WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MOLD
What is mold?
Molds are simple, microscopic organisms that break down dead materials. Molds reproduce by very tiny particles called spores. The spores float in the air on currents and find suitable spots to grow.
Why is mold a housing problem?
Construction practices produced tighter energy efficient houses and outside air does not flow through. If a leak occurs, wet areas cannot dry out and this moisture supports mold growth. Occurrences like clogged gutters, plumbing leaks or any type of water intrusion can begin the process. Mold will cause damage to the housing structure if left untreated because it will continue to grow and spread, eating building materials like wood and drywall.
Is mold dangerous?
Mold spores can cause health problems such as:
- Asthma and allergic reactions
- Burning, watery, red eyes
- Respiratory problems or blurry vision
- Nasal and sinus congestion
- Skin irritation
- Sore throat and dry cough
- Nervous system problems
Finding and testing mold
Alban Home Inspectors are trained to perform mold investigations and tests. Our experience with moisture intrusion problems permits our inspectors to assist home buyers and owners with mold concerns.
We can sample visible mold for laboratory analysis to determine the type of mold present in the house. Visible molds occur anywhere moisture is found.
Should one or more of the red flags suggesting a potential for mold infestation be observed, such as evidence of water infiltration or construction defects, but no mold is observed, air sampling can be performed. A client with allergies is another red flag for mold testing
Can it be fixed?
In most cases mold problems can be fixed. Water problems should be corrected. The damaged materials should be replaced and remaining affected areas cleaned. If test results show toxic mold spores are present; you should NOT begin any type of remediation and a specialist should be employed.
The key to understanding mold growth is to remember that in order to develop, mold needs moisture, food, restricted ventilation and a place to grow. Bathrooms, within wall cavities, under carpets and musty basements are perfect mold environments.
Mold contamination represents a potential health hazard to everyone living in the home, especially infants and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people suffering from allergies, asthma, other illness, or specific sensitivity to mold. Health affects of mold exposure are attributed to inhaling microscopic mold spores and to the toxins produced by the mold.
Red flags indicating the need for testing
- Family member with allergies or other illness
- Visible mold growth
- Musty odor anywhere in home
- Evidence of present or past water infiltration
- Evidence of a condition that could lead to water infiltration
- Construction defects
- Poorly maintained or dirty HVAC
- Plumbing defects in kitchen, baths or laundry area
- Cracks in bath tile, missing caulk or failed toilet seals
- Leaking drains
- Carpet in direct contact with concrete
Alban’s professional home inspectors conduct investigations (1) to find the areas of water infiltration into the home, (2) to find conditions that may facilitate water infiltration, and (3) to find other conditions that may promote mold growth. Exterior and interior inspections focus on musty or moist conditions to permit the inspector to identify potential areas for mold growth. Deficient construction, improper grading, use of wet lumber during construction, excessively air-tight homes, siding or flashing failures, gutter and downspout problems, or EIFS “imitation stucco” siding can each cause water infiltration into a home. The investigation also includes an interview with the family to identify allergies and other health problems of family members. Based on all information obtained during the investigation, air, carpet or direct contact swab samples are collected for laboratory analysis. A written report is then prepared summarizing findings, laboratory results and conclusions regarding the need for further study or remediation.
Understanding test results
Swab test results confirm the presence of mold and identified species. Indoor air testing results identify species of mold and quantify the degree of infestation. If the laboratory report shows species of mold indoors that are not predominant outdoors, this indicates that mold is growing in the structure and that the air quality is degraded.