Jason Earle, Founder of 1-800-GOT-MOLD?, discusses the causes and methods of prevention and testing when it comes to dealing with mold within building structures.
Jason Earle, Founder of 1-800-GOT-MOLD?, discusses the causes and methods of prevention and testing when it comes to dealing with mold within building structures.
Sean Morrissey 00:00
This episode of landlording for life is brought to us by our new sponsor, gotmold.com. Go to gotmold.com/landlordingforlife and get 10% off your mold test kit, as well as a free ebook to give you an idea of the ways in which mold grow and how you can prevent mold from growing in your properties. Now on to this week’s podcast.
This is the landlording for life podcast, for landlords explore their success and stories of failure while building a foundation to improve upon. Here’s your host, Sean Morrissey.
Sean Morrissey 00:42
Hey, everybody, welcome back to another edition of landlording for life. As always, thanks for tuning in with us this week, and another great episode. So today, we’re going to talk about the topic of mold, right? Not only a topic that’s critical for landlords to understand, but homeowners in general. So we have on the line with us today, a gentleman by the name of Jason Earle. Jason is the founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-MOLD?, the Mold Inspection Company, and give the Got Mold? Test Kit, which we’ll talk a little bit about here towards the end of the show. But yeah, Jason, welcome to the podcast.
Jason Earle 01:17
Great to be here, man.
Sean Morrissey 01:19
You betcha. So as we do with all our guests, tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and what got you started in the mold remediation industry.
Jason Earle 01:28
Well Sean, you know, like, mold is a funny subject, because there isn’t really an academic track for this. There’s no real coursework to end up in the mold or mold assessment or mold remediation business. So people end up in this industry kind of accidentally, mine was accidental, with a kind of a twist of intention to it. I got into the industry based upon my awareness or the the realization that my childhood home had been the underlying cause of my respiratory illness as a child. So if you rewind all the way back when I was about four years old, I had suddenly lost a lot of weight and three week period, my parents took me to the pediatrician, and they suggested to take me directly to Children’s Hospital because I was having some pretty distressed breathing, and the initial diagnosis based upon family history, and the symptoms I was presenting with was the cystic fibrosis, which was a devastating diagnosis, of course, then it was a death sentence. But they…and my father had lost four of his cousins to CF by the age of 14, so it was it really close to home.
Six weeks later, they got a second opinion. And it turns out that I didn’t have cystic fibrosis, evidenced by the fact that I sit here at 45 years old. But also, more importantly, what I did have was asthma compounded by pneumonia. And when they tested me for allergies back then they did this in sort of a strait straitjacket for toddlers. And they drew a grid on my back and they exposed me to these different allergens or antigens. And my dad said it looked like a ladybug my back just blew up like a big red bubble with with dots all over it. And so I basically, I was allergic to everything grass, wheat, corn, eggs, dogs, cats, cotton. So my clothes, everything was everything was and I grew up on a nonworking farm. So I was surrounded by all these things, dogs, cats, grass, wheat, corn, eggs, soybeans, cotton, everything. And so I basically lived on inhalers since I was about 12. And then my folks split up and moved out of the house and my symptoms went away. And I never thought about it again until after a successful career on Wall Street where I was sitting here literally reading a local newspaper. I was in Hawaii and I was reading a story about a guy who’d gotten sick from a hotel where he was working, that had had a severe mold problem. And anybody who’s been around the real estate business might remember the Hilton Kalia tower, it was big headlines back in the early 2000s, for this mold problem. And I happen to be in Hawaii, in sort of ground zero for that particular subject, by the way, right after September 11, speaking of Ground Zero, and that’s actually why I left Wall… right around the time I left Wall Street. And so lo and behold, I’m sitting there reading about this huge mold problem, which initially they thought was a half a million dollar problem.
