Thursday, March 26, 2015

How do I know when Mold is bad?

The term 'toxic black mold' is very popular. Family, friends, friends of friends and just about everyone warns about its dangers. Hearing stories may frighten someone, especially since mold is very common in homes. But as the CDC explains, the term 'toxic black mold' is inaccurate. Mold itself is not toxic. Rather, some (very few) molds produce mycotoxins which can be hazardous to one's health. These are not commonly found in homes. Instead, homes often have other types of mold, known as allergenic molds. 

What people commonly refer to as 'toxic black mold' is not precisely black. Instead, mold associated with hazards looks thick, dark greenish-black, slimy and fuzzy when wet and fuzzy or powdery when dry. It will have already grown in a large area rather than one or two spots on a wall. This is less common and usually appears in areas that are left wet or are repeatedly wet. 

However, it's important to know that when left untreated for a long period of time, all molds can potentially become hazardous. That's because mold is a living fungus that depends on whatever it is feeding on to grow. The longer a mold issue is left untreated, the bigger chance there is that it can expand and become hazardous.

If you have a large mold issue you should consult with a mold remediation company for advice and removal. Although it might not be 'toxic black mold' it is still best to address the issues right away and mitigate any damages.

If you want to know more about mold, check out these articles:
EPA Brief Guide to Mold Clean Up
3 Indicators of Mold in your Home
Molds in the Environment
CDC Facts about Molds

3 Indicators of Mold in your Home

Because mold is very common, people often worry about the existence of mold in their own home.  How do you detect mold? While a mold remediation company can do the work for you and test for mold, you should know that you can usually smell, see, and feel mold.

Mold smells old and musty. It makes you want to open the windows as soon as you enter your home. For example, say you leave your wet laundry in the washer and forget all about them until you open the lid three or four days later. When you take the clothes out, you'll likely get a 'musty' odor. Imagine this odor day-in and day-out, and it will start smelling 'old'. The same happens with cabinets, carpets, walls, and just about everything else when exposed to moisture and left wet - it begins to smell old and musty and can be an indication that mold is growing. Because a person's sensitivity to odors can differ, mold is not always detected by smell.

Household Mold

Often times you can see mold. Depending on how much moisture is in contact with it, mold will be either powdery or slimy, and have a (visible or not) fuzzy texture. Mold often looks like a lot of spots botched together.  It is typically black or gray in color, yet can range in colors including green, yellow, white and brown.  Mold usually begins to grow about two days after moisture exposure, especially when there is a large leak.  But it is not always visible so early. Other times, mold may be hidden inside the walls or around cabinets and will take long before it becomes visible.

At times, your health can feel mold. The CDC advises there may be health concerns associated with molds.  Some people may not have an adverse effect to exposure, while others including those with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses may be sensitive to mold and experience reactions. Indicators includes a sudden onset of allergies, nasal stuffiness, wheezing, skin and eye irritation, fever or shortness of breath. Although there may be other causes, if you experience any of these symptoms you should look further into the potential of mold growth in your home or workplace.  If you're concerned that a mold issue is making you sick you should consult with your physician to help find remedial steps.

If you smell, see or feel mold you should consult with a mold remediator to help you determine the severity of the issue and address the problem. While mold exposure is unavoidable, it is manageable. Properly maintaing a home, thoroughly cleaning after leaks or floods, ventilating a home and keeping moisture levels under control can help reduce expansion. 

If you want to know more about mold, check out these articles:

EPA Brief Guide to Mold Clean Up
How Do I know when Mold is Bad?
Molds in the Environment
CDC Facts about Molds

Mold in Homes

Mold has been around for millions of years - and it's not going anywhere. There are thousands upon thousands of species of mold (fungi) that exist in different environments. Mold is very common in households and just about anywhere there is moisture or food sources. 

Mold is keen on dampness and will grow happily in places with a lot of moisture, including carpets, wood, roofs, pipes, drywall and other household materials. It can be the result of any type of leak or wetness such as a flooded home not properly dried out down to a small glass of milk dropped on the carpet and left uncleaned. It exists in the air and outdoor surfaces and can enter a home by attaching itself to items coming in (such as clothes, shoes, etc.).  Regardless of where it grows, the one thing mold needs is moisture. 

