1. Not all mold remediators are licensed contractors.
Currently in most States including California, there are no licensing requirements for people who remove mold. In California, removing mold is classified as janitorial work. That means that legally, anyone 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, electrical contractors. For that reason, it is important to know your mold remediators legal qualifications 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 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 done 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 most phases of property restoration. When
searching for an IICRC certified mold remediation contractor
online search for this 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 OK 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 done everything looks great and everyone is happy to be rid of their mold. But if that job was not done right it might take 6 to 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.
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 someone 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 paid 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 insuring that your remediation job was done properly.
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 cross-contamination.
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 done 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 done 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 often 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 water-proofing properties whatsoever. It serves only one purpose; to cover stains. Often times 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.
If you have questions or concerns about clearance testing that are not addressed here, please feel to call AMI at 1-800-369-8532 and speak to a Certified Post-Remediation Specialist.