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Archive for the 'mold' Category

Mold. What should you do about it?

     I see it all the time – mold on bathroom ceilings, mold in shower enclosures, mold in kitchens and laundry rooms. It’s more than just an aesthetic problem; mold can cause serious health problems, especially for people with allergies or asthma.

But it’s not necessarily a reason to walk away from buying a home.

First, let’s look at what mold is and how it gets into houses:

Mold is a kind of fungus. Its purpose in nature is to help with the decomposition of dead organic material such as trees and plants.  Dig through a pile of dead leaves and you will usually find plenty of mold.

IMG_9706Mold travels through the air in the form of microscopic spores that you can’t see without a microscope. There’s plenty of those little spores around and you probably breathe them in every day.

But that black, dark blue or green mold that you may see on an interior wall results when mold spores find a wet or damp surface. Dampness on organic material is what mold spores love to find.

Mold is bad for humans because it can cause allergenic reactions – sneezing, rashes or even asthmatic attacks. Reactions to mold can run the gamut from a minor annoyance to a life-threatening asthma attack.

It’s possible to remove mold, but if you don’t deal with the moisture that attracted it, there’s a very good chance that the mold will reappear. So if you buy a home that has visible mold, you have to be concerned about removing the mold AND dealing with the source of the moisture that attracted those mold spores in the first place.

There are different kinds of mold, and there are tests available that can tell you what kind of mold you are dealing with. But mold testing can be costly, and mold in a home should be removed and dealt with no matter what kind of mold it is.

So, let’s say you find mold in your home and decide to deal with it. If the mold is on wood, tile or painted drywall, you should be able to use a good detergent and scrub it off with a sponge. You can use bleach or a commercial mold killer if you want, but remember what we said about those mold spores being everywhere; even if you kill all the visible mold, it may well come back if new mold spores come into contact with a damp surface.

If you are dealing with unpainted drywall, you should cut the drywall out and replace it, because drywall is porous and the mold will have penetrated it.

Also, remember that if mold is on one side of a wall, it’s likely to be on the inside surface as well. You could successfully get all the mold of a drywall surface, only to find that a similar mold outbreak is taking place on the inside drywall surface as well. So think seriously about replacing the moldy drywall.

A couple of cautions:

1. Wear gloves

2. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, get a friend (or hire someone) to do the work.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a page on its website devoted to mold and how to get rid of it. Take a look.

And don’t forget – getting rid of the mold will be a useless exercise if you don’t deal with the dampness that attracted it. So deal with that dampness, whether it’s a leaky pipe, bad condensation or water seeping into the home from outside.

Also, some insurance companies may be leery about providing insurance on a home that has an active or recent mold problem, so check that out ahead of time. If you are planning on financing the home through FHA, be aware that FHA may refuse to guarantee a mortgage on a home that has, or has had, mold problems.

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