Top 10 Clues The Mold Removal Contractor You Called Is Not Qualified!
Our last article discussed how much mold removal should cost. The next step is finding the right company to remove the mold. The core problem with this industry is the fact that there is not much regulation, which means that any contractor can offer mold inspection or mold removal services.
Some states, like California, Texas, New York, and Kentucky, require licensing, which is great, but if you live in an area without licensing requirements, this can create an atmosphere where unskilled, inexperienced, and untrained contractors can offer mold removal services.
This creates a situation where a simple mold problem could be made worse because the contractor did not know what they were doing.
So, how do you know if the contractor you call is qualified to remove mold from your home or business?
The purpose of this article is to list and explain the top 10 clues that the mold removal contractor you called may not have the training or experience to properly remediate your mold problem. Education is the key to taking control over the process of hiring a contractor!
If you think you have mold, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Puritan Restoration, 617-527-2229!
1. No Testing Is Recommended!
Really? How does the contractor know? You know there is a problem if the contractor claims you have mold without doing any testing of the area.
2. There Is No Valid Explanation Of How Mold Will Be Tested!
Since there are many different kinds of tests, you need someone who uses the right kind of test to assess whether you have a problem.
Tape testing, swab testing, air quality, and ERMI testing are some tests that are used to determine if you have a mold problem. Make sure that you work with a qualified mold inspection specialist who understands how to test whether or not you have a mold problem so that a proper protocol can be put in place.
This is important! Without the right kind of test, at the end of the job, you won’t know if the mold problem was properly rectified.
3. Third Party Testing Is Not Recommended!
If you begin working with a contractor and they do testing and find mold, make sure you ask them how the quality of their work will be verified.
We recommend that you get a Pre-Test and a Post-Test. The purpose of the Pre-Test is to measure the spore count inside of the property and compare it to outdoor levels. This is done using specialized equipment that takes samples of both the indoor and outdoor air. The samples are then sent to an accredited laboratory to be analyzed. The lab will then issue a report documenting the spore count and the mold species that is found in both the indoor and outdoor samples. Once this data is determined, the contractor should explain to you what mold spores were found in your home or business and how it compares to the outside. If there is a huge difference and the spore count indoors is higher than outdoors, then you will have some pertinent information to compare to the Post-Test once the work is complete.
The purpose of the Post-Test is to do the same as the Pre-Test. In this case, however, the spore count indoors should be close to or equal to the outdoor spore count. If the data shows this, then the indoor fungal ecology of the home is healthy. The Post-Test, in short, verifies that the mold remediation was successful.
When you decide to work with a contractor make sure you understand what they will do to restore the fungal ecology of your home to healthy levels. Reputable contractors will provide you with the lab results of the Pre and Post tests and will offer you the option of using a Third Party to do the Post Test should you choose to do this.
Pre and Post testing is like a check and balance system, meaning someone else is checking the efficacy of the work. Without this test, you will never know if the mold removal was successful.
To summarize, here are the three key reasons you should invest in Pre and Post testing:
- So you know if you have a problem that actually needs remediation. Testing will verify this!
- So that you know at the end of the job a clearance test tells you if you got what you paid for. A lot of times mold damage is clearly evident, so it’s okay to waive the first test. However, the final clearance test provides protection from mold scams and peace of mind that your home or business is safe.
- Finally, because it’s part of the IICRC recommended standard for mold removal!
4. An Estimate Is Given Without Doing A Formal Site Inspection!
Believe it or not, some contractors will give you a quote over the phone without even visiting your home or business.
If you get a price over the phone, definitely stay away from this contractor for two key reasons:
- One of the goals of reputable mold removal contractors is to identify the moisture source that is causing the problem. How can a contractor provide a quote without knowing this?
- Most importantly, how can a quote be provided unless an actual site visit and inspection is done to know the full extent of the mold damage.
5. No Evidence Of Training or Certifications!
Before you commit to working with any mold removal contractor, always ask if they have specialized training.
Always find out about the training and experience.
6. One Line Estimate With No Detail!
You should never work with a contractor that gives you a one line estimate that simply states “mold removal” and then the “price”. Demand a detailed written estimate so you know exactly what you are paying for.
If you don’t demand a detailed estimate you may face other charges when the contractor shows up to do the job. Some contractors provide minimal detail in the estimate because they want to up-sell or up-charge you for other work.