Most types of mold can be cleaned easily at home following cleaning mold recommendations. According to the EPA, if an area with mold is "less than 10 square feet, less than a roughly 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch," then clean up can be handled by the homeowner. However, with larger mold issues, clean up should be done by a professional. 

Mold is not the problem; it is simply the cause of a water problem. Mold will reappear after cleaning unless you address the actual problem. 

The reason mold grows in the first place is because something wet is out-of-place. There are many problems that could trigger mold growth. Perhaps a pipe under the sink or in the walls is leaking, or the roof leaks, or the carpet was exposed to wetness, or something other.  In order to prevent mold from reappearing, the root of the problem needs to be found and fixed. 

While mold exposure is unavoidable, it is manageable. Properly maintaing a home, thoroughly cleaning after spills, leaks or floods, properly ventilating a home and keeping moisture levels under control especially in wet areas such as the bathrooms can help prevent or reduce expansion. 

If you want to know more about mold, check out these articles:

EPA Brief Guide to Mold Clean Up
3 Indicators of Mold in your Home
How Do I know when Mold is Bad?
Molds in the Environment
CDC Facts about Molds

Monday, March 23, 2015

How long does it take to get a Home Inspection Report?

Delivery of the report after an inspection is an important aspect in the buying process.  Naturally, reports need to be completed as soon as possible after inspection so the buyer, seller and their agents can move forward with any repairs, additional inspections or negotiations.

Many factors affect the time it takes to complete a report including:

  • The structure of the report - Does it only have check boxes or will it also include descriptions and recommendations? Are comments generic or are they written specifically for each report? Does it have pictures?
  • The day and time the inspection is completed as inspectors do not normally work 24/7- Is it done on a Saturday evening or a Monday morning?
  • The size and condition of the property - The more there is to include, the longer it will take.  

On-Site Inspection Reports

Some home inspectors offer on-site delivery of reports.  For the most part, these reports have previous generic comments inserted. As someone who is paying for a service, you should decide whether obtaining a generic report is what you want. On-site reports hinder the ability for an inspector to review his/her findings, write organic comments regarding each deficiency and provide useful recommendations. 

24 - 48 Hour Inspection Reports 

Some home inspectors will deliver an inspection report in no more that 48 business hours after an inspection.  Ideally, you want to hire an inspector who delivers reports within 24 business hours but it shouldn't be upsetting if it takes slightly longer, considering the factors listed above. This delivery time frame is the most common amongst home inspectors.

Longer than 48 Hour Inspection Reports

Inspection reports that take longer than 48 business hours to complete should be a red flag - or at least yellow. While at times there may be hurdles that arise that can legitimately delay the report, that is not common. If a report will take longer than 48 business hours, the inspector should be able to explain the reason(s). 

Always discuss the time frame of delivery with the home inspector prior to hiring his/her services. Let them know your time constraints (if any) and ensure the inspection report will be provided to you with sufficient time to review and make decisions. 

"Home Inspections are like a Box of Chocolates…"

Know the saying? Forrest Gump said it best, "You never know what you're gonna get."

Home inspections can reveal many things. Some homes are in a near perfect condition, while others could use a lot of their new owner’s TLC. 

Most homes fall somewhere in between those extremes and have only normal problems that can be addressed quickly.  New owners, including first time buyers, should understand that deficiencies will likely be found and unexpected repairs may still arise at one time or another. The important thing in any case is that the sellers or potential buyers take proactive steps to protect their investments by getting a quality home inspection. 

Really, it’s what you don’t clearly see that can be the major problem. Getting an experienced home inspector to evaluate the condition of the home is always recommended as it's the best way to know the true condition of the property.

You may not always know what you're going to get in life, but you can know what you'll get before buying a home by getting an inspection.

Don't forgo the Home Inspection process - Get it inspected.