used in the Mold Assessor Selection Form, click here.
Who to Call?
A good place to start when trying to locate a certified mold assessor in your area is to run a search for assessors using your zip code on our Mold Assessor Locator Map that contains certified mold professionals.
As you begin your search, be aware that there is a difference between a mold assessor and a mold inspector. The two main differences are as follows: 1) a mold assessor has undergone a higher level of training than a mold inspector, and 2) a mold assessor is the architect of the project whereas a mold inspector performs mold testing but without the in-depth assessment and project management skillset.
For More Information
Additional information on structural mold and testing methods is available in the first three chapters of Section I of our book, MOLD: The War Within. The book addresses structural mold, the health effects of mold exposure, and treatment options for mold-related illnesses. It includes firsthand interviews with experts in indoor air quality, mold assessment and remediation, and building science as well as documentation from published, peer-reviewed journals.
We give special thanks to our industry reviewers: Jim Pearson, CMH, and Doug Hoffman, CEO of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Assessors (NORMI). Their pre-press reviews of the Mold Assessor Selection Form ensured the accuracy and user friendliness of the form.
Jim Pearson, CMH: Mr. Pearson has over 35 years of experience in indoor air quality and is president and CEO of Americlean, a full-service restoration company in Billings, Montana. For the past 13 years, Mr. Pearson has acted as the Chairman of the Consensus Body in charge of writing and publishing the ANSI/IICRC S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation.
Doug Hoffman, CEO of NORMI: Mr. Hoffman has over 35 years of experience in the construction field as a state of Florida certified class “A” general contractor, a certified master plumbing contractor and a certified master roofing contractor. Since 2004, Mr. Hoffman has been the head of NORMI. As an approved training provider for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and multiple states, NORMI provides training to members and issues over 14 certifications that meet licensing laws now established in Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Texas, and Washington, DC. NORMI is active in the promotion of mold legislation in non-regulated states to provide residents with a higher level of consumer protection.
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