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Mold

DEFINITION

When selling property, it’s extremely important to pay attention to moisture related issues.

EXPLANATION

If water damage, particularly in dark areas like basement goes unnoticed, they may result in mold, which in some case can causes serious health problems. Some of these health problems may develop into conditions as serious as memory loss and lung problems in small children and the elderly. Smaller nuisances can include nail infections, athlete’s food, and even pneumonia. If not treated properly, mold can easily develop into an ongoing problem. This can happen due to the mold growing into the structure of the home. Once this happens, it’s difficult to treat; some have gone as far as burning their houses to the ground to be sure of completely eradicated any future mold growth.

Mold is a term for many species, as many as 300,000, of unwanted fungus that can grow in homes. Mold is defined as a plant without flowers, leaves or roots by the EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency. In houses, mold develops and is usually found in damp areas like basements, under carpets, attics, maybe within some wet drywall, etc. It reproduces through spores, which are literally everywhere, but requires wetness to actively grow. It reproduces through these spores which can survive in the air but will then grow on a surface. It comes in a variety of shades and the most frequently seen kinds include Dreschlera, Aspergillus, Acremonium, Trichoderma, and Stachybotrys. One of the ways homes are tested for specific kinds is through comparison of types at given time and location. If and indoor mold and an outdoor mold don’t match, then it’s possible that an indoor type of mold has developed.

Toxic Mold Syndrome

Mold can indeed be extremely detrimental not only to the structure but also the health of people exposed to it. It can cause severe respiratory problems, including bronchitis, allergies, asthma, hoarseness, sinus infections, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is also known as farmer’s lung and occurs due to the amount of fungi in grain and livestock feed. There have also been cases of pulmonary hemorrhage, or bleeding of the lungs. This occurred in Cleveland, OH in the 1990’s, and connections were initially found to Stachybotrys chartarum, which the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) determined were inconclusive. This one incident began a lot of speculation about ‘black mold’ or ‘toxic mold’. Thus, while different kinds of mold do indeed cause structural damage, it’s caused by a variety of environmental factors, health factors, and types of mold, rather than one specific type.

Locations for Mold Growth

Because mold can reduce quality of life as well as weaken structures within a building, it is very important to catch before it develops into a serious problem. If a property is sold and mold is discovered, it could be grounds for a non-disclosure lawsuit, as well as potentially harmful to buyers. Luckily it can be stopped in most cases if found in an early stage of development.

The most frequent locations that mold can develop in a house include:

–              Water pipes with leaks. These should be worked on immediately.

–              Leaks in the roof.

–              On wooden surfaces

–              On plastic surfaces

–              On drywall

–              Tiles

–              On glass surfaces

–              Under carpets

–              Basements

–              Unventilated bathrooms.

–              Any aftermath left by flooding.

–              Any exhaust fans or laundry drying vents that go under the house. Route them so they point outside.

A property that experiences flooding is at high risk of developing mold, especially if the property is located in a climate with already high temperatures and humidity.

Getting Rid of Mold

There are several ways to discourage mold growth and a few ways to clean it as well. It’s important to note that prevention is more effective than cleaning it later. The following are ways in which one can prevent mold from going:

–              Do not put down carpet in rooms that have a high chance of getting wet or damp

–              Make sure to install storm windows in order to reduce condensation on glass.

–              Install dehumidifiers in rooms that are prone to moisture.

–              If a property has crawlspaces with dirt floors, makes sure the area is ventilated and cover the floor with plastic.

–              Insulate any cold surface that may have condensation, like pipes.

Cleaning

Cleaning mold is a task that requires preparation. If the amount of mold discovered is severe, there are professional mold removal services that may be able to help. Severe in this case implies over 10 square feet or so. If the problem seems manageable property owners can tackle it themselves with detergent and water. The first thing is to make sure the area has ventilation and to be dressed properly. Face masks and gloves are recommended, as well as goggle to prevent mold exposure to the eyes.

When cleaning mold, it’s important to make sure to scrub it completely off. If there is mold growth on a porous item like a tile or carpet, it might have to get thrown out, because the mold will grow in the empty places between fibers and will be very difficult to remove. After the initial cleaning, the area should be allowed to airdry and then bleached to ensure any remaining spores are killed. There are cleaning products specifically design for mold removal available.

Property owners should not attempt to paint over mold, as the paint is not only likely to peel, but in some instances the mold will grow through it. If painting is necessary, remove the mold first. If there are items like furniture, pieces of art, or carpets that seem difficult to clean, specialists are available.

Summary

Before selling a home, sellers should ensure that all mold has been removed and that it’s been done in a way where it won’t come back. Mold can be inserted into a contingency clause in any real estate purchase contract and can be grounds for a buyer backing out of a sale. Air testing is recommended to ensure there are not high levels of mold, as that will result in lower air quality.

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