How Much Does Mold Inspection Cost? (2023) - Bob Vila

By Meghan Wentland and Evelyn Auer | Updated Sep 19, 2023 2:35 PM

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How Much Does Mold Inspection Cost? (2023) - Bob Vila

Any source of moisture in a home can lead to mold growth. Bathrooms, especially those without ventilation fans, are particularly susceptible with their constant steam and dry cycles, but kitchen vents, air ducts, and anywhere a pipe or appliance is slowly leaking are also potential mold locations. In those dark, moist areas, mold can grow quickly—and while some mold is just an annoyance or allergy concern, other molds can quickly become toxic. Therefore, at the first suggestion of a mold problem beyond a little at the edge of the tub caulk, homeowners will want to schedule mold inspection and testing. But how much is a mold inspection? According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, homeowners can expect to pay between $299 and $1,014, and the national average cost for a professional mold inspection is $656. Costs tend to exceed the national average if the property being inspected is large, multiple types of tests are done, cost of living in the location is high, the mold is difficult to access, or the mold is an especially dangerous variety. Of particular importance is a black mold test: Black mold can be exceptionally hazardous for those with respiratory conditions and can cause illness quickly. Mold won’t go away on its own, and the longer it grows, the harder and more expensive it will be to abate it.

There are three steps in the process to identify and eradicate mold growing in a home. It’s a good idea for homeowners to complete each of the three steps rather than jumping ahead; knowing what kind of mold is present will make it easier for homeowners to make decisions about how to get rid of it.

A mold inspection is a good first step to take when a homeowner suspects a mold problem. A professional mold inspector (also called a certified industrial hygienist) will usually charge between $300 and $1,000 to complete a whole-house inspection, checking the spots where the mold is likely to be and determining which types of tests need to be run and where. Homeowners may be able to get a free mold inspection if they end up hiring the same company for remediation. A basic inspection takes about 2 hours, while a detailed inspection of the entire structure can take as long as 6 hours. The inspection may include one or more mold tests, costing between $50 and $300, which may be included in the overall charge for the inspection. The initial outlay for the inspection will allow the testing that follows to be targeted and will most likely save money in the long run.

Experts at New York Mold Specialists suggest considering a mold inspection “after you have experienced any type of flooding or water issue, if you smell a musty or unpleasant odor, if you are experiencing a leak that has been present for over 24 hours, or you notice stains on your furniture or building materials.”

Mold inspection and testing costs are often charged together, but if the initial test indicates the presence of more dangerous types of mold, or if the inspector finds evidence that suggests there is more mold that requires remediation, additional testing may be required. Basic mold testing generally costs between $250 and $350, but that price range increases to $400 to $500 if the samples need to be sent to a lab for inspection. The cost for mold testing will typically include both the tests themselves and printed reports of the results from those tests. Additional samples and follow-up tests may cost extra, so it’s important for homeowners to know what is included in the contract when hiring a mold inspection and testing professional.

Mold inspection and removal go hand in hand. Mold remediation is the process of removing mold and mold spores from a home. Costs for this will vary based on the magnitude of the mold growth, the type of mold, and the size of the home. However, in most cases mold remediation costs between $1,150 and $3,400. Remediation can be as simple as cleaning an area with a household mold killer like bleach or as complicated as removing chunks of drywall and discarding clothing and home decor fabrics; some molds really like to hang on and can’t be chemically removed.

The answer to the question “How much does a mold inspection cost?” isn’t straightforward. Because mold doesn’t usually present itself for easy-access testing, there are several types of tests and other factors that can affect the procedures for and cost of mold testing. Costs can vary by type of testing and the type of mold. When a preliminary test indicates a particular type of mold, further testing is sometimes necessary to determine the extent of the problem before deciding on the best remediation plan. In addition, the accessibility of the mold itself can affect the cost in that more expensive equipment might be necessary, or in some situations, removal of wall panels, tiles, or other building materials may be required. The inspection and testing will actually include several steps: First, the inspector will perform a thorough inspection of the home, poking around in crawl spaces, behind access panels, and peeling back small bits of suspect wallpaper or caulk. Based on the findings of the inspection, it’s possible that no further testing may be necessary; if the inspector has located the mold and can easily remove it, the process may be complete. It is more likely, however, that the inspection will lead to one or more types of sampling that will then be passed on to a laboratory to identify the quantity and type of mold.

