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Weird Mold Myths in the Home Inspection Industry! It's a good thing I'm here...  XML
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Nathan
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Joined: 06/17/2014 09:32 PM EDT
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As many of you know, InspectorLab is fairly new- but the concept isn't. There may be a thousand labs out there. I have no idea, but I'm definitely familiar with a few that are commonplace at home inspection conferences, etc.

I've determined today that it's a good thing I showed up. I'm not saying the other guys do a bad job, they just have no idea how to communicate with inspectors and they're largely uninvolved in the industry. A recent Facebook thread, for instance, uncovered a number of views in the industry that are so far off base- so nutty- that I can't believe 20 years after mold testing hit the profession that they still exist.

IT IS NOT THE FAULT OF THESE INSPECTORS... it is the lack of support for the industry from the labs in the business and that stops now!

Here's some of the views I've encountered in the last 24 hours that are completely mind-blowing;

1. "I can't test for mold here in Maryland because I'm not licensed. Mold testers and Mold labs need to be licensed by the State of Maryland."

This of course couldn't be further from the truth, Maryland licenses neither. How does this kind of rumor get started?!? This isn't the only state I've heard this about by the way, happens all the time in completely unlicensed states. (There are some states with licensing by the way)

2. "I can't offer mold testing to a client at an inspection because it violates the ASHI Code of Ethics."

This one may surprise you a bit. Here's the rationale the inspector gave: Basically, he pointed to the Code of Ethics saying that you can't make money off your findings (i.e. repairs) and extrapolated that a bit into mold testing or any ancillary service for that matter. Yes, I kid you not.

3. "I'm not qualified to call mold "mold" ".

This one isn't so clear cut as the first two I'll admit, but it's amazing to me how a group of largely men that have the strength to lift themselves into attics and the intelligence to write up these incredibly detailed and extensive reports get so spineless and irrational when it comes to this issue. If you see mold in a house, call it mold! If you're unsure, test it. If you're sure, ask if the client would like a test so that they can provide results to back up their claims on the inspection response. Pretty simple stuff.

4. "The EPA says there's no reason to test for mold"

Completely false. In fact, the EPA even suggests testing under certain circumstances. The EPA also doesn't take a stance on real estate transactions and mold tests- nearly all of their web content is designed and distributed with the current homeowner in mind.

5. "The inspector should just call out mold problems and let the seller do the testing"

Yes, we have inspectors out there so far removed from knowing what a real estate transaction is that they actually say stuff like this.

6. "The client doesn't need a mold test because they don't need specific details"

Specific details are exactly what is needed in most cases. Sometimes the bank/insurer/seller is looking for something to justify a costly repair or concession. Other times the client may need to see where things are at to begin with so that the effectiveness of remediation can be gauged. Sometimes people just want to know.


These are just a few of the things I've heard. I will be starting my tour plans for next year soon, and my two hour mold course will be presented to thousands.

It's time to stop this nonsense!

P. Nathan Thornberry
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SheehanThomson
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Joined: 06/18/2014 11:28 PM EDT
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I always thought if they have mold why would you test it since you will want to get rid of it whether or not you know the name of which mold it is.

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Chad D
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Joined: 06/24/2014 08:55 AM EDT
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I had a conversation with EMSL specifically about meth testing. The sales lady asked me about mold, radon, allergen, and a couple other things. I told her I use InspectorLab and she sent me an email explaining why no lab should interpret/guarantee the results. I thought the info she sent was interesting. However she doesn't really know her competition.

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Nathan
King
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Joined: 06/17/2014 09:32 PM EDT
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Chad D wrote:I had a conversation with EMSL specifically about meth testing. The sales lady asked me about mold, radon, allergen, and a couple other things. I told her I use InspectorLab and she sent me an email explaining why no lab should interpret/guarantee the results. I thought the info she sent was interesting. However she doesn't really know her competition.


She also doesn't know anything about mold. It's why we're killing them in the market right now. I'm sure they're getting sick of hearing our name from all their past clients, it's unfortunate though that they turn to false and misleading statements. Send me a copy and I'll send you a special gift Nathan@Nathan.tv


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Nathan
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Joined: 06/17/2014 09:32 PM EDT
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SheehanThomson wrote:I always thought if they have mold why would you test it since you will want to get rid of it whether or not you know the name of which mold it is.


I agree with you 100%. I disagree with you 100% as well.

Yes, if I am sitting here in my own house and I had a little water leak over a long time and I find some visible mold I know what to do. I own a lab and I'm not even going to test. Well, I might for fun, but not for any purpose.

