How Much Does Mold Remediation Cost?
Once you know there’s mold in your home, you’ll need to act quickly to remove it before it spreads. The average cost of mold remediation is between $10 and $25 per square foot, but there are several factors that can affect your total expenditure.
- Typical Range: $1,120 to $3,325
- National Average: $2,214
Mold is one of a homeowner’s worst nightmares: The hidden nature of the problem, the perceived danger of inhaling mold spores, and the unknown components and expense of removal combine to make mold remediation a problem nobody wants to tackle. There are many elements of mold growth and mold removal that affect the overall cost of removal, including the location and type of the mold, the size of the problem, and the kind of remediation that is necessary. Treating mold can be as simple as a bleach wash or as complex as removing panels of drywall and tile to deep clean beneath the surface, but regardless of how large your mold problem is, there’s a way to correct it. Everyone has some mold in their house: It’s important to understand that complete removal of every spore is impossible, so the term “mold removal” refers to the excision of a particular growth, not the prospect of rendering the home completely mold-free. The presence of mold is not an indicator of the cleanliness of the house, but rather the presence of moisture that probably needs to be corrected. Assessing the source and size of the problem will help you estimate how much you’ll need to spend to excise any dangerous mold from your home.
Factors in Calculating Mold Remediation Cost
The largest determiners of the cost to remove mold are the location, size, and type of mold, along with the cost of labor in your area. Mold that is hidden from view or difficult to access will be more challenging to abate, and therefore will cost more in time and labor. Unsurprisingly, large growths will be more costly to remove, as will certain types of mold that are resistant to mold remover, aggressive spreaders, or particularly dangerous to breathe in.
Location in the Home
A couple of mold spots on the bathroom wall are easy to hit with a spritz of bleach or other appropriate remover. Concealed or difficult-to-access areas, however, could require demolition or a belly-crawl through the dark recesses of the basement or crawl space, something even the bravest homeowners would prefer to hire a professional to do. The location will determine the best course of removal and whether you need to hire professional assistance.
- Attic: Attic mold removal has a wide cost range for several reasons. On one hand, attics are usually open spaces with easy access, which can keep costs below the average range of $1,000 to $4,000. However, attics are also often dark, poorly ventilated, and exposed to dampness from vents and roof leaks. If the mold problem in the attic has been ongoing, removal costs could read as much as $7,000, in addition to the potential need for roof repairs to correct the source of the problem.
- Basement: If you have mold growing in a damp basement, it’s a great idea to hire a professional to assess and potentially remove the problem, in part because unless there’s an obvious leak, it can be difficult to find the source of the mold in a basement, and also because it can be hidden behind paneling or finished walls, and a professional will probably do a better job of sussing out the larger scope of the growth. In general, professional abatement of basement mold will cost between $500 and $3,000, in addition to the work you’ll want to have done to waterproof or seal the foundation walls.
- Air ducts: Air ducts can harbor a surprising amount of mold growth and are of particular concern because they spray the spores all around the home, encouraging growth in other areas. It’s difficult to clean ducts well enough to remove all spores, so professional assistance is important. The cost will range from $600 to $2,000 on average. Once the mold has been removed, it’s more economical to schedule regular air duct cleaning once or twice a year to prevent new spores from settling in.
- Drywall: Abatement of a simple surface-level mold growth on drywall averages around $1,000, but drywall is porous. If the mold growth has been there for a long time, or if the mold grew through the drywall from the back, it’s possible that remediation will require removal of all the drywall and everything behind it, which can run the cost up to $20,000 or more.
- Crawl space: Crawl spaces are generally limited in size, which means the overall area to be cleaned is smaller. However, the confined nature of the space can also mean that the remediation takes longer and costs more in labor. The average price to remove mold from a crawl space is between $500 and $2,000.
- HVAC and AC: The expenses incurred to remove mold from an HVAC system will depend largely upon the kind of system in the home. Radiant heating systems, which are mostly enclosed, will range between $1,500 and $5,000. Furnaces and air handlers, with more ductwork, connections, and vents, will average between $3,000 and $5,000, and air conditioning systems that are constantly extracting moisture from the air and (hopefully) draining it away from the house will average between $6,000 and $10,000, simply because there’s so much moisture in the system itself and because of the number of vents, tubes, and ducts involved in the remediation.
