Determining whether there is mold in a property that you are considering purchasing, isn’t always as obvious as would like for it to be. But there are a few signs that you should be on the lookout for. You should look for standing water in the basement, water marks on the walls, musty smells from places such as the bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, basements, cabinets with plumbing. While it's not your home inspector's job to look for mold, he or she will mention any obvious signs of water damage and possible presence of mold.
Why is mold growing in my home?
Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter, such as fallen leaves and dead trees.But indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.
Can mold cause health problems?
Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants and, in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common.
They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold. Research on mold and health effects is ongoing. For more detailed information, consult a health professional.
How do I get rid of mold?
It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors. Some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust. Mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold but don't fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will recur.
Who should do the cleanup?
This depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem.
If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3-foot by 3-foot patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself, following the guidelines below.
If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult with an InterNACHI inspector.If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold.
Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations of the EPA, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations.When it comes to mold in your home, the key is moisture control and promptly fixing the water issue and getting rid of the mold.