Profile picture for bearmiss

Mold

We are buying a house now. The house experienced a water damage in 2007 (the water pipe on second floor was broken). During inspection, we found in craw space there is a mold area about 36sf (mold on the beam and woodboard. our inspector said it's mildew, not mold)

 

Our concern is: How serious is the mold? Is it possible mold hiden in drywall? is it fixable? if yes, How and how much?

 

We are green in homedevelping and thank you in advance.

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November 10 2008 - US
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Replies (23)

Mold/Mildew is always serious. Always. Not only because it can and will cause spread and cause more damage if left alone, but also because it can cause major health issues with continued and constant exposure. Read up on mold and spores and lungs. Its enough to make you shutter.

 

I would consider calling a mold/mildew specialist to evaluate the situation. They will look at the current damage and create an action plan for getting rid of it. Usually, depending on the situation, complete replacement of item/s, heavy duty drying, fan installation and/or treatments will rectify the situation. Don't try to diagnose it yourself. Don't try to fix it yourself (or let the current home owner fix it themselves, either). They should also look to see where else the mold/mildew could be as a result from the pipe leak and the current mold situation. Crawl space is the perfect place for it, it won't go away by itself.

 

Its serious.

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November 11 2008

Also, mildew is just a type of mold. And, when and if you have to replace anything, tell the contractor you wish to use the "greenest" materials possible and appropriate for the job. Any GC worth his license will be in the know these days.

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November 11 2008

mold/mildew will not spread without water. mold spores are ubiquiteuos, they are right there on the keyboard you are typing on, spill water on it continiously, wait, and presto! mold.

 

some molds are dangerous to some people, you should consider having it examined by an expert in the field.

 

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November 11 2008
Profile picture for bearmiss

Steinberg,

 

Thank you very much. We don't want to take the risk and we backed out this morning.

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November 11 2008
Profile picture for wetdawgs

Bearmiss:   did you know that the mushrooms on your pizza are mold? 

 

My humble opinion is that Steinberg designs has over stated the case against mold.  

 

But, you've already made your decision so I won't go into a PhD thesis on the probability that is was only a tiny problem suggesting that some dampness mitigation was required.

 

 

 

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November 11 2008

I feel that if someone is buying a home, a mold/mildew issue is a MAJOR concern. Of course you have to have a specialist come out to look at it- no one can deduce the situation without seeing it. Yes, there are many types of mold. Some are good for you- like certain, particular types of mushrooms. Most of them, however, are not. And, there are solutions and fixes to mold problems. That's why a pro is needed to access the situation.

 

If its was me buying this house, and the inspector said there was mold- I would hire a pro before I went forward on buying the house. To brush it off because it might not be a bad mold would be very poor judgement.

 

 

 

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November 12 2008

Mold is awesome. I love when people get all freaked out about it. Most Molds are not harmfull, and we breathe them daily. Homebuyers shouldn't fear buying a home because of this. There are great Mold companies that can eliminate and warranty the repairs. Alot of the time for less than $2,000. But go ahead and walk-away from the property someone else will get a great deal on it, and get the mold fixed for cheap. You can even get the mold tested for around $50 to see if it's harmful first, before you spend the money. Common Sense is very helpful people...

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November 24 2008

While mold is indeed ubiquitous in the environment, what grows in houses tends to be well beyond "normal" limits, and can very definitely be extremely hazardous to health, particularly if it is one of a number of varieties that are considered toxic.  What makes them hazardous is not only the types involved, but the concentrations, and usual lack of ventilation around where they are growing.  Even with the "normal", nontoxic types, many people are sensitive to molds, particularly in large amounts, and can become quite ill from it.

 

By the time you are able to see it on the walls, you can bet there's a great deal more behind the scenes (yes, hidden behind and in the drywall, as well as possibly permeating the studs and floor joists), and if you can smell it but can't see it, you're likely in for a major job to try to locate it and remediate it. 

The big problem is that once you find a mold problem, you not only have to get rid of that but you've also got to make sure that the reason it got there in the first place is eliminated.  If there's a hidden leak somewhere - like the roof - that could be a major job to fix.  If you can stop the cause, chances are good you can stop the mold. 

