Mold Scams and Fraudulent Mold Practices in Los Angeles

Los Angeles mold scams, mold testing rip-offs, fraudulent mold testing practices.
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TOXIC MOLD IN A BRAND NEW HOME?

Mold in a brand new home? Yes! Click here for a short video.

Think your property has to be old to have mold? Think again! 
Watch one family's story about mold in their brand new home in this video shown on FOX News.
 

SEE WHAT
INFRARED SEES

If your mold inspection is not conducted with infrared thermal imaging, your mold inspection may be inconclusive.

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Moisture detected in a first floor bathroom ceiling caused by a leaking shower on the second floor.

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Moisture detected in a first floor ceiling caused by an improperly sealed shower door gasket above.

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Moisture detected in a bedroom ceiling caused by a roof leak.

test for mold in los angeles

Moisture detected in a first floor kitchen ceiling caused by a leak under a second floor kitchen sink.

mold testing in los angeles county ca

Moisture detected in a bedroom closet ceiling caused by a roof leak.

how to test for mold in los angeles

Moisture detected in a bedroom ceiling caused by an improperly installed drain in a second floor deck.

MOLD IN YOUR CAR, TRUCK, RV, BOAT?

how to test for mold in cars
Can Mold In Your Vehicle
Cause Fungal Infections?

Yes. Have you ever turned your vehicle's air conditioner or heater and smelled mold? Or jumped in your boat or motor home after its been closed up for a while and noticed a repugnant odor? Our cars, trucks, SUVs, RV's, motor homes, boats, and airplanes can all be a source for exposure to high levels of airborne mold spores.

If you live or work in a moldy building, mold spores that cling to your clothing often end up in your car's air conditioner or heater. Water-damaged vehicles and even vehicles that have been cleaned but the upholstery or carpets have not been dried properly can all be infested with mold.
 

MOLD IN HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING VENTS

how to test for mold in heater vents

Can air ducts become contaminated with mold?

Yes. Dusty HVAC ductwork provides an ideal environment for mold and other allergens to grow in. Air duct systems may be constructed of bare sheet metal, sheet metal with fibrous glass insulation on the exterior, or sheet metal with an internal fibrous glass insulation. Bare sheet metal systems and sheet metal systems wrapped in fibrous glass insulation can be cleaned and disinfected. If ductwork made of sheet metal with internal fibrous glass liner or ductwork made entirely of fibrous glass becomes water damage or mold growth occurs, replacement may be necessary.

Call AMI today for a quote on testing your recycled indoor air
1-800-369-8532

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  Trained in Compliance With The Indoor Environmental Standards Organization for mold inspection and mold testing in Los Angeles California
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Mold Scams and Rip Offs in Los Angeles


Mold scams in Los Angeles
In a perfect world you could trust everyone, but it's not a perfect world.

Like every industry, the mold business has its share of con artists profiting from your lack of knowledge about mold.

Here are the top mold scams in Los Angeles and tips on how to avoid them.

 

Top Mold Scam#1: Mold Inspectors Who Also Perform Mold Removal
The biggest mold scam is and always has been – “mold inspectors” who are also in the mold removal business. You'll see their advertisements, "FREE PROFESSIONAL INSPECTION" - "FREE MOLD TESTING", but don't be misled. No one is in business to do anything for free. Free always comes with a hefty price that ends up costing far more than you thought it would. That Free Professional Mold Inspection may sound pretty good at first, but nothing good is ever free, and never has that been more true than in the mold business. The simple truth is:

  • Anyone in the mold removal business offering mold inspections (either for a fee or for free) is doing so for one reason only - to find mold removal jobs. Their inspections are specifically designed to drum up expensive mold removal work. If and when they actually do find mold, the problem and the work they claim is necessary to fix it is often grossly exaggerated. But even worse, sometimes there really is no mold problem at all. Sometimes an expensive mold remediation job is sold just because of a water stain. That may be hard for most honest people to imagine, but it happens every day. For more information on this scam and actual examples of folks who have fallen prey to it, check out The Mold Inspectors Blog.
     
  • Also, any mold inspector offering a few free mold samples with every inspection does so just to get a foot in the door so they can sell you a lot more samples that you probably don't need.

