Follow these instructions to take a client supplied mold tape lift sample.
A client-supplied mold sample is much cheaper that an onsite visit; but there are drawbacks.
A client-supplied mold sample will not tell the source of the water intrusion that is causing the mold growth. Most of all you won’t know the extent of the mold spore contamination of your contents. If you don’t fix the water leaks or sources of water, there is a high degree of probability that the mold will return.
If you are considering litigation, this should be a first step to determine if you have an issue.
You should not use the client supplied mold sample in a court case because you can’t prove that the sample you took was from the mold that is the source of your complaints. It’s called a Chain of Custody. Your attorney can advise your further.
A tape lift sample will tell you if you have mold growth in the discoloration where you took the sample.
To take a successful mold tape lift sample, carefully follow these directions.
- Turn a zip‐lock sandwich bag inside out.
- Tear off a piece of clear (not frosted) scotch tape approximately the length of your pinky finger.
- Fold a tab on the strip of tape to enable pulling the tape off sampled surface.
- Take the piece of tape and press lightly against the discoloration to cover as much of the tape as possible. Be sure you can see through the probable mold on the tape. If not, take another sample. Press LIGHTLY.
- Place the tape as flat as possible onto the inside‐out zip‐lock sandwich bag.
- Fold the zip‐lock baggie right‐side‐out and seal the grooved top.
- Label the zip‐lock baggie with a Sharpie indicating both the date and the location of the sample.
- If possible, also photograph the area of the sample and submit it with your sample.
- The total price for 1 sample and report is $125. Any additional samples cost $75 each.
- Please sign the Client Supplied Mold Tape Lift Sample Agreement and enclose with payment, a photo if possible of where you took the sample.
Send the samples to
American Air Testing
PO Box 12479
San Francisco, CA 94112
Results should be received three business days after receipt of the sample. Please call or email and let us know when the sample has been mailed or delivered. Your results will be emailed to you.
The San Francisco Building Department is now issuing mold Notices of Violation for visible mold inside living units.
This NOV is a relatively new program for the SFBD, but we have seen several NOVs for mold. Usually, an NOV will also include any peeling or flaking paint, interior or exterior.
The EPA has started enforcing the lead-based paint rules as they relate to children. Indoor mold growth is an issue in foggy (humid) San Francisco, NOVs were a natural progression for the SFBD.
Interior mold growth can become harmful to human health, impacting children and seniors more than adults.
Also, water that causes mold to grow will cause structure and contents damages.
There are new California and City laws that took effect on January 1, 2016. The biggest change is SB655, or the Mold Housing Act. This follows the 2001 Toxic Mold Protection Act that primarily ordered a study to try to determine what level of mold is harmful to human health. That’s not possible with current technology.
Now we have Senate Bill 655. Codified as Civil Code § 1941.7, and Health and Safety Code §§ 17920 and 17920.3
California Apartment Association’s YouTube:
This Bill now provides that a landlord has no obligation to repair a dilapidation relating to visible mold until the owner has received notice of the mold problem. So tell your landlord! But first, read the law yourself.
This bill specifies that visible mold growth, except mold that is minor and found on surfaces like shower tile, that can accumulate moisture as part of their proper and intended use, is a type of inadequate sanitation and therefore a substandard condition. The bill defines mold as microscopic organisms or fungi that can grow in damp conditions in the interior of a building.
As initially introduced, SB 655 would have added mold to the conditions that make housing substandard. The bill was amended at California Apartment Association’s request.
Under the current bill, a property cannot be declared substandard unless a code enforcement officer makes the identification that the visible mold exists to the extent that it endangers the occupants. A property owner is not responsible for mold that is minor and found on surfaces that can accumulate moisture as part of their properly functioning and intended use, such as bathroom showers and the like. Under current law, the term “any nuisance” found in the health and safety code is used by code enforcement and tenant attorneys to make claims against the property owner about mold in the housing and the conditions surrounding mold growth.
What does this mean for the rental housing industry?
While the new law does add “visible mold” to the list of conditions that can make a property substandard or untenantable, SB 655 offers property owners some protections from bogus claims of mold contamination:
- Visibility: The mold growth must be visible. No more air tests that tenants and their attorneys attempt to use to delay evictions and avoid the payment of rent.
- Confirmation: The mold must be determined by a health officer or code enforcement officer to rise to a level that endangers the life, limb, health, property, safety or welfare of the public or the occupants. No more last minute tenant self-declarations that the mold exists.
- Location: The law excludes from the substandard code mold that is minor and found on surfaces that can accumulate moisture as part of their properly functioning and intended use – such as bathroom showers and window sills.
- Notification: The owner must have received notice that the mold exists to have any obligations under the law.
- Accessibility: The law makes clear that the landlord has the right to enter the property to make repairs and clean up any reported mold. In some situations, today, a landlord receives notice, but the tenant refuses to allow the owner in to address the issue.
- “An authoritative reference book suggests two additional ways in which the implied warranty of habitability may be violated. The first is the presence of mold conditions in the rental unit that affect the livability of the unit or the health and safety of tenants… Even if a rental unit is unlivable because of one of the conditions listed above, a landlord may not be legally required to repair the condition if the tenant has not fulfilled the tenant’s own responsibilities.”
