Everyone at some time or another has scrubbed mildew out of their shower or tossed out a fuzzy green leftover sandwich they forgot about in the back of the fridge.
But mold is sneaky, and it can quickly become a problem that overwhelms homeowners. Imagine what you’d do if you opened up your crawl space to get out the Halloween decorations and found everything coated with little black flecks of mold.
To protect yourself and your family in these situations, it’s probably best to call in the pros. But how much does mold remediation cost? And how disruptive will the process be? Don’t worry; we’ve got all the answers here.
Help! I’ve Got Mold in My House
Don’t panic! You’re not alone. Far from it, in fact. A University of Arizona study found that 100 percent of homes in the U.S. will test positive for mold. That doesn’t mean, though, that every home has a mold problem.
Mold is ubiquitous in our environment, and it’s a good thing, as mold is nature’s garbage disposal. It quite literally eats decaying organic matter, breaking things down so we’re not up to our throats in detritus. When it starts eating your drywall and makes your kid sick, that’s when you know you have a mold problem — a potentially expensive problem, at that.
Is Mold Dangerous?
Mold’s dangers are contingent on a few factors: how long you’re exposed to it, the size of the infestation, the type of mold, and how sensitive you and your family members are to mold allergies.
Simply put, most common household molds aren’t life-threatening or even particularly dangerous unless you or your family members are sensitive, immunocompromised, or have respiratory illnesses.1 That said, you don’t want to be in a moldy environment for any extended amount of time. Building dampness and mold raises the risk of a variety of respiratory problems and asthma-related outcomes by 30 to 50 percent.2
With that understood, how do you know if you need to call in the big guns when you spot mold? And how much is it going to cost?
How Much Does Mold Remediation Cost?
There are many factors that go into determining how much mold remediation will cost. The size and location of the infestation are two of the big ones, but we’ll get into those in just a bit.
For the most part, mold remediation costs between $10 and $25 per square foot of growth.3 It’s important to note, though, that you might not be seeing the totality of the problem right off the bat. If mold is growing beneath your floorboards or in your carpeting, you’re going to have to pay a lot more for removal and replacement.
Pro Tip: Don’t assume your homeowners insurance will cover the cost of mold remediation. Standard policies don’t cover the damage caused by mold or the cost of cleaning it up. For that, you’ll need a special rider. Learn more in our guide to mold insurance.
The total cost of a mold remediation project can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars — it all depends. Let’s unpack some of those factors now.
Pricing Out Mold Remediation
As mentioned, the biggest factors in how much your mold remediation will cost are the size and location of the problem. Let’s take a look at some of the most common locations of mold and the general cost of removal.
Mold Locations and Removal Costs
|Basement||$500 to $3,000||Basements are notoriously leaky and a common location for mold problems. Professional remediation will identify and help fix the source of the problem.|
|Crawl space||$500 to $2,000||Most crawl spaces are small, meaning the area of contamination won’t be unmanageable; however, they are also difficult to access and work in, so costs could be high.|
|Air ducts||$600 to $2,000||Moldy air ducts will blow spores all around your home, encouraging growth elsewhere. After remediation, have them cleaned twice a year.|
|Drywall||$1,000 and up||Because of drywall’s porous nature, it’s difficult to remove mold from it. Mold remediation involving drywall usually involves removing and replacing the affected materials|
|Bathroom||$500 to $10,000||Most of the time, bathroom mold is surface-level, meaning it’s easy to remediate. However, if demolition and reconstruction are needed to remove mold in areas that are difficult to see and reach, the costs can pile up.|
|HVAC system||$1,500 to $10,000||Depending on the complexity and type of system, HVAC mold remediation costs can swing dramatically.|
|Attic||$1,000 to $4,000||Attics are generally easy to access, but they are prone to leaks and poor ventilation. Additional repairs might be required to make sure mold doesn’t return.|
|Entire home||$10,000 to $30,000||Whole-home remediation is usually only required after a major disaster like a hurricane or flood. It can also be needed if a property is abandoned for a long time. Costs will depend on the size of the home and the extent of the damage.4|
The type of mold the remediator will be removing will also be a factor. Some molds simply grow on surfaces and are relatively easy to scrub off. Others eat down into materials like drywall and wood, which will require removal and replacement of the affected area. Finally, some molds are more hazardous than others and might require specialists or whole-house ventilation while working.
Now we understand that these figures might cause your jaw to drop, but it’s important to understand exactly what you’re paying for and what the process involves. Before we get to that, though, you might be asking yourself if all of this is really necessary.
Do I Really Need a Mold Remediation Professional?
There is no real way to determine what type of mold you’re dealing with just by looking at it with the naked eye, so you should treat any mold as a potential problem. With that in mind, it all comes down to the size of the contamination.
The EPA recommends calling in a professional if the contamination exceeds 10 square feet,5 but sometimes it can be difficult to tell exactly how big your problem is, as it could be growing under the floors, behind the walls, or in your insulation.
Now some sources recommend getting your home inspected for mold, but that might be an unnecessary step. There’s no baseline for problematic levels of mold, and all an inspector can do is crawl around in hard-to-reach areas with a flashlight, look for water damage, and search for evidence of mold.6 If you already see it — or smell it — you know you have it. Thankfully, mold leaves clues!
FYI: Mold inspection and mold testing are two different things. A mold inspection will help you figure out whether or not you have a mold problem, whereas a mold test will identify the types of mold present in your home. The latter might not be of much use to you, as you should be looking to get rid of it, regardless of the type.7
There’s no hard-and-fast rule as to when you need professional help. A good rule of thumb is if you consider it to be a problem, you should probably hire a mold remediation company.