Mold removal (also known as mold remediation or mold abatement) is a very profitable business and engaging in both mold inspections and mold remediation is a serious conflict of interest. The potential for fraudulently creating thousands of dollars in bogus mold removal work is tremendous and - unfortunately - an every day occurrence in this industry.

This is the oldest mold scam going and its easy to pull off because most consumers (like you) don’t know enough about mold to realize when they’re being bamboozled into work that often grossly exaggerated, and in some instance, may not even need to be done.

REMEMBER: You do not want a mold inspector who is looking for mold removal jobs. They always find (or create) what they’re looking for.

Convenience can cost you.
Most people prefer to deal with one contractor for everything because its convenient. But when it comes to mold, that convenience can end up costing you thousands of dollars in bogus repair work. It is simply not worth the risk. A mold inspection should be completely unbiased. Mold inspectors should have no personal interest in how an inspection turns out, nor should they ever profit from what they find, either directly by doing the removal themselves, or indirectly by referring work to their friends for a kick-back.

Avoid the scam.
The only way to ensure you will get an unbiased inspection report and avoid this mold scam is to hire a Certified Mold Inspector who does not perform mold removal work.

Tell us your experience.
If you have any experience with this mold scam we want to hear from you. Tell us and others by posting your story on our Mold Inspectors Blog.
 

Top Mold Scam #2: Duct Cleaning Contractors using a “Field Test Kit” or “Instant Mold Test" to Assess Mold In HVAC Ducts
Many Duct Cleaning companies are owned and operated by honest and reliable owners and they offer a valuable service. However, some “Duct Cleaners” or other untrained mold inspection service providers have perfected this scam. They offer a very low “Duct Cleaning” service to get their foot in your door. When they show up to clean your ducts they offer you a free mold test OR they claim to find hidden mold in the duct work. They basically scare you into a very expensive “spray treatment” and sign you up for a regular “treatment service”. This is a very bogus and risky proposition.

How To Avoid It:
The best way to avoid this scam is to avoid using a service provider that uses “Instant Mold Tests” to conclusively determine if you have a mold problem or not. The manufacturers of these field test kits specifically state in their literature that a positive test result should be followed up with laboratory testing. Furthermore the EPA specifically recommends AGAINST using a biocide as the sole source of remediation. The biocide used by these scam artists may be much more dangerous than the mold that it is being used to control. The EPA recommends “physical removal” of any mold or mold damaged building materials. Another interesting note is that many modern homes use a vinyl or plastic “flex duct” that will not even support mold growth, but can also be damaged by improper duct cleaning. If you are going to use a firm to clean your ducts make sure that they are a National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) member and verify this yourself online – don’t take their word for it. We have had reports from consumers that these con-men always seems like the nicest and most believable guys in the industry.
 

Top Mold Scam #3: Free Post-Remediation Clearance Testing
The final step in the mold removal process is a post-remediation survey to verify and document that the remediation was successful. If you are paying for the remediation work out-of-pocket, you will want confirmation that the mold problem is gone before making the final payment to your contractor. If the remediation is being paid for by your insurance company or required by a mortgage lender, they will typically require a third-party clearance test before payment or funding.

REMEMBER:

  1. Post-remediation clearance testing should never be performed by a mold removal contractor waiting to get paid for his work. This is no different than a student grading his own final exam. Many mold remediation contractors even offer "FREE" clearance testing. Some will include it in the price of the job. But it is never in your best interest to let a contractor grade his final exam. With hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on the line and no way to charge you more if it fails, it is highly unlikely that a mold contractor will fail his own work.
     
  2. Post-remediation clearance testing should always be done after all the mold has been removed but before any re-construction work begins so the inspector can visually see that there is no mold left on the remediated materials.

Avoid the scam.
The way to avoid this scam is the same as Mold Scam #1. Have you post-remediation survey and clearance test performed by a Certified Mold Inspector who does not work for your remediation contractor.

  • Is mold growing or has mold growth occurred indoors
     
  • What conditions were and/or are the likely cause
     
  • What areas of the structure are effected
     
  • What conditions are still likely to promote further mold growth
     
  • What steps should be taken properly address your mold issue
     

Top Mold Scam #4: Encapsulating Mold
Encapsulation is a trade term used by some mold removal contractors to describe the process of “gluing down” any mold they may have missed during remediation. Anti-microbial coatings used as encapsulants can be sprayed on, rolled or brushed like paint, but paint (including KILZ) is neither an anti-microbial coating nor an acceptable encapsulation product.

