Baltimore Residential Mold Remediation
Mold is a big business these days and a lot of contractors out there say
they can do it. But the truth is that it takes more than just a contracting
license to be a true mold remediation specialist.
Don't get stuck hiring a do-all cleaning company like Servpro or PuroClean,
who claim to be mold remediation specialists. You need to hire a qualified
contractor who can not only safely remove your mold problem, but also
IDENTIFY and FIX the source! Otherwise it will keep coming back.
And hiring the wrong contractor, as we all know, can be just as disastrous.
The Mold Dr. has been in the commercial and residential construction industry
since 1997, and has seen his share of scary mold problems and shoddy mold
remediation contractors. Don't get stuck with a bad contractor.
If you are seeking a Maryland mold removal contractor you can count on
The MoldDr. to diagnosis and cure your mold issues.
Got a mold problem? The Mold Dr. has your cure!
Dont Get Stuck with a Fake Mold Contractor!
Getting rid of mold is
one thing...documenting it is another
What is involved in a post-remediation verification survey?
Post-remediation means "after mold has been removed." A post-remediation
verification survey (sometimes called "clearance testing") includes
a visual inspection and moisture assessment of the construction materials
that were part of the remediation work, and air quality testing inside
the work area. Both are necessary to properly assess whether or not the
mold remediation was successful.
Successful mold remediation is defined as follows:
1. No visible mold growth on any of the construction materials.
2. All construction materials are dry according to current industry standards.
3. The cause of the mold growth has been resolved.
4. Airborne mold spore levels are consistent with acceptable indoor air
5. Cross-contamination of non-work areas has not occurred.
For more detailed information please read on.
1. No visible mold growth on remediated construction materials.
Mold remediation means
REMOVE the MOLD. The goal is never to
KILL mold, it is never to
TREAT mold, nor is it ever to
COVER mold up with paint or other solid color coatings.
The goal of mold remediation is always to REMOVE the mold.
This picture was taken during a post-remediation verification survey. The
contractor claimed the work was completed and ready for inspection. However,
the obvious mold growth seen on the framing materials shows that all of
the mold has not been removed. This remediation job clearly does not meet
industry standards for the visual component of a post-remediation verification
survey. Ultimately, as would be expected when visible mold growth is present,
it did fail the air quality test, as well.
ENCAPSULATING MOLD GROWTH
The concept of encapsulation was created by mold removal contractors.
The idea is to literally glue down mold growth that might be trapped in
small, hard-to-reach cracks and crevices by applying a waterproof, anti-microbial
coating. In theory it sounds logical. But technically, if all the mold
has been removed there should be nothing to encapsulate. Nevertheless,
encapsulating has become an accepted practice when the purpose of doing
it is to prevent a few rogue mold spores from failing a clearance test.
Encapsulation is not acceptable when the purpose of doing it is to hide
or cover up mold that could have and should have been removed.
This picture was also taken during a post-remediation verification survey
to show what encapsulation
does NOT look like. This is what painting over mold looks like. Painting and encapsulating
are not the same thing. Painting over mold with KILZ or any other
solid color paint is just covering up mold so it cannot be seen and that
is NEVER acceptable. If you are facing a mold remediation project, ask
your contractor before the work begins if he intends to encapsulate. If
encapsulation is to be part of the remediation process, insist on anti-microbial
CLEAR coatings only. Paint products such as KILZ have no anti-microbial properties
and therefore offer no protection against reoccurring mold growth. Furthermore,
solid color paints and even solid color encapsulants make it impossible
for an inspector to know whether or not the mold was removed or simply
This picture was also taken from a post-remediation survey. The remediated
framing materials are restored to original, mold-free condition. A clear
encapsulant, virtually invisible, was sprayed onto the lumber from the floor to
12 inches high, making all lumber accessible for inspection. This is an exemplary
example of proper and successful remediation.
Why is it so important to REMOVE the mold? For
#1. Mold that has been killed, treated, or covered up can always begin grow
again if moisture reoccurs - even if the moisture is just from high humidity.
#2. Dead or dormant mold still releases mold spores into the air. While mold
must be alive to cause further property damage, dead mold spores - when
inhaled - have the exact same effects on people and animals as mold that
is alive. Mold can be killed, treated, or covered up but if it is still
in your building, all of the health risks associated with mold are still
2. All construction materials are dry according to current industry standards.
Mold grows on wet construction materials. Inexpensive mold-contaminated
materials, such as drywall, wood trim, cabinets, etc. are typically removed
and replaced. Other materials that are generally too costly to replace,
such as wood framing, studs, joists, etc. can usually be remediated by
scraping, sanding, and wire brushing mold growth.
This picture was taken during a post-remediation inspection. The infrared
image shows that some areas of the construction materials were still wet
after mold remediation (the blue spot in the center frame is moisture).
In this remediation, no visible evidence of mold was present on any of
the remediated materials. However, the wood framing was not thoroughly
dried. If new drywall had been installed over this wet lumber, mold would
have begun to grow again.
