Don’t Believe Everything You Read!

Don’t believe everything you read!

The newer cleaning and restoration firms lack the training, experience, and knowledge required to deliver an industry recognized Standard of Care to their customers. This is certainly normal as our work is complex and requires a good deal of investment in equipment and training as the companies get up to speed.

Unfortunately, although they honestly want to be the best, it’s all too easy to fail to provide adequate training because the actual work gets in the way. Another issue is a strong desire to compete and getting new equipment or learning new techniques always is exciting. The new business owner wants to buy it and they repeat the same sales information they received to their clients. Whether it actually works or not for the intended purpose is a completely different thing. 

Getting to that point of being the best is very difficult. Unfortunately, while we continually invest in new equipment, some of us are reluctant to make the effort to self-train or send employees to training our industry’s Standard of Care which every customer deserves to have. 

Some invest in the latest, greatest deodorization or mold detection machine thinking they are now an Indoor Environment Professionals (IEP). Understanding the science of microbiology and how to actually perform a comprehensive inspection and make recommendations, however, is a bit trickier! Even sampling the air and surfaces with traditional spore cassettes and slides or swabs is not a be all-end all solution to the mold problem. In fact, it is only a small part of determining the scope of the loss and the potential impacts to the structure and its occupants.

I used to try to sample every mold loss I inspected. But over the years, I have learned that it is likely an unnecessary expense. If I can see visible mold, there is little to be gained by going to the expense of sampling to find out what kind it is. I believe we should simply put that money into removing the visible mold and go on with life!

However, there are a few cases where sampling may be appropriate. If litigation is anticipated, or if one or more of the occupants are experiencing unexplained health effects, even during a real estate transaction as part of the home inspection process; proper sampling should be performed.

A recent example of this fancy, yet unproven equipment is a “mold sniffer”. It is a new style of particle counter that also contains a software algorithm which attempts to identify organic material. Yes, I use my particle counter to count particles because I know that increased numbers mean increased levels of junk in the air and some of it is probably mold. The truth is, sampling for mold is merely one tool in the IEPs bag to help them identify signs conducive to mold growth. Many other factors must be considered starting with the proper drainage around the property as well as taking moisture readings and carefully inspecting surfaces for old or new water damage.

Sorry folks, there is no magic machine that can sniff out mold (well, some dogs are trained to do just that but they start at $20,000!). It takes a seasoned professional with a true sense of caring for the customer to make a determination and make effective recommendations. 

Oh, and those mold test kits at Home Depot and Lowes? Don’t fish in to this scam. The plastic petri dishes are filled with mold food and mold exists everywhere in the air. It WILL grow mold and freak you out! You will wonder what to do so you send it in (with more money). The lab sends you a report with a bunch of Latin names all over it and confirms you DO have mold growing in your petri dish. So? Well, with no recommendations or possible solutions, you quietly go on with your life worrying and wondering if mold it harming your family.

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