Wrong Statements About “Toxic Mold” Panicking Residents [Part 2]

h o a homefront hoa homefront mold Mar 29, 2024

By Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. CCAL, HOA Homefront Column

Misleading and self-serving statements by the “toxic mold” industry continue to grab attention. This second installment lists further wrong statements followed by the truth.

You cannot personally handle mold.  Many mold consultants treat mold as if it were asbestos.  Asbestos is dangerous and is very different than mold, but mold consultants typically issue repair protocols that are virtually identical to asbestos abatement protocols.  Although several mold trade organizations have created their own credentials and extensive (and expensive) cleanup protocols, the EPA recommendation to clean up a moldy area of up to 10 square feet is to wipe it with a cloth dampened with a diluted bleach solution. For more information, visit the EPA's website or California Department of Public Health mold information videos here.  

The EPA and California Department of Public Health always recommend mold consultants.  They do not, only the mold industry suggests their consultants in every case. Per EPA and CDPH, residents or maintenance staff can handle minor and moderate mold situations.

Mold consultants are licensed.    California does not license mold inspectors or consultants. Some states require licenses to perform mold remediation work, but those licenses usually involve 24 hours classes and payment of a fee. Most mold consultant and mold remediation companies instead hold credentials and memberships in trade organizations that promote the interests of the mold inspection industry.

Mold cannot be caused by the resident.  Mold accumulation can often be found in inadequately ventilated living spaces, and can build up in stuffy bathrooms or any humid and poorly ventilated area.  Before the term “toxic mold” was coined in 2000, residents would clean up mold in shower or bath enclosures by simply wiping it with a cleaning solution.

Insurance never covers mold.  Partially true: Mold is not normally covered by property insurance.  Although the property insurance will refuse to cover the cost of mold remediation, it will still typically cover the other water damage. If the property owner is sued because of water damage including mold, the liability part of the policy often will defend the claim and sometimes even pay for mold cleanup.

Let the emergency contractor do everything.  Because of the fear associated with mold, the normal reaction is to call emergency service contractors, which are expensive because of their readiness to respond at any hour.  Stopping water leakage and drying the space might require an emergency contractor, but sometimes a plumber or handyman might be enough. Emergency contractors sometimes destroy walls and cabinets before anyone can obtain a second opinion as to its necessity.  Allow demolition only of what is immediately necessary, and then seek bids for the remaining work.

It’s important to look inside the walls. Concerned residents often ask to open walls to look for mold, but this is almost always unnecessary.  If it is inside the wall, it may not be affecting anyone, and opening the wall may disturb the mold, releasing it into the air of the living space.

Mold incidents always cost over $10,000.  The cost of repairing water damage skyrockets due to unnecessary mold tests, unnecessary consultants, delay in leak repair and drying (the typical cause of mold buildup), excessive demolition, unnecessary mold hunts, overuse of emergency contractors, and foregoing competitive repair bids. Be more deliberate, and save money.