The size of the space to be tested has a direct effect on the overall cost of the testing services for a simple reason: A larger space requires more samples over a longer period of time, and then those samples need to be individually tested. Testing in homes that are larger than 4,000 square feet may cost $700 to $1,000, whereas testing in smaller homes will cost $300 to $400. If more than one type of mold turns up in the staining or culture labs, further testing will be required—and again, a larger space will have more sites to test. Commercial spaces tend to be more expensive to test for mold, but only because the spaces are larger and more varied, so additional sampling is necessary.

While basic inspection and testing is sufficient for most types of mold, there are certain types that are more dangerous than others and require immediate removal. As a result, if the homeowner suspects that these types of mold are present, or if an inspector notes any indicators that they are present, the testing process may be more expensive. This applies to white mold mildew, which is a particular type of surface fungus that is often detected during mold inspections, but most particularly to black mold, which is the most dangerous type of spore to humans: Prolonged exposure can lead to serious illness and, in rare cases, death, so the testing procedures for suspected black mold are specific, expedited, and more costly.

Before mold growth can be remediated, testing is usually necessary to determine how much mold is present and what kind of mold it is. While there are home tests available, more comprehensive and useful results can be garnered from professional testing. There are three primary types of sampling: swab testing, air cell testing, and specialty HVAC testing.

Once the samples have been collected, they must be processed at a lab that will assess the type and quantity of mold along with its rate of reproduction. Lab technicians establish these numbers using stain testing and mold cultures.

If mold is growing in a damp basement or in the attic near an ice dam or roof leak, it’s easy to access the potential mold colony to test. However, mold grows best in dark areas where dampness might be harder to see and testing is more difficult. Bathrooms and kitchens are notorious for mold growth behind walls, between tile and drywall, or in areas behind appliances or fixtures that are difficult to access. In addition, when mold is widespread in a home (which will show up on an air cell test), it can be quite difficult to follow up with swab testing if there are no visible mold spores on the surfaces in the house. This is when mold testing can get really expensive: Excising pieces of drywall to access the back sides of walls for testing or hunting in the recesses of crawl spaces and moving appliances will add to labor costs, and gathering and testing a multitude of additional samples will drive up the cost as well, potentially in excess of $700.

Due to variation in the cost of living in different cities, mold inspection costs can depend on where a homeowner lives. Typically, costs are highest in coastal cities, with homeowners in New York City paying $200 to $4,100. By contrast, residents of San Antonio, Texas, pay between $200 and $625 on average. Homeowners can look up “mold inspection near me” to get a sense of local prices.

Mold can cause serious damage, so in addition to the cost for mold inspection and remediation, there may be additional costs associated with restoring the home back to its pre-mold state. Homeowners will want to consider the following when budgeting for mold inspection and remediation.

Even when mold itself has been removed, it can leave unsightly stains and damage on ceilings, floors, and walls. Drywall is the least costly to repair and typically costs $240. Costs for other materials may be higher, especially if they must be replaced rather than refinished or repaired.

Even if mold is successfully removed, it is sure to return if the conditions that created it remain unchanged. Many times, mold is caused by high levels of humidity in the home. Installing a whole-house dehumidifier can greatly reduce this problem. The system filters the air and converts excess moisture into condensation while releasing the treated air back into the home. Having a whole-home dehumidifier installed costs about $900.

Mold can grow on most types of flooring, including carpet, hardwoods, and even the subfloor below. Since these materials are porous, they may need to be replaced in order to completely eradicate the mold. Costs for this project can vary depending on the area of flooring that needs to be replaced and the type of flooring material. For reference, carpet installation costs about $980.

