Overview of Types of Mold Inspection: Complete Versus Limited Protocols

A person contemplating a mold inspection needs to have a basic understanding of what is involved in the process. Appropriate due diligence before engaging a mold inspector demands a basic process of self-education. This includes understanding the elements of complete versus limited mold inspection.

Overview of Complete Mold Inspection

Complete mold inspection involves a broad examination of a building for evidence of mold. A complete mold inspection is undertaken by an IAC2 certified mold inspector. This type of inspection is performed in accordance with the Mold Inspection Standards of Practice as promulgated by the International Association of Certified Indoor Air Consultants. 

During a complete mold inspection, an inspector is required to perform the following tasks:

  • A non-invasive, visual inspection of all of the visible, installed, and readily accessible systems and components of the building
  • Temperature, humidity, and moisture measurements
  • At least three different air samples, two taken outdoors and one taken indoors
  • Surface sampling of any area of concern at the inspector’s discretion

In undertaking a complete mold inspection, an inspector must report:

  • Moisture intrusion
  • Musty odors
  • Water damage
  • Apparent mold growth
  • Conditions conducive to mold growth
  • Results of laboratory analysis of samples taken at the premises
  • Itemization of any building system or component that was not visually inspected and the reasons why

Overview of Limited Mold Inspection

A limited mold inspection is the examination of a portion or a building, or an element in it, to ascertain the presence of mold. A limited mold inspection is undertaken by an IAC2 certified mold inspector. This type of inspection is performed in accordance with the Mold Inspection Standards of Practice as promulgated by the International Association of Certified Indoor Air Consultants. 

The fundamental distinction between complete versus limited mold inspection is the extent of the non-invasive visual examination of a building. A limited mold inspection involves only a specific portion of a building as defined and identified by the inspector. The inspector and the individual seeking the inspection specifically agree to the extent of the inspection, specifically the precise area that will be inspected.

During a limited mold inspection, an inspector is required to perform the following tasks:

  • A non-invasive, visual inspection of all of the visible, installed, and readily accessible systems and components of the building
  • Temperature, humidity, and moisture measurements
  • At least three different air samples, two taken outdoors and one taken indoors
  • Surface sampling of any area of concern at the inspector’s discretion

In undertaking a limited mold inspection, an inspector must report:

  • Moisture intrusion
  • Musty odors
  • Water damage
  • Apparent mold growth
  • Conditions conducive to mold growth
  • Results of laboratory analysis of samples taken at the premises

A limited mold inspection represents an affordable and relatively rapid means of ascertaining the presence of mold in a building. It oftentimes can be used to determine what type of mold is in a specific area of a building.

Official Standards of Mold Inspection Practice

There are some general standards of practice applicable to either a complete or limited old inspection. They govern the manner in which certain aspects or elements of a building are inspected.

Roof

The roof is inspected from the ground and includes:

  • Roof covering
  • Roof drainage system, including downspouts and gutters
  • Chimneys, skylights, flashings, vents, and any other roof penetrations

An inspector is not required to undertake certain tasks when inspecting the roof. These include:

  • Walk on roof surface
  • Perform a water test
  • Predict service life expectancy

Exterior and Grounds

While remaining at ground level, an inspector shall inspect:

  • Trim, cladding, and flashing
  • Exterior windows, doors, decks, stairs, steps, eaves, porches, railings, fascias, and soffits
  • Grading surrounding the building exterior perimeter
  • Any item that penetrates building covering materials, including the exterior siding

When inspecting the exterior and grounds, an inspector is not required to:

  • Inspect underground drainage systems
  • Inspect defects not associated with moisture intrusion or mold growth
  • Inspect window well drainage

Foundation, Basement, Crawlspace, and Structure

Yet another aspect of mold inspection involves the fountain, basement, crawlspace, and structure of the building itself. The aspects necessitating inspection include:

  • The actual foundation, basement, crawlspace in a manner that includes all ventilation elements
  • Specific inspection seeking evidence of moisture intrusion

When dealing with these elements of a building, an inspector need not:

  • Operate a sump pump with inaccessible floats
  • Inspect for any type of structural defect that is not directly related to mold growth or moisture intrusion

HVAC

In many instances, an HVAC system will be a focal point of a mold inspection. In regard to an HVAC system, the inspection must include:

  • Air handler
  • Circulating fan
  • Air filter
  • Condensate pump
  • Readily visible ductwork
  • Representative number of supply and return registers
  • Central humidifier
  • Central air conditioning unit

When it comes to an HVAC system, there are steps an inspector is not obligated to take. These include:

  • Inspect the air conditioning coil if not readily accessible
  • Inspect the condensate pan if not readily accessible
  • Test efficiency or performance of the HCAV system
  • Inspect the interior of the ductwork system

Plumbing

There are specific elements of a plumbing inspection that must be undertaken be a mold inspector:

  • Readily visible main water line
  • Readily visible water supply lines
  • Readily visible waste, drain, and vent pipes
  • Hot water source
  • Plumping fixtures including sinks, faucets, showers, tubs, and toilets

On the other hand, standards of practice do not require a mold inspector to:

  • Test tubs and showers by filling with water
  • Test in saunas, whirlpools, hot tubs, or steam rooms
  • Inspect for any plumping defects that are not related to mold growth or moisture intrusion

Attic, Ventilation, Insulation

When it comes to the attic, ventilation, and insulation, a mold inspector must inspect:

  • Insulation
  • Ventilation of attic spaces
  • Sheathing and framing

On the other hand, a mold inspector is not required to:

  • Touch, disturb, or move insulation
  • Inspect for vapor retarders
  • Break or damage weather seal or surface finish present on or around access panels or covers

Interior

An interior mold inspection needs to include:

Walls, floors, ceilings, windows, and doors

Ventilation in the bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen

Whole-house ventilation fans

When it comes to an interior mold inspection, an inspector need not inspect for any interior defects that are not directly related to mold growth or moisture intrusion.

Temperature, Moisture, and Humidity

When conducting a mold inspection, an inspector must take certain readings and measurements. These include:

Temperature of any room or area to be part of an inspection area

Moisture level of any room or area of a building that has water damage or moisture intrusion

Humidity of any room or area to be part of an inspection area

The ultimate takeaway from reviewing what is part of a complete or limited mold inspection is the elements that are always required and those which are never undertaken. The reality is that many home and business owners operate under some misperceptions about what is and is not included in a professional mold inspection.