If I'm in a real estate transaction, making an insurance claim, or dealing with a situation resulting from poor workmanship where documentary evidence is needed- that's another story. I need to be able to hand the seller a report, turn in documentation with my insurance claim, or have evidence for my claims against a contractor.

So you are 100% right Sheehan...depending on the situation.

P. Nathan Thornberry
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Kevin Moore
Bon Jovi
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Joined: 06/18/2014 08:58 PM EDT
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Location: Buffalo NY
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Nathan wrote:
SheehanThomson wrote:I always thought if they have mold why would you test it since you will want to get rid of it whether or not you know the name of which mold it is.


I agree with you 100%. I disagree with you 100% as well.

Yes, if I am sitting here in my own house and I had a little water leak over a long time and I find some visible mold I know what to do. I own a lab and I'm not even going to test. Well, I might for fun, but not for any purpose.

If I'm in a real estate transaction, making an insurance claim, or dealing with a situation resulting from poor workmanship where documentary evidence is needed- that's another story. I need to be able to hand the seller a report, turn in documentation with my insurance claim, or have evidence for my claims against a contractor.

So you are 100% right Sheehan...depending on the situation.


I think that really says it right there.

Kevin Moore
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SheehanThomson
Jedi
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Joined: 06/18/2014 11:28 PM EDT
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I guess the west coast doesn't have insurance companies asking for all of that.

I rarely have a mortgage or insurance company even request the reports I do.

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Cameron Anderson
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Joined: 09/27/2014 09:37 AM EDT
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I agree 100% that educated and experienced inspectors should feel confident identifying and calling mold what it is and I would go even further. That same ability to identify and document mold growth is what makes most testing unnecessary. There are rare times where testing is necessary to call someone's bluff or appease an ignorant bank/insurance/mortgage professional. Health issues are also rare and are an entirely different application and discussion.

I have called out mold on hundreds of houses, written it up hard in my report and clients have successfully used that documentary evidence to negotiate mitigation prior to their purchase. 15 to 20 of those times when I have followed up with reinspections after the mitigation, I found considerable amounts of mold still present. Two weeks ago I performed a reinspection on a large crawlspace after mitigation had been performed and a test had been provided which passed the crawlspace. There was still a large amount of mold present. Again, I photographed and reported hard on it. Between the test in my report, guess which documentary evidence the client relied on?

Speaking of calling someone's bluff, I once had a seller insist that the mold growth in his basement was only algae, as if that would make any difference. This keys in on another myth. People always look at the mold growth as if it is a problem. The reality is, mold growth is just a symptom of the real problem which is always moisture.
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Nathan
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Joined: 06/17/2014 09:32 PM EDT
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Cameron, do you offer mold testing?

There are quite a few inaccuracies in your post, most of which commonly come from those who don't test- before I make a (polite) response, it would be helpful to know.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 11/18/2014 07:56 AM EST


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Cameron Anderson
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Joined: 09/27/2014 09:37 AM EDT
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[quote=Nathan]Cameron, do you offer mold testing?

There are quite a few inaccuracies in your post, most of which commonly come from those who don't test- before I make a (polite) response, it would be helpful to know. [/quote]
Yes I do testing. We've talked at length about it before, but you know we don't agree 100% on mold. It's a good discussion to have though when it stays civil, which is something which seems impossible on some other forums.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 11/18/2014 10:42 AM EST


Cameron Anderson
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Nathan
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Joined: 06/17/2014 09:32 PM EDT
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[quote=Cameron Anderson]
Yes I do testing. We've talked at length about it before, but you know we don't agree 100% on mold. It's a good discussion to have though when it stays civil, which is something which seems impossible on some other forums.[/quote]

Ah yes, now I recall.

Here's my main points of difference, at least to your points above:

1. I don't know any inspector that can't look at mold, see that it's mold, and call it mold. If seeing an old loaf of bread once counts as education and experience, we're on the same page.
2. There aren't rare times when testing is necessary. It's never necessary! It's not necessary to get glasses if you have bad eyesight either, you can just live with the consequences. It is however most often recommended to make a buyer's point to the seller in the inspection response stronger and ensure the client is taken care of properly. After all, that's what we're here to do!
3. Health issues are not rare. The number one reason minors hit the emergency room in this country is breathing issues- Asthma, Allergies, etc. All things that can be affected by elevated levels of mold.
4. It's not mitigation, it's remediation
5. Your client would have been even better off with a lab test signed off by a PhD showing the ineffectiveness of that remediation firm. They apparently weren't taking the issue very seriously, which goes back to my point #2.
6. Yes, mold growth is a symptom of the real problem of moisture, but it is also a problem itself.