Mold can spread quickly on fabrics and upholstery, so furniture that has been affected will either need to be thrown out and replaced or reupholstered and restuffed. At a minimum, the labor and materials for this project will cost $750. Depending on the piece of furniture, it may be more cost-effective for the homeowner to opt for replacement over reupholstery.

“Mold” is a catch-all term for a variety of fungi that grow in moist spaces. While a homeowner may suspect that they have mold growing in their home, they may be surprised (and horrified) to discover just how many different species of mold might be present. Determining which specific mold is growing in the house is important in order to decide what type of remediation is necessary and how aggressive the remediation needs to be—some types are mild and inevitable, while others can be quite dangerous. The following are some of the most common types of mold and mildew inspections.

Alternaria is an outdoor mold that grows best in the spring and summer, creeping inside on unsuspecting residents. It can cause significant damage to trees and plants, and it spreads rapidly in an explosive fashion, latching on to clothing, furniture, shoes, and then houseplants, carpet padding, and behind the walls—and it will continue to grow in homes with high humidity. Reactions can range from none to sneezing, throat irritation, and mild coughs. Because it is not difficult to find, it will usually be covered in a standard inspection cost. Alternaria inspection can cost between $450 and $550.

Aspergillus is a class of mold that is made up of approximately 250 species. All aspergillus begins as a white fuzz, but then changes color as it grows (the colors include black, brown, green, and yellow, depending on the species). It can cause a serious respiratory infection called Aspergillosis, so it’s important to remove the mold and treat the infection promptly. In most cases, this kind of mold inspection will cost $450 to $550 or more.

Aureobasidium is a pink or black mold that most often appears on surfaces like painted or wallpapered walls. It’s a good idea to avoid contact with aureobasidium, as doing so can lead to infections in the eyes, nails, or skin. Aureobasidium inspection costs between $450 and $550.

Chaetomium is an especially dangerous kind of mold that contains carcinogens and has been linked to brain infections. Chaetomium can be identified as a fuzzy light-colored mold that turns green or blue as it matures. It costs an average of $450 to $550 to inspect for chaetomium.

This type of mold grows most aggressively in damp basements, bathrooms, and in HVAC systems. While it’s not an irritant to all residents, some may experience allergy symptoms or potentially a severe allergic reaction. Because it grows in areas that are fairly straightforward to access and test, cladosporium isn’t likely to incur additional inspection or test fees, thus costing $450 to $550.

Homeowners who have recently undergone a water leak will want to have their homes inspected for fusarium. This type of mold is highly toxic, and exposure to it can even cause blindness and scarring. Because of the danger associated with this type of mold, a mold inspection company may charge between $600 and $800 for this type of inspection.

This is a fast-spreading type of mold that is usually visible and identifiable by its blue-green velvet appearance. Penicillium (which was used to create the penicillin family of antibiotics) can cause an allergic reaction in some people, but it does require a substantial amount of water to grow. Therefore, it most frequently occurs in areas where significant water damage has occurred and the homeowner is already looking for mold and is less likely to grow stealthily in moderately damp areas. Penicillium inspection costs around $500 to $600.

Serpular lacrymans is unique in that it is more dangerous to wood than to people. It is often the kind of mold present when materials are affected by dry rot. This type of mold can be found on wood, masonry, plaster, and mortar. Homeowners can expect to pay $500 to $600 for a serpula lacrymans inspection.

Proliferating with astounding ease and speed on gypsum board, drywall, fiberboard, and paper, this dreaded mold is commonly referred to as black mold and requires immediate removal. It grows well in areas that have experienced flooding or major leaks, but also in areas that are subjected to high condensation and humidity, as it requires moisture to stay alive. Particularly dangerous to babies and young children, along with those with lung or respiratory problems, black mold can cause infection and even lung hemorrhage with sustained exposure. After identifying black mold, it’s a good idea for the homeowner to have a specialist to complete testing and coordinate removal to avoid spreading the mold to other locations. For this reason, a black mold inspection will be more expensive than other molds at $600 to $800 and up.

