First, we at Perkins Home Services wish you a happy and prosperous New Year. We thank you for your continued support of our services this past year and for our future endeavors together!

This month’s topic: Mold!

It seems like there is not much that can scare a home buyer away more quickly than discovering mold in a potential new home. But mold is a complicated subject; its causes and the necessary repairs are complex as well. Let’s see if we can break it down a bit and simplify things.

mold1What is it? Mold is a natural fungus that grows on surfaces, and has many types, structures and colors. Mold in homes is often visible as a black, fuzzy like growth, but can also be seen in shades of grey, green, or white.

Why the worry? Mold causes two concerns in homes; first, it often causes the breakdown of the material it is on, such as wood. So mold found in an attic can increase rot of the roof support structure. Second, mold can be harmful to the health of those living in the home. Some people are more susceptible to the effects of mold and can become quite ill from breathing the airborne spores, which the mold produces. Mold also produces mycotoxins, which can cause a number of health effects. There is always some mold present in our environments.

What are the causes? Mold is not produced in large and harmful quantities unless the conditions are right. Warm, humid or wet environments are best, which is why mold is often found in attics and basements. Mold is also often found around laundry areas and at the pressure tank. A good inspection should find any visual signs of mold.

mold2The real problem is the moisture that is creating the environment for mold to grow. We can help you determine where the moisture is coming from, and what to do to reduce the moisture in that environment. For example, often the problem in attics is condensation due to lack of good ventilation. Basements, laundries, and bathrooms are naturally moist areas.

Should we test? It is not possible from a visual inspection to be sure it is mold, only a lab test can do that. There are a variety of mold tests available. The most common and usually least expensive, is a surface test, where a piece of tape is used to pull a sample of the mold off the surface and this is then sent to the lab for analysis. Another type of test is an air sample, where air is drawn thru a sample cassette, and then this is sent to the lab for analysis. The second test is more expensive, but tests the air that you breathe rather than a surface that the mold is on.

At Perkins Home Services, we recommend that if you want to be sure, do a surface test first. If possible, only do the air test if someone who will be living in the home is susceptible to mold spores or mycotoxins, and after a surface test shows it is present in the home. We can do either (or both) of these tests for you if you desire them. Please contact us for pricing.

What to do if mold is found? As discussed above, with the help of a home inspector or contractor, figure out where the moisture is coming from and find a solution that reduces this to a level that prevents mold growth. Maybe the roof has a slight leak that is allowing some moisture in. Fixing leaks, improving attic vents such as soffit, ridge, and gable end venting, or installing a humidistat fan often reduces attic moisture. Installing proper fans and dehumidifiers in the bathrooms and basements can often take care of the problems in those areas, as well as fixing any leaks there that may be occurring. Never have bath fans that vent into the attic.

mold3Last, it may be necessary to clean up the mold. This can be accomplished by a contractor who specializes in mold removal, or by the homeowner. Typically, a cleaning solution consisting primarily of bleach and water is sprayed onto the surface and then the surface is scrubbed clean. In the case of damaged surfaces, some of the building materials may need to be removed and replaced prior to the cleaning. It is important to wear safety clothing during this process and to vent the home, to reduce the spread of mold throughout the house.

KEY POINT TO REMEMBER: Don’t let mold stop your real estate transaction from happening. Let us help you test for it, and if we find it we can help you find solutions to fix it.