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You’ve heard people joke about the fuzzy green stuff that used to be food in their refrigerator. Maybe you’ve teased about that kind of mold yourself. That’s usually a problem that’s easily solved. Throw the old stuff out.
It’s a different matter when it comes to mold in your home. You definitely don’t want it around. It poses significant problems when you live with it constantly. It can affect the integrity of a home’s walls and foundation. It can cause a variety of health problems. People react differently, but children and the elderly are most susceptible. Mold can cause respiratory problems including wheezing, difficulty breathing; dry hacking coughs, and nose and throat irritation.
Mold is a fungus which forms in moist places. It produces tiny spores that become airborne and settle in damp spots where they grow. You’ll often find mold growing on wood, walls, ceilings, attics, basements, and other moist environments. It has to have moisture to thrive.
Mold invades our homes where there’s leaky plumbing, unventilated areas, and where there’s condensation in heating and air conditioning systems and ducts. It can also form where there are structural defects resulting in water entry, such as a leaky roof, leaks inside walls, and improperly installed windows with substandard flashing.
You could look for mold yourself in obvious places around windows, sinks, and water lines. You may also detect odor from mold. A little mold on bathroom tiles are common and can be kept in check with a bleach and water solution. However, when buying or selling a home, a more thorough search is necessary. It’s a home inspector’s job to find it in places you might not know to look.
Laws vary from state to state regarding what must be disclosed about the presence of mold, and your home inspector should know what laws or regulations apply where you live. Many home owner’s insurance policies offer only very limited coverage for mold damage, so you want to eliminate the problem as much as possible.
Your home inspector may use a thermal imager to detect moisture that you would miss. He will also include a thorough leak detection and moisture analysis, air quality analysis, relative humidity testing, and evaluation of drainage. Some professionals also use a fiber-optic camera to inspect wall cavities.
Your home inspector may or may not find mold. However, if mold is present or appears to be present, samples can be taken for testing to eliminate uncertainty. There is usually a separate lab charge for this, and it’s well worth it.
Serious mold infections may require the use of an EPA-registered fungicide. You must also take steps to make sure the mold doesn’t re-occur and remove the source of moisture that has allowed it to grow in the first place. Mold will come back where there are ongoing water problems, like siding leaks, broken water lines, or storm damage. Other problem areas are where water enters in through the foundation or concrete floors, or if part of the house has constant high humidity.
Believe it or not, mold may come into your house on the bodies of pets, or even on the bottoms of peoples’ shoes. The Asian custom of taking pittsburgh pirates hawaiian shirt off before entering a home is actually very useful in preventing the intrusion of mold and other things.
Prevention today can reduce problems tomorrow. When it comes to mold, be sure a home inspector finds it, and have unwanted sources of moisture taken care of. You’ll make life more livable for everyone involved.
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write by Kiera