It became a $5 million problem and then it became a $55 million problem. By the time the dust settled in the smoke cleared after they basically gutted the building threw everything away. Yeah, that was it was it was major headlines all over the real estate world at the time, and also, of course, all over Hawaii. And so I was, again there, spending some time after trying to figure out what my next career was going to be. And I read about this guy who got sick from the building that he was working in and the story was really interesting. It was like a deja vu but kind of in reverse. Because here this guy is in his 40s and he had been otherwise healthy and suddenly developed all the sensitivities to foods and and other environmental allergens that he’d always been fine with. And he developed adult onset asthma, which is what really caught my attention. I’d never even heard of that before. And so for me it was like the light the light bulb went on, because here I was four years old, I was I was ill from potentially some other irritant. And lo and behold, when I moved out, all my symptoms went away. And so I just wondered if mold was the issue. And I, and I thought about it for a while, and then contact my father. And I said, hey, you know, I just read this piece, and you had some questions and do you think we had a mold problem, and he just laughed at me. He said, of course, we had mold. You know, we had mushrooms in the basement, of course we had mold. And it was just so funny for him because he so flippantly just thought, well, of course, you know, basements have mold. That’s what the generation I grew up in, you know, my parents both smoked, I was asthmatic, they smoked in the car with the windows with the windows closed.
And it wasn’t for love for lack of care, it was a lack of awareness. And, and back then mold was was was was not even on the radar. And so, you know, the generation before that thought cigarettes were healthy. And you anyway, the bottom line is, I ended up having this, this this epiphany and I immediately realized that there was something here for me in terms of my curiosity, specifically not about mold, but that the way it buildings that we live and work in and impact our health. That’s really what interests me, that’s what that’s what drives me see, we spend 90% of our time indoors. And if you include transportation, some of us even spend more. Depending upon the climate in Dubai, we spend 99.9% of the time indoors. And so you started looking at what we’re so worried about the outdoor environment, outdoor air quality, pollution, etc, etc., but we’re not getting the adequate amount of time, or attention rather to the place where we spend most of our time. And the air that we have in our house is not just the most the air that we have most exposure to, it’s also the air that we constantly rebreathe.
So it would be like breathing in and out of a paper bag, we’re constantly breathing the same air over and over again. And so if there is a pollutant in the house whether it be mold, or chemicals like VOCs. You’re being chronically exposed to those particular compounds, and we know from other ailments that you know, chronic exposure to any one thing, any one thing is potentially harmful in the long run. And so bottom line is that when I look at this, this industry, when I when I thought was what everyone is so worried about so many things in their life that they can’t control. And here’s this one place where we have almost complete control over, our own domain.
Sean Morrissey 07:17
Yeah, and I mean, you bring up a great point and stating that so much of our lives is actually spent indoors. I mean, I’ve never thought about 90 to 95%. But certainly the last year, right COVID related everybody’s been indoors, especially north of you know, I guess the Mason Dixon Line, right, and we’re going to do with snow and all that stuff, too. So all those things considered, mold is really a topic that isn’t talked about enough, and I think that’s what makes it such a great topic today. So let’s go ahead, let’s, let’s dig into this a little bit and see what we can learn today. The first thing I wanted to talk about were, you know, the components necessary for mold to actually survive. So, you know, we’re aware of what mold is on a visual or maybe even like a smell characteristic, but we don’t necessarily understand why it’s there, how, why it wants to grow where it grows. And I’m hoping maybe you can explain that to us.
Jason Earle 08:11
Sure, well, first of all, a mold problem is a moisture problem. And so if you don’t have moisture, if you don’t have excess moisture, or if you don’t have if you have any sort of dampness for 24 to 48 hours or longer, you can start to get microbial growth. See the thing about mold is that mold is part of the Kingdom fungi, which is a massive part of our of our Earth’s biomass, a third of the Earth’s biomass is stuff that’s living where it was at one time living is actually fungi. And mold is just a small part of that. And molds job is to turn things back into dirt. It’s doing its job when it’s doing that to leaves in your yard. It’s not supposed to do that to your house. And so the reason that the by the way, mold spores are so ubiquitous. I mean, it is a fascinating statistic I just picked up the other day, that fungi… fungal spores generate 50 mega tons, 50 mega times, rather fungi generates 50 mega tons of spores every year, which is the equivalent of of 500,000 blue whales.