- Bathroom: While bathrooms provide the perfect environment for mold growth, the mold that is most likely to grow from day-to-day steam and condensation is usually surface mold that you can see, which costs less to remove at an average of $500 to $1,000. Mold that develops behind a vanity or sink or behind or underneath a bathtub, usually as a result of an ongoing leak, can cost as much as $8,000 as a result of the demolition and reconstruction that will be necessary to reach and remove the mold and correct the root cause of the moisture.
- Whole house: If there is a significant whole-house mold problem, usually as a result of a flood or catastrophic water damage, the removal cost is significant. This kind of abatement involves removing and replacing carpet, drywall, fabrics, and furniture, and also paying to correct any sources of the water damage that are still in existence. The average cost is between $10,000 and $30,000 in addition to replacing the removed materials.
Size of the Problem
Mold remediation projects of less than 10 square feet can cost as little as $50 and often can even be cleaned by the homeowner, so the only costs are mold cleaner and protective gear. If the mold has spread well beyond that size, the job can cost more than $6,000 to remove the mold, and if the problem is deep as well as spread across a wide surface, the price to correct the problem can be even higher. This is part of the reason why it is so critical to choose to remediate mold as soon as you’re aware that there’s a problem: Even if the initial problem is more expensive to fix than you think you can afford, the problem will only get larger and more expensive as time goes by.
Type of Mold
While they may look alarming because they spread swiftly on the surface, surface molds (which remain on top of building materials) are easy to remove, usually with cleaners. These molds are less expensive to remove and may be a DIY job for a homeowner. Molds that eat down through the surface and into the core of drywall, wood, and concrete, along with molds that flourish underneath carpeting and behind walls, are more costly to abate because of the difficulty in detecting and locating the problem and the need to remove and sometimes replace walls, ceilings, floors, and furnishings. In addition, certain toxic molds (especially black mold) can be more expensive to remove because of the need for specialists, protective equipment for the technicians, and whole-house ventilation afterward.
Mold remediation is not a job for a regular handyman (however skilled he or she may be). Companies that provide this service use skilled technicians and high-end equipment to ensure precise and appropriate removal techniques are used and to check the status of the mold growth after removal is complete. The costs for labor will include the time, certainly, but also incorporate the cost of high-efficiency vacuum equipment and protective gear—ranging from gloves to full-body suits and face masks with respirators—as necessary for your job. Approximately 60 percent of the total cost of mold removal will be labor. This doesn’t mean homeowners should automatically decide to remove a large mold growth themselves; there is a reason the professional companies use air scrubbers and protective equipment. Mold isn’t a cosmetic problem, and particularly with aggressive or toxic molds, trying to take on a large problem without professional expertise and equipment will most likely spread the mold around your home rather than remove it. That 40 percent of the cost protects your home and its residents by bringing in the expertise of technicians who can safely restore your home to being a place where you can safely breathe.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Remediating a significant mold problem doesn’t just involve removing the mold: In a large-scale growth, the remediation process may involve removing significant chunks of drywall or tiling and carpeting. As you calculate the cost of a mold remediation process, these additional costs can mount up sharply. Some remediation services also provide restoration services, and while it’s great to consolidate the different parts of the job into one hire, it’s a good idea to ask for several estimates for the restoration work. If restoration is necessary, it’s likely the restoration will cost more than the remediation itself, so the savvy homeowner won’t be lock into having the remediation service provide restoration until the extent of the necessary work is evident.
Sometimes the damage from mold remediation is as simple as scraped or dissolved paint in the area where the mold was cleaned off, and the cost to restore the surface is as inexpensive as a can of paint. On the other end of the spectrum, mold removal behind a shower wall can mean that new drywall, tile, and grout must be installed—a much larger, more labor-intensive project. That degree of moisture can also mean there’s rot in the wood studs supporting the wall, which should be inspected and repaired as well. In addition to the surface repair, a mold inspector or remediator should be able to help homeowners identify the source of the mold growth, and it’s possible that the mold is the result of damaged or leaking pipes. If that’s the case, the cost to hire a plumber to repair those leaks prior to closing up the wall must be added to the tab. Significant damage resulting from either the water that encouraged the mold growth or from the process of remediation can run between $2,000 and $20,000.