Your move Cameron. You're incredibly educated, I'm not, I chose to go the route of hiring those with the education so just know I may be calling on them to help me with responses

P. Nathan Thornberry
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docshane
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Joined: 10/21/2014 11:01 AM EDT
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Perhaps I can help clarify some issues here also.
#1 - Regulating mold in states. California was the first to try and Arkansas, Maryland, and others have tried. Florida does have a license requirement for testing mold. There are probably more reasons that mold regulation does not happen than I will list here, but here are a couple: a) It is extrememly difficult to regulate an organism, especially mold, where health effects are a moving target
b) In these economic conditions, mold laws don’t get funded - the California mold law was to be self-funded by donations. Right, let’s voluntarily send money to the government….
c) Senator Conyers from Michigan held a large Toxic Mold Town Hall Meeting in Detroit, which I attended in 2002, to gain support for his “Melina Bill” to task the CDC with studying the long-term effects of mold exposure, establish a federal mold insurance program, task the EPA with coming up with what levels toxic mold was acceptable (there are more, but I have to be brief).

#3 “I am not qualified to call mold “mold”. You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows (apologies to Bob Dylan). Most mold looks like mold and is sympton of water intrusion. Even when litigated, and home inspectors use this argument, it doesn’t hold up. Most people know what mold looks like (meaning both mold and fungi here). There is absolutely no downside to identifying a mold growth and then testing it.

#5 You don’t want the seller to do the testing because a) it is not a third party, and b) they don’t have the right tools/instruments. Having a valid chain of custody is really important. In a real estate transaction, the Home Inspector can offer the mold testing and satisfy a & b, AND they are a third party. Besides, where would the home owners send the sample. Letting the home owner take a sample would open them up for lots of fraud potential.

#6 There are lots of reasons to test and identify mold from a home/building. Insurance companies have lists of mold types and mortgage companies too. Now days, mortgage companies are trying to spread their risk and insist on knowing what kind and how much mold is present.
Remember, that a qualified lab and PhD mycologist can help greatly when trying to solve a mold problem (more on this later).

Dr. John D. Shane, PhD
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Nathan
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Joined: 06/17/2014 09:32 PM EDT
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Great post.

P. Nathan Thornberry
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William Chandler
General
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Joined: 06/23/2014 04:28 AM EDT
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docshane wrote:Perhaps I can help clarify some issues here also.
#1 - Regulating mold in states. California was the first to try and Arkansas, Maryland, and others have tried. Florida does have a license requirement for testing mold. There are probably more reasons that mold regulation does not happen than I will list here, but here are a couple: a) It is extrememly difficult to regulate an organism, especially mold, where health effects are a moving target
b) In these economic conditions, mold laws don’t get funded - the California mold law was to be self-funded by donations. Right, let’s voluntarily send money to the government….
c) Senator Conyers from Michigan held a large Toxic Mold Town Hall Meeting in Detroit, which I attended in 2002, to gain support for his “Melina Bill” to task the CDC with studying the long-term effects of mold exposure, establish a federal mold insurance program, task the EPA with coming up with what levels toxic mold was acceptable (there are more, but I have to be brief).

#3 “I am not qualified to call mold “mold”. You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows (apologies to Bob Dylan). Most mold looks like mold and is sympton of water intrusion. Even when litigated, and home inspectors use this argument, it doesn’t hold up. Most people know what mold looks like (meaning both mold and fungi here). There is absolutely no downside to identifying a mold growth and then testing it.

#5 You don’t want the seller to do the testing because a) it is not a third party, and b) they don’t have the right tools/instruments. Having a valid chain of custody is really important. In a real estate transaction, the Home Inspector can offer the mold testing and satisfy a & b, AND they are a third party. Besides, where would the home owners send the sample. Letting the home owner take a sample would open them up for lots of fraud potential.

#6 There are lots of reasons to test and identify mold from a home/building. Insurance companies have lists of mold types and mortgage companies too. Now days, mortgage companies are trying to spread their risk and insist on knowing what kind and how much mold is present.
Remember, that a qualified lab and PhD mycologist can help greatly when trying to solve a mold problem (more on this later).


[b]One very important USP to the HI here is the PhD mycologist backed by the lab's insurance is making the call - not the poor HI. This is an extreme benefit worth noting.

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Nathan
King
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Joined: 06/17/2014 09:32 PM EDT
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Great point William. I have a graphic to post tomorrow, straight from a lab that wants to put the liability on you- EMSL.

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