If your ERMI test came back high indicating that you have water damage and a mold problem in your house, you need to have the issue addressed before you can be effectively treated and start feeling better. Removal from exposure is the first and probably most important step in treating your mold illness as you will never get well no matter how much medication you take if you continue to be exposed. Hiring a mold remediator is an important step in making sure that your house becomes a safe haven for you to recover and maintain your health. Here a few questions to ask any mold remediation company you are considering hiring to perform work on your home.
- Are you certified and insured? The first thing you want to find out is what credentials and insurance the mold remediator carries. Just because someone advertises themselves as a mold remediator is no guarantee that they actually know what they are doing. Far too many people have spent a lot of money on remediators who did not actually fix the problem. Look for a company that has professional liability or errors and omissions insurance rather than just general liability as many general liability policies have language that excludes professional acts. Professional liability insurance covers actions that stem from the professional’s capacity and training and is similar to malpractice insurance carried by doctors and other professionals. Also be sure to ask to see a copy of their insurance certificate rather than just taking their word for it that they have it. While carrying certification from a professional organization is no guarantee that the person you hire will do a good job, it is an important first step in helping you find a qualified mold remediator. Look into which certification they carry and which organization provided it. Some certifications require more knowledge, expertise, and experience than others. You can visit the American Council for Accredited Certification to help you find a certified and insured professional in your area. You can also visit the Indoor Air Quality Association, the Restoration Industry Association, or the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification for other certified mold remediators.
- Do you have other experts you can call on? Beware of anyone who doesn’t admit their own limitations. It is impossible for anyone to know everything. A competent mold remediator is someone who brings in other experts for areas that fall outside their personal area of expertise. Whether it is an issue with your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system or a structural issue with your home, if the situation falls outside their area of knowledge and experience, they should have qualified sources that they can call on to help fix the problem.
- Do you recommend I hire a different company to do the mold inspection and the post-remediation testing? Do not hire the same company to perform your mold inspection and your mold remediation. Even if they tell you it will be cheaper to let them do the inspection, remediation, and verify the work, it is in your best interests to hire a different company to perform your mold inspection and your mold remediation. This basically means that you hire a different company to clean up the mold problem than you use to figure out if you have a mold problem to begin with. Make sure that your mold remediation company agrees in writing that they must meet certain post-remediation testing requirements before you will be satisfied that they have successfully completed the job and that this post-remediation testing will be done by another company. In some states and with some credentialing organizations, hiring a different company to perform mold inspection and mold remediation is a requirement.
- What remediation methods do you use? Proper remediation involves first finding and stopping the water intrusion, then removing or encapsulating all contaminated building materials, and finally thorough cleaning of all contaminated surfaces and contents. Each of these steps must be done thoroughly and completely for the remediation to be a success. This includes setting up appropriate containment and filtration while remediating in order to avoid further contaminating the rest of the structure. Thorough cleaning includes every object and surface that has mold spores and particulates and not just areas with visible mold growth. Cleaning is an often overlooked aspect of proper mold remediation for those that suffer from chronic inflammatory response syndrome as these mold spores and particulates found on surfaces and belongings can continue to cause illness even after the active mold growth has been eliminated unless they are properly removed. For porous surfaces, this may be very difficult or impossible to achieve, and therefore it may be necessary to get rid of these materials all together depending on your individual sensitivity. For nonporous surfaces, HEPA vacuuming, wiping them with a damp cloth, and HEPA vacuuming them again when dry should be adequate to remove any potentially harmful mold spores and particulates.
- Do you guarantee your work? You must be sure that the company will stand behind their work and guarantee the results of their remediation. The thoroughness of the remediation can be tested by doing post-remediation testing through a certified mold inspector. If this testing does not show adequate resolution of the problem, then further remediation and/or cleaning should be done with subsequent testing to ensure that the environment will be safe for you.
Hiring a mold remediator is an important decision that should not be taken lightly as the thoroughness of their work has a direct impact on your health. If possible, get a recommendation from someone in your area that has successfully had mold remediation work done or check out the above-mentioned sites to find qualified remediators in your area. Also check with your local Better Business Bureau to find out if their are any complaints against the company you are considering hiring.