10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Mold Mitigation Company

How to Hire A Mold Mitigation Company

“Mold” is one of the dirtiest 4-letter words in the real estate world. Most mold problems are discovered during a home inspection.  Mold issues can delay the sale of the home. A professional mold mitigation company may need to be called to help resolve the issue. After asking the following questions, you can confidently hire a qualified mold mitigation company.

Does the Mitigation Company Have Proper Insurance?

General Liability Insurance is pretty easy to obtain. However, most general insurance policies exclude mold work. A mold mitigation company should have additional environmental/pollution coverage that includes provisions for mold mitigation.  Ask for evidence of the company’s mitigation or pollution insurance. Otherwise, an insurance claim for the company, if needed, won’t be covered.

What Professional Training Do Your Technicians Have?

Montana, like many states, does not have specific certification or state licensing requirements for mold mitigation services.  Unfortunately, this means that any grunt with a pump-sprayer, a hammer and a fan can claim to be a mold remediation contractor.

There are independent organizations that try to standardize mold mitigation protocols.  Such organizations include the IICRC, IAQA, MICRO, NAMRI, NORMI, and many others. Most of these organizations relay the mold mitigation guidelines prescribed by the EPA, and apply them in real world situations.

A one-page application and as little as $200 may be all it takes to join one of the many professional mold remediation organizations. Belonging to a professional mold association may add credibility for the company. However, mold mitigation technicians should also receive professional training and participate in Continuing Education Programs.

Can You Explain the Steps for Mold Remediation?

Depending on the specific project, there may be some variance in wording or steps to removing a mold problem. Although some products or procedures may be different, most mold specialists will have similar mold mitigation protocols. During the conversation you will discern whether or not the “mold specialist” knows what they are doing.  Especially if you have already reviewed the EPA’s guidelines for mold mitigation.

Red flags to watch out for include phrases like “encapsulate the mold” or “seal in mold.” Any company that wants to “paint over” mold without physically removing it doesn’t understand mold mitigation. In fact, that would be a good time to politely end the conversation and move one to the next company. For some reason, general contractors and new home builders are prone to this type of process. After hearing the steps to the project it will be easier to move forward with confidence.

What Products Will Be Used During Mitigation?

As the mitigation company explains their general process, you should jot down the names of any specific products or chemicals that they mention. Upon request, the mold mitigation company can make the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) available. The MSDS  gives information on the chemicals or products to be used. Many mitigation companies use industry specific products that are registered with the EPA. Be aware of companies that use chemicals for purposes they were not intended for. During the heaviest phases of mitigation, it may be better to arrange different accommodation.

What Safety Measures Will Protect the Home and Occupants?

Professional mold mitigation companies will know how to set up containment and control the working environment during the mold removal process. Proper containment helps protect the dwelling and any occupants by minimizing any possibility of cross contamination to other areas of the home. Professional containment of the work area should also include maintaining control of air flow.

Although the EPA doesn’t regulate mold mitigation directly, the guidelines for containment on larger projects are based on protocols already in place for Asbestos Abatement. Negative air pressure within the affected area helps prevent cross contamination to other areas of the home. It also helps limit overbearing chemical odors. Strategically installed air-movers control air movement. Air will flow into the affected area and then exhaust safely. Proper containment will have enough negative air pressure to completely exchange the air 3 to 4 times per hour within the affected area. The constant air exchange does not allow for passive cross contamination. Without proper containment or negative air pressure, mold spores may migrate to other areas of the home.

What Other Services Does your Company Provide?

Dealing with multiple companies at once can be very stressful. A good way to alleviate the stress is to work with a mitigation company that can handle multiple aspects of the project. For example, It is common to remove contaminated insulation from an attic in order to reduce mold spore counts. Choosing a mitigation company that has their own insulation equipment can save you from another round of contractor shopping.

Carpet and upholstery can also hold large amounts of dust, dust mites, and mold spores. Carpet can act as a filter for a home by holding on to such particulates. Professionally cleaning the carpets will go a long way in improving indoor air quality. Hot Water Extraction carpet cleaning is the most thorough carpet cleaning method currently in use. This method is the best for removing dirt and spores from the carpet. Most mold mitigation companies also do water damage restoration and have the equipment to clean carpets as well.

Regular duct cleaning in a home will also greatly improve the indoor air quality. HVAC duct cleaning should always be considered after or during large mold mitigation projects. Especially if a mold problem has continued in a home over longer periods of time.

If a project requires additional services, hiring a company that does it all can save you time, stress and money in the long run.

Are Payment Terms Available?

Mold mitigation is almost always an unexpected expense. It regularly costs thousands of dollars and has killed many real estate transactions. Most homeowners insurance will not cover mold mitigation and usually comes out of the pocket of the homeowner. While payment terms may vary by company, some of the more established mitigation companies may have more lenient payment terms available. Real estate transactions may have special payment conditions available. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Can You Provide a Written Estimate or Protocol?

At this point, the mold mitigation company will send someone to put eyes on your project. Some companies may charge a fee for the time it takes to put together a comprehensive estimate or protocol, but most include it for free. The estimate should include the steps the mitigation company will follow. Remember that mold often grows in hidden locations such as in wall cavities or behind cabinets. It can be difficult to know for sure what materials have mold growth until removed. The more professional mitigation companies will have top grade equipment such as moisture meters or infrared imaging to help identify suspect areas. Comparing estimates from multiple companies will help validate the process. If one estimate is way off from the others, you can probably throw it out.

How Will I Know That Mitigation Is Successful?

Successful mitigation should be verified by an independent, 3rd party inspector. A mold inspector will collect samples and do a thorough visual check for mold in the affected areas. This independent inspection with laboratory analysis provides important documentation that mold mitigation was successful. More information on the mold testing process is available here. Insist on independent mold testing for your mold mitigation project.

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