The following was an interview for Pennsylvania Homes.You can find the original article here.

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Integrity Home Inspection Services was established in 2012. Home inspections are our primary business but we also test for mold and radon as well as take indoor air quality samples to test the air you are breathing in your home. Many times the fatigue or allergy symptoms you are facing are a direct result of the air quality in your home.

What are the best and worst case scenarios when there is mold growth in a home and it goes undetected (and untreated)?

Best case is that it is found early and can be contained and removed quickly. Worst case is an ongoing problem that has spread throughout the affected area making remediation very tedious and time consuming. I never recommend a homeowner removing the mold themselves as there is a lot of misinformation on the web about how to clean it up and many times it just leads to spreading the mold spores around the home, and exposing themselves to the spores which depending on the type of mold can be very harmful to their health.

What are the most common causes of mold and affected areas in Pennsylvania homes?

Just as fire needs Oxygen, Heat & Fuel to sustain itself. Mold needs Mold Spores(Which are present everywhere), Moisture(Relative Humidity above 60% in the home) & Food. In Pennsylvania, whenever there is flooding or even water coming in your basement on any kind of basis there is a potential for mold growth. A good dehumidifier or 2 if needed is your best defense to curb or prevent mold growth. I recommend keeping your relative humidity around 50%. If at all possible try to utilize a condensate discharge pump or floor drain to get rid of the water from the dehumidifier so you don’t have to empty the bucket each day. This will ensure the proper humidity when you are away from your home for an extended period of time. Mold growth can begin in as little as 24 hours when the conditions are right.

The other most common cause of mold is improper ventilation of fans in the home. Whenever a bathroom or range hood fan discharges into an attic space there is a potential for mold growth. I recently inspected a home that had a poor roof system ventilation and a bathroom fan that terminated in the attic. The result was mold covering the entire roof deck and & $12,000 in remediation. All fans should terminate outside the home and at least 2′ away from any soffit vents.

When should a homeowner or home buyer get a mold inspection?

When they see mold growth or have heightened symptoms of exposure(allergy symptoms, asthma, nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation.)

What are the basic steps that an inspector is involved in from start to finish of a mold inspection to the final clearance of affected areas?

When a homeowner calls us it is always because they have seen mold in their home or business and want us to find out what type it is and how to prevent it from reappearing. Typically we would take samples and have them analyzed and have a report back to the client the following day. As I previously mentioned, moisture is the only ingredient that you, as the homeowner, can control so we look for the source of the water and consult our clients on how to better control or eliminate the water coming into their home.

Integrity Home Inspection Services do not remediate mold from homes at this time. It needs to be done properly by a professional. We hope to include this as one of our services in the future but don’t have any timetable on it as of yet.

What advice would you give to someone who thinks they might have a mold problem but has a limited budget?

Mold test kits are available at Lowes or Home depot, they cost $30-$40 and will tell you what molds are in your home but they won’t tell you which is more prevalent than another and you will just get a list of molds. As I’ve said mold spores are already in your home, you just need to find out which are growing, which are uncommon to the environment and which are harmful or even toxic.

Mold Inspections typically run between $200-$800 depending on the company and how many samples are collected.

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