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Helpful Mold Inspection Tips: An Interview with Brian Thomas of Pennsylvania Home Inspections

By Brian Thomas

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history, and the services you offer.

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental and Structural Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and have worked for a national engineering firm performing environmental and engineering assessments of commercial buildings for over ten years. I started Pennsylvania Home Inspections (PHI) about two years ago and offer home inspections, radon testing, mold assessments, well/septic testing, and wood destroying insect inspections for the areas of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.

Why is it important to have water damage and mold growth assessed by a certified mold inspector?

Since mold eats or digests what it is growing on, it can damage a building and its furnishings. If left unchecked, mold eventually can cause structural damage. The visual mold inspection and mold assessment services are the most vital beginning to avoid the dangers of black mold and mold in houses, apartments, workplaces, or commercial property.

In all cases of water damage situations and visible mold growth, a Certified Mold Inspector (CMI) or a Certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE), who is an expert in black mold and toxic mold inspections and testing, needs to perform a visual mold inspection and visual mold detection. This part of the mold investigation and mold inspection is crucial to determine and write the required cleanup and mold remediation strategy.

What are the most common causes of mold that you've seen?

Molds can be found almost anywhere and can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present. Many conditions such as poor drainage or negative slope around the perimeter of the building, humid/ high relative humidity, overpowered HVAC systems, leaking roofs, improperly installed sprinklers, and so many others, can create condition that are ideal for mold growth.

How does an inspector usually detect and treat mold?

Pennsylvania Home Inspections has a very thorough process when performing our mold inspections and visual mold assessments. The primary goal of any toxic mold investigation is to visually asses the environments overall cleanliness. Environments that are overly cluttered or filled with dirt and dust can promote mold growth. Areas of the property where visible mold on the walls, ceiling, drywall, cardboard and cardboard boxes, paper and books, ceiling tiles, wallboards/sheetrock/plaster, as well as other surface materials will be given extra consideration during the visual mold inspection and mold assessment.

There are many components that must be assessed when performing a mold inspection to identify the source of the mold growth. The purpose of the mold investigation is not only to identify the source of the mold problem, but to ensure the mold samples and mold tests collected will yield data that is useful to the development of the cleanup and mold remediation strategy.

Are there key things homeowners can do to help prevent mold problems?

The most important thing is to prevent moisture from entering the building. Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation. Clean and repair roof gutters regularly. Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly. Keep indoor humidity low.

Properly vent all appliances and heaters. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent) relative humidity. Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive ($10-$50) instrument available at many hardware stores. If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes act quickly to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.

What advice would you give to people who want to buy a house, especially if it had previous water damage?

For most people, a house is the biggest purchase they will make in their lives and it should be an exciting experience. An area of water damage or mold should not prevent you from purchasing your "dream house." Find the source or cause of the water damage and determine if it has been corrected or repaired. If the cause of the water damage can be determined then assessing the damage and extent of mold (if any) can be quantified so the future homeowner can know what is required to repair or remedy the damage. The overall goal is to make the future homeowner feel informed and comfortable with their purchase.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your company?

Feel free to contact me either by phone: 724-584-4316 or email: Pennsylvania Home Inspections can also be found at or Facebook

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About The Author

Brian is an engineer by trade and has spent most of his career performing Commercial...

Phone: 724-584-4316

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