Molds are types of fungi that are found everywhere, even in the air around us. They're most noticeable when they grow in colonies in moist areas, such as near a leaky tap or in the grout between shower tiles. Mold in the house has been blamed for a variety of health problems, which is why some people, particularly homebuyers and tenants, want to check there's no harmful mold in the home they're buying or renting. That's where a mold inspection comes in.
DIY Home Inspection Cost
A homeowner can use a do-it-yourself kit to collect and culture samples, although the sample will have to be sent to a laboratory for testing. According to the Cost Helper website, home testing kits cost $5 to $100, plus lab fees of $30 to $150 per sample. The cost depends on the level of identification and information requested.
Professional Inspection Cost
To test for mold, the Mold Report website states, professional inspectors ask residents about symptoms they've experienced and the age of the house. They then make a visual inspection. If the inspector spots mold colonies, she may take samples that can be grown in a lab and tested to identify the species. A professional inspection usually runs $200 to $600, but may reach $900 for larger homes. If the inspector has to check inside the walls for hidden mold, the final bill could be larger still.
Mold Inspection Limitations
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, testing for mold gives a momentary snapshot of a home's mold population, not a definitive analysis. Even if the test shows that "toxic mold" is present, the species may not be releasing any poisons. It's more productive to concentrate on finding mold colonies, which can then be cleared away regardless of their species.
Mold Health Risks
Tenants who blame mold for their health problems -- including asthma, nausea and rashes -- have successfully sued landlords all across the country, the Nolo legal website reports. According to the Center for Disease Control, however, there's no proven connection between toxins put out by some species of mold and the health problems blamed on them.
The best way to deal with mold, Nolo indicates, is prevention: Eliminate plumbing leaks or standing water and make sure the house envelope is waterproof. If the property is a rental, landlords aren't required to remove mold except in a few cities such as San Francisco, but they are required to fix any plumbing problems or roof leaks that might contribute to mold growth. Tenants can help by using fans or dehumidifiers to control high humidity.