A home mold inspection is performed by a professional that will test the air for mold spores or physically swab visible mold. These mold samples are collected and sent to a lab for testing. Home inspectors or specialist mold companies may also do a general home mold inspection that will look for water leaks or other areas of hidden mold growth.
Another common environmental concern is asbestos, you can read my guide on inspecting homes for asbestos right here to see pictures of asbestos containing products.
You also may hire a home pro to just to a general inspection for mold, and then the homeowner has the option if they want to do additional air or swab testing.
What Is The Cost Of A Mold Inspection?
A home mold inspection may be anywhere from $200 on the low end, and as high as $1,000+ on the higher end. It will depend on the size of your home, as well as the number of air or swab tests that you desire.
Most mold inspectors will have a base price just for showing up and doing a basic inspection, and possibly a few air tests. Any extra air or swab tests will cost extra.
When I did home mold inspections as an additional service in my home inspection business, I usually had a minimum charge rate of $285. The $285 went towards a general inspection of the property for visible mold — and water problems that may be leading to mold growth. The $285 rate also includes three air tests (one outside and two inside).
For air testing, there will always need to be one air test performed outside which is what the indoor tests is compared to.
If the homeowner wanted to get an extra air test or a swab, I would charge $95 per test on top of the $285 base rate.
How To Inspect A Home For Mold?
1. Swab Tests
For visible mold, swab tests will be performed.
A swab test is simply a cotton swab, or it can be a piece of tape that we use to collect a possible mold sample. It isn’t rocket science, but we carefully collect the sample, put it in a ziplock bag, and send it off to the lab.
If the lab confirms that it is indeed mold, it will tell us the species, and the report usually details the seriousness of the strain and any possible disorders or diseases associated with the mold.
2. Air Tests
Air testing is performed if a homeowner suspects that there is some hidden mold in the home, or if there is known mold growth — and they want to gauge the level of mold spores in the air.
Mold testing is performed by using a metered air pump that sucks in the air at a measured rate through an air filter encased in plastic. These ‘air filters’ are sent to the lab, where they crack it open, pull out the slide, and inspect it under a microscope.
Using some simple math, the researcher can determine the approximate spore count of the mold in the air based on a “per cubic foot” volume of air.
The picture below is from an actual mold air test I performed in 2019. When I tested the air in the kitchen, it had about 10x more ‘total mold spores’ than the outside air — so it was considered elevated.
And anytime mold inspectors take indoor air samples, we almost collect at least one air sample outside of the house. The outdoor sample is the control which is compared to the indoor samples.
If the indoor sample of mold is 5 or 10 times greater than the indoor sample, then you know you have an abnormal amount of this mold species in your air.
And just to clarify, the outdoor and indoor air always contains some degree of mold spores and it is a ubiquitous presence. It really only becomes hazardous to human health when it reaches excessive levels compared to the outdoors.
Taking each air sample usually only takes 5-minutes which doesn’t include the amount of time for setting up each test. I can be in and out of a house only taking 4-5 air tests in about 20-30 minutes.
If I am doing a thorough mold inspection for water leaks, taking off HVAC covers, and looking into the attic — it can take much longer.
3. General Home Inspection For Mold
Besides doing air tests and swabs, I sometimes ask to perform an inspection for hidden mold.
The most common place for me to find mold is the HVAC system. Just taking off the cover to a furnace or heat pump can be an eye opening experience. Due to the amount of moisture, dust, and darkness (that mold loves) — HVAC systems are frequent sources of mold.
The mold grows on the inside of the furnace, the blower fan, evaporator coil, and the motor… and then the mold spores get sent throughout the entire home. In addition to the HVAC system, mold frequently grows in basement corners where water is infiltrating from the outside. Mold will pretty much grow anywhere with a lot of moisture according to the CDC.
I advise homeowners to make sure their gutters are working, and sending water several feet away from the home through proper grading and downspout extensions. Any pipe penetrations on the exterior of the home such as wiring, water piping, electrical lines, or condensate lines can allow water to seep into the home — leading to mold growth.
The main ways to get rid of mold according to HUD.gov is to…
- Keep your home clean and dry
- Fix all water problems such as leaking roofs, pipes, and basements
- Make sure the home is ventilated with working bathroom fans and range hoods
- Keep the indoor relative humidity below 50%
When To Get A Mold Inspection?
If you see an area of visible mold, and you are certain that this is the only mold growth in the home, then you may not need a mold inspection — just get rid of the mold. But if you want to find out the species of the mold, or further investigate the problem, then a mold inspection is the way to go.
Mold inspectors don’t typically do mold remediation, but we will recommend further remedial action if we find a sizable mold problem.
If you have unexplained allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints — but you are unsure of the problem — you may want to get a mold inspection to verify that there isn’t large quantities of mold in the air.
Also, if you recently did mold remediation, and you want to make sure that the problem has been completely fixed, you may want to get a home mold inspection.
Read Also: How To Do A Home Inspection For Absestos?
Home mold inspections can be a really valuable way to gauge the seriousness of a mold problem or suspected mold problem.
Air mold tests can tell you the species of mold in the air, as well as the quantity of mold spores as compared to the outdoor air. Swab tests can tell you if any visible and suspected ‘growth’ is indeed actually mold.
A home inspector or other professional can inspect the home for other sources of hidden mold such as in your HVAC system, attics, or a basement.