Mermin inspections Blog

Mold Inspection

MOLD TEST KITS: Jacob Mermin FLMA/FLHI/IE

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Can I Use Home Mold Test Kits Instead of A Mold Inspection?

We advise AVOIDING mold test kits. Unfortunately, home mold test kits are a waste of money. Here are several reasons to consider…

5 Reasons Mold Test Kits Waste Your Money

The most important part of a mold inspection is the inspection, not the mold samples.
Mold samples can be misleading, are sometimes incorrect with both false positive and false negative results occurring, and can only be accurately interpreted in conjunction with a well thought out sampling plan and visual inspection. The visual inspection requires an understanding of building construction, water sources, and other factors that may not be apparent to many people, such as condensation occurring in a poorly ventilated attic, poor drainage on the exterior of a building, or cracks in the foundation.

Consumer Reports rates home mold test kits “Not Recommended”.
In 2006, Consumer Reports evaluated four different types of home mold testing kits and rated all of them “Not Recommended,” including typical comments like this one for the Pro-Lab MO109 mold test kit:

“In some samples, the vials with media leaked over entire kit. In one, an unopened kit was moldy. No expiration dates on the kit; old media could affect the accuracy and reliability of the results. Label claims that kit can identify toxic mold, but the report the lab sends can’t tell you this. One unused plate came back positive for mold growth, indicating contamination at some point; not very reassuring for post remediation use.”

Mold test kits do not provide meaningful answers.
The primary issue with these kits is they essentially only test for the presence of mold in the home. The mold testing kits that we are aware of are simply “gravity” or “settling” plates which consists of putting an open Petri dish in the home for some period of time. This is about as useful as setting out a plate of fruit and finding out whether mold will grow on them. Given enough time, of course it will! If you leave moist food on the kitchen counter for a few weeks, no one is surprised when mold forms on that food, and finding mold on that food does not mean that the home has a mold problem.

It’s important to understand that mold is ubiquitous – it’s everywhere. ALL homes have mold in them. Mold is present in homes, buildings, and the outside air. Mold spores are in the air, on surfaces, on the furniture… all over the place. If you open a Petri dish and take a sample, it is likely that you will get mold growing on the Petri dish. That’s not helpful information!

Mold test kits cause fear to make money for mold test kit manufacturers.
The question with mold inspections is not: “Are there mold spores in the air?” Unless it is something like a hospital operating theater, we already know the answer. It’s “Yes.” Setting out a petri dish almost never provides useful information. It merely confirms what we already know – that there are mold spores in the air – and only serve to line the pockets of the companies that produce them and to cause fear in the people who use them, which causes further sampling or work for the companies that produce home mold testing kits.

The mold industry advises against home mold test kits.
All credible organizations in the indoor air quality community advocate against using these types of samples. In fact, a well-recognized book in the mold industry “Bioaerosols: Assessment and Control” by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) advises against using the types of samples included in these home mold testing kits.

The Bottom Line: These mold test kits generate money for the companies selling them and generally, just cause fear in the person taking the sample with no real added value. Further, the most important part of a mold inspection is not the mold sample, but rather the inspection of the building for sources of moisture and evidence of mold. Often, mold testing is not even necessary.

This posting courtesy of EM Laboratory.

AFFECTED BY CHINESE DRYWALL

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

PLUMBING AFFECTED BY CHINESE DRYWALL

You can see how the chemicals associated with Chinese drywall can affect chrome plumbing fixtures. Here you can see the black corrosion and pitting of chrome faucets. Also here are examples of how copper plumbing tubing turns black when exposed to the chemicals associated with Chinese drywall.

affected-1

Part of the purpose of this inspection is to remove examples of the damage to items in the home from the Chinese drywall. These pictures show where the blackened copper tubing was removed. These sections of tubing are in storage for future use.

affected-2

ELECTRICAL AFFECTED BY CHINESE DRYWALL

I have several electrical outlets with the black wire still attached in storage for any future testing or litigation.
Note: More pictures of affected wiring are available upon request.

affected-3

I found numerous examples how the copper wiring in this home has turned black because of the chemicals associated with Chinese drywall. A combination of noticeable copper wire and the contrast of copper wire that has turned black.