Infrared cameras are used in all safety environmental testing post-remediation
verification surveys to ensure all construction materials are dried out
in compliance with industry standards. If your post-remediation inspection
does not include infrared thermal imaging, your results are inconclusive.
3. The cause of the mold growth has been resolved.
In a post-remediation verification, a visual inspection is performed inside
the containment area to confirm that the source of water intrusion that
caused the mold growth has been remedied.
This picture was taken during a post-remediation inspection. The contractor
said the job was ready for reconstruction. Yet you can clearly see by
the dark stains on the framing lumber and sub-floor that the lumber was
still wet and the plumbing leak that caused the mold problem to begin
with was never resolved.
Any new materials installed here would have been wet immediately and within
3 days new mold growth would be certain. Obviously, this remediation was unsuccessful.
4. The indoor air quality is within acceptable standards.
The final test of a successful remediation job is the airborne mold spore
levels inside the containment area are the same or less than outdoors.
This is accomplished by collecting samples of air from both locations
using specialized equipment designed specifically for this purpose. Test
results are simple and straightforward. For example:
If there are more molds in the containment air than the outdoor air, or
if there are different types of mold in the containment air than outdoors,
the remediation was unsuccessful.
If airborne spore levels inside the containment area are higher than outdoors,
the remediation was unsuccessful.
In a post-remediation verification survey, air sampling provides analytical
data to scientifically confirm that which cannot be confirmed visually.
Many mold remediation contractors provide post-remediation testing. However,
hiring clearance testing out to a disinterested, unbiased third-party
mold testing company can insure against fraudulent testing.
5. Cross-contamination of non-contained work areas has not occurred.
When suspicious conditions are visually observed which raise concerns
that cross-contamination may have occurred in other parts of a building
during the remediation process, testing the air in those areas is d
one to confirm or rule out that concern.
Cross-contamination typically occurs when a containment area has been
breached and mold spores have been blown out of the contained work area
and into other parts of the building. Suspicious conditions that cross-contamination
has occurred include:
Improperly or poorly installed containment walls and doors.
Tears, holes, and broken seals in the containment plastic or tape.
The following pictures will help you recognize the difference between a
proper containment job and an improper one.
|This was the entryway into a containment work area. The excessive use of
tape indicates a lack of contractor experience in establishing secure
containment barrier walls.
||Rips, holes, and gaps are seen between the plastic and the tape that is
intended to secure it. Mold-filled air from inside the work area is being
blown into a non-work area by high-volume air filtration machines.
|This makeshift 3-sided containment was wrapped so closely around kitchen
island cabinets that there was no room to work inside. The worker broke
the tape seal several times, cross-contaminating kitchen air with containment air.
2 breaches in the tape seal at the floor. The seal had been broken so many times that the
tape no longer held the plastic down. Breaches in containment materials
cause cross-contamination of areas outside the contained work area.
Classic mold blooper story! This contractor did an excellent job at installing
the containment materials. The plastic was tight and perfectly sealed
But the plastic in the room right next to the
one on the left was never sealed at the bottom. This minor detail blew mold spores through
the entire first floor.
|This is an example of a properly installed containment area. Unlike the
makeshift example above, metal pole framing was used to keep the plastic
tight and straight, with no breaches in the tape seal.
||Even though the actual remediated area was a small section of wall, the
contained area is large enough to work in without damaging any of the
materials or putting stress on tape seals.
Choosing a Qualified Remediation Contractor
Before choosing a "qualified" mold remediation contractor, consider this:
1. Not all mold remediators are licensed contractors.
In most states, including Missouri and southern Illinois, there are no
licensing requirements for people who remove mold. In Missouri and southern
Illinois, removing mold is classified as janitorial work. That means that
one who can wash windows or sweep floors is allowed to perform mold remediation. This is
important to know because many mold removal jobs require the removal of
cabinetry, plumbing fixtures, electrical fixtures, and HVAC components,
all of which should only be removed or installed by licensed carpenters,
plumbers, and electrical contractors. For that reason, it is important
to know your mold remediators' legal qualifications in order to address
the entire scope of work, and not just the removal of mold.
The best person to trust your mold remediation work to is a licensed contractor
who is certified to perform mold removal. See more on certifications for
mold remediation contractors below (#3).
2. Not all licensed contractors are mold remediators.
If you or a loved
one had a life-threatening condition that required brain surgery, would you choose the
best brain surgeon you could find or a podiatrist that came highly recommended
by Aunt Martha? Obviously that is a rhetorical question. Yet, every day
people choose highly-qualified repair contractors to do mold removal work
that they are simply not qualified to do.