Included in the cost to repair damage is the pricing of materials to complete the repairs. Drywall, along with the cost of tape, mud, and finishing supplies, roofing materials, and foundation sealing material may be necessary to repair the damage caused by the mold and to prevent future moisture issues. In addition, it may be necessary to replace carpeting, flooring, and soft furnishings if the type of mold in the home spreads to textiles.
Mold Remediation Cost: Types of Mold
There are more than 100 types of mold that commonly grow in homes. Some are mild and easy to clean, while others are aggressive, tenacious, and can be deadly. Aggressive types of mold can be more expensive to remove, as they cover a wider area and are harder to kill. Toxic molds require heavy chemicals, expert application, and protective gear for the workers performing the removal, so those removal costs will be higher. The costs of labor and testing in your area will also affect the overall expense based on the type of mold: Black mold treatment may require a technician who specializes in black mold removal to ensure that the mold is removed completely and not tracked around the rest of the home.
Alternaria is one of the most common types of outdoor mold. When it becomes airborne or travels inside on the sole of a shoe, it spreads explosively, and in homes with high humidity it can grow underneath carpets and wallpaper. The price range of removal can be anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000 depending on how widespread it is.
One of the most common indoor molds, aspergillus is the mold upon which penicillin is based, and it’s made up of more than 250 identified species. It is easily spotted, as it starts out as a furry white fungus and then changes color as it grows. While it does grow well in low humidity and can spread to fabrics and textiles, it is usually easier to clean because its visible presence is immediately noticeable. Removal costs range from $1,500 to $5,000.
Black mold is considered the most toxic household mold. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult molds to remove. The mold stains surfaces as it grows, and it is resistant to removal. In addition, it grows in fiberboard, paper, and gypsum board where it may be difficult to detect. The importance of complete removal and the toxicity of the spores combine to make removal more expensive: $1,000 to $4,500 is the average cost, but it can jump to $6,000 and above for difficult cases.
The musty smell, blue-green color, and brown football-shaped spores are the hallmarks of chaetomium, which is a mold often left behind after severe water damage or long-term dampness in a home. It tends to grow in hard-to-see spaces, under carpets, and in air ducts and walls. Some species are carcinogens. It’s fairly easy to clean when the growth is small, in the area of $500, but larger problems can run up to $3,500.
Common and widespread, cladosporium exists on almost all household surfaces. It doesn’t usually cause serious reactions in most people, although some may experience some minor allergy symptoms. Removal costs between $1,500 and $5,000 on average.
Fusarium is another fast-spreading mold that exists on nearly every surface. It can cause infections of the nails or corneas even in healthy individuals, and it can cause systemic septic infections if spores enter the bloodstream. Fusarium is often found near water leaks, and its removal is one of the more expensive projects; expect to pay between $2,000 and $7,000.
Green mold is actually several different molds classed together by color. While green mold can often be seen on foods such as bread or fruit, it can also include cladosporium and aspergillus. Chronic exposure can trigger respiratory problems or asthma attacks. Remediation costs range from $1,500 to $5,000.
A particularly tenacious type of mold, Serpula Lacrymans draws water from sources other than where it lives, so it grows best on dried wood. Also referred to as “dry rot,” it is easily identified by its yellow color Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to remove and can cause terrible and widespread damage as it continues to grow. It is not harmful to humans, but it can be extremely harmful to the wood and construction materials in homes. Remediation costs should range between $2,000 and $6,000 but can push much higher, depending on the degree of structural damage.
Also a group of different molds gathered by coloration, white molds are dangerous because of their ability to blend in with their host materials, thus spreading farther before being discovered. Because they can be harder to locate early on, the problem is usually wider-spread than most molds by the time they are discovered, and costs tend to skew toward the higher end of the $1,500 to $5,000 average range.
Do I Need Mold Remediation?
Mold is sneaky. While ideally it would present itself to you as an obvious fuzzy growth every time, that’s not how it works; mold prefers dark, damp places to grow that make it difficult to spot early on. How do you know if you need mold remediation? There are some warning signs to consider. Once you’re aware there’s a problem, you’ll have to decide if you’re going to hire professional help or tackle the job yourself. Unlike many decisions about whether to hire help or not, mold remediation has some clear-cut guidelines on when to do so.
There Are Signs of Mold
Indicators that mold is growing in your home can be subtle or obvious. Being aware of the subtle signs will make it harder for you to accidentally dismiss them and get to the root of the problem faster.