HVAC AFFECTED BY CHINESE DRYWALL

Here are pictures of the air handler that is located in an attic area accessed from the second floor. The copper tubing of the evaporator coil have turned from the normal shinny copper color to a flat black color. You can also see a picture of the solid bare copper ground wire running to the air handler’s ground lug. It is obvious that this normally shinny copper wire has turned black. These changes were caused by the chemicals associated with Chinese drywall.

affected-4

FRAMING SCREWS
The majority of the framing on this home was done with metal studs. Each screw that was used to hang the sheet rock was put up with screws into the metal studs. All of these screws were removed and thrown away. None of these screws are to be re-used when the new sheet rock is hung through out the home.

affected-5

WHAT WAS BEHIND THE WALLS

Not only did we have to deal with the Chinese Drywall project in this home but when removing the drywall we found that we also had a moisture problem which led to a mold issue. The issue was very manageable as we just removed the rotted wood with its mold and rebuilt the structure good as new.

affected-6

GARAGE STORAGE

In the beginning the garage was used to store kitchen cabinets and personal items. Now the garage is also being used to store building materials that will be used to restore this home to its original beauty so long ago.

affected-7

The garage is also storing a box of door knobs. The door knobs and door hinges have turned black because of the chemicals associated with Chinese drywall.
Hinges on cabinet doors are also affected by the chemicals that are associated with Chinese drywall.

THE INSPECTOR’S CORNER

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

FROM THE INSPECOR: JACOB MERMIN

St. Pete Road Trip, “A desperate call for help”

This blog is a true story and occurred on the dates stated. I am writing this blog because this family was at the end of their rope. They had spent thousands of dollars trying to make this their dream home, only to feel like they are allergic to it. I believe that this is happening all over Florida. A lot of people do not know why they don’t feel well. Hopefully it will encourage someone to make that “Desperate call for help” and start living healthy again.

This blog post will be in five parts.

Part one is an introduction to the situation I encountered.

Part two is the Chinese drywall visual inspection and the indoor air quality inspection.

Part three is the testing that was required for these homeowners.

Part four is the testing results.

Part five is the recommended remediation and conclusion

After each section I will give a tease of the next section. This blog posting will start on my Active Rain blog and continue to my blog at my website at www.mermininspetions.com. All those starting at my Blog on Active Rain please follow the link to my website and click on the blog button and go to “The Inspector’s Corner” From the inspector. It will be titled “A St. Pete road trip, A desperate call for help”

Part one:

The initial introduction:

I received a request from a homeowner to perform a Chinese drywall visual inspection and a HVAC and indoor air quality inspection of their home located in St. Petersburg, Fl. During the week of the 23rd of November this homeowner called me and expressed her concerns that she may be suffering from the effects of the chemicals associated with Chinese drywall. Though the home was built prior to 2003 which is thought to be the beginning of the time period when Chinese drywall was first used, she was concerned that Chinese drywall may have been used in the recent remodeling.

I then proceed to ask her about the condition of the HVAC system and if she new any of its background. She explained to me that the entire duct system had been replaced but the original air handler was still being used. This air handler was located in the attic above the garage. They then took a few pictures of the inside of the air handler and sent them to me for my opinion. I inspected the photos and found that the blower wheel was infested with major microbial matter. Other pictures showed that the interior of the air handler

was full of microbial matter. I suggested to them that the Chinese drywall was the least of their worries and that I would concentrate on the indoor air quality of their interior environment. The homeowner relayed a story to me about a trip to Atlanta where she felt so good she was able to take a nap. She explained to me that she was never able to take a nap at the St. Pete home. I conveyed to her that this was a common thing. A lot of people have expressed that they felt a lot better health wise when they left their home.

I then suggested to the homeowners that they contact a local Certified Mold Inspector to come in and inspect their home for indoor air quality issues. I also recommended that they have a visual Chinese drywall inspection just for their peace of mind. I let her know that I would be available to answer any questions they may have over the telephone because my office is in Lee County Florida just south of them. A few days later the homeowner called me back and explained that she couldn’t find an inspector that she felt comfortable with. At this time she requested that I come up there and do an investigation. Even though it was a two hour drive to St. Petersburg I felt obligated to make the trip and help them anyway I could. We decided that I would go up there on Monday the 30th of November.

I proceed to perform a complete visual Chinese drywall inspection using the checklist I developed almost 10 months age. The conclusion of my visual Chinese drywall inspection was that there were no visual signs of the effects caused by the chemicals generally associated with Chinese drywall.

Next posting:

I inspected as much duct work as I could get to…….

The blower wheel inside the air handler was completely impacted …….

I would like to give the HVAC contractor the benefit of the doubt………..