Sean Morrissey 09:19
Oh my goodness!
Jason Earle 09:20
Okay, so largest… largest source of biological particulate in the world. And that’s just that’s the kingdom fungi. So in terms of mold spores, they are everywhere, fungi, fungal spores are everywhere. And they’re like microscopic seeds just waiting for the right conditions to be present, specifically the right amount of moisture, the right temperature. They also require oxygen, which of course is all the stuff that we like we like a comfortable temperature, we like a little bit of moisture, and we have an oxygen rich environment.
So mold likes the same environment that we do, except it likes it when the bal… when the environmental balance tips into dampness and that’s when you start to see this the microscopic seeds or spores begin to germinate they begin to release enzymes, they start to digest what they’re whatever they’re on. And if that means a sheetrock its sheetrock, that’s that’s that they’re having it’s having for dinner today. Or if it’s leaves in your yard where it probably should be. And so in all cases, when you’ve got a moisture mold problem, you actually have a moisture problem. And people get distracted by the mold, because it’s smelly, and it makes you sick, and it’s ugly, and all that stuff. But at the end of the day, mold equals moisture.
Sean Morrissey 10:25
Okay, got it. So moisture is the primary culprit. However, oxygen room temperature, you brought up dampness of 24 to 48 hours can create mold growth, those are all gonna be the components necessary to create a, you know, I guess, a moldy environment per se.
Jason Earle 10:41
Right. So you can’t control those all the variables that are all components of, of an environment that’s conducive to mold, which is again, temperature, food source, you know, a lot like us, we have to have a couple of temperature, foods source, oxygen, and then of course, moisture. You can’t control any of those components, except for the moisture. And everything else is already sort of on the buffet, it’s already part of the, those are the resources available to to mold. And so a lot of people are like I said, they get distracted by the mold. And I actually am looking more and more at the building I’m playing with this metaphor as the as the building as a extension of the immune system, or more as a thought, a thought process. But it’s really a building is sort of an exoskin or an exoskeleton and protects you from the environment. In fact, it means shelter is one of the basic four human needs, right? It’s air, water, food, shelter, and people forget about that. They think that these are just the static things.
But really, we couldn’t survive without them much like a hermit crab, right? And so at the end of the day, how we how we what our relationship is like with our building dictates a lot of this. And if we’re just looking at at a building as like I said, a box made of sticks and sheetrock, then we’re not going to be able to really engage the way I’m suggesting. Because at the at the when you’re dealing with mold, you have to look at the building as a dynamic organism so to speak, which has a birthday and potentially a death day, the longevity of that building is contingent on how you care for it. And when you look at the aches and pains that buildings develop, again using the building as a body as a metaphor but buildings developed aches and pains just like when your body develops aches and pains, the first message you get is inflammation. The first building, the first message you get with a building is you get a little bit of a moisture issue a leak, right a little dampness. And the first thing that grows when you have that is moisture… is mold, right a little bit of dampness within, according to the EPA, just to reiterate, within 24 to 48 hours of uncontrolled dampness, you can have microbial growth. And so that first signal that you get is that musty odor. And that’s not that’s not mold being a bad guy or mold doing something nefarious, that’s mold actually sending you a signal that your building has, has has an issue to deal with. And like the body, if you don’t deal with inflammation, it will continue to grow.
And eventually that inflammation will become a call from acute inflammation, which is something you do deal with, you know, as a on an immediate basis to chronic inflammation, which can lead to other disease. Same thing happens with the body with with with the building, where you end up with the chronic dampness as opposed to an acute moisture issue. But you quickly clean up chronic dampness leads to the more aggressive types of molds to which are always headlines, black molds and toxic molds. Those are the symptoms of chronic dampness. Chronic dampness is its own disease, just like chronic inflammation can create your own disease. And so the bottom line is we’re really looking at mold as a signal as as as as a messenger, if you will, is a healthier way to look at mold growth in your building. That’s your first signal.