As a final step in the mold remediation process, encapsulating a few loose spores to avoid failing a post-remediation test is not a scam. However, encapsulation as a stand-alone solution for mold remediation is nothing more than covering up mold that should have been removed, and that is a total scam.

Why And When To Encapsulate
In the remediation process a contractor will remove and discard construction materials that are permanently damaged or would cost more to clean than replace. Any salvaged materials, such as framing lumber, that shows evidence of mold growth is then scraped, sanded, and wire brushed until all visible mold growth is removed.

At that point the remediation is finished and ready to be tested. However, in some instances it is not possible to completely remove every last bit of mold trapped in small cracks and crevices without removing costly structural framing. And while a few spores of Chaetomium, Stachybotrys or Aspergillus are unlikely to ever pose a threat as long as those cracks and crevices never get wet again, the dilemma is this; as long as certain molds that are considered markers* (indicators) of indoor mold growth show up in a post-remediation air test, you cannot document that the mold remediation was successful – unless of course your mold inspector is one who will report his opinion rather than a traceable industry standard. But the integrity of that report will come under scrutiny at some point, either by your insurance company, your mortgage lender, or a prospective buyer when you go to sell the property in the future. Under such conditions, if all visible mold growth has been removed and all salvaged materials have been dried to industry standards, encapsulating a few rogue mold spores is an acceptable step as long as :

  1. The encapsulant product itself is clear (not a solid color) so that during the Post-Remediation Verification Survey, which includes a visual inspection and moisture assessment of all remediated construction materials, your third-party mold Inspector can visually confirm that all materials under the encapsulant are clean and mold free. Many mold remediation contractors use solid color encapsulants to cover up mold that was not removed. Some even paint over mold with KILZ, which is a stain-killing paint with no anti-microbial properties whatsoever. Remember, you pay your contractor to remediate mold. You pay your Inspector to confirm that the contractor did what you paid him to do. Be sure to have this discussion with your contractor before the work begins. Ask him directly if he intends to encapsulate or use any anti-microbial sealants or coatings. If the answer is yes, insist on clear products only.
     
  2. Encapsulation is not to be done as a method of mold remediation. As obviously ludicrous as that sounds (and is) it is exactly what many contractors do and it is nothing less than a fraudulent mold scam. Encapsulation is never an approved or acceptable method of mold remediation.

Avoid the scam.
There are two things you can do to avoid being scammed by encapsulation. If your contractor objects to either, find another contractor.

  1. As stated above, before the remediation work begins, ask your contractor if he intends to encapsulate or use any anti-microbial sealants or coatings. If the answer is yes, insist on clear products only and insist that the product brand name and ID number is spelled out in the contract. The best and most widely used clear encapsulants are Fiberlock Aftershock Fungicidal Coating and Foster 40-51 Fungicidal Protective Coating.
     
  2. Before your contractor applies an encapsulant, ask him to take you into the containment area (the work area). You may encounter some resistance, but this is a perfectly normal and justified request. If it is safe for him to be in there, it is safe for you. Once inside, ask him to show you what materials will be encapsulated and explain to you why he believes encapsulation is necessary. Then ask to see the encapsulant product to be used and ask to see the empty containers afterward.

If these suggestions seem strong, they are intended to be. Thousands of property owners who have been scammed by contractors who, “seemed so nice, seemed so honest and so knowledgeable.” If you are uncomfortable making such demands on your contractor, AMI offers on-site project management services with or without the Post-Remediation Verification Survey. This service will insure that every detail at every step of the remediation process is done with your best interest in mind.

* Stachybotrys and other marker types: Certain types of mold, such as Aureobasidium, Chaetomium, Fusarium, Trichoderma, and Ulocladium, are generally found in very low numbers outdoors. Consequently their presence indoors, even in relatively low numbers, is often an indication that these molds are originating from growth indoors. When present, these mold types are often the clearest indicator of a mold problem.
 

Top Mold Scam #5: Killing Mold
Sounds like a good idea, but is it really?
To understand this premise you must first understand the different characteristics between molds that are viable (alive) and molds that are dead (non-viable). Once you do it will be clear why killing mold is not a good option for dealing with a mold problem.

The one important detail most people never knew.

