If a prospective homebuyer or the current homeowner has an inspection done and hears the phrase MOLD PROBLEM uttered, the level of concern and anxiety rises very quickly!
For the homeowner and/or home seller they know that a mold issue in the house is not only a potential health concern, but that it will turn-off buyers and potentially kill a pending sale.
For homebuyers if a mold issue is present in a house that they had an interest in, it’s likely that they may look to a different house without the problem.
Unfortunately, for homeowners, home sellers and prospective homebuyers in New York’s Long Island region, the word mold has been a particularly prevalent one during any real estate-related conversations in the environment post-Hurricane Sandy.
But rest assured that whichever of the three people mentioned above you may be, the presence of mold need not be an insurmountable issue. And even better, if mold is not present in a house, there are preventative steps that can be taken to make sure that barring a weather catastrophe it never becomes one!
To address the topic of mold prevention and mold remediation who better to ask than Rich Collett, the owner of Kings Bay Home Inspection (est. 1996), who resides on the South Shore of Long Island and does work from Montauk into the boroughs of New York City and beyond?
These are his thoughts…
‘Mold is Great……………. just not in our homes!‘ By Richard C. Collett
Mold is Great
There are many different types of mold. Mold is very helpful, 99% of the time. Mold breaks down wood and plant matter and deposits them back into the ecosystem. When a tree dies, mold breaks it down in to soil. Without mold, we would all be living on piles of wood!
We also eat some mold, such in cheese and raw mushrooms. Mold enhances our love for fine foods!
Finally, molds help us through the creation of antibiotics such as penicillin and other pharmaceuticals! Mold saves lives! We could not live without mold.
A Growing Concern
Although there are many ways in which mold can help us, we can’t have it growing in our homes or work areas because many mold strands can be extremely harmful to us. Considering we spend 90% our time indoors, when mold grows in our homes or offices, it should be taken very seriously.
Mold is opportunistic, and will grow within 24-48 hours when it encounters a wet or humid environment. Vulnerable areas in buildings include sub grade basements and crawlspaces, refrigeration, HVAC systems and ductwork. A leaking roof or building envelope, as well as leaking plumbing, can cause mold to bloom in your home. Current weather extremes add undue stress to all building systems, making mold growth indoors even more likely.
Mold is sneaky! When the excessive moisture or humidity is eliminated, mold colonies will become dormant for decades, waiting for the moisture return. Mold will lay in wait for the next favorable condition to grow.
Mold spores are invisible to the naked eye yet can affect people in at several ways. People can have allergic type reactions to mold spores as the mold colony releases them into the indoor air. Other people may become ill from mold when the colony produces mycotoxins from a process of out gassing. Out gassing is the process in which mold process and eliminates waste. To confuse the situation, mold affects every person differently depending on each person’s sensitivities. Duration of people’s exposure to spores and mycotoxins is another major factor. No matter the effects to each person exposed, we can agree that it’s in everyone’s best interest to monitor and improve the quality of your indoor air environment.
A Happy Equilibrium
To limit the growth of mold indoors, simple maintenance of building systems and detailed cleaning is your best option. Here are some recommendations:
- Consider using a HEPA vacuum for general cleaning
- Properly repair any plumbing leaks
- Provide good air circulation and ventilation
- Have HVAC system serviced yearly
- Replace air filters frequently, consider using HEPA filters
- Uses ventilation fans in bathroom and kitchen areas
- Maintain clothes dryer vents
- Service refrigeration units annually
- Insulate attic and crawlspaces
- Maintain a leak free roof system
- Clean, dry or remove any objects that are damaged by water as soon as possible
When Mold May Have Already Moved In
If mold growth or contamination is suspected, all is not lost! This is especially true after a major flood or water event. There are 3 issues to address when dealing with indoor mold contamination.
- Determine if a mold condition exist in your home or office. Consider hiring a New York Stated licensed mold assessor. They are the only people legally allowed to determine mold conditions in New York State. The mold assessor will provide a visual inspection with air sampling and surface sampling. The assessor, in conjunction with an EPA certified laboratory, will be able to determine they type and quantity of mold in the suspect area.
- The assessor will best determine the course of action needed to properly clean and remediate the mold. Assessors may even recommend a licensed mold remediation company, if warranted.
- Finally, the humidity or water condition that caused the mold growth must be identified. This can be self-evident or clandestine. When needed, use of a contractor or home inspector can be very helpful in determining the cause of the water penetration. Once identified, the defect must be properly repaired to prevent a future mold condition.
More on Mold?
If you would like to learn more about mold, contact the: NYC Department of Health, NYS Department of Labor, National Institute of Health and the US Environmental Protection Agency. These agencies can provide you with more information on mold growth and indoor air quality.
Rich Collett and Kings Bay Home Inspection can be contacted at (631) 979-2429 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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