Trichoderma is common in nature on soil and plants, but once it’s in a home it tends to grow in HVAC systems and on fabric and upholstery. Exposure to trichoderma can cause symptoms similar to seasonal allergy symptoms. This kind of mold inspection costs $500 to $600.

Another mold that grows where significant water damage has occurred, ulocladium is a dark mold that grows on hard surfaces such as paper, paint, and wood, as well as softer textiles. It appears most frequently in basements and kitchens where a prolonged water exposure has occurred. Often, homeowners who find mold on their window sills will find that they have an ulocladium problem. While it is not terribly dangerous in and of itself—some residents may experience a hay fever-like response—the conditions in which it grows are also favorable to the more dangerous black mold, which is similar in appearance. Ulocladium testing will cost between $500 and $600.

Sometimes mold makes its presence known: It helpfully appears in an area where dampness has allowed it to take hold. On other occasions, it’s hidden, and homeowners have to make their best guess based on a series of clues. There are also several key times to examine a home for mold.

If mold growth is visible, this may be a lucky sign that it has been caught early. Growth can appear as a spray of gray mold on a ceiling or wall, brownish football-shaped dots, or a persistent damp or discolored spot on a wall or wallpaper. In addition, the thin line of black or dark gray working its way across a line of grout or tile edge is also an indicator of mold. On the other hand, where there is visible mold—especially if there’s quite a lot—chances are there’s more that is hidden, and it’s time to call in some assistance.

For homeowners who aren’t sure what mold smells like, a vaguely musty scent that’s slightly sour and slightly dusty is a good indication that there are more mold spores in the air than normal. Especially in homes with older HVAC systems, this olfactory clue should alert homeowners to the possibility of mold if an obvious source for the smell can’t be located elsewhere. The smell can settle into carpets, upholstery, and curtains, so the source may be an old air conditioning duct, but the growth can be present anywhere the air from that duct has touched.

When the residents of a home begin to suffer from chronic allergy symptoms—especially if they’ve never experienced allergies before—a mold inspection is a solid choice. Mold spores can cause irritations and inflammation of the respiratory system, or flourish in the back of the throat, so these symptoms should not be ignored if they are out of pattern for the home’s residents.

Whether buying or selling, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the mold levels in the home. Painting over mold to keep it hidden is not a viable solution. Sellers will want to remediate prior to putting the house on the market; taking care of the problem is a good-faith gesture, and a clean mold report will make it possible to honestly answer disclosure questions about mold and will look much better to potential buyers than having a home inspector’s test reveal a problem that then becomes part of negotiations. As a buyer, it’s important to know in order to decide whether to bargain down the home price to compensate for the remediation that will be needed down the road or require the seller to do so.

Any prolonged contact with water makes it more likely that the structures of the home have developed mold spores or growth. Because mold abatement is easier when the colony is smaller, testing after a flood makes sense to find and eradicate the mold before it even becomes visible.

A small leak may not seem like a big deal, but if the surrounding areas have been damp or wet for a period of time, a mold inspection is a good plan. It’s better to inspect and treat the area where the leak made mold growth likely then to hunt for a larger outbreak later.

Like mold, rust requires moisture to develop. Its presence suggests that enough moisture has been in the area to cause damage—if the rust can grow, so can mold. An inspection can catch the mold growth before it becomes obvious or spreads.

Ceilings and walls don’t warp or slump on their own unless they’re structurally unsound, and the most likely cause for failure of drywall is moisture. Wet drywall can resolidify after it dries out, but a misshapen panel is a sure sign that enough moisture has been present to grow mold, so an inspection will identify mold in the wall itself or lurking behind it.

