Mold is a Four-Letter Word… Things for the mold sensitive home buyer to consider

Recent studies suggest that 1 of out every 5 people have mold sensitivities or intolerances. This is a huge percentage of potential homeowners and home buyers.

Mold testing when buying real estate

Here are some recommendations for families facing these challenges to consider when buying a home.

  • Age of the Home - The older the home, the more likely the home has experienced water damage from leaking plumbing, failed roofs, and groundwater intrusion.
  • Does the Home have a Basement or Crawlspace? - Moisture and groundwater/humidity love basements. Avoiding homes with a basement or crawlspace may be best for mold sensitive home buyers. Keeping everything above ground will reduce the chance for groundwater intrusion.
  • Types of Plumbing Concerns - Homes built in the 1980s and early 1990s may have Polybutylene Pipes. These pipes have a propensity to leak or burst and can increase the risk of water damage and mold. When inspecting a home, look inside cabinets under the sink, areas surrounding the showers and tubs, and areas surrounding toilets. Slowly leaking plumbing fixtures can cause significant mold growth opportunities. Also, keeping showers and tubs properly caulked and clean will help reduce mold growth.
  • Homes with Humidifiers - Humidifier Systems can become a breeding ground for mold; especially if not properly maintained or cleaned. It’s best to find a home that does not have or never had a humidifier. These systems can feed moisture throughout the HVAC duct systems causing mold growth to spread throughout the home.
  • Homes with a Flat Roof or Intricate Roof Line - Homes with flat roofs tend to be susceptible to water ponding. This ponding can increase the likelihood of water intrusion. Intricate roof lines with multiple angles and water channeling may be problematic as these channels can leak and allow for water intrusion into the home or attic spaces. Even pitched roofs can be a mold trap if damaged or leaking. Roofs are also susceptible to storm damage from wind and hail. Look for damaged or missing roof tiles. I recommend having the roof inspected during inspection contingencies to check for leaks, missing shingles, and hail damage.
  • Negative Drainage - The lack of proper drainage away from the home provides an opportunity for water intrusion into the home and mold growth. Make sure gutters are clear and draining out away from the foundation. Avoid high level of mulch along the foundation of the home that can trap moisture. Make sure rainwater does not pond or pool against the foundation.
  • Improperly Ventilated Attics - Sealed up attics without air flow are breeding grounds for mold. Humidity and temperature variations, daytime heat to nighttime cool, can cause condensation to form and create an optimal place for mold to grow. Ridge vent lines, attic fans, properly working gable vents and soffit vents are important for airflow and ventilation.

Mold next to window frame

  • Poorly Maintained Wood Window and Doors - Wood rot surrounding windows and doors are another source for water intrusion and mold formation. Keeping wood painted and sealed against water intrusion is very important. Rotted trim around the windows can allow for water to leach in between the walls of the home. Mold growth between the interior walls and the exterior walls may not be noticeable; however, it can cause illness in mold sensitive people. Saturated insulation is a breeding ground for mold as well.
  • Homes on a Wooded or Very Shady Lot - The sunshine is the best disinfectant! This is also helpful with the prevention of mold growth and fungal growth. Shady lots are not ideal for mold sensitive people.
  • Homes with Wallpaper - Wallpaper paste is a superfood for mold growth. Older paper can act as a vapor barrier and allow for rampant mold growth behind the wallpaper.
  • Large Carpeted Areas - Avoiding large carpeted areas is also advisable as carpet retains mold spores and mycotoxins. Removing carpet; however, and replacing surfaces with wood or vinyl can be done.

Mold is everywhere and can’t be completely avoided, particularly in Northern Virginia. Being aware of water intrusion and potential water risks is paramount. Even new construction homes may have mold and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) risks for people who are sensitive. Understanding what to look for and how to remediate contaminated areas is critical. For instance; bleach can actually release harmful mycotoxin while killing mold and fungi. These mycotoxins have been linked to serious chronic health issues even if the actual mold is killed.

If you have concerns about mold and would like to talk to me regarding, I am available. On a personal note, I too suffer from mold sensitivities and I am happy to share my insight! Please feel free to contact me by clicking here.

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