There are some cases when unforeseen issues on a property present themselves after a job starts. But a detailed written estimate before you sign the contract outlines what will be done on the basis of a professional assessment. The estimate and contract protects both the contractor and the property owner because it clearly states the limitations (i.e., what will and won’t be done) before the work starts.
7. Demands Full Payment Before Any Work Is Done!
If you are comfortable with the contractor and have properly pre-screened and done your due diligence and have a signed contract, you may be asked for a deposit to cover some of the costs for doing your mold removal job.
However, if the contractor asks for 100% of the payment up front, you may want to re-consider hiring this contractor because you will have very little recourse if the job is not done right.
We recommend that the final payment be made once all the work, according to the signed contract, is complete and you have a successful Post-Clearance test that assures you that the job was done properly and the indoor air of your home or business is healthy.
8. An Unbelievable Low Price!
Mold removal can be costly because professionals follow detailed steps to ensure that it is done properly and to avoid contaminating other areas of your property.
If you get three estimates and one estimate is a lot lower than the others, keep in mind that “you get what you pay for”. In short, the cheapest price is not the best indicator of competent service. Rather, it usually indicates the reverse.
9. Pressure or Scare Tactics!
Finding mold in your home or business can be scary. Because of this, some contractors behave like predators, using scare tactics to close the sale on their next potential victim.
The key point to remember if you find mold is not to panic or get to stressed out. Stay focussed on finding the best trained contractor to deal with your mold concerns.
It is important to understand that we are surrounded by mold all the time because it is in our environment and part of the eco-system to break down dead organic material. Mold is nature’s recycler and will always be a problem when it is growing indoors because the spore counts will increase to unhealthy levels.
If you suspect you have mold and contact a contractor, be sure to ensure that you get all the information in order to make a sound decision! This is very important; if you do have mold, you want to ensure that it is removed the right way the first time by a mold removal professional who knows what they are doing.
If you are pressured into making a quick decision and not encouraged to seek other estimates or given time to do your due diligence, then be careful, particularly, if in order to close the sale, the contractor resorts to pressure tactics or scare tactics.
Any contractor that uses pressure or scare tactics without providing you with evidence from testing and/or does not try to determine the cause of your mold problem may just be trying to pressure you into a quick sale.
10. Recommends Bleach!
“Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of bleach when proposed as a cleaner or sanitizing agent is that its effectiveness is greatly reduced in the presence of organic material. To be a successful sanitizer, bleach must be used on clean materials and surfaces. This is why bleach products are used in the laundry after the wash cycle or in a commercial kitchen as a component in the third sink after the dishes have been washed and rinsed. The efficacy of bleach as a sanitizer is also compromised by heat and light. Despite the fact that the chlorine odor may linger for some time after use, bleach loses strength so quickly that it is not considered to have a residual effect that would prevent future bacterial or fungal growth.” (Michael Pinto, Why Restoration Professionals Should Avoid Using Bleach)
Avoid mold removal contractors that recommend the use of bleach for your mold removal job. Bleach does not work and is not recommended by experienced industry professionals.
We do not recommend bleach for three key reasons:
- Bleach does not address the cause of the mold problem!
- Bleach is dangerous!
- Bleach evaporates!
Now that you understand some of the tactics used by unqualified or unscrupulous contractors to try to get business, let’s look at the five key steps you can take to protect yourself…
Top 5 Tips To Finding A Professional Mold Removal Contractor!
The best way to ensure that you choose an experienced professional is to ask questions and educate yourself!
- Find out what training the contractor has received and from what organization.
- Ask if the contractor recommends Pre and Post testing.
- Get a detailed mold removal action plan, often referred to as the Scope of Work. The report will guide the remediation activities of the mold damage restoration.
- Once you have that indoor air quality test result, get a written, detailed estimate describing the mold damage restoration project.
- Finally, it’s a good idea to get 3 different bids from 3 different contractors. This way you’ll know the price range for the project. If you get an extremely low bid, make sure you compare apples to apples. If a price seems too good to be true, it usually is. The risk of a low bid is that proper attention to detail won’t be followed. Proper attention to detail includes things like creating containment and following proper procedures for removing contaminated materials from the property. These two steps prevent contamination to the rest of the property.
One final point. Mold will only grow if there is moisture, ie. a water source. The key to long lasting mold prevention is to first identify the source of moisture. With this in mind, make sure you hire a contractor who will do this before any mold remediation activities begin. If the source of the moisture isn’t identified and corrected any mold removal activities will be wasted effort.