 

I'm afraid that it's impossible to answer the question of how much it will cost to fix any given mold problem without a complete evaluation of the extent of the problem.

 

This is a well-known hazard, and I had the misfortune to have to learn more about it than I ever wanted to know because of finding it in my own home a few years ago.  Proper environmental testing will actually cost a great deal more than $50, and I absolutely recommend hiring an environmental hygienist or engineer to do it if you like the house and want to still consider it. 

 

 

 

 

 

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December 12 2008

Sounds like this was a repair that wouldnt exceed $500.00 for a contractor to handle. Cut out and replace the damaged drywall, kill the mold with bleach and repaint. It is a common problem in any house to have an upstairs plumbing fixture leak causing moisture between floors. This sounds very minor indeed.

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December 12 2008
I'm with Mr. All repair.  With all do respect to Wendy, many many contractors make a mountain out of a mole hill in order to sell sell sell.  One of my clients had her bathroom remodeled by another contractor.  The contractor found a leaking pipe that rotted some of the subfloor in the bathroom. Sure rot is bad.  On the other hand an extra 15000 to replace 32 square feet of plywood decking seems pretty criminal to me.  "Oh no mold you're all going to die, unless you give me 10k for 'remediation;."  I flip moldy apartments all the time.  Lots of bleach, elbow grease and quality primer solves the problem.  I'm still around; maybe the primer has preservative properties?  And of course, bleach is as green as it gets.  It's what they use to make marchino cherries (gotta bleach em before you can dye em).  
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January 14 2009
I had a moldy / musty basement in an old commercial structure. I strapped on a heavy duty respirator and doused the walls and ceiling with a bleach and water mixture. Thank goodness I had the respirator on or I would've been dead on the floor in five minutes! There's gotta be a better solution, BUT it did the trick! (I wouldn't recommend this as a solution, just my experience)  But I AM allergic to mold, so I can understand erring on the side of caution.
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January 14 2009
Profile picture for SoCal Engr
I agree that "mold/mildew" is "always serious" is an overstatement. It should always be investigated to determine how serious a problem it is, and it should always be taken care of...but it is not "always serious".

Personally, if I liked the house, I would have had it inspected to determine...
 (a)  how serious the current problem was
 (b)  how much effort would be required to effectively mitigate it
 (c)  why the problem occurred (i.e., is this a "one time problem", or ???)
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January 15 2009
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Actually, the cost to test mold in my experience is $60 per location when you take the samples yourself.

Home Depot or similar sell the test kits for $10.  You follow the instructions  for collecting the mold, tape up the container to protect your sample and let it grow.  And if the growth is something you are concerned about and don't recognise yourself, you mail it to the test lab with your credit card information for the payment, and your email address for the results.  In about 10 days they E-mail you their findings telling you each of the items found growing in the sample, and their risk of toxisity, and how common that particular item is.  Many are just polins from outside plants.

None of the ones we found were toxic, but could be an irritant in high concentrations.  Though many of them appeared to come through an exterior window, the room that had been recently painted that had that window had no signs of any mold or spores.

The best solution usually seems to be to clean and paint.  But one may want to be careful about painting floor joists as potential buyers think you are hiding something if floor joists are painted.

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January 15 2009
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Inside sample:


Outdoor sample:


Summary of results:
Spore name:    colonies    commonly found
Alternaria           2        soil, dead plants, food stuffs, carpet, cellulose
Aspergillus         2        soil, dead plants, food, leather
Bipolaris/Drechslera 1   soil, plants, grass
Cladosporium     11       soil, dead plants, food, paint, textiles
Epicoccum                   soil, plants, grain, textiles, paper
Penicillium          1       soil, food, grain, paint, cellulose
Non-sporulating fungi    Mushroom Spores
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January 15 2009
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Spore name:    typical impact    Worst Case
Alternaria           Hay Fever            Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis
Aspergillus         Hay Fever            Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis
Bipolaris/Drechslera    ?                 eye infection, Fungal Sinusitis
Cladosporium     Extrinsic Asthma  Pulmonary Emphysema
Epicoccum        Hay Fever, Asthma           not infectious
Penicillium         Extrinsic Asthma              Pulmonary Emphysema
Non-sporulating fungi   llergenic, Irritating     Pneumonitis, Dermatitis
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January 15 2009
Profile picture for sunnyview
The pics remind me of science class. Really good information on the testing kits. Thanks.
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January 15 2009
Profile picture for Pasadenan
And I really recommend that both Wendy and J do a test in each of the rooms in their homes, as they will find they have much more mold than they think, and will then sell their houses at 1/2 of what they are worth to someone that is not so paranoid.

