This is a topic that is quite often misunderstood and misrepresented even by the majority of contractors in the indoor air quality industry. The primary issue comes down to regulation/standards or in this case lack thereof. While we do not often advocate for government intervention in private industry there is a time and place when it is needed to protect consumers.
This industry is akin to the wild west at times in that there are no set procedures, protocols or methods that contractors are required by law to follow. This can be evidenced by contacting multiple “mold removal companies” for the same project and getting different work scopes, prices and results from every firm. Let’s take an attic for example which is an extremely common problem area in the Northeast where we operate. If an attic is plagued with microbial activity there is clearly an underlying issue that caused this condition. The vast majority of mold remediation contractors will not offer any guidance, remedies or referrals to a specialist for addressing the underlying cause of the mold growth. Most won’t even remove the mold properly with their remediation approach. The most important aspect to mold remediation is to prevent the conditions that resulted in the mold growth from recurring and then to ensure that the prescription offered succeeds in the goal of true removal.
Mold Removal Companies: Learn How to Choose the Right One
If you ever hear a mold remediation or indoor air quality specialist discuss killing mold, fogging, encapsulating or any chemical treatment that does not remove both mold growth and related spores you should respectfully walk away and look to a contractor who follows the IICRC and ACAC standards of care. The goal of mold remediation is quite simply, mold REMOVAL. This is best achieved by installing required engineering controls such as poly containment, negative pressure systems, and HEPA filtration units to control the work areas. Impacted materials that are non-salvageable should be removed, bagged and disposed of and all surfaces should be cleaned by means of HEPA vacuuming, damp wiping and where appropriate aggressive or abrasive removal especially on wood surfaces. After surfaces are cleaned and free of mold growth it may be appropriate to apply a coating to provide protection or resistance to the cleaned wood surfaces. A 3rd party industrial hygiene consultant who is accredited by the ACAC as a CIE or CIEC should conduct an evaluation to verify cleaning efficacy prior to the work area being released.
Getting back to the attic discussed previously.
- Let’s assume it is a 1000 sf attic, 50% impacted by visible growth with typical Cladosporium species which is a condensation related mold that normally cannot simply be cleaned from the surface. “Contractor A” may propose spraying an antimicrobial agent possibly with some scrubbing and call this a treatment of the attic and charge $1800.00 (this is a reasonable price and sounds attractive). “Contractor B” may propose fogging the attic to “kill” mold growth and spores while calling this a treatment and charge $1000.00 (this is a reasonable price and sounds very attractive).
- “Contractor C” meanwhile may propose media blasting or aggressive chemical cleaning, insulation removal followed by hygienic cleaning and insist on a qualified weatherization expert perform required improvements to ensure that mold does not recur. This cost may be several thousand dollars for mold removal and not even include the required preventative steps to address ventilation, air sealing, insulation, etc. This option is significantly more money but is the only option where the consumer is not being sold “snake oil” only to have the issues remain and eventually worsen over time.
- Both contractor A & B may provide you with a “clean mold test” that they have conducted themselves. However, if a qualified 3rd party industrial hygiene consultant conducted this same testing the results most certainly would be much different.
The most common occurrence of the scenario above takes place during a real estate transaction where a home seller wants a quick fix to address a mold issue found during inspections and the buyer then gets a false sense of security seeing a “clean mold test”. When in fact the mold was never actually removed and the cause never addressed. When the new owner takes possession of the home they never look into the attic until they sell years down the road and they are then forced to address the issue in its entirety at a significantly higher cost. To worsen this situation the home will be plagued with not just a mold issue but a recurring mold issue which can scare off new buyers.
Maintaining a Healthy Environment with Mold Removal and Prevention
Our approach at Octagon is to look at mold remediation from a building science perspective. We ensure that whenever possible property owners, tenants, buyers, real estate professionals, etc are all educated not only about the correct process for mold removal but also educated about prevention and how to maintain a healthy indoor environment. We stand behind every project we complete and take great pride in our workmanship. We are driven by a strong desire to excel in customer service, quality workmanship and staying ahead of the industries evolving demands. We hope this article has been helpful in navigating your way through the mold removal process and we hope you contact us for any IAQ needs that may arise.