Sean Morrissey 13:50
Okay, cool. And, you know, I had another question I had in that same realm is you know, we’re familiar with mold, but I’m not necessarily familiar with the differences between mold and mildew. And I’m wondering, how would you differentiate those two, mold and mildew?
Jason Earle 14:04
So it technically speaking, mildew grows on plants outdoors. That’s actually that’s a very technical answer, believe it or not, because it’s actually a plant pathogen. But but but when we when we talk about the difference in mold and mildew indoors, what we’re talking about is mildew is typically… typically a hygiene related mold growth. So it would be the kind of stuff that grows in your tile in your bathroom, you know, around the, the the perimeter of your refrigerator gasket, right? This is a low level growth that doesn’t present the potential harm to anybody. Except for the extreme people with extreme sensitivities and those people do exist.
Mold is generally the same organism, but the distinction to make between mold and mildew might be more what’s the difference between mold because every house has some and a mold problem, right? Because the distinction between mold and a mold problem is similar to the distinction between mold and mildew. Mildew is really like I said that sort of basic hygiene, you know, you didn’t scrub the the implant tiles you haven’t been running your bathroom exhaust fan, your fan, you got that stuff that’s wrong. The difference between mold and the mold problem is very similar where mold can mold is is present in your house in a form of spores, may be present in small areas where there may be some mildew, but where you had any degree of significant mold of any mold growth, to any, to any degree of significance, where there’s an odor where people are starting to have symptoms. And certainly if there’s anything visible, that’s where you start to, to need to take some action.
Sean Morrissey 15:42
Got it? Okay, so how do we know the difference between whether a mold is toxic or non toxic?
Jason Earle 15:50
That’s a great question. It’s one of the most common questions that we get, because the media has done a great job of of sort of distilling and isolating one kind of mold that’s bad or a particular group of molds based on their color, which is of course, a hyper simplification that, you know, the news media does better than anybody. But the the bottom line is that there is there are moles that produce toxins. And those molds are, are, are actually indicative of chronic dampness. So there, they do, in fact, tell a story and they the health effects are, are not well studied, because you can’t really study with mold toxins on people. But the bottom line is that the conditions that are present that allow for those kinds of molds to grow are unhealthy for any human being by themselves.
Dampness is the enemy here. This is the key. And this is the takeaway that I always want people to have, which is that instead of looking at this symptom, like inflammation, that treating the inflammation, right? People used to treat the inflammation, just treat the inflammation, what’s the cause of inflammation? The dampness is the issue. And so the more serious the dampness, the more serious the issue. And so when it comes down to whether a mold is toxic or not, it’s kind of a fool’s a fool’s game. At the end of the day, believe it or not, some of those toxins are actually antibiotics, a lot of the of the, of the nearly 100,000 antibiotics that are that are that are out there, believe it or not, but 14,000 come from fungi.
Sean Morrissey 17:22
Jason Earle 17:23
Yeah. So so the toxins, mold toxins is a scientific term that’s been again appended as, as its own as this evil thing. In fact, by the way, mold toxins have been used as chemical weapons in the Iran Iraq War. It’s It’s widely believed that those pictures of people laying on the side of the street bleeding out of the orifices was from T-2 toxin, which is comes from, from a black mold cousin. But that being said, the exposure in homes, the question, there’s a big debate as to whether or not that that toxic mold even really does affect people indoors, if it would be inhalable, etcetera, in all cases, if you can get rid of that a whole entire argument, just say if you’ve got damp, if you’ve got mold growth, get rid of it. That’s it. And trying to try to figure out what kind of mold you have, whether it’s good, good or bad and there’s no such thing as good mold growth in your house, unless it’s in your refrigerator on the on the brie or in your beer.
Sean Morrissey 18:16
Well said, okay, so how do we go about controlling the mold environment? And I know you’re gonna first thing you’ll say is dampness but I guess, how do we go…what are some of the best tools we can use to control dampness? And then you know, with that in mind, you know, what are some ways we might be able to actually just kill mold? And I’m sure there’s some chemical cleaners, we just buy off the shelves, but I’m wondering what recommendations you have for each.
