• Mold: The Four Letter Word of Real Estate


    By, CarrieBenuska

    As Icompleted last week°òs article on water intrusion, I was forming ideas for afollow-up article on mold, the nasty by-product of water intrusion. With all ofthe rain that we were receiving, these topics seemed relevant and interesting.As I am formulating this article, the sun is shining and my daughter is headingoff to the beach for some tanning. I am not going to allow this sudden SouthernCalifornia warm spell to push me off course, though. Since we are still in themiddle of winter, I would like to discuss the important topic of mold.

    I callmold the “lead-based paint of the 21st century”. Lead-based paint became a hot buttonin the 1970°òs, when it was discovered that the substance was hazardous to our health.It became a topic of concern with home buyers, and multiple references to lead basedpaint were incorporated into residential real estate disclosure paper work.Since it was banned in 1977, most of these toxic walls have been painted over,making leadbased

    paint lessof a problem in residential real estate.

    The newhot button for real estate buyers and the topic of several residential realestate disclosures, is mold. Mold or fungi is natural and exists both indoorsand outdoors, most often where there is water. Anyone who spends time in thegarden has been in contact with mold, because molds play a major role incausing decomposition of organic material. The dark dusty substance that yousee on a leaf that has been lying in the wet soil is mold. There are thousandsof species of mold, and they play an important part in our environment. Mold,like lead-based paint, first became a real estate hot button when it was discoveredthat it can be hazardous to our health. According to mold expert Mark Levy, ownerof “The Mold Guy”, a commercial and residential mold inspection and testing company,“too much exposure to mold may cause or worsen conditions such as asthma, hayfever, or other allergies. The most common symptoms of overexposure are cough,congestion, runny nose, eye irritation, and aggravation of asthma. Depending onthe amount of exposure and a person’s individual vulnerability, more serioushealth effects – such as fevers and breathing problems – can occur but areunusual.” Levy points out that mold can grow almost anywhere there is waterdamage, high humidity, or dampness. He also claims that most types of mold thatare routinely encountered are not hazardous to healthy individuals. Mosthomeowners have encountered mold at some point in an under-ventilated bathroomand quickly cleaned up the mold with an over-the-counter cleaning product. Problemsoccur when there is a chronic water intrusion problem or the presence of a leakypipe or fixture. These water issues are not always easy to detect and can existin a basement or within the walls. Homeowners need to keep on the lookout forsigns of water intrusion, which include separated building materials, warpedfloors, or the presence of discolored, peeling or bubbling paint. The presenceof a musty smell also is a great indication that mold might be growing. Anyonewho is concerned about the presence of mold in their own home or a home that theyare considering buying should consider a mold inspection. Levy°òs company will testfor evidence of mold and develop a plan to remediate any problems found.

    Accordingto Levy, removing the source of the moisture is critical to preventing mold growth.Without fixing the source of the problem, mold can start growing back within 24to 48 hours.

    Levy saidthat hindering interior mold growth starts on the exterior of the house. He suggestslooking closely at the perimeter of your home, verify that water is notgathering at the foundation or making its way through the walls. The soilshould be graded so that water flows away from the house, and sprinklers shouldbe located away from the foundation and their spray carefully directed awayfrom the house. Levy also suggests that a well-operating gutter system withworking down spouts is a must.

    Inaddition to checking for water intrusion from the outside of your house, Levysuggests keeping a close eye on the interior “red zones”, which include undersinks, washers, and refrigerators. He suggests that every six months homeownerslook in these areas to ensure that you don°òt have an unknown leak. Inaddition, make sure that your bathrooms are well-ventilated, and take time towipe down the shower each day, to keep it free of excess water. There is nodoubt that homeowners and buyers alike should be aware of the dangers of mold,but there is no need for panic. There are common sense practices that can keep yourhome free of any hazardous mold problems, and there are experts like “The Mold Guy”who can thoroughly diagnose any problems. A good place to start is to read throughthe valuable information on their website,www.themoldguyinc.com. Remember that without water problems, there mostlikely is not a mold problem.

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