Mold Testing: A Better Guide

As you guys know from my previous post, I’ve been house shopping recently. And since I have Lyme disease, and I am HLA mold susceptible, I am trying really hard not to buy a place that has any toxic mold in it. Well, after 2 months of shopping, I’ve spent nearly $3500 on inspections and mold testing and have no home to show for it. DRAT.

Honestly, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Seattle real estate is insane right now, with many homes selling within 48 hours for over list price. To be competitive, I was doing pre-inspections and mold tests before making offers. If you’re in a slower market, or you use this smart approach to testing I’ve developed based on my mistakes, you won’t need to spend nearly as much.

While testing, I had 3 different experiences:

  1. The first condo I tested had a very high ERMI and low HERTSMI (moldy, but not toxic). I backed out.
  2. The second condo had almost no mold detectable. YAY! But I lost the bid.
  3. Condos 3 and 4 did have toxic mold on HERTSMI, and I kept testing with ERMI and in-person inspection, but ultimately backed out of each realizing I wasn’t up for hunting for and remediating mold.

In retrospect, I maybe shouldn’t have walked away from property #1, and I definitely shouldn’t have done further testing on the properties in #3.

I’m taking a break from house shopping for now, but the ineffectiveness of the whole situation frustrated me. So, I made put my brain to work instead of my heart, and I made this flowchart about which tests to run when, and what possible outcomes could be of each step.

How far you go into this flow chart will be a personal decision based on how invested you are in that property and how much risk you’re willing to take on.

Mold Testing Flow Chart

I know for me personally, I don’t plan to go beyond step 1 anymore. You’ll notice on the chart that a bad result to a HERTSMI test (presence of toxic mold) always leads to a more expensive, challenging or riskier outcome.

The one exception to this is if you get only one strain of mold that’s high (verified by ERMI panel). This could be caused by a single contaminated item that may or may not be on the property still. If it were me, I’d get an in person inspection complete with infrared camera and moisture meter. If that goes well, I’d be comfortable moving into that place after a GOOD cleaning and air purification (IQ Air is the best, I’ve read). Re-test in 30 days to verify the counts have fallen to normal levels.

You can read my previous blog for detailed info on how to do the Mycometrics Dust Test (HERTSMI and ERMI).

Best of luck out there!


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