Jason Earle 18:38
Yes. So in terms of the, the best way to kill mold is you don’t, believe it or not. And this is kind of counterintuitive. Mold doesn’t actually need to be killed. In fact, all the things that you will use to kill mold, introduce a new toxin. There are some there are some peroxide based and some other more inert mold cleaners are important, they call people mold remediation chemicals, but in all cases, these are being used as, as a substitute for good old fashioned remediation. There is the industry standard, which is called the IICRC S520, the International Institute of cleaning and restoration contractors. They have a variety of different standards for water damage and mold remediation and other… other… other… other trades. And they specifically state that there is no use for biocides which is any chemical use to kill things or living biocide. And they specifically say not to use it unless they’re concerned about sewage or a bacterial issue, which does require sanitiation. But mold is because again, it’s it’s a normal part of our environment, the spores themselves the fungal growth, need to be combat symptoms that are that are the mess that mold makes needs to be cleaned up, but that needs to be cleaned up using HEPA filter vacuum cleaners and special wipes.
This is why mold remediation done by a qualified professional looks a lot different than then being done by maintenance staff. Mold Remediation done by a qualified professional will involve isolating the work area with poly, ventilating it with negative… creating a negative air pressure inside of it a lot like asbestos or lead paint or any other environmental remediation. And then a thorough removal of all of the building materials that cannot be clean. So that means sheetrock, sheetrock can’t be cleaned. Carpet…carpet padding cannot be cleaned, believe it or not, but everybody wants to do it. Ceiling tiles, anything porcelain absorbed that cannot be cleaned, those things are removed. And the rule of thumb is you remove everything that’s damaged and then everything within two feet. That’s that’s the porious stuff, you’re leaving behind anything that’s that’s structural, so studs, flooring, you know, joists, things like that. And any of the any of the structural members stay, you remove all the building materials that can’t be cleaned, and then you clean everything else. There is no place for for chemicals, whatsoever. And the reason for that is manifold. Number one, the point is to remove the toxins, not to add them. Number two, there is no place there is no need kill mold, it doesn’t make it easier to clean it. There’s all these all these uneducated suppositions that a lot of contractors, they think they’re going to pass clearance testing if they use the chemicals, they don’t understand how the clearance testing works. You know, there’s a lot, there’s a lot of misguided and I think well intended contractors out there that think that they’re going to do, and also they’re introducing a lot of these chemicals have associated odors, and those odors, do it… do it… do a doozy on people who have sensitivities to, to mold because mold sensitivities and chemical sensitivities often come hand in hand.
And you’ll see that any anybody who’s a landlord will on this show, will really appreciate that because the sensitive people that are renting from you, are sensitive to a lot. And there is actually there’s a there’s a diagnosis it’s called a toxin induced loss of tolerance or tilt. And it’s a it’s similar to multiple chemical sensitivities. And some people get it from mold exposure, believe it or not from chronic exposure, some people also get it from being exposed to chemicals for a long period of time, where they just develop this incredible sensitivity, it’s a reverse of an addiction, where they’re actually repellent to it. And they can really shut them down and basically those people use to be marginalized. And it used to be something like 1 or 2% of the population, and there’s estimates that it might be as much as 5% of the population. We have a chemical society, so we need to introduce less chemicals into our environment. And by removing mold, you’re helping to do that by not introducing chemicals during mold remediation. You’re further helping.
