The International Association of Certified Indoor Air Consultants has established a set of mold inspection standards. These standards are followed by certified mold inspectors working in the United States today. The Standards of Practice for Mold Inspection is divided into eight categories:

  • Roof
  • Exterior and grounds
  • Basement, foundation, crawlspace, and structure
  • Heating, cooling, and ventilation
  • Plumbing
  • Attic, ventilation, and insulation
  • Interior
  • Moisture, humidity, and temperature

For the purposes of coming to an accurate understanding of mold inspection standards, this article does two things. First, this article presents what the standard requires for each element of the standards. Second, this article deals with commonplace myths that many people may have in regard to each element of the inspection standards.

Roof

An inspector has the option to inspect the roof from one of two vantage points. An inspector can perform a roof mold inspection from either ground level or from eaves.

When performing a roof mold inspection, an inspector needs to specifically examine these components for evidence of current mold infestation, prior mold growth, or an indication that the state of inspection point might be conducive to mold growth. These components are:

  • Roof covering
  • Roof drainage system (including downspouts and gutters)
  • Vents
  • Flashings
  • Skylights
  • Chimneys
  • Any other roof penetrations

As mentioned, there are myths associated with each element of the mold inspection standards. In this regard, when it comes to the roof, a mold inspector is not required to do the following:

  • Walk on any roof surface
  • Predict the service life expectancy of the roof

Exterior and Grounds

In looking at the standards of practice for a mold inspector in regard to the exterior and the grounds, the inspection itself is performed from ground level. The inspection includes an examination of:

  • Cladding
  • Flashing
  • Trim
  • Exterior doors
  • Exterior windows
  • Decks
  • Stoops
  • Steps
  • Stairs
  • Porches
  • Railing
  • Eaves 
  • Soffits
  • Fascias 
  • Exterior grading around the building perimeter
  • Any items that penetrate the exterior siding or covering materials of the building

When it comes to the exterior and ground element of the most inspection practice standards, an inspector need not:

  • Inspect underground drainage systems
  • Inspect window well drainage
  • Inspect defects unrelated to moisture intrusion
  • Inspect defects unrelated to mold growth

Basement, Foundation, and Crawlspace

The basement, foundation, and crawlspace present a unique set of inspection challenges which are recognized in the practice standards. Of particular note is the fact that focused attention must be on avenues of possible moisture intrusion. While an inspection practice standard element obviously includes the identification of suspected mold growth, attention to the matter of moisture intrusion necessitates the sharpest focus in regard to this element of the mold inspection practice standards. In this regard, an inspector must:

  • Closely examine the basement, foundation, and crawlspace
  • Examination of the basement, foundation, and crawlspace needs to include ventilation
  • Examine these areas for mold growth
  • Examine these areas for avenues of potential moisture

There are some myths associated with a mold inspection of a basement, foundation, or crawlspace. In this regard, according to the mold inspection standards, an inspector need not:

  • Operate sump pumps equipped with inaccessible floats
  • Inspect for structural defects unrelated to mold growth
  • Inspect for structural defects unrelated to moisture intrusion

Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation

There are a number of important steps a mold inspector must take when inspecting the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems and equipment at a property. These are:

  • Inspect air handler
  • Inspect circulating fan
  • Inspect air filter
  • Inspect the condensate pump
  • Examine readily visible ductwork
  • Examine a representative number of supply and return air registers
  • Inspect the central humidifier
  • Inspect the central air conditioning unit

The mold inspection standards do not require an inspector to undertake certain examinations when it comes to heating, cooling, and ventilation. These are:

  • Inspect the air conditioning coil, unless it is readily accessible
  • Inspect the condensate pan, unless it is readily accessible
  • Test performance or efficiency of HVAC system
  • Inspect ductwork system interior

Plumbing

The mold inspection standards call for specific action by an inspector in regard to plumbing. Plumbing can play a significant role in mold growth when an element of a plumbing system is damaged or not functioning properly. According to the mold inspection standards, an inspector needs to inspect:

  • Readily visible main water lines
  • Readily visible water supply lines
  • Readily visible drain pipes
  • Readily visible waste pipes
  • Readily available vent pipes
  • Hot water source
  • Toilets
  • Faucets
  • Showers
  • Bathtubs

As with other elements of the mold inspection standards, there can be misconceptions about what a mold inspector needs to do when it comes to inspecting plumping. When it comes to inspecting plumbing, a mold inspector need not:

  • Test the showers or bathtubs by filling them with water
  • Test whirlpool tubs, saunas, steam rooms, or hot tubs
  • Inspect for plumbing defects or deficiencies not related directly to mold growth or moisture intrusion 

Attic, Ventilation, and Insulation

Official mold inspection standards enumerate specific tasks that must be undertaken by a mold inspector in regard to the attic and associated ventilation and insulation. These include:

  • Inspect attic insulation
  • Examine ventilation of attic spaces
  • Examine framing
  • Examine sheathing

When it comes to official mold inspection standards associated with the attic and its associated ventilation and insulation, an inspector is not required to:

  • Move, touch, or otherwise disturb insulation
  • Inspect for vapor retarders
  • Break the surface of finish or weather seal on or around access panels or covers 

Interior

The interior component of a mold inspection is covered in the official standards. The official mold inspection standards require a mold inspector to:

  • Inspect walls 
  • Inspect ceilings
  • Inspect floors
  • Inspect doors
  • Inspect windows
  • Inspect ventilation in bathrooms
  • Inspect ventilation in kitchen
  • Inspect ventilation in laundry
  • Inspect whole-house ventilation fans

The tasks of a mold inspector are quite significant, according to the mold inspection standards. With that said, there are interior examinations that are not required:

  • Not required to inspect for defects not related to mold growth
  • Not required to inspect for defects not related to moisture intrusion

Moisture, Humidity, and Temperature

Finally, the official mold inspection standards include directives and protocols associated with moisture, humidity, and temperature. These include:

  • Measure moisture of any room or area in a building that has at least one of the following:
    • Water damage
    • Mold odors
    • Apparent mold growth
    • Conditions conducive to mold growth
  • Humidity of any room (at inspector’s discretion)
  • Temperature of any room at inspector’s discretion)