Top 10 Mold Removal Scams To Avoid PLUS 5 Steps To Protect Yourself!
One of the goals of Valor Mold is to help customers in the Washington DC area with their indoor air quality needs. We specialize in mold removal and are considered one of the best companies in our area for mold remediation.
The core problem with this industry is the fact that there is not much regulation, which means that any contractor can offer mold inspection or mold removal services. Some states require licensing, which is great, but if you live in an area without licensing requirements, this can create an atmosphere where unskilled, inexperienced, and untrained contractors can offer mold removal services.
This creates a situation where a simple mold problem could be made worse because the contractor did not know what they were doing.
With this in mind, the goal of this article is to list and explain the top 10 mold removal scams used by unscrupulous contractors and five steps you can take to protect yourself.
#1 You Definitely Have Mold!
Really? How does the contractor know? You know there is a problem if the contractor claims you have mold without doing any testing of the area.
#2 Both Pre and Post Testing Is Done By The Same Mold Removal Contractor!
Many mold removal projects we work on are referred by Third Party Industrial Hygienists or Mold Inspection companies because we specialize in mold removal and the companies that refer the clients to us understand and respect our reputation of doing the job right the first time.
With this in mind, if you do begin working with a contractor and they do testing and find mold, make sure you ask them how the quality of their work will be verified. In short, does the contractor recommend a Third Party company to do a Post-Clearance Test? If so, great. However, if they tell you that they will do both the Pre and Post testing, then you should get a second or third opinion from another mold removal company.
Post or Pre testing by Third parties is like a check and balance system that keeps the mold removal company honest, meaning someone else is checking the efficacy of their work. Without this test, you will never know if the mold removal was successful.
To summarize, here are the three key reasons you should invest in third party testing:
- So you know if you have a problem that actually needs remediation. Testing will verify this!
- So that you know at the end of the job a clearance test tells you if you got what you paid for. A lot of times mold damage is clearly evident, so it’s okay to waive the first test. However, the final clearance test provides protection from mold scams and peace of mind that your home or business is safe.
- Finally, because it’s part of the IICRC recommended standard for mold removal!
#3 Contractors That Do Not Understand That There Are Different Mold Testing Methods!
Since there are many different kinds of tests, you need someone who uses the right kind of test to assess whether you have a problem.
Tape testing, swab testing, and ERMI testing are some tests that are used to determine if you have a mold problem. Make sure that you work with a qualified mold inspection specialist who understands how to test whether or not you have a mold problem so that a proper protocol can be put in place.
This is important because without the right kind of test at the end of the job you won’t know if the mold problem was cleared.
#4 Contractors Who Give You A Price Quote, Site Unseen
Believe it or not, there are some in this industry that will give you a quote over the phone without even visiting your home or business.
If you get a price over the phone, definitely stay away from this contractor for two key reasons:
- One of the goals of reputable mold removal contractors is to identify the moisture source that is causing the problem. How can a contractor provide a quote without knowing this?
- Most importantly, how can a quote be provided unless an actual site visit and inspection is done to know the full extent of the mold damage.
#5 One Line Estimate!
You should never work with a contractor that gives you a one line estimate that simply states “mold removal” and then the “price”. Demand a detailed written estimate so you know exactly what you are paying for.
If you don’t demand a detailed estimate you may face other charges when the contractor shows up to do the job. Some contractors provide minimal detail in the estimate because they want to up-sell or up-charge you for other work.
There are some cases when unforeseen issues on a property present themselves after a job starts. But a detailed written estimate before you sign the contract outlines what will be done on the basis of professional assessment. The estimate and contract protects both the contractor and the property owner because it clearly states the limitations (i.e., what will and won’t be done) before the work starts.
#6 Contractors Without Any Training Certifications!
Before you commit to working with any mold removal contractor, always ask if they have specialized training. Mold removal is considered a profession because professionals invest in specific training through organizations like the IICRC, RIA, etc. Always find out about the training and experience. In fact, in a previous blog, we listed 10 questions you should always ask to pre-screen prospective contractors you want to hire.
#7 Contractors That Recommend Bleach
Avoid mold removal contractors that recommend the use of bleach for your mold removal job. Bleach does not work and is not recommended by experienced industry professionals. Click here to read an article we posted to learn why bleach is not recommended.
