How to Identify Mold Remediation Scams

Updated on November 10, 2017
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Melody is a volunteer for the CDC and enjoys sharing her personal experience to give insight to others.

Mold scams are on the rise. Consumers must be vigilent when choosing professionals.
Mold scams are on the rise. Consumers must be vigilent when choosing professionals. | Source

Spotting Mold Scams

Mold remediation scams are dishonest attempts to defraud homeowners. It is necessary for conscientious consumers to know how to identify fraudsters and spot a scam before there is a financial loss.

Mold remediation refers to the process that involves:

  • Identifying mold
  • Stopping or reducing moisture source
  • Measures to prevent further mold growth
  • Cleaning up the mold

You need to know that the mold removal and remediation industry is a legitimate industry marred by dishonest people who are looking for easy money. Understanding how legitimate mold removal is done is the first step in identifying a scam.

Just know that the scam artists work by exploiting human fear. Mold can be frightening and intimidating, making it the perfect industry for scam artists to emulate.

In the image you can see various species of Aspergillus mold.
In the image you can see various species of Aspergillus mold. | Source

Signs of a Mold Scam

Many mold scams are perpetrated by under experienced contractors or handymen who have no experience with mold remediation. There are many signs that you might be getting duped.

Qualified mold experts hold themselves to professional standards and always follow EPA guidelines (which anyone can learn about on the EPA government website).

Signs and warnings of mold scams:

  • Only offers visual inspection
  • Estimate doesn't address moisture issue that caused the mold to grow
  • Discourages self-testing or getting a second opinion
  • Charges a fee for a mold-free certificate
  • Threatens to turn you in if you don't use their service
  • According to home advisor the average mold removal costs from $400 to $6,000. Anything higher could be a scam. Or if the price or a small job is on the high end.
  • The deal seems too good to be true.
  • Overly large deposit or requiring full payment up front
  • Has a lot of negative online reviews
  • The contractor makes you feel afraid of the problem
  • Have no certifications or references to prove mold remediation experience
  • Material used to enclose existing mold that can not be removed is opaque and not clear
  • Suggests HVAC clean out without testing or right away
  • Has no plan for using a HEPA air purifier directly for mold removal and clean up
  • Vacuum contractor use has no HEPA filter
  • There is no guarantee
  • Does not differentiate between harmless mold and harmful "toxic" molds
  • Contractor has no awareness of the effects of condensation and humidity on mold

Scam or Lack of Experience?

Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between a scam and a lack of experience. Some contractors retain their expertise status and offer to do work that they are not familiar with.

Not everyone is trying to scam you, but it might happen due to lack of experience. When it comes to your home a firm polite no will suffice. If you feel uncomfortable with the contractor's language, they make you feel uneasy or intimidated, you have every right to get a second opinion.

Scammers are hidden in the nooks and cranny of our capitalist society. They offer services they never intend to provide. They might even pretend like they did work, just to collect the buck. Others may never show up at all.

This is why you must check references with mold contractors. You are already educating yourself, so keep up the good work. Take some time to learn about your specific mold problem.

Do-it-Yourself Mold Testing

Do-it-yourself mold testing is one way to know if your contractor is telling you the truth about the severity of the problem. According to Home Advisor, professional mold tests cost between $300-$500. Do-it-yourself tests are usually much cheaper.

There are two ways to handle this. You can go to your local Home Depot or Lowe's and buy your own test kit. Or, you can work directly with an unbiased mold analysis lab service, such as EMLab P&K.

Information About Basic Types Of Mold

Household molds are often found in the kitchen. Some are easier to remove than others.
Household molds are often found in the kitchen. Some are easier to remove than others. | Source

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How Do You Clean Mold?

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Mold In the Kitchen

Kitchen mold is often found under the sink, floor, or in the trashcan. This usually happens when owners neglect to regularly sanitize them. Luckily, they are easy to replace.

If you are attached to your trashcan then you can attempt to clean it with bleach, vinegar, or with a mold fogger. If you have an asthmatic in your home or anyone with an immune or lung disorder, you need to engage in regular cleaning of your trash bin to prevent this mold from becoming air born and circulated in the air conditioning.

Once mold reaches the air ducts, there is little choice but to seek a professional. Leaky sinks are another place where this type of mold loves to grow. Damp wallpaper and decomposing wood are perfect places for mold to thrive.

Prevention is always the best course of action. Leaky sinks should always be fixed right away. This mold aggregates in areas that are impossible to clean. Once it is under the sink cabinet and under the wallpaper, it could become time for costly removal and replacement of the material.

This is the point where you may no longer have a do-it-yourself problem. A good professional might be needed, making it necessary to know how to identify a scam.

Source

Carpet Mold

Have you even had a pile of clothing get wet, and then mold? This is a perfect example of mold growth. Many molds love porous cloth. Carpets are especially vulnerable to moisture and mold.

When the carpet is vacuumed, the mold spores are then released into the air. There are many ways that carpet could become overgrown with mold. If you have an air purifier with a HEPA filter you need to keep it running when vacuuming the possibly molded carpet.

When a carpet gets wet, the underside and carpet pad may not dry quickly. The wet and dark can cause it to grow beneath the carpet.

Carpet cleaning, while often a good thing, can also be the culprit. Professionals know not to over dampen the carpet, but there are many at home carpet cleaning machines.

Many people try to soak a stain to get it out and end up causing the underside and pad of the carpet to become too wet.

Sometimes do-it-yourself carpet cleaning can actually cost you more because moldy carpet will need to be replaced if you can not locate a cloth and carpet restoration service.

Mold is not just found in carpets but can be found in any cloth item that has been damp for a long period of time. Some mold removal services can restore molded carpet. Other contractors may tell you to replace the carpet entirely. That doesn't necessarily make them scammers, though.

Bathroom Mold can be prevented by well ventelating your bathroom.
Bathroom Mold can be prevented by well ventelating your bathroom. | Source

Bathroom Molds

Bathrooms are a favorite place for mold to grow. When bathrooms become humid the wetness can settle anyplace in the bathroom. It can start to grow unnoticed as it seeps into cracks in the walls and floor. Leaks can also cause mold to grow in walls, under sinks, and floors.

It can sneak under wallpaper and around the toilet. This is why building regulations require a window or an exhaust fan in bathrooms.

The idea is to help the bathroom humidity to be removed quickly before it has a chance to settle someplace where mold can grow.

A well-ventilated bathroom is far less likely to allow mold growth. Any organic material is susceptible, is it is best to use good paint instead of wallpaper in bathrooms.

Never carpet a bathroom, and replace or launder bathroom carpets regularly. When building a bathroom, try to use synthetic materials during construction.

Well-sealed homes may entrap more moisture. This makes bathrooms, under the floors and in the walls very susceptible to mold.

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      • Ivan Hernandez profile image

        Erick Hernandez 4 months ago from Maintaining The Ivan Brand in Total Nonstop Ivan

        Thank you for a useful article. When I own a house someday (0.000000001% chance of that happening within the next 40 years), I'll keep an eye out for any scammers who want to take advantage of my mold situation. I'll refer back to this article in the future.

      • BlossomSB profile image

        Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

        Thanks for a useful article.

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