Mold And Your Home

You are buying a home. It is a huge investment. In many cases your home is the single biggest purchase you will ever make. There are concerns about the roof, the plumbing, and all of the nuts and bolts of the home. These are valid concerns and most Home Owners are wise enough to have the home inspected by a professional home inspection company such as Blue Bell Consulting, Inc. In the last twenty years, many people have also addressed the health concerns within a house. Radon testing began and has spared thousands of people from exposure to dangerously high levels of a known carcinogen. If you ever had a friend or family member die from lung cancer, you have seen the devastation radon can cause on a human being.

Recently mold has become a huge concern to many home buyers as well as home owners. There are many justifiable concerns with mold as well as false fears. Letís start with a few basic concepts. Does the house you are buying contain mold? The answer is a resounding YES! I havenít seen your home, but, trust me, it has mold. Mold is everywhere on the planet, from Antarctica to the Amazon. The much bigger question is how much mold and is it a health concern.

On every home inspection we perform we test for conditions that are conducive to the growth of mold. Mold, like every other living thing, will grow where all itsí needs are met. Mold needs a food source, and your home is loaded with food sources. Mold grows on wood and its byproducts. Mold breaks these materials down. Thatís itsí job and it is good at it. So your home has food sources in everything wood or paper based. They now have drywall that is not made with paper. This may reduce the risk in this area, but there are lots of other places mold can grow. Mold likes the right temperature. Mold will grow best in the same temperatures we like, above freezing and up to about 100 degrees. There are some remediation programs that kill the mold by extreme heat, but donít try that yourself. The last element is moisture. Mold needs water to grow, just like people. If you have these three elements, mold can grow in your home.

As part of our standard home inspection, we use a hygrometer and moisture detectors to check the moisture levels in your home. We also check for visible evidence in accessible areas. We check the attic for evidence of excessive moisture. Your attic and the basement are connected at the hip. If you have a damp basement or crawl space, you will usually have evidence of dampness and moisture in the attic. We do not make holes in dry wall to check behind them. We canít damage the home. If there are obvious areas of dampness, these are noted during our home inspection.

We then provide you with our findings. If the conditions are right for the growth of mold, we will inform you. If there are obvious conditions that indicate mold is present such as excessive moisture, a smell, or a growth on the walls, we then inform you and you make a decision. We will perform a mold test if you purchase it. Many homes donít need a mold test. If the home has been exposed to water damage in the past, and the clean up of the water was not done promptly and thoroughly, the home may have mold. If the moisture levels in the visible wood areas is >15%, the home may have mold. If the humidity in the basement is >50%, mold is a concern. If the home has a humidifier that was not maintained properly, as is the case with just about every one of them, the home may have mold. If you are purchasing just a mold inspection and test, we will perform all of the above and include it in our report. If you are purchasing a home inspection, all of the items mentioned above are already part of the service we provide.

Now the mold sampling is done. We begin by taking air samples from the exterior. We take a specific amount of air for a precise time period. We seal the canister that contains the sample, label it and seal it again in a zip lock bag. This provides us with a base line as to how much mold is in the area. (Remember, mold is everywhere.) We then take indoor air samples in the living area. We take at least two indoor samples. Often we will take one in the basement and another in the living room or central area of the home. The minimum samples we take are three. If the home is very large, >3,000 square feet, additional samples may be recommended. We do not take samples in the attic. The reason is no one is living there. If a basement wall has obvious stains, we make take a swab sample there as one of the samples. If there is concern about growth behind drywall in the basement, and access is restricted, we may take off an electrical plate and feed our hose behind the wall to take a sample. Three air samples, one outside, and two inside is the most common test performed, and is usually adequate unless there are unusual conditions.

The samples are labeled, sealed and sent overnight to a testing lab. The lab then gets us the results by e-mail by the end of the next business day. The report lists the types of mold found and letís you know if the type or quantity found are a concern. Pollen counts are also included as this is also a health concern. If the levels are normal, and types of mold found are the type that are common to most homes, you now have the peace of mind to know your home has safe healthy air with regard to mold and pollen. If you are still nervous about the findings, we recommend you take the results to a medical professional who can further analyze the results. Everyone reacts differently to the various allergens. What are healthy levels for most people may be a concern for someone else. For example, some people get Rose Fever, a spring allergic reaction, others get Hay Fever in the fall, and some arenít bothered at all by pollen. This report will provide you with information on these tiny particles that you canít see, but could be making you sick.

The last thing to remember about a mold test is that it is a snapshot, not a movie. By that I mean it will give you the mold and pollen count for that day and that day only. If the roof leaks, or the sewer backs up, or a pipe ruptures later, and the clean up is late or poorly done, mold can grow in a house that was found to have healthy low levels of mold a few days ago. Our fee for a mold test as part of our complete home inspection is only $425, plus our fee for the inspection. If we are performing just a mold inspection and sampling, our fee is $500. That covers the visual inspection, the moisture level testing, the air sampling, the shipping, and the lab work. Additional samples, if needed are $75.00 per sampling. These prices are as of June 1, 2015. They are subject to change if our costs increase or market conditions change. If you are concerned about mold, e-mail us or call for a free consultation.