Frequently Asked Questions
Do you also remove the mold?
No. Mold removal or “remediation” should be conducted by a separate company. Doing both is a conflict of interest and is actually illegal in Texas.
I’ve gotten quotes from other mold assessors. How do I know I’m comparing apples to apples?
We totally understand that it’s important to conduct due diligence and gather multiple quotes. Our advice is to ask the right questions. Ask our competitors about how they address mycotoxins or a high ERMI score. A lot of companies will not even know what this means let alone have the knowledge to handle it. If you need a mold expert for health reasons, you should find someone that specializes in working with mold-sensitive individuals. This is our main focus. Also ask what is included in the base fee and how much sampling costs. Do they include a follow up call to review the report and talk about next steps? Just make sure you know what you’re getting for your money.
Our house is built on pier and beam. Do you inspect the crawlspace?
While time constraints don’t allow us to do a comprehensive crawlspace assessment (going through the entire crawlspace, inspecting all areas of the subfloor, etc.), we will inspect as best we can at the access points and check for excess moisture, visible mold and other issues. We almost always recommend some type of sampling in the crawlspace as well. For mold-sensitive individuals, crawlspaces almost always present an issue and recommendations such as crawlspace encapsulation and ventilation solutions are commonly given. Also, moisture issues that have potentially damaged the subfloor can most likely be identified from the top side. Thus, we can call out the areas where a remediator should further inspect and/or remediate the subfloor, floor joists, etc.
Do you inspect the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system?
First off, we don’t pretend to be HVAC experts. We will never mess with anything that we could potentially damage or try to take something apart that we can’t put back together. That being said, we have a good understanding of where mold issues occur in these systems and will inspect the areas we have access to. This typically includes the vents in each room and as much of the duct as we can see, the return plenums and the exterior of the air handler units and plenums. We commonly find visible mold and/or moisture issues which will trigger us to recommend follow-up by a licensed HVAC professional. These issues are clearly called out in the report, with pictures, so that your HVAC pro can easily identify and begin to troubleshoot them. It is sometimes advisable to have significantly moldy HVAC components removed by a mold remediator and we will help you make that decision as well.
Do you look behind the refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines?
Yes, as long as these areas are reasonably accessible.
Can you locate mold in showers/tubs?
Mold caused by moisture intrusion through grout and/or tile is very tricky. In addition to visually assessing the condition of the grout and tile, we employ moisture meters to help identify excess moisture behind shower/tub walls. We also can check the walls directly opposite to see if there is any visible water damage. Wall cavity air sampling can be of some use in this area as well. Most of the time, the only way to be sure if mold is present is via some kind of invasive exploration, such as removing some tiles or removing drywall from one or more walls opposite the shower/tub. We will do our best to help you decide if it’s worth doing any further investigation.
What about my belongings? Do I have to throw everything away?
There is no one size fits all approach to this topic. Ultimately, some items should be discarded and some can be cleaned. Determining this can be an emotional and tedious process. We can guide you through it.
I heard that every house has mold. Is that true?
To a large extent, yes. Almost every home has experienced some kind of spill or small leak. Because mold growth can begin on wet surfaces in as little 12 hours, there is bound to be at least a little mold somewhere. The question is whether any moisture events have occurred that caused enough mold growth to affect your health. If you or your physician suspect that your health issues are being caused by mold exposure, then there’s a good chance the answer is yes.
I heard it’s impossible to get rid of mold. Is that true?
We don’t think so. First of all, all mold growth is caused by an underlying moisture issue. This has to be corrected to stop the mold growth and prevent it from reoccurring. After that, existing mold can be addressed (usually by a mold remediator) by removing some materials and cleaning others. It’s not possible to get rid of every single mold spore or fragment, however, “normal fungal ecology” can be achieved in almost every case. The issue is that sometimes it makes more financial sense to move than it does to undergo an extremely costly mold cleanup project. Every case is different.
Why are mold assessments so expensive?
We believe our prices are very competitive, especially when taking into account the time we spend on each client and the value delivered. Most mold inspectors don’t fully understand the challenges inherent in working with mold-sensitive individuals. It’s not uncommon to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on mold inspection, sampling and remediation, only to end up back at square one because the issues weren’t fully identified and/or fixed. It should also be noted that lab fees are significant and although we keep our markups low, sampling costs can add up quickly.