If you are looking for a credentialed toxic mold consultants outside San Francisco Bay Area here is a link to our national toxic mold inspectors certification organization:
American Council for Accredited Certification
With this link, you can search by the zip code of your project.
Experience with Peer Reviewed Credentials is SO Important to the Success of Your Job!
The ACAC is the most widely recognized credentialing organization in the US. When issuing certifications to toxic mold consultants, candidates’ must have work experience. Also, credential candidates must pass proctored tests on required courses. Hint: look for a toxic mold expert that has the lowest credential number because that person will probably have the most experience.
If you are outside of California, check with your state or local governments to determine if your toxic mold consultant needs a license. States like Texas require an license. No licenses are available to trained mold professionals in California.
If you still have questions or concerns that your chosen consultant can’t address, please give us a call.
There have been a lot of recent changes in laws that govern landlord-tenant relationships in San Francisco.
One of the most notable is SB655.
The California Apartment Association did a marvelous job of limiting certain provisions in SB 655.
It is cheaper and easier to listen to your tenants’ issues and respond to them.
A polite, responsible discussion among adults can usually correct mold related problems. However, if routine maintenance is neglected for many years and there are multiple roof patches, etc., etc., then yes, it’s going to get expensive.
The only thing landlords have to sell is time (occupancy). If the “polite, respectful discussion” collapses into screaming and threats, expect it to cost everyone a lot of money. You loose the tenants and have a vacant unit. Your insurance goes up. The City can become a costly issue to repairs.
Yes, some tenants that will say anything when they can’t pay the rent. And yes, a few tenants that will allow thirty people to live, shower and cook in a studio apartment (this is guaranteed to cause mold growth). But there are also landlords that don’t repair toilets for rent controlled tenants, so there is poo all over the floor.
You can’t clean up the mold with bleach. All it will do is lighten the paint – the mold will return. You have to find and fix the leak.
You can reduce interior humidity from showers and cooking by installing a humidistat bathroom fan. This is wired by your electrician and goes on anytime the interior humidity exceeds 52%. This will create a less favorable environment for mold to grow. It’s noisy. But it works. There is no off switch.
We also encourage you to visit the unit of concern and see for yourself.
Then give us a call to discuss your specific issues.
The Right Way
Trained workers properly clothed and masked. Engineering controls correctly set up and working. Ducting well sealed. Electrical wiring for machinery and lights correctly installed.
The Wrong Way
No containment or engineering controls (the carpet is not even covered). No worker training, no containment, no engineering controls, no worker safety clothing or mask with a worker spraying an unknown chemical after a very poor white paint encapsulation attempt. And the source of the water that caused the mold (below grade perimeter wall not sealed well) has not been fixed.
Air Purifiers Buying Guide from Consumer Reports
Before you buy an air purifier, try some simple, common-sense steps to reduce indoor air pollution. Begin by often vacuuming, banning smoking indoors, minimizing the use of candles and wood fires, and using exhaust fans in kitchen, bath, and laundry areas. Test your home for radon gas, which can cause lung cancer (test kits cost about $15). Don’t store chemicals, solvents, glues, or pesticides in your house. Minimize the risk of deadly carbon monoxide gas by properly maintaining and venting heating equipment, wood stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, and vents–and by installing carbon monoxide alarms on all levels of your home. And don’t idle your car, run fuel-burning power equipment, or light a barbecue grill in your garage, basement, or in confined spaces near your home.
Better air purifiers do especially well at filtering pollutant particles such as dust, tobacco smoke, and pollen. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other types of gaseous pollutants, however, are another matter.
Some portable models with carbon pre-filters are claimed to filter VOCs, known respiratory irritants that arise from adhesives, paints, and cleaning products. But the Environmental Protection Agency warns that such
filters are specific to certain gaseous pollutants, not for others and that no air purifiers are expected to remove all gaseous pollutants found in the typical home. Carbon filters also must often be replaced, typically every 3-6 months, or they stop working–and can even, when full, release trapped pollutants back into the air. The safer course: Heed strict product label warnings such as “use only in well-ventilated spaces.”
Air-purifier models with an electrostatic precipitator remove pollutant particles by charging them as they pass through and collecting them on an oppositely charged metal plate or filter. In the process, they produce some ozone as a byproduct. You’ll also find dedicated ozone generators, which produce relatively large amounts of this gas by design. While ozone in the upper atmosphere protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, ground- level ozone is an irritant that can worsen asthma and compromise your ability to fight respiratory infections. We believe that air purifiers that emit even small amounts of ozone are a poor choice if someone in your
household has pulmonary problems or allergy symptoms. We also suggest that you avoid dedicated ozone generators entirely, given their high ozone emissions.
The very best portable models we tested were effective at cleaning the air of dust, smoke, and pollen at high or low speed. For whole-house purifiers, our recommended models did best at filtering dust and pollen without impeding airflow of forced-air heating and cooling systems. The worst models weren’t terribly efficient at any speed.
