Mold Home Inspectors
home inspection tech talk

Mold Presents A Health Hazard

Mold in homes

Mold*

The photograph shows an advanced and obvious case of mold in a basement where there has been ongoing water intrusion. The mold damaged sheetrock must be removed and the area must be serviced by a qualified mold remediation technician.

What Is Mold?

Molds are microscopic organisms that are part of the natural environment. There are many types of mold, all require water, water vapor, or moisture to grow. Molds reproduce by releasing airborne microscopic spores. Mold can grow when the airborne spores come into contact with wet surfaces.

Health Issues Associated With Mold

Molds produce allergens and irritants and can even produce toxic substances. Sensitive individuals can be subjected to allergic reactions by inhaling or touching mold and these reactions can include headaches, dizziness, sneezing, runny nose and eyes, skin rash, eye, nose, throat and lung irritation. In addition, mold can cause asthma attacks in persons who suffer from asthma and are allergic to mold.

Newer More Tightly Constructed Homes

Energy conservation regulations have had the positive effect of conserving energy with the undesirable side effect of increasing the incidence of mold related problems in energy efficient new homes which are tightly constructed and well insulated. These homes have a lower air infiltration rate and do not breathe as freely as older homes thereby trapping moisture vapor in the home.

Damage Caused By Mold

Mold can damage structural components, walls, ceilings and floors, as well as furnishings. Mold is capable of growing on sheetrock, paneling, carpet, ceiling tiles, paper, insulation, furniture, curtains, and many other similar products.

Mold Prevention

The key to mold prevention is moisture reduction.

First, on the exterior of the house, it is important to keep excess water away from the house by maintaining the leaders and gutters in a clean and free flowing condition; the land adjacent to the house should be graded to divert water away from the house. In addition, a clearance should be maintained between the bottom of the exterior siding and the ground, shrubbery and trees located adjacent to the house should be kept trimmed to allow a flow of air around the house. Lawn irrigation systems should be installed in a manner that will not saturate the ground adjacent to the house. Deteriorated wooden siding and trim should be replaced.

Second, on the interior of the house, all causes of water leaks and high humidity conditions in the house must be corrected. Plumbing leaks and roof leaks of any type need to corrected promptly. Bathrooms must have a window or means of ventilation (even in bathrooms with windows, an exhaust fan is desirable). Laundry clothes dryers must exhaust to the exterior. Plastic containers should be placed under all plants.

Third, some things to avoid. Hot steamy showers in bathrooms with no exhaust fans, kitchens with no exhaust fans, carpeted bathroom and basement floors, failing to clean up wet areas within 24 to 48 hours, vinyl or other non-breathing wallpaper, over humidifying a forced warm air heating system, indoor humidity level that exceeds 40%, dark unventilated enclosed areas (such as those under a basement stairway), wet cleaned carpets, inadequately grouted and caulked bathtubs and showers, uninsulated pipes upon which condensation forms.

Fourth, in areas susceptible to moisture, utilize paint with an approved mildewcide. The use of a dehumidifier in the basement is recommended.

* The discovery and evaluation of mold is not included as part of a home inspection per national home inspection Standards of Practice. In some homes, there is mold in concealed locations that cannot be detected. If you have concerns about mold, there are qualified mold experts who can conduct a mold inspection.

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