What to Expect During Mold Remediation
Mold remediation is more than just a simple scrubdown. Remediation involves the removal, cleaning, and disinfecting of mold-contaminated materials and surfaces, and it takes measures to ensure mold won’t return.8
While every situation is different, this process could involve the following:
- Isolation of mold in a containment area: Closing doors and windows and putting up polyethylene sheeting will seal off the contamination from the rest of the house.
- Controlling airborne spores: This is done by misting the contaminated areas with water.
- Vacuuming moldy surfaces: This will remove the majority of surface mold and particulate matter.
- Ventilating the home: If mold levels are dangerous, external fans and ductwork might be installed to make the working environment safer.
- Removal of moldy material: All mold-contaminated materials will be properly disposed of to ensure more spores aren’t released.
- Cleaning and drying wet materials: If materials are going to be replaced, they are disinfected and dried completely.
- Cleaning of non-porous material: If material is non-porous, like tile or stone, it is wiped down and disinfected.
- Disinfection and encapsulating surfaces: Some surfaces, particularly in basements and crawl spaces, might need to be encapsulated to prevent mold from returning.
- Repair of plumbing leaks: This will also help prevent mold from coming back.
- Repairing and replacing materials: Some companies can replace materials that were removed in the process or will have partners such as drywall contractors that can help.
How Long Does Mold Remediation Take?
Similar to the project’s cost, how long it will take depends on the severity of your mold problem. If your entire home needs to be remediated, you might be looking at a few weeks. If the project is relatively simple, you might be looking at a few hours. Generally speaking, though, typical mold remediation projects take between one and five days.9
What Qualifications Should I Look for In a Mold Remediation Company?
Finding a good mold remediation company is a bit like finding a good auto mechanic. In many states, anyone with a toolbox and a business license can call themselves a mechanic, so reputation and word of mouth are what counts.
There are no federal or state mold remediation licenses,10 so you might want to ask which certifications or credentials the contractor you’re considering has. For those who might not know the difference, a license is something issued by a governing body that is required for work in a particular field, while a certification is a credential offered by a third party that is recognized within a certain industry.11 Ask about their involvement with the Mold Inspection Consulting and Remediation Organization, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors, or the Professional Mold Inspection Institute.12
Pro Tip: Beware of scams. If your area has been hit by a natural disaster, scam artists might be offering mold remediation services. Don’t trust companies that offer free mold testing with remediation services – they have an incentive to find mold in your home – and watch out for remediators that want to use opaque sealant. Oftentimes that indicates they didn’t do a good job of cleaning the mold in the first place.
And like we said above, reputation is extremely important. Research different companies online and read reviews. If possible, ask for references. The more folks there are who have had a good experience with the company, the better.
How Can I Save Money on Mold Remediation?
There aren’t really any “hacks” for saving money on mold remediation. There are no wink-and-nudge tactics for cost-cutting, and if you’re dealing with a reputable company, they’re not going to ask you to pay for services you don’t need.
The best way to save money on mold remediation is to get several quotes from professionals in your area. Don’t tell them what others quoted you or what problems different consultations revealed. With quotes in hand, review the services recommended and the prices for each. At this point, you can make an informed decision and potentially save some money.
Then, when the mold remediation is complete, you still want to make sure the mold doesn’t return.
How Do I Prevent Mold From Coming Back?
Once your remediators come through, your home should be free of mold and the problems that caused it in the first place addressed. However, that doesn’t mean you’re totally in the clear. If a house had mold in it once, there’s always the chance it could come back.13 To prevent this from happening, do the following:
- Control the levels of moisture and humidity in your home.
- Insulate surfaces that are prone to condensation.
- Invest in a dehumidifier.
- Make sure your home is well ventilated.
- Be vigilant about checking for leaks around fixtures, plumbing, and windows.
- Clean your gutters regularly.
Remember, mold’s best friend is moisture. If you can keep your home dry, you’re more likely to never see mold rear its ugly head again.
That said, you might be wondering if all of this is really necessary. Won’t mold eventually just dry up and die off?
Will Mold Go Away on Its Own?
Do not make the mistake of thinking mold will go away on its own. If mold appears to have gone away without any intervention, that simply means it has gone dormant and will return once conditions are right again.14
Pro Tip: If you’re going to clean mold on your own, use a commercial mold cleaner or diluted bleach. Make sure you’re wearing a mask and gloves, as well as clothing that covers your arms and legs.
If you ignore the problem, it’s only going to get worse. And if it gets worse, you’re all but ensuring you’ll need a professional to remove it for you.
Final Thoughts on Mold Remediation Cost
Mold can be a huge problem for families, especially families with young children or aging adults in the home. And it can be a nightmare to deal with on your own. If you try to do it yourself — especially in areas with large areas of contamination or in parts of your house where mold is prone to grow — it can feel like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back.
If you’re tired of fighting mold on your own, or if you feel like your mold problem is too much to handle, calling in a mold remediation specialist is absolutely the right decision. Although it isn’t cheap, the health of your loved ones might depend on it.
Mold Remediation FAQs
All mold remediation projects are unique and depend on the size of the affected area and the type of mold that needs to be removed. That said, mold remediation typically costs between $10 and $25 per square foot.
It can be difficult to tell if you can take care of a mold problem yourself or if you need professional help. The EPA recommends calling remediation specialists if the contaminated area exceeds 10 square feet.
Testing a home for mold will do little to inform your decision on remediation. It will simply tell you what kinds of mold spores are present in the home, not if you have a problem.
Ask for certifications and credentials, past experience, and references. If a mold remediation professional is unable to provide these items, they might not be a good fit.
Mold can certainly be bad for your health, particularly if you’re exposed to high quantities for an extended period of time. Most common household molds, though, are not life-threatening.