How to choose
If you want a purifier and don’t have a forced-air system, consider a large portable. In addition to removing more particles at high speeds, the better large models still did well at lower, quieter speeds.
Weigh features carefully. Most air purifiers have an indicator that tells you when first to clean or replace the filter to maintain efficiency. But some indicators turn on based on length of time the unit has been running, not how dirty the filter is. Skip odor-removal features. In past tests, it took up to an hour for them to make a difference–when they did anything at all.
And the certifications on the box? All tell how well a model filters particles at its highest speed. The certifications all also allow up to 50 parts per billion of ozone, a respiratory irritant. We advise against using models that produce any ozone, even if they are effective cleaners.
Check an air purifier’s efficiency rating
If you still want one, use this air purifier guide to picking the appropriate model for your circumstances. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers certifies most room models as part of a voluntary program that includes appropriate room size and maximum clean-air delivery rate (CADR), a measure of cleaning speed. We judge a CADR above 350 to be excellent and below 100 to be poor. Choose a model designed for an area larger than yours for better cleaning at a lower, quieter speed. Many whole-house filters list a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV), developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. The top performers in our tests typically had a MERV higher than 10.
How to Launder Washable Items that have Settled Mold Spores
If there is visible discoloration or mold growth on a cloth item, it should be discarded or professionally cleaned by a mold remediation company.
- Wash load for three complete cycles.
- Use regular detergent combined with a small amount of bleach.
- Use the highest water possible.
- After three cycles, wipe down the interior of the washing machine bin with a baby wipe or a Lysol- type of wipe.
- Dry laundered items. During the drying cycle check the lint filter frequently. Clean it out and replace. Keep drying until the lint filter can’t collect any more lint.
- Smell the items. If they are moldy smelling, they need to be discarded and replaced. If the items have a high monetary or sentimental value please contact a professional mold remediation company before discarding.
How to Save a Child’s Stuffed Animal
- Open a seam (or other) of the fabric and remove all stuffing. Do this work outside on a windy day. I want the mold spores to blow away and not settle in your house or up your nose.
- Throw the stuffing away sealed in a plastic bag.
- Follow the instructions above to wash the fabric.
By doing the steps outlined below the chances of mold returning are greatly reduced.
Have mold validation or clearance testing performed after the mold remediation company has completed the removal and before any interior reconstruction begins.
Keep the area’s plastic containment in place with the air handlers/scrubbers on until your remediation company turns them off. That equipment is turned off and immediately placed inside a plastic bag that is sealed. Otherwise, there will be backflow that will/may recontaminate the cleaned area.
So, you’ve got the mold validation/clearance document in your hand and all that noisy equipment is gone. To make sure the mold doesn’t return, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is to confirm the water intrusions are repaired completely. Where there is water mold is likely to regrow.
If you have to restore bathrooms or kitchens consider using a DensArmour product. This is widely used for new commercial buildings. It’s made from glass and can’t grow mold. There are companion mud and tape products. Most larger hardware stores have these products in stock.
After flooding or water intrusion, if the professional drying process is started, the probability of mold growth will be significantly reduced. Verify with infrared that the area is dry before removing equipment.
Interior relative humidity should register at or below 52%. At or above this level of moisture in the ambient air creates a favorable environment for mold growth.
To ensure regular use of bath exhaust fans, they should be put on a timer or motion sensor with a 15-minute delay. Opening the bathroom window is not an adequate substitute.
Bath, kitchen, and laundry clothes dryers exhaust ducts should be routed to vent to the exterior of the building and not into attics or crawlspaces. Commercial laundry facilities should not exhaust close to air handlers. Laundry clothes dryer exhaust vents should be regularly cleaned out as a preventative maintenance measure against fires as well as to ensure proper ventilation.
Interior perimeter walls should be insulated. If there is a constant significant temperature differential between the interior and exterior temperatures with no insulation, then condensation buildup inside of the wall cavities is probable and can lead to mold growth.
Rain gutters and down spouts should be cleaned out at least once per year or more often depending on surrounding vegetation. It is also recommended that gutter guards be installed on rain gutters to prevent excessive debris from entering and clogging the system. All downspouts should drain water a minimum of 18 inches from the perimeter of the building, and can be extended easily if need be.
Exterior irrigation sprinkler systems should be directed away from buildings. Whenever possible, sprinkler systems should be replaced with drip irrigation.
Vegetation around the perimeter of the building should be cut and maintained a minimum of 18 inches from the perimeter of the building to prevent holding moisture against the perimeter of the building.
Sump pumps should be tested at least once per year to be operational around Halloween right before our traditional rain and colder weather season.
Bleach should not normally be used to combat a mold issue. Bleach is a water based product and so it is only adding fuel to the fire, so to speak. Bleach also will not address the initial source of the moisture that caused the mold to develop in the first place. If an area of discoloration has been bleached or removed by other means, and the mold growth comes back in under 30 days, this is a sign of a more significant problem that needs to be professionally assessed and may require professional remediation.
Single-paned glass windows allow interior condensation buildup and subsequent saturation of surrounding building materials. All single-paned glass windows should be replaced with double paned glass whenever possible.