- Musty smell: Trust your nose. There are many words that can describe the scent of hidden mold including dank, dusty, musty, earthy, and meaty. The scent can be mild or overwhelming. If it’s overwhelming, call for help! But don’t dismiss a sustained whiff of a musty smell when you walk into a room that’s been undisturbed all day, or that you notice when it’s raining outside. That scent might be your best clue that you have a problem, and it makes some investigation worthwhile. Check under the sinks, near drain pipes, and in other damp areas of your home. If you don’t see the problem, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
- White, black or green growths on the walls: Several types of mold helpfully announce their presence by appearing as spots, speckles, or furry islands on walls, ceilings, floors, or fabrics. Again, these shouldn’t be dismissed as one-time aberrations unless you can clearly pinpoint the source. If a throw pillow was accidentally left out in the rain and then sat on a screen porch for a few days and developed mold in the damp folds, that’s probably not an indication of a widespread problem. If a window that’s often left cracked develops a spray pattern of gray dots underneath it over time, that’s something to investigate.
- Health issues: Everyone who has allergies knows the season when those allergies spring up, and runny noses, itchy eyes, and annoying little coughs are all harbingers of allergy season. If you find, however, that those symptoms arrive at an unexpected time, or you don’t usually suffer from allergies but suddenly experience those symptoms over a longer period of time, it may be that mold spores inside your home are causing them and not the pollen outside.
You Have a Sensitivity to Mold
If you already know you’re allergic or sensitive to mold, any hint of musty smell or physical symptoms should set off an alarm bell. If you can’t pinpoint another source of the smell or symptoms, it’s time for a mold assessment. Those who know they’re sensitive shouldn’t attempt even a small removal on their own in case it spreads the spores during the removal process.
The Affected Area Is Large
While most homeowners run across a small patch of mold from time to time and handle it with mold killer or bleach, the EPA suggests that anything larger than about 10 square feet should be professionally evaluated.
The Mold Is Growing in the HVAC System
HVAC systems are particularly prone to mold growth. By their nature, they move air and moisture from place to place in the home through dark, twisty ductwork with lots of crevices. It’s almost impossible to clean the breadth of your ductwork on your own. Keeping the system clean through regular maintenance and cleanings will help prevent growth, but once the mold is present there, it’s important to remove it as quickly and thoroughly as possible before the system spreads it to other areas of the home.
Damage Repair Is Needed
When mold has spread broadly enough to damage building materials or to require removal of carpeting or flooring, professional remediation is recommended. Pulling up a carpet with mold growth in it is likely to spread the spores everywhere and create starting points for new colonies. Mold that has grown deep into walls may require additional treatment of the studs and framing behind the walls to ensure that the problem is remediated before replacing materials to avoid immediate regrowth.
Mold Remediation Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Less than 10 square feet of mold? The EPA gives the green light to tackle mold removal yourself. Locate the source of the moisture and repair that first. Then arm yourself with protective equipment, including gloves, eye protection, and an N95 respirator mask, and use a detergent and water solution or commercial mold remover to clean the surface completely. If the mold is present in a carpet, unsealed drywall, or other porous material, you’ll need to remove the material completely and carefully. Consider renting or purchasing an air cleaner or scrubber to use during and after the removal to collect any spores that attempt to escape, protecting the rest of the home.
More than 10 square feet, or any case in which you can’t see or find the mold, really does require a professional. The chances that the problem runs deeper than you expect is strong, and the chances that you’ll create a bigger problem by hunting for and disturbing unseen mold colonies is even greater—and then you’ll have an even bigger problem on your hands. Professionals are trained to follow subtle clues to locate mold and will probably find it in places most homeowners wouldn’t even think to look. They’re also more likely to be able to find the source of the moisture, and they will have protective equipment for themselves and scrubbers for your home’s air that are more efficient and effective than any you can pick up easily at a home improvement store. Because there are so many varieties of mold that have such a wide range of physical effects on both people and building materials, this is a situation where it’s really worth the cost of hiring qualified technicians.
How to Save Money on Mold Remediation
The most critical factor in saving money on mold remediation is to act immediately. Don’t hem and haw and consider whether or not you should do something, and don’t think to yourself, “Oh, it’s not a big deal.” The problem with mold is that even if it isn’t a big deal right now, it will be, and sometimes within only days if you don’t take action. A small growth is manageable. A large growth can be devastating, financially and healthwise. If you experience any of the signs of mold, act immediately. Once you think there’s a problem, there are several other things you can do to save money.
