Published: October 13, 2010
Mold remediation can be a pricey venture. Here’s what to look for and expect when you call in the professionals.
If scrubbing and bleaching don’t solve your problem, it’s time to call in mold remediation specialists who uncover and remove harmful spores. Call sooner than later, because little mold problems can become big mold hassles quickly. Here’s how to select, and what to expect from, a mold remediation specialist.
Mold remediation is the Wild West of home improvement. The field largely is unregulated, and anybody can call himself an expert and call just about anything mold. There’s no required separation between who diagnoses the problem and who fixes it. And home inspectors, who evaluate your home’s major systems, don’t necessarily know much about mold remediation.
When you need professional mold remediation, look for an independent consultant with credentials in mold remediation and investigation. Such professionals should:
Mold remediation begins with an eyeball investigation that takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours, depending on where the problem is hiding—in plain sight or behind walls.
Next, the consultant may suggest taking air and surface samples, necessary only to identify your particular mold for health or legal reasons. Always ask the mold remediation consultant why he wants to take samples: He should be able to articulate whatever hypothesis he is trying to confirm.
If cleanup is a simple DIY project, the consultant will advise you about procedures, protective equipment, and tools. He should also tell you where/what moisture problem gave birth to the spores.
If cleanup is beyond amateur status, the consultant should draw up a mold remediation and removal plan that a professional mold remediation company or trusted demolition and building contractor will follow. Make sure the professionals you hire have a long track record, provide references, and are bonded and insured.
Cleanup can be as simple as spraying and disinfecting drywall, or as complex as:
Mold consultant: $250-$500 (which might include air and surface samples: always ask).
Air samples: $18-$225 apiece, depending on the laboratory.
Simple mold removal: $500 for surface mold removal.
Extensive mold remediation: $6,000-plus for severe infections that require extensive demolition, disinfection, and restoration.
Homeowners insurance typically covers mold remediation and removal only if the problem results from a sudden emergency already covered under your policy, such as a burst pipe. Insurance usually doesn’t pay if the mold resulted from chronic moisture, deferred maintenance, or floodwaters (unless you carry flood insurance).
As always, consult your insurance agent before contracting for work.
Karin Beuerlein has covered home improvement and green living topics for HGTV.com, FineLiving.com, Better Homes & Gardens and the Chicago Tribune.