Sean Morrissey 21:58
Interesting. Yeah, makes good sense. Awesome. So what would you recommend when it comes to controlling dampness in a building? So that you can control the mold growth? Right, what would you…
Jason Earle 23:06
Well, so it depends on the climate, right, because every you know, in Canada, the moisture problems that you have is dependent upon the season may be derived from external… internal sources. You know, a lot of humidity from during, during the winter months gets trapped in in the in the northern territories. But when it comes down to the when it comes down to the south, you know, a lot of the moisture is actually coming in from the outside. And so you end up with a different dynamic in terms of where, how you’re how you’re managing the moisture in your building. But in all cases, the best thing for you to do is is is get get gauges, get good humidity gauges and place them wherever you think there might be a potential problem. The rule of thumb is you want to keep it between 40 and 60%, that’s according to ASHRAE, which is the American Society of Heating and Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers. 40% is the low end below that you start to get uncomfortable and people start to develop dry sinuses and things like that, which causes other issues. And then above 60% You start to develop the the possibilities or the increased possibilities of condensation and, and surface dampness especially in areas where you end up with mold growth and dust mites and all sorts of other things. Mold is the first is the is the first the first party that arrives when you’ve got dampness but along alongside of the come all these other creepy crawlies, you’ve got dust mites, mold mites, and mold mites rather.
And then behind them, you got various different insects that come in and eat those guys. And then and then next thing you know, you’ve got the rodents to come in and they eat the insects. It’s like that Old Mother Hubbard rhyme, right, where they just keep there’s an entire ecosystem. And so again, controlling the moisture keeps all of those guys from coming and so you want to make sure that you’re vigilant about running dehumidifiers in climates where that’s necessary. You want to make sure that you don’t turn off your air conditioning in vacant buildings, this is a huge, huge recommendation. You should not turn the heat off for that matter, in vacant buildings, you should keep the building as if people were living in it. If you don’t, then what happens is you end up inviting other creatures that like that climate. Right?
Sean Morrissey 25:31
Jason Earle 25:31
You create… you create… you’re creating an alternative ecosystem, if you will, or an ecology rather, which can create an alternative ecosystem. And so basically, if you have to treat that building as if people are living in it, otherwise, you’ll end up with condensation. I see, I see people all the time, this happens to schools every year. September is Mold Awareness Month, we created it about 15 years ago, because we still have so many schools open for for the new school year, and then close immediately thereafter, because the maintenance that went in and shampooed the rug, but turn off the AC, well, the AC is a big dehumidifier and they also didn’t extract all the water out. And next thing you know, you got steam bath in there, and we’d go in there and we see colonies the size of beach balls on the desks, and then the carpets and stuff. And so the bottom line is, you know, they’re trying to save whatever percent of their budget on on utilities, and they just blew out their budget with a $250,000 mold remediation bill.
Sean Morrissey 26:21
Yeah, and I think the point you’re making there, which is something I can relate to, as a housing provider here for almost 20 years, is that ultimately air movement is critical, right? And that’s the, that’s kind of the name of the game in conjunction with dampness. So for instance, this this summer I had an issue with a mansard roof, right, a roof that actually hangs over the side of a building. And I was having some mold issues in the corners of the drywall on the interior of a unit and what I came to found out was the ultimately the venting system on the mansard roof was completely clogged from years of having to breathe and ended up going through and switching out all the the ventilation, all the vents for that mansard roof and Bada bing bada boom, problem solved. So air movement coupled with controlling dampness seems to be the the best ways to control humidity and come in with that in mind control mold. I mean, is that is that fair to say at this point, based on our conversation?
Jason Earle 27:22
No doubt about it, you know, it ventilation is a big deal. proper insulation is also a big deal. Common problem people have in, in buildings, especially, that are poorly insulated, or that are a lot of, in a lot of these rent… rental situations that we’ve been in, the tenant complaints because there’s mold. We go in, check it out and you know, half the time it’s the building, half the time it’s lifestyle. And sometimes that lifestyle is simply that they have too much stuff too small, the place where it’s nature of an apartment, often, and, and so they’ll they’ll have some stuff stuffed in the corners. Now on the outside corners, it’s very common for people to move stuff suddenly, especially if it’s a closet, but outside corners, you move stuff and you and suddenly there’s mold all over that stuff, especially in the corners down by… down by the ground. And people think, oh my god, I’ve got a leak or what’s going on here.
