Four-legged inspectors excel at sniffing out mold  – Orange County Register

Everybody uses tools in their daily home and work life.

Gardeners use mowers, blowers, and hoes. Roofers use tar paper, hammers, and nails. Lenders use spreadsheets and calculators. Accountants use ledgers and tax codes. Homemakers and housekeepers use detergent, sponges, and vacuum cleaners.

Some home inspectors use moisture detectors, water pressure gauges, infrared thermometers, and mold detecting dogs.

That got your attention.

Mold detecting dogs are trained to “alert” for at least 18 kinds of mold deemed harmful to human beings. Their training is similar to bomb-sniffing dogs and drug-sniffing dogs.

Some home inspectors use mold-sniffing dogs to augment their tool kits. While the inspector cannot see behind a wall, dogs trained to sniff for mold will “alert” by sitting down in front of an area where they detect mold.

The home inspector can then do a more in-depth investigation in that area, pulling back the baseboard, cutting a small hole in the dry wall, or pulling out all of the contents of the bathroom or kitchen cabinet (I’ve seen them do both) based on where the dog alerts.

This additional investigation may also lead to spore sampling. This is a process where the inspector pulls a sample of the material, seals it in a vial, identifies it, and ships it off to an independent laboratory for analysis.

You see, the mold-sniffing dog can tell you where it is, but he can’t tell you what it is or how much of it there is.

As a homebuyer, if you use a home inspector with a mold-sniffing dog, be prepared to pay extra for that. Mold-sniffing dogs are fairly rare in Orange County. And their training and re-certification is not cheap.

Once the dogs have been trained and certified, they are required to be recertified every six months after that.

And if the dog alerts during your inspection, I strongly suggest you also pay for the sampling. Most sellers will deny they have a mold issue unless hard evidence is provided. So if you do find something,…

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