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5 Things Homeowners Should Know About Mold Inspections: An Interview with Martin Pasquinelli of Structure & Site Inspection Services

By Martin Pasquinelli

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Structure & Site Inspection Services LLC is a full service due diligence provider. Services include inspections of buildings, homes and their associated environments. Building inspections detail the positive and deficient attributes of the buildings systems and components. We conduct air quality testing to determine levels of mold spores, dander, pollen and radon gas. We perform phase l environmental assessments for commercial transactions. We are also a certified mold abatement company, performing the mold abatement in commercial and residential properties.

How does mold usually start growing in a home or apartment?

Mold growth is a reaction to sustained moisture to interior finish materials. Mold needs moisture and an organic material to grow. Mold growth is actually a living organism that is feeding on organic materials, such as drywall, paneling, trim board, etc. All mold issues start and end with moisture. Mold growth typically occurs at the time of a water event, for example, times of heavy rain or snow melt, a mechanical or plumbing failure, causing water damage to the interior finish materials. If mold is visible on the interior materials, it is probable that the mold growth is in a larger colonizing state in the material that's not visible. There are ways to detect or suspect mold activity without removing materials. Indoor air quality testing is accurate in finding areas of colonizing mold growth in unseen areas. Moisture meter readings can identify areas where moisture is being retained in materials.

What are the main concerns when people can see or smell mold in their house?

Mold concerns are relatively new to the real estate industry. The health effects that mold growth causes to an individual is evolving and is currently not well understood. Many people suffer from mold allergies, however there are literally thousands of mold strains. It needs to be understood that there needs to be a fairly significant quantity of mold growth to generate spore activity that can relate to allergic reactions. Of course, no one wants mold growth anywhere in their building or home. All mold issues can be treated, however the approach to remediation should be logical and complete. There are a lot of companies that use mold as trigger to initiate fear and over charge for basic remediation services. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a lot of solid information on mold which can be further researched at this site www.epa.gov/mold.

Can you briefly explain the basic steps involved with mold inspection and testing?

A mold inspection involves inspecting for water intrusion. The area of water damaged materials will be where the possibility of mold growth exists. Moisture meter readings, moisture staining or water damage and visual mold growth provide the clues to where the investigation will evolve. There is usually an epicenter of mold growth. Once discovered, testing involves either physical sampling of the colonizing mold and/or air quality testing. A physical sample, once analyzed by an independent laboratory, will provide the dominant strain of mold growing on the material. An indoor air quality test provides much more data. The sampling will show all of the mold strains in the tested areas as well as the mold spore activity. An area with elevated spore activity indicates an area of probable mold growth.

Do you think that a free mold inspection is a reliable way to get an assessment?

A firm that provides "free" mold inspections is typically getting their foot in the door to provide mold and/or air testing. In the spirit of transparency, these costs should be provided prior to the actual inspection. If there is physical mold growth within a property, a free review of the issue for a remediation proposal is a valid offer.

What can homeowners in your area do to help prevent mold problems and avoid mold exposure?

Most property owners take good care of their assets. In our experience, most mold issues are a surprise to the property owner. The majority of mold issues will occur during an unexpected water issue to the property. Any appliance that creates or moves water should be regularly inspected and maintained. Heating and cooling equipment create a lot of water. Periodically check for plumbing leaks at drain lines and under sinks. Inspect the attic for mold growth on the wood decking. Trim tree limbs away from exterior materials. Run dehumidifiers in the basement. Don't wait to correct water intrusion. Mold growth will take place within 24 hours of a water event.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your company?

We can be reached at 248.645.5522 or www.the411site.com.

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