Real estate issues come, people overreact, are educated and then the next issue arises. The latest issue that the homeowners are facing when selling their homes is the fear of MOLD. More and more frequently we are seeing mold issues derail real estate transactions. There have been horror stories of homes being condemned and people getting really ill from exposure to mold. While there are definitely extreme cases, for the most part mold issues can be handled easily if identified and taken care of in a timely manner. Left untreated it can ruin buildings, sicken us and our residents and expose us to catastrophic financial issues. I speak from experience having had a catastrophic mold incident. Removing the mold affected areas is fairly easy. Finding the reason that there was mold can be a challenge.
Molds are a type of fungi. They are very necessary as they help to break down dead organic material and recycle nutrients into the environment. And they are present everywhere in nature. They exist in our homes, also, but typically at low concentrations. However, when mold spores in our homes are introduced to an organic food source and a reliable source of water they grow colonies which release higher levels of spore concentrations into the environment. Some, not all, people are sensitive to mold spores: as some, not all, people have hay fever in the spring or have adverse reactions to peanuts or bee stings. Those with existing respiratory problems, weakened immune systems, infants and the elderly are especially vulnerable. Prolonged exposure can produce a variety of symptoms but if the property is remediated in a timely fashion the situation that caused the symptoms can be corrected.
The bottom line is that mold outbreaks should not be ignored. When you see mold on the surface of organic material (sheetrock, wallpaper etc.), ask yourself “where is the moisture coming from that is feeding this mold?” It may be summertime humidity or an unventilated bathroom. In these kinds of situations, remove the mold by cleaning with a mild detergent and take measures to reduce the moisture. Good ventilation in areas such as laundry rooms and bathrooms are the best precaution with the exhaust vented to the exterior of the home. Many times I see bathroom vents ending in the attic or in the garage. Moisture can build up in these locations (attic, garage) and mold can be seen on the walls. If, however, you do NOT see an obvious source of dampness and are getting mold colonies, it is a sign that water may be coming from a hidden source, and that mold may exist in places that you cannot see. This needs investigation.
Remedies to decrease moisture include:
- Repointing Chimneys
- Installing gutters with larger capacity
- Directing flow from downspouts away from the house.
- Regrading the gardens away from the house Checking for leaks around deck and chimney flashing
- Watching ground water runoff and installing curtain drains, swales or driveway drainage tiles.
- Checking for interior plumbing leaks.
- Checking the integrity of the roof
Sometimes, nature itself causes these damp conditions.(ice dams), or system problems (sump pump failures due to storms). When the SOURCE of the dampness is unknown or if there is a catastrophic issue, it is time to call Jim Gustin of STOP of West Connecticut. It is his job to assess the cause, repair it and work with the insurance companies. When speaking with Jim, he noted that mold remediation is usually covered by your insurance. My mold was caused by the water line of my refrigerator leaking. It was during a hot spell and although I stopped the leak and put blowers in the lower level, the mold spread like wildfire…it had a source of organic food and water. We had to seal that level, use huge blowers to bring down the humidity and THEN take the room down to the studs replacing carpets, furniture, walls…everything. Insurance covered it all.
To prevent mold issues:
- Make sure bathrooms, dryers are vented to the outside
- Run a dehumidifier especially during the humid summer months
- Don’t neglect water staining or leaks
- Use synthetic material whenever possible
Feel free to give Jim to get a free consultation if you feel that you are facing an ongoing mold issue. Jim Gustin, STOP of Western Connecticut 203 770-6806
of Coldwell Banker Residential
STOP of Western CT