The only way to completely avoid mold is to have HEPA filters on the air-conditioning, and to run air conditioning all the time with positive preasure to keep anything from coming in, and to change the filters regularly, and to not ever bring anything in from the outside that has not been sterilized first.  (Perhaps they even want sterilization lamps in their ductwork).


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January 15 2009
Also,

    On the topic of cleanliness there is obviously much debate.  I do know that asthma is MORE prevalent in children who are kept in a sterile environment in early infancy.  The immune system is made stronger through exposure.  Elderly, hiv positive and other immune system suppressed individuals should have a higher level of caution but by and large we should be aware that spores, mold, viruses, bacteria and more are around us and in us, in the air we breathe, food we eat, water we drink.  It's everywhere and 99.9999% it doesn't do anything to us because our immune system deals with it. 
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January 15 2009
Profile picture for mtegan1
The "all mold is bad!  run away from a house with mold" is classic and stereotypical of clueless real estate agents who dont know any better.  I would suggest reading up on mold and remediation.  Even severe cases of mold can be fixed properly for less then you think.  Proper ventilation in attics and eves and using the proper materials is a huge step in the right direction. 

DO not use bleach to kill mold!!!  it is impossible to "kill" every mold spore and while it may be fun to see it bubble and "die"  it is less effective then other chemicals.  Depending on where you have mold and if the space is a living space should be questions on choosing a mold killer.  Some are great and will penetrate wood and seal, kill, and prevent future growth but have serious chemicals in them while others are more green. 

The people with the lest amount of knowledge in this area are the ones that are perpetuating this rumor...
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January 16 2009
Mtegan,

   What other chemicals would you recommend besides bleach?
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January 17 2009
Profile picture for winifredthompson
Borax!!  Bleach is very poisonous.  Borax has its issues too, but much less caustic.  I love the stuff--and it is powdered, great for scrubbing. 
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April 06 2009
To PROPERLY kill mold, you need a fungicide, a product specifically designed to kill mold. The issues with Borax is that does not give you an effective full kill of the hyphae down in the material and it leaves the material wet. The proper way to remediate is to set up a negative air system (which is a blower system designed to suck any disturbed mold spores outdoors) do an initial spray with a recognized fungicide (Benefect is an EPA registered green fungicide), wait a little bit then spray again and scrub the surface down. This assumes the mold hasn't deteriorated the material and assumes it is a structural element. Decorative elements like drywall and mouldings should be removed and replaced if the mold isn't strictly surface (you remove drywall if it has grown thru so you are assured there isn't growth inside the wall cavity). Last but not least, don't panic! Mold is absolutely treatable and as others have pointed out, may cost you less to have a professional treat than you may think. We often do treatments during escrow after the inspection phase and is is often handled as a contingency during escrow with the payment agreed upon by buyer and seller. We have many cases where the seller will pay for the remediation and the buyer will pay to have a preventative coating put on (particularly in attics and crawlspaces). 
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May 02 2009
Get a new home inspector!  Technically mildew only grows on the underside of living plant leaves...anybody who tells you that mildew is "just dead mold" or that in your case its  "mildew not mold" really should not be performing that type of inspection or making that type of determination.

Control the moisture and you control the mold.  Most mold problems are in fact blown out of proportion. However mold can be a very serious problem for some people so it is better to err on the side of caution by removing contaminated materials. Surface mold can be removed safely and effectively as can greater problems areas. Visit www.epa.gov/mold for more info on mold in your home.
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May 26 2009
 
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