With the frequency of natural disasters as of late, a lot of people worry that all that water will lead to the nightmare of mold in their homes. While not all mold is dangerous - in fact, every house has some - it is the kind and the amount that determines if it will be a problem.
But mold is hard to spot, since you often cannot see it or smell it. Some mold inspectors make big promises in ads and coupons to come to your rescue. But with lots of money on the line, who can you trust?
Watch ABC's "The Lookout" on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.
Experts Richard Shaughnessy, director of research for the Indoor Air Quality Program at The University of Tulsa, and Bill Sothern, owner of the environmental consulting firm Microecologies in New York City, shared some tips on how homeowners can keep their homes and wallets safe throughout the pricey and often-elusive process of mold inspection.
1) Do Your Research
Experts say homeowners should not underestimate the importance of checking referrals, references or credentials. While some certifications reflect extensive training, others, like ABC's "The Lookout" uncovered, do not. ABC News anchor Cynthia McFadden received her certification as a mold assessor after taking an honor system test, paying $49.95 for the certificate and purchasing a book for approximately $34.00.
2) Slower Is Better
Experts warn homeowners should be wary of inspectors that reach a conclusion too quickly. Every investigation should include a thorough visual inspection looking for signs of mold and moisture, a history of your home's problems, the health of its occupants, as well as moisture and temperature readings. An entire home could take approximately one to three hours, depending on its size.
3) Tests Do Not Hold All the Answers
According to the EPA, "in most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary," but testing can be a tool in detecting hidden mold. However, some government agencies say remediation should not be based on test results alone. Experts say to be wary if an inspector does nothing but test for samples and bases mold remediation on sampling alone.
4) Don't Think Extreme
Inspections should start with the least intrusive approaches first. Mold inspections can be like peeling an onion: If signs of mold or moisture are indicated, then an inspector may have to become more invasive and peel another layer. Mold inspection is a step-by-step process that is based on what you see.
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