What does ERMI, HERTSMI-2 or “dust sampling” mean?
ERMI, HERTSMI-2 or “dust sampling” refers to a methodology call mold-specific quantitative polymerase chain reaction (MSQPCR), a highly specific DNA-based method for quantifying mold species. Environmental Relative Moldiness index (ERMI) was developed by the EPA as a research tool to investigate mold contamination in homes and quantifies 36 mold species for comparison with a database of reference homes. HERTSMI-2 uses MSQPCR to quantify 5 mold species and is designed to help patients understand if a given building is safe for occupancy. All ERMI samples also include HERTSMI-2 scoring.
We already had a mold inspection. Can you find mold where they couldn’t?
No one has magic mold x-ray goggles. Sometimes finding mold is extremely difficult. That said, we are very good at it. We have a trained eye for key indicators such as minor water damage or discoloration. We also know the right spots to look. We also have the right equipment and use more progressive sampling techniques than most other mold assessors. It’s not uncommon that we find issues that were previously missed.
I already took samples. What’s the point of having you do mold testing?
The main difference is the visual assessment. We also have specialized equipment to help us find issues. Although you may have conducted sampling with ERMI/HERTSMI or test plates or other methods, our goal is to find the sources of the mold that showed up on those samples. We also may conduct additional sampling to assist in locating sources and to otherwise assess mold levels in relation to your health issues.
What is your service area?
Our service area is consists of Austin, Houston, San Antonio and the areas surrounding those cities. We also do a lot of work in the area around Fredericksburg. If you’re not sure if you fall in our service area, give us a call and we’ll see what we can do.
Do you inspect the attic?
Yes. As with crawlspaces, time constraints and safety concerns prevent us from doing too much climbing around in the attic. Our main objectives will be to scan for roof damage and check HVAC units which are commonly located in the attic.
Do you assess apartments and other rentals?
Yes. However, the challenge with rentals is that the owner and/or management must be convinced to correct the issues and correct them the right way, especially if you are mold sensitive. Oftentimes, they want to take a DIY approach to deal with the issues quickly and cheaply. This usually makes things worse. It’s not uncommon for clients to use our reports to break their lease or move to a different unit in the apartment complex.
Do you assess commercial buildings?
Yes. We typically don’t take on large projects. Our niche is working with individuals who think the building they are occupying is making them sick. This often includes small to medium sized offices. See the above explanation on rentals. These same points apply if the space is being leased and/or your boss isn’t on board with the idea of mold inspection and remediation. Contact us and we’ll see if our services are the right fit for your situation.
Another mold inspector can fit me in tomorrow. Why should I wait for you?
This is a very good question that brings up a lot of considerations, so forgive the long answer!
We understand that you may be in a hurry to get the inspection completed due to health concerns or other scenarios where assessment and remediation activities need to be rushed. If you are NOT sensitive to mold and are NOT experiencing inflammatory symptoms, it may be best to go with a company whose focus is performing their services quickly.
However, if occupants of the home are sensitive to mold and experiencing inflammatory symptoms, it is most often worth waiting for us. Because we specialize in working with hypersensitive individuals that require a high level of thoroughness and detail, our inspectors rarely perform more than one inspection a day. If your home is making you sick, understand that this is typically due to exposure over months or years. Properly identifying the issues and getting them corrected is going to be a process that takes multiple months. It’s far better to do it right than to try and do it fast. We are commonly the second or even third mold assessor the client has hired after spending large amounts of time and money with unsuccessful results.
If you receive new information (such as lab results) that confirms or makes you suspect your home is a source of mold exposure, try to avoid knee-jerk reactions. Again, you've been living in the house for months or years. Another few weeks or months is probably not going to make a world of difference. Also, not everyone has somewhere to stay and/or can afford a hotel for an extended period of time. That being said, you're also not going to start feeling better and effectively detoxing if you stay in the environment. If someone is really sick and your instincts and/or a physician are telling you to vacate, then there’s no need to wait for an inspection anyway.
See also: “We already had a mold inspection. Can you find mold where they couldn’t?” and “Can you find mold in wall cavities?”
Can you find mold in wall cavities?
This is sometimes challenging. We do, however, have methods to find mold in wall cavities. Infrared cameras, moisture meters, wall cavity air sampling and a trained eye are just some of the ways we do this.
Do you do asbestos testing?
Not at this time.