Is it necessary to run out and hire a mold inspection service at the first sighting of a speck of mold in the bathtub? Probably not. A small area of visible mold can often be managed and removed by the homeowner (in fact, some would argue that visible mold doesn’t require an inspection or tests, but just a remediator, as the infestation has been located). Homeowners can choose from the best mold removers on the market to remove mold from shower tiles, grout lines, and window seams. Vinegar kills mold too, and often costs less than commercial mold cleaners. Small areas of drywall with visible mold can also be self-treated if the homeowner is capable of removing the moldy section of drywall, scrubbing down the underlying wood framing with mold remover, and replacing the drywall with new material. And small amounts of mold in a window air conditioner can be removed by carefully cleaning the unit. Larger visible mold growth or growth in confined spaces such as attics and crawl spaces would benefit from the know-how of a professional.

It’s understandable to see mold testing kits on sale at the store and be tempted to save money by testing for mold independently. But here’s the thing: Those tests are being conducted by a homeowner who doesn’t know the best places to collect samples and doesn’t really know how to interpret the results. This kind of mold detector cost is probably money better spent elsewhere: If it seems plausible that there’s enough mold in the home to warrant purchasing a detector, it’s probably worth hiring someone who is trained to look in the right spots for signs of mold growth, test accordingly, explain the results, and inform the customer what kills mold and how they recommend treating the issue. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that mold inspection and sampling be conducted by a professional who is trained and familiar with the specifications outlined by the American Industrial Hygiene Association or similar professional organizations. For homeowners who are concerned that there’s mold in the home that isn’t visible, it’s best to have someone who knows where to look and how to handle a potential problem rather than to try to manage the issue, miss something, or make the problem worse with an ineffective removal. Homeowners who are unsure of who to call for mold inspection can start by looking at the best mold removal companies that operate in their area.

Often, mold inspection costs are not negotiable. However, there may be a few ways to get ahead of the problem in order to avoid going over budget.

Mold inspection companies have their own categories of licensing and certification, most of them conferred by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). This organization publishes the standards for testing and remediating mold growth, among other things, in a publication called the S520. While mold inspectors are not legally bound to these standards, most reputable professionals will defer to them, so the first step before hiring a professional is to inquire about their knowledge of the S520 and their certifications. This may be especially important if it’s possible that the problem may be large enough to involve the homeowner’s insurance company. In fact, even if this seems unlikely, it’s a good idea for homeowners to contact their insurance company to ask what their requirements are for contractors who deal with mold remediation: If the problem turns out to be more significant than expected, it’s best that homeowners not to find out midway through the process that the insurance company will only cover costs if the professional who has been hired has certain certifications that their contractor doesn’t have.

Below are some additional questions to ask after searching for a “mold inspection company near me”:

Discovering (or suspecting) mold growth can be frightening from a health perspective and overwhelming because the extent of the problem is often unknown at first. As long as the mold inspection, testing, and remediation are handled as quickly as possible, mold growth can be halted and the home made safe. To make it easier for homeowners to settle on the best way to handle household mold, the following common questions and their answers can help.

The answer to this question depends on the extent of the mold growth. A small growth at the edge of the tub caulking can be taken care of with a bottle of mold cleaner. If you have a large growth of black mold, however, or significant spread through drywall, remediation can be significantly more expensive because of additional construction and whole-house cleaning processes that can raise the costs into the thousands of dollars. The cost to remediate that level of mold growth, however, is not a reason to ignore the problem—mold problems only get worse on their own, not better, and the potential health problems that may ensue can be dangerous.

The average cost for a mold test is about $656, but it can range from $299 to $1,014 depending on the size and complexity of the space. Some mold mitigation companies may offer free testing if you contract to use their services for remediation, which may be worth it if you are pretty certain that you have a problem.

DIY mold testing kits can be purchased at a home improvement store for $40 or less, but they won’t necessarily provide useful or accurate results. The best way to test for mold in your home is to contact a professional mold inspector who can more effectively test your home and assess the results of the testing for you.

If the testing reveals significant mold growth, the average cost of proper remediation will range from $1,150 to $3,400. This is a wide range because the extent of the mold growth and damage; remediation could be as simple as a deep professional cleaning with mold-killing products or as complex as wall and ceiling removal as well as replacement and plumbing repair.

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How Much Does Mold Inspection Cost? (2023) - Bob Vila

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