But what’s happening is is that the all the moisture from the house is, is being generated from cooking and cleaning and showering and all this stuff. And the humidity rises above 60% in most cases, when this happens, and the moisture will we’ll just we’ll find the coldest spot. Well, the coldest spot is going to be right against that north corner wall down behind the the head of the… the… the headboard, so to speak, and where there’s stuff piled up against it and the warm, the room can’t get warm, that area can’t get warm and all the moisture condenses on there. So there are hidden issues like that, that pop up, which goes to your point about ventilation, you want to have as much ventilation as possible, you want to make sure that your roof assemblies are ventilated. The only exception to ventilation being the solution to a mold problem is in crawl spaces, believe it or not, and most crawl spaces are vented. And that actually is what causes the mold problems in crawl spaces. So it’s very counterintuitive. Yeah, those crawl spaces need to be closed up, sealed up and dehumidified. They need to no dirt crawl. You have to have either a vapor barrier or a slab. And yeah, crawl spaces are and this is setting up alarms for everyone here who owns buildings with crawl spaces, but we consider crawl spaces to be a building defect.
Sean Morrissey 29:31
Ah, interesting. Okay, awesome. That’s a piece of gold right there for our listeners. So crawl, crawl spaces ultimately can be considered a building defect. They should have a vapor barrier really preferably no dirt crawls and sealed off the best way possible with dehumidifier running year round, depending on the climate.
Jason Earle 29:49
You have some people…there’s… your listeners can Google this, I want to say crawlspaces.org but there’s a… there was a large study done in North Carolina, where they… they outline exactly how to do this. But basically crawl spaces that are not properly engineered, are…are considered a building defect. And so that would mean that they have to be either brought into the building envelope, heated and cooled just like the rest of the space, which means that generally have to be cleaned first or in new construction, you can do that, you know, proactively. But if it’s an existing crawlspace, you would probably not want to go through that.
And you’d end up just closing everything off insulating, insulating the foundation walls as best you can. And then and then dehumidifing in that space. Some people run supply lines down with a backflow damper just to get conditioned air down there to dilute it to reduce the humidity. But the bottom line is crawl spaces are a very expensive problem. And they are and also keep in mind that we’re running our utilities through there too. So that includes ducting, including supply vents, and more importantly, return vents which suck air from the space that they run through. So return vents are running through there and back a lot of times they carry the equipment is down there, which is just totally insane. And so you’re running your air supply, you’re running your lungs of your building through the probably the most unhealthy space in the structure.
Sean Morrissey 31:11
Yeah, no, no kidding. Okay, well, I guess that that creates reasons to get a high efficiency furnace and get some air from the outside. Yeah, no doubt about it. So what are some of the best ways we can test for mold this day and age?
Jason Earle 31:25
Well, so if you want to have your house tested for mold, right now, you can either go to Home Depot, and you’ll see that there’s all these little petri dish test kits at the checkout. Those are scientifically invalid, but they sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of those every year. And they’re basically petri dishes that you’re supposed to put on your counter and if it grows mold, that tells you something. Unfortunately, they always grow mold, you could do the same thing with a piece of damp white bread, it’s a sixth grade science experiment, you know, gone wrong. And, and by the way, if you’re concerned about mold in your house, if you’re concerned about mold growth in your house, the first thing you should do is probably not grow more, and that’s what these guys are advocating. But anyway, so that’s one side of the spectrum. The other side of the spectrum, is to hire a professional.
