Mold is a Naturally Occurring Substance
Many prospective home buyers become very wigged out about mold. The truth is that they’ve been conditioned to become alarmed. And many real estate agents and even inspectors have been conditioned to fear mold. Many home inspectors won’t even say the word “mold”. The fact is mold spores are in the air you’re breathing right now. It’s not a mysterious substance and it’s actually quite easy to address.
WHAT MOLD NEEDS TO LIVE…
We call it the mold triangle. Mold needs three components in order to become established and propagate:
- Mold spores
- Cellulose fiber
Without all three of these components mold cannot become established and grow.
Again, the spores are ever present in the air. Unless you want to live in a hermetically sealed bubble there’s nothing you can do to stop them from entering your home.
Cellulose fiber is the food mold needs. It is in wood, paper, and other building products. Cellulose fiber is present in every home and again, there’s nothing you can do to control it.
Moisture is the controllable element.
MOLD CAN EASILY BE STOPPED IN IT’S TRACKS
In places like Portland, Oregon or Seattle, Washington there is enough moisture in the air that mold can literally grow on the sidewalks. In Southern Nevada our atmosphere is very arid. So arid that we can walk into a home that has been vacant for three weeks and find all the water has evaporated out of the toilets! For mold to become established and grow here it has to be the result of a leak.
If you ever have a “mold test” performed and mold is determined to exist the course of action will always be, “Locate and isolate the source of moisture”.
DON’T WASTE MONEY ON A “MOLD TEST”
What many people call a “mold test” is actually mold sampling and analysis. The most common type of sampling is through the collection of airborne samples that are sent off to a lab and analyzed for content. This type of testing actually costs several hundred dollars.
Having a “mold test” is a complete waste of money if there are no indications of mold present or if there are no conditions present that would be conducive to the establishment and growth of mold; a leak.
This is where infrared technology can save the consumer a lot of money. IF the home inspector utilizes infrared technology in the normal course of his (or her) inspection then moisture that is not visible to the naked eye can easily be found.
A MOLD SURVEY CAN NEGATE THE NEED FOR A COSTLY UNNECESSARY “MOLD TEST”
What is a mold survey? A mold survey is a review of the home with infrared thermal imaging equipment to find moisture If moisture is found then we have a condition that is conducive to the establishment and growth of mold and that warrants further action. If there are no indications of moisture then a “mold test” is not warranted.
In 2014 I performed a home inspection on a 1900 s.f., two story home where no indications of any leaking was found during the entire inspection. Just prior to concluding the inspection I performed a mold survey and I discovered a blue area in the kitchen ceiling. When I took away the thermal imaging camera the spot disappeared completely and the ceiling perfectly matched the surrounding area.
When the area was further reviewed with a moisture meter the meter pegged at 100% moisture. The master bathroom was located directly over the kitchen. A thermal review of the bathroom sinks and the base of the toilet areas showed no indications of moisture. Further investigation reveal an improperly caulked bathtub spout that was allowing water to enter the wall.
The escutcheon ring was retracted at the shower head and a borescope was inserted into the wall cavity. A borescope is a camera on the end of a long, flexible cable. Stain indications were present in the wall cavity but there were no indications of any biological growth (mold). No further testing was recommended. The prospective buyer was present and had the opportunity to use the borescope and see the interior of the wall. Ultimately the buyer requested the seller to correct the leak and did not see any justification for additional testing or repairs. The seller properly caulked all the master bath plumbing fixtures and in a subsequent re-inspection I performed upon returning to the property the plumbing was operated extensively and no leak indications were present.