- Make your home inhospitable to mold growth by promptly repairing and cleaning up any leaks or water damage.
- If the area is less than 10 square feet, clean it immediately using a commercial cleaner.
- For larger areas or hidden mold, call in professional help without delay—don’t try to fix it yourself and risk spreading the problem.
- Clean, disinfect, or remove any items in the home that may have been exposed to the mold to kill errant spores and prevent a recurring problem.
- Especially for larger problems, contact your homeowner’s insurance company to see if your policy covers mold. Many do—the first time. If a second mold growth occurs as a result of unremediated water damage or an unrepaired leak, it won’t be covered, and mold that is the result of a flood may not be covered in some areas unless you have flood insurance.
- Collect several estimates for the mold remediation job from reputable service companies, but don’t automatically select the least-expensive quote: Really compare the services each company has offered to provide and check references. A lowball quote may reflect substandard or corner-cutting procedures, less protective gear for the home and technicians, or less experience.
Questions to Ask About Mold Remediation Cost
You’ll need answers to several questions before hiring a professional remediation company. First, it’s a good idea to choose a company that specializes in mold remediation. Their initial costs may appear higher than that of professionals who do other construction or home improvement work, but they’re also more likely to have the expertise to protect you and your home more effectively, and they may have a more realistic initial estimate because they know what to anticipate during the job. Some things to check on before hiring:
- Is testing before and after the remediation included in the cost?
- Will you work with an independent inspector if I prefer to hire my own?
- Do you carry mold-specific insurance?
- What kind of certifications do your technicians have? Mold remediation, asbestos abatement, and hazardous waste-hauler certifications are all reasonable expectations.
- What kind of protection will your technicians wear? What kind of protection will you provide for my home?
- What is included in the contract? Mold assessment, containment, removal of damaged and porous materials, surface disinfection of the entire area, and HEPA vacuuming and air scrubbing are all reasonable elements of a contract.
- May I hire separate professionals to do restoration work or do it myself after the remediation process is complete?
- Based on your assessment, what potential surprises might we run across? How will additional costs be assessed and managed?
- What is the time frame for the remediation, and can we stay in the home while it’s taking place?
Discovering mold in your home can be shocking, and—let’s admit it—pretty gross. Especially if you can’t see the extent of the problem (or perhaps if you can, and it’s enormous), you’ll be hit with many concerns and questions all at once regarding your health, the options and choices that need to be made about how to deal with the problem, and the financial impact of the work that needs to be done. These are some of the first questions that many people have when they discover mold in their home, along with the answers to allay some initial fears and allow you to focus clearly on the other decisions you’ll need to make.
Q. Is it possible to remove all the mold from my house?
No. Mold is everywhere—in the air, on surfaces, in fabric. It’s critical to the environment, because it digests and removes decaying material. We coexist with all kinds of mold every day, most of which is relatively harmless. This is why the tests you can pick up at the hardware store aren’t the most useful; they will always show that mold is present, rather than helping you determine if too much mold or a specific, dangerous mold is present. The concern and need for remediation occurs when a larger growth of mold has taken hold in a particular area, creating a concentration of spores and developing into a colony that produces more spores, which will eventually affect your building structures and health.
Q. Is it safe for me to stay in the house during the mold remediation process?
Most of the time, yes, but it depends on the scope of the remediation. A professional mold remediation company will seal off the area to prevent spores from drifting to other areas of the home, and they should run air cleaners and scrubbers before unsealing the area and safely disposing of materials. If the growth is in more than one area or it’s in a main area of the home and, for example, requires the removal of a large area of carpet, or if it’s concentrated in the home’s only bathroom, it may be more convenient to stay somewhere else during the process. Noise can be a factor in your decision, as can the time of year; if it’s winter and the constant ventilation will make your home cold, you may be more comfortable elsewhere.
Q. Can I remove mold by myself?
If the mold growth is less than 10 square feet, is visible, has a clear source of moisture that you can successfully correct, and is accessible, then yes, most homeowners can use a commercial mold-removal product to kill and remove the mold. Proper protective gear including a respirator, goggles, and gloves are recommended, both to protect you from the mold and also from the harsh chemicals in the remover product.