Is Mold Testing a Scam?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could spot an obvious scam by seeing a company name like “Scams R Us”!  Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to spot these companies that can take advantage of you. To answer the question “Is mold testing a scam?”, I would answer  “yes” and “no”. It depends. Let’s look at when it can possibly be a scam.

“We will just do the sampling – don’t worry about the rest!”

Mold testing, whether in the form of surface or air sampling, is used to help determine if there is a mold problem in the property.  But this only gives us part of the story. In Indoor Science’s excellent blog on air sampling, we recognize that it’s just not enough to perform sampling without also conducting a moisture assessment of the property.  AIHA also states that mold testing of a property must be accompanied with a full moisture analysis to truly be useful 1.  I have had past clients inform me of companies who where about to charge them thousands of dollars in remediation without telling them where the moisture source was that created the mold.  This means you could spend a small fortune to remove mold only to have the same problem come back in a few months! Infrared cameras and moisture meters can go along way in helping determine the source of the mold and saving you money.

“Who needs to worry about multiple samples – we will just do one!”

We also need to be concerned about having the proper controls (both indoors and out) in a test when determining if there is a problem.  Running a single air sample indoors showing Aspergillus/Penicillium at 200 spores per cubic meter may seem like a lot until you compare it to the outdoors, which can sometimes be measured as high as 1,000 spores per cubic meter.  What might seem like a major problem (and a major repair bill) with a single test may wind up being nothing at all.

“We will give it to you for free!”

Almost anytime you hear this from a company, you should become very wary.  As the old adage goes, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. When someone offers free testing, the chances are great that they are looking for a profit angle where they can charge you $10,000 to “fix” the problem.  There are a variety of ways to artificially show that the mold counts are high to get your business. You are putting significant trust into a company that may not have done a thorough inspection or taken a proper sample from your property.  It is by far better to pay an independent company to do the testing. This way, the organization is more inclined to tell the truth.

“We do it all!”

Another big red flag can occur when a company offers to do mold sampling and perform the remediation.  This is a massive conflict of interest.  It is far better to have an independent third party do the testing. That way, there is no profit incentive to “find” mold.  At Indoor Science, we do not do mold remediation. Having a professional, independent mold analysis of the property can give you peace of mind that you will not be fleeced into work that is unnecessary or excessive.

Mold testing is not a scam – when it is done correctly

As mentioned above, mold testing is not a scam when it is used as an important tool in the analysis.  Trained professionals will use the testing properly with moisture analysis to insure a more accurate picture.  

Sampling can also let you know what type of mold might be in the air.  Is the mold a toxigenic or water damage indicating mold? Is it a common mold that is found outdoors?  Can this type of mold be found in greater quantities inside the property as opposed to the outdoor control?  Answering these questions can help determine the seriousness of the issue. It can also help provide a proper course in performing the remediation.

Mold sampling can also provide proof in determining if a remediation was done properly.  Testing prior to and after a remediation will show that the number of mold spores in the air has been properly reduced and that the air quality has improved .  The only way to know definitively is through air testing.

It can not be emphasised enough that testing is an important tool in diagnosing and showing the air quality inside a residence.  But when it is the only tool, you don’t get the full picture. Just remember the other old adage, “The buyer beware”.

  1. https://www.aiha.org/government-affairs/PositionStatements/MoldAnalysis_GuidanceDocument.pdf
Scott Wieringa

Scott Wieringa

Scott Wieringa is a Senior Project Manager that performs indoor air quality assessments with a specialty in radon and odors. Mr. Wieringa holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from Calvin College. He is an ACAC Council-Certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE) and Illinois Licensed Radon Professional with residential and commercial building endorsements. Prior to working at Indoor Science, Scott was a residential real estate appraiser with over 23 years of experience inspecting properties in varying capacities. In his words… “I have a special interest in helping clients track down how their homes or businesses might be making them sick. In my spare time, I’m involved in song writing, sketching and spending time with my family.”

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