And this is often times the best step however, it is wrought with, with with various different pitfalls. Number one, it’s hard to find a qualified independent inspector. An independent inspector does not have a remediation business, his brother doesn’t have a remediation business. His cousin doesn’t have one, and they don’t. And the bottom line is that he doesn’t have any sort of financial relationships with anybody who’s a service provider repairs or remediation. And his job or her job would be to come in and do a proper inspection, assess the extent of the issue, develop a scope of work or remediation plan, and then help you select contractors or vet them. Then show up at the end to make sure that they’ve done their job and do the requisite testing. Air testing is this is the is this is the standard for mold testing using something called spore traps. There are lots of other kinds, there’s also ERMI, which is a DNA base, there are tests you can take for the musty smell, or for the VOCs. But in most cases, the most important part of an assessment is actually the inspector. And that’s what you’ll expect to spend $1,500 or more for an average inspection, I’m sure you can get get them a lot cheaper, especially if if you’ve got an existing relationship with someone. But the most important part is that there’s no conflict of interest and, and that they are properly trained in mold. And because home inspectors are patently unqualified for this, you want to you can go on iaqa.org to find a professional. ACAC is another organization that’s… that’s reputable, that certifies indoor air quality professionals. Awesome, so iaqa.org. IAQA and ACAC. Now right in the middle of between this, this this big spectrum of $10 test kits that don’t work and $1,500 Professional inspections. And it’s very hard to find these qualified professionals. They’re not that many of them and, and quite frankly, they’re busy. And they also don’t market themselves very well. You know, they’re technicians. And oftentimes they’re very independent. There’s no national company 1-800-GOT-MOLD? our mold inspection business, it just…we only cover the the tri state area, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, I guess, Connecticut and Delaware as well. But you know, there just aren’t many that are bigger than then these regional companies like ours. And right in the middle of this the spectrum though, are some Do It Yourself test kits that allow you to use the same devices the professionals use, but instead of 1000 or $1,500, you might spend, you know 100 200 $250 and that’s what we created was the Got Mold? Test Kit. That’s the reason that we created it was because there really is this vast span of of options, all of which are confusing and few of which are valid.
And so we did was we, we did a deal with the number one lab in the country, EMLab P&K, and…and so they’re our exclusive partner. And so for, for starting at $149, you can go if you go to gotmold.com you can test the air in up to three rooms without any the cost or hassle of finding and hiring a professional. And and so this gives you the same the same exact devices which is we use spore trap technique, the same same one used by inspectors all over the world. And and we get you the same quality results, the same accredited results from from the top lab in the country for a fraction of what a professional costs. So…
Sean Morrissey 35:43
Yeah, yes. How can our listeners actually find out where to buy a mold kit like that or just find out more information about you as we wrap up today’s show?
Jason Earle 35:51
Yeah, sure. So we for your listeners, we put together a page or welcome page at gotmold.com/landlordingforlife and there we have a discount coupon, you can for 10% off of any of our test kits, as well as an ebook that we put together. Do people still call it ebooks? I feel so 1999 saying ebook,
Sean Morrissey 36:16
It’s still a thing in my world.
Jason Earle 36:18
Still a thing. So it’s a digital guide, it’s… it’s called How to Find Mold and it’s… it’s filled with inspection checklists and FAQs. And a lot of the stuff we’ve talked about today, some of the counterintuitive stuff about you know, cleaning agents and biocides and stuff like that. We talked about all that stuff in there. And so that’s also there for free. For for your listeners, we get a lot of a lot of really positive feedback on that…on that.
Sean Morrissey 36:44
Love it, man. Yeah, I mean, this was this is a topic I’ve been wanting to talk about for some time. Very landlord housing provider specific. Something everybody deals with, right, but probably doesn’t want to talk about because it’s it’s yucky stuff. But indoor air quality, folks, that’s the way to go. So Jason, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it.
Jason Earle 37:04
Yeah, thank you, Sean.
Sean Morrissey 37:05
Yeah, you betcha. So as we wrap up today, if you liked what you heard, make sure you leave a positive review on your favorite podcast platform. And we’ll see everybody back next week with another great episode. Until that time, everybody thanks and we’ll see you soon. Bye bye.
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Sean Morrissey 38:12
The views and opinions of this podcast are of its host or its guests. They do not reflect the views and opinions of Chicagoland Realty Group Partners or Chicago Land Leasing and Property Management Incorporated. Any advice provided should be reviewed with no financial, tax, or legal professional and should not be considered personal information. This presentation is for educational purposes only and is deemed reliable but we do not guarantee timeliness or completeness.