Viable Mold
Molds are living organisms that require food and water to stay alive. Take away one or the other and mold dies. Molds produce two things; enzymes to digest organic matter and spores to reproduce. Outdoors mold is a vital part of our ecosystem. Without it we would be neck-deep in dead plant matter and other organic materials. But indoors mold can be a real problem when it starts digesting organic materials like lumber, drywall, cabinets, and other personal property. As long as mold has a food source and a water source, it can live indefinitely and cause significant damage to anything it comes in contact with.

Non-Viable Mold
When mold loses its food or water source it dies or goes dormant. At that point, the good news is it can no longer cause any further damage to your property. The bad news is, as mold dies it dries out and starts to release spores into the air at a highly accelerated rate, and mold spores – dead or alive – have the same affect on people and animals. (READ THAT AGAIN!)

So, if dead mold is just as harmful alive mold – what would be the point in killing it?

Mold spores are organized into three groups according to human responses;

  1. Allergenic
    Most likely to affect those who are already allergic or asthmatic
     
  2. Pathogenic
    Serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems
     
  3. Toxigenic
    Capable of causing serious health effects in almost anybody

Dead mold may provide your property with some reprieve. But there is clearly no upside to killing mold when it comes to the potential health risks associated mold exposure – dead or alive. For that reason, the goal of mold remediation never to kill mold – it is always to remove mold.

Who Promotes the Idea of Killing Mold and Why? Follow The Money

Mold-Killing Products
So who would have you believe that killing mold is a good idea and why? Anyone making money selling products and services that kill mold. Search Google for ”how to kill mold”. What you will find is 500,000 web sites selling products that supposedly “kill mold”. Check out the cleaning products isle at your local grocery store and you’ll find a number of mold-killing solutions to choose from. And of course there’s the home remedies that have been around for years, like bleach, vinegar, baking soda, etc. But even if a remedy or a retail product works, the question that begs asking is, “what is the point in killing mold?”

Mold-Killing Services
If you spend a few dollars on a mold-killing solution, the most you’ll be out is a few dollars. The real mold-killing scam, however, is the thermal or ”high-heat” treatments being passed off as mold remediation by some contractors. Can extreme heat kill mold and other indoor contaminants? Yes. But again, the question to ask is, “what is the point in killing mold?”. Whatever technical catch phrase they come up with to sell their concept, killing mold is not mold remediation. Remediation means removing mold. In the simplest of terms, if mold is properly remediated (removed) there should be nothing left to kill.

Other products and services being sold as mold-killers are Ozone air purifiers and high ozone treatments. Ozone is a colorless, toxic gas with a noticeable odor. When inhaled in relatively low amounts, ozone can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, damage the lungs and irritate the throat.

Regarding contractors who sell high ozone treatments as a method of mold remediation, the truth is - the amount of ozone it takes to kill mold will kill you too! But even if you check into a hotel for a few days while they while they fill your house with lethal doses of deadly gas, the best you can hope for in the end is dead mold. And just like high heat treatments, remediation will still be required to remove it.

As for ozone products, manufacturers and resellers of Ozone Generators sold as air purifiers claim that these products help to kill and control mold. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), these products may very well add to indoor air pollution and even make indoor mold conditions worse.

Several brands of ozone generators have EPA “establishment numbers” on their packaging. This is NOT an EPA approval or endorsement. It is nothing more than deceptive marketing designed to intentionally mislead consumers. The only purpose of an EPA establishment number is to help the EPA identify the specific facility that produces the product.

THE DISPLAY OF THIS NUMBER ON OZONE PRODUCTS DOES NOT IMPLY IN ANY WAY THAT EPA HAS FOUND THE PRODUCT TO BE EITHER SAFE OR EFFECTIVE.

FROM EPA’s WEB SITE:
Q: Are Ozone Generators Effective in Controlling Indoor Air Pollution?
A: Available scientific evidence shows that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone has little potential to remove indoor air contaminants. Some manufacturers or vendors suggest that ozone will render almost every chemical contaminant harmless by producing a chemical reaction whose only by-products are carbon dioxide, oxygen and water. This is misleading. The EPA does not certify or endorse any air cleaning devices or recommend air cleaning devices or manufacturers.

For more information from the EPA regarding the use or effectiveness of ozone generators, please visit their web site at: www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/ozonegen.html

 

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