#8 100% Payment Up Front
If you are comfortable with the contractor and have properly pre-screened and done your due diligence and have a signed contract, you may be asked for a deposit to cover some of the costs for doing your mold removal job.
However, if the contractor asks for 100% of the payment up front, you may want to re-consider hiring this contractor because you will have very little recourse if the job is not done right.
We recommend that the final payment be made once all the work, according to the signed contract, is complete and you have a successful Post-Clearance test that assures you that the job was done properly and the indoor air of your home or business is healthy.
#9 Contractors That Give You A Price That Is Too Good To Be True!
Mold removal can be costly because professionals follow detailed steps to ensure that it is done properly and to avoid contaminating other areas of your property.
If you get three estimates and one estimate is a lot lower than the others, keep in mind that “you get what you pay for”. In short, the cheapest price is not the best indicator of competent service. Rather, it usually indicates the reverse.
#10 Sales Pressure Tactics!
Finding mold in your home or business can be scary. That said, we’re surrounded by mold all the time because it is in our environment and part of the eco-system to break down dead organic material. Mold is nature’s recycler and will always be a problem when it is growing indoors because the spore counts will increase to unhealthy levels.
If you suspect you have mold and contact a contractor, be sure to ensure that you get all the information in order to make a sound decision! This is very important; if you do have mold, you want to ensure that it is removed the right way the first time by a mold removal professional who knows what they are doing.
If you are pressured into making a quick decision and not encouraged to seek other estimates or given time to do your due diligence, then be careful, particularly, if in order to close the sale, the contractor resorts to pressure tactics or scare tactics.
Yes, it is true, that mold impacts the health. We have written extensively about this!
However, any contractor that uses pressure or scare tactics without providing you with evidence from air quality tests, does not try to determine the cause of your mold problem, and/or does not investigate the health issues of occupants may just be trying to pressure you into a quick sale.
There are certain molds, like Stachybotrys chartarum that are always bad. You never want to have this one in your home or business.
Keep in mind, there are a variety of molds, both indoors and out, and any contractor who tries to increase your anxiety about mold to sell the job is doing you a disservice, particularly if they are not willing to provide you as much information as possible to ensure that you can make an informed decision before you a sign a contract to commit.
Now that you understand some of the tactics used by unscrupulous contractors to try to get business, let’s look at the five key steps you can take to protect yourself…
Top Five Steps To Protect Yourself From Mold Removal Scams!
- Always ask if the contractor has mold removal credentials. Find out what training the contractor has received and from what organization. Many mold removal contractors are IICRC certified.
- Always ask if the contractor does their own Pre and Post testing. If they do, find another contractor.
- Always get an independent indoor air quality professional to test your property after the mold removal project, and if you prefer, before as well. If you do have a mold problem significant enough to require professional mold removal, the report will describe the scope of work. The report will guide the remediation activities of the mold damage restoration. And the final test, called a clearance test, will let you know the job was done right!
- Once you have that indoor air quality test result, always get a written, detailed estimate describing the mold damage restoration project.
- Finally, it’s a good idea to get 3 different bids from 3 different contractors. This way you’ll know the price range for the project. But please understand, if you get an extremely low bid, make sure you compare apples to apples. If a price seems too good to be true, it usually is. The risk of a low bid is that proper attention to detail won’t be followed. Proper attention to detail includes things like creating containment and following proper procedures for removing contaminated materials from the property. These two steps prevent contamination to the rest of the property.
One final point. Mold will only grow if there is moisture, ie. a water source. The key to long lasting mold prevention is to first identify the source of moisture. With this in mind, make sure you hire a contractor who will do this before any mold remediation activities begin. If the source of the moisture isn’t identified and corrected any mold removal activities will be wasted effort.
Got Mold Removal Questions?
Here at Valor Mold, our team has been helping homeowners and business owners in the Washington DC area for more than 10 years avoid mold scams by providing education, information, and guidance. We’re an IICRC certified firm that’s built a reputation based on trust.
When you have questions about mold removal, send us an e-mail or call on our IICRC certified experts to help you answer questions at 703-897-7121. Peace of mind is just a phone call away!
— Valor Mold (@ValorMold) July 20, 2017