Mold can be found everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. However, it’s usually not a problem until it begins growing indoors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to mold can cause a number of health effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints. Mold can be a serious issue if left untreated, which is perhaps one of the reasons most HVAC contractors tend to avoid it.
“Mold is in virtually every residence over two years old in the U.S. due to improper ventilation and treatment of that ventilated air,” said Joe Kokinda, president and CEO at Professional HVAC/R Services Inc. in Avon, Ohio. “This being stated, one very experienced IAQ [indoor air quality] expert would definitely be required to identify the source and recommend ventilation upgrades. Mold remediation is another issue that HVAC probably would shy away from, just like lead paint or asbestos.”
David Richardson, RNC inside operations manager at Weather Master & Mr. Plumber in Knightdale, North Carolina, said mold is a four-letter word to HVAC contractors.
“Unless you are licensed and certified in mold remediation, it’s in your best interest to have a professional company perform this task,” he said. “Mold can be caused by several contributing factors, and it is wise to have a third party verify where the source of the mold came from before admitting guilt. With homes being built tighter and the lack of fresh air, mold issues seem to be more prevalent today. It only takes three factors to produce mold: moisture; a food source, such as dust or construction debris; and absence of light.”
Richardson said his company prefers to refer clients to a professional mold remediation expert.
“We typically do not get a referral fee, but we use the same company,” he said. “This allows us to have a third party that is going to do a full investigation of the problem and make sure they identify the culprit. Personally, I do not recommend HVAC contractors to investigate the issue if they’re not properly trained and certified as some cases can get costly and may require legal action.”
Martin Hoover, owner of Empire Heating and Air Conditioning in Decatur, Georgia, said he also refers this type of work to other contractors.
“We do provide basic air quality testing and offer solutions relating to dehumidifiers, UV lights, and photocatalytic oxidation as a preventive measure, but we do not participate in remediation once mold has been quantified. We haven’t taken the time to learn that aspect of the business or train and equip our workforce.”
Instead, Hoover has a reciprocal referral arrangement with another contractor to handle those types of services.
“Throughout the years, we’ve developed relationships with high-quality contractors that do this type of work,” he added.
Chris Crawford, general manager of Integrity Comfort Solutions in Conroe, Texas, also has a mutually beneficial arrangement with a local water mitigation and mold remediation specialist, Woodlands, Texas-based Boone’s Restoration Inc.
“We’re very cognizant about making sure we focus on the one thing we’re really good at, and that’s residential HVAC,” Crawford said. “We’re very focused on being the best in our area on the things we know we’re good at. Another reason, at least in Texas, is there are a lot of licensing regulations that cover mold remediation and that type of stuff. We just don’t have that licensing. And, lastly, is the risk exposure to lawsuits and things of that nature. Most liability insurance carriers have an exclusion in their liability insurance for mold development within residential homes. For instance, if we went out and put in an air conditioning system that caused a major water leak in someone’s home and that developed into a major mold issue throughout the house, our liability insurance would not cover any of the damage we happen to do in that home. So, for us to go out and start trying to do that type of work on a regular basis would not be smart, considering we’re not covered under our liability insurance. That’s why we tend to stay out of it. We would rather refer that work out to an expert in that field that has the training, tools, capabilities, and licensing as well as the correct insurance to deal with those types of occurrences.”
“It’s hard to be a jack of all trades,” added Brian Boone, president, Boone’s Restoration Inc. “That’s why you have partnerships with specialists.”
Referrals are a two-way street between the two companies.
“It forms a good, solid relationship between our company and Brian’s company,” Crawford said. “We’re going to be inside a lot of people’s homes this year. Brian’s going to be out in a lot of homes this year, and that gives us a lot of occasions to be able to refer work back and forth to each other. Brian might be in somebody’s house for a water mitigation issue and then happen to notice or talk to the homeowner to find that there is an air conditioning issue, as well. That work gets referred back to us. I also know the type of work Brian’s company does, I know it’s going to be top-notch, and I know my client is going to be taken care of. And, he knows the same thing about us.”
Mold remediation should be handled by experts, said Michael Jacobs, head of public relations for ServiceProsLocal.com.
“Mold is very dangerous and life threatening,” he said. “It is definitely preferable to be taken care of by a company that solely specializes in mold remediation.”
Jacobs added that Service Pros Local receives mold remediation referrals from other companies.
“When customers need something that is beyond the services we provide, we definitely refer them to other companies that cover the customer’s needs and vice versa. These types of agreements are mutually beneficial because you build a strong partnership, which helps to increase the number of customers you work with. Considering that you cooperate with companies that are in a closer niche to your services — like mold remediation and water damage repair — they usually accrue at the same time, and if you don’t cover both aspects, this kind of agreement between companies will definitely help both companies increase the number of customers they may reach.”