There are many excellent, reputable, licensed contractors who are highly-qualified
to perform room additions, kitchen and bathroom remodels, and even construct
an entire building from the ground up. But that does not necessarily qualify
them to perform mold remediation. Proper and safe mold removal requires
specialized knowledge and expertise. If mold remediation work is not d
one properly, significant collateral damage can occur to other mold-free areas of a
building by cross-contamination of airborne mold spores. Furthermore,
failure to implement adequate safety measures to protect the occupants
of a building before, during, and after remediation work can result in
serious health risks and costly litigation.
Choosing the best kitchen and bath contractor to perform mold remediation
work is rarely a wise decision. It is always best to hire a certified
mold remediation contractor to perform mold remediation.
3. Always choose an AmIAQC or IICRC certified contractor. AmIAQC stands
for American Indoor Air Quality Council. In mid
2009 the AmIAQC was renamed the American Council for Accredited Certification (AcaC) to better
reflect the exclusive prestige of being the only IAQ certifying body with
CESB accredited certifications.
Council-certified mold remediation contractors are required to maintain
the highest industry qualification standards, including a rigorous continued
education credits program and mandatory recertification every
two years. When searching online for a Council-certified mold remediation contractor, look for
one or both of these logos.
IICRC stands for Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification.
IICRC is a non-profit certifying body for cleaning and restoration professionals.
It was founded in
1972 to establish and monitor educational programs and standards for most phases of property
restoration. When searching for an IICRC certified mold remediation contractor,
search forthis logo.
Again, the best person to trust your mold remediation work to is a licensed
contractor who is certified to perform mold removal. The second best would be
one who may not be a licensed contractor but who is certified by
one of these two certifying bodies. The least desirable choice would be a licensed contractor
with no mold remediation certifications.
One last note on choosing a mold contractor. A Council-certified or IICRC certified mold
remediator is always the best place to start. But always ask for at least
three references and never assume that a contractor must be okay just because they give you references.
CALL THEM! In fact, always ask for references that are at least one-year-old
and call them. Why? Because right after a mold removal job is d
one everything looks great and every
one is happy to be rid of their mold. But if that job was not d
one right it might take
9 months before anyone knows it. A referral might have nothing but praise for the
contractor immediately following a job, but nothing good to say about
him a year later.
Get referrals and call them. Call the State Contractors Board to check
on their license. Call the Better Business Bureau to check their rating.
If you don't get satisfactory answers, call another contractor.
Who pays for post-remediation verification?
You do! That's another reason why it is so important to choose the
right remediation contractor. If a remediation job fails to meet industry
standards the contractor must find out why and correct the problem. Then
the work must undergo a second post-remediation verification. And if that
fails, a third. And if that fails, a fourth. And every post-remediation
verification costs the same as the first one.
During the interview, talk to your contractor about post-remediation verification
(also called clearance testing). Most contractors do not pay for testing.
If they do they usually insist on doing it themselves or having some
one they know do it. But even the best contractors don't fail their own work. For obvious
reasons it is always in your best interest to have a third-party independent
inspector perform clearance testing.
If you pay to get rid of a mold problem and the clearance test fails, you
still have a mold problem. If you still have a mold problem, you will
be dealing with it again sooner or later. An independent testing company
can help you avoid future problems by ensuring that your remediation job was d
Here are a few tips to help you better understand post-remediation verification.
Discuss these things with your contractor.
1. Tears, holes, and gaps in containment materials can cause a clearance
test to fail. Additionally, breached containments cost more because areas
outside the contained work space require testing to confirm or rule out
Increase the likelihood of first-test clearance with air-tight containment.
Stay out of the containment during remedial work. Traffic in and out increases
the probability of a breached containment and a second test.
2. Post-remediation verification should be d
one after all the mold has been removed but before any new construction materials are installed.
The inspector should be able to examine all salvaged remediated materials.
If new drywall is installed and the clearance test fails, the new drywall
will likely have to be removed to find out why.
3. If anti-microbial coatings are going to be applied (a step some contractors
call "encapsulation"), it should be d
one after verification as a precautionary measure to help construction materials resist moisture
in the future, not to cover up water stains or hide mold growth. If for
some reason the contractor chooses to encapsulate prior to verification,
only clear coatings should be used. Solid color coatings, paint, and stain-hiding
products like Kilz are of
ten used on framing materials to cover up mold that was not removed. A containment full of
freshly-painted wood framing may look nice, but if the clearance test
fails it is virtually impossible to see why.
Ask your contractor if anti-microbial coatings are going to be used. If
so, insist on clear products only. Also, Kilz is strictly a paint and
should never be used as an encapsulant. It is not an anti-microbial coating,
nor does it have any waterproofing properties whatsoever. It serves only
one purpose: to cover stains. Often, water-damaged framing wood is permanently stained
and damaged. But there is a distinguishable difference between water stains
and mold. Water stains don't fail a clearance test; mold does - even
when it is painted over with Kilz.
The best way to minimize post-remediation clearance testing costs is to
educate yourself on the remediation process from start to finish. Recognizing
when something is wrong early in the process can save time and hundreds,
even thousands of dollars as the job draws to a close.