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Do I Need a Mold Inspection When Buying a House?

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Are you looking into buying a new home? Maybe a new business space? Many people get a home inspection or commercial building inspection to be better informed about their properties of interest prior to sealing the deal, but not nearly as many people get these buildings inspected for mold.

Mold can cause a vast array of respiratory problems for both people and animals and can be extremely dangerous- especially when there is airborne contamination. Chronic coughing and sneezing, irritation to the eyes, mucus membranes of the nose and throat, rashes, chronic fatigue, and persistent headaches can all be symptomatic of mold exposure or mold poisoning.

So how do I know if I need a mold inspection? A good starting point would be to ask if the building has had any water damage or moisture issues or if atmospheric anomalies become apparent during the home inspection. If the answer is yes, or if you suspect it, it’s a good idea to do a full check of surfaces, building materials, and air quality to see if mold is present in higher than normal quantities.

mold inspection

Mold Inspection is very important when buying a home

A good mold inspection can save you a lot of money, time and headaches.

It’s an exciting day when you close on the sale of a new home. But it can be easy to get ahead of yourself when you find the seemingly perfect house and buy it right away. Unfortunately, in some cases, this can easily lead to the huge mistake of buying a house with mold contamination.

Unfortunately, mold can be quite difficult to see with the naked eye and mold spores are undetectable without a microscope. Mold thrives in dark, damp areas and is known to hide out in hard-to-reach areas that aren’t visible at first glance. Mold may also breed inside HVAC units and up in attics and behind walls, and beneath the flooring.

If you suspect a home may have mold, there are some signs to look for on your own. When viewing the home, you should do some visual inspection to see if you spot any visible signs of mold. Mold can come in all kinds of colors and textures, depending on the type.

Some of the more common molds include:

  • Acremonium: This mold appears as a fine powder that can be white, pink, grey, or orange.
  • Alternaria: Look out for dark green or brown spots that appear to have a soft, velvety texture.
  • Aspergillus: This mold can grow into thick layers and is often white, yellow, or green.
  • Chaetomium: This mold grows around water damage, and it is usually brown, grey, or black. It appears like a stain on the walls and creates a distinct musty smell.
  • Cladosporium: This type of mold is commonly found in carpets and upholstery but it is also commonly found on joists and rafters. It blends into the fabric well since it has a suede-like texture and can be olive-green or brown.
  • Mucor: If you spot any thick patches of white or grey hair-like forms, watch out. This mold often grows underneath damp carpeting.
  • Penicillium: This mold creates a rather pretty blue or green colored patch with a soft, velvet texture.
  • Stachybotrys: Commonly known as black mold, this extremely toxic mold grows in patches that can be black or very dark green.
  • Trichoderma: This kind of mold forms wooly clusters that can be green, white, or yellow.
  • Ulocladium: You will often find this mold growing around cracks in the tile or floorboards. It is black or dark brown.

To avoid this potentially expensive and dangerous situation, it is best to schedule a mold and indoor air quality test from a professional.

Here are just a few key reasons why a professional mold inspection should be one of your top priorities before signing on the dotted line.

1. It Protects Your Family’s Health

One of the biggest concerns of mold is the health problems certain types can cause with long-term exposure.  Certain molds are toxic to humans, and about 25% of people have some mold allergy. Mold can also impact air quality and cause some unfortunate health effects, including:

  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Respiratory problems and trouble breathing
  • Seizures
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy eyes
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing

Young children and the elderly tend to be the most severely impacted by the presence of mold. Additionally, people with compromised immune systems are far more susceptible to mold-related health issues.

All of the most common household molds have been linked to significant health issues. Some of the more dangerous and toxic types of mold can even cause severe and chronic health conditions. This is known as mycotoxigenic exposure, and it can cause:

  • Pulmonary fibrosis (scarring in the lung tissue)
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Toxic nervous system
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Digestive and heart conditions
  • Cancer

When you get a mold inspection before buying your home, you’ll be reassured that your new place’s environment and air quality are healthy enough to support your family.

2. It Protects Your Investment

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments most people make. Potentially buying a house with mold contamination is a major financial risk, as removing it completely can be quite costly. But you can protect your investment risk with a proper indoor air quality inspection.

All molds can affect the structural integrity of any building where there’s an infestation. Mold will slowly eat away at the materials of a house, eventually causing dangerous structural damage if left unchecked.

This is because the underlying cause of mold growth is moisture. Fixing a moisture issue before you buy a house is much easier than fixing a severe mold problem a few months down the line. In the long run, this decision can save you a lot of money and ensure good health for your whole family.

3. Mold Inspections Are Quick and Easy

You can schedule a mold inspection quickly, and the process only takes a few hours to complete. A specially trained mold inspector will arrive on-site for the scheduled appointment. They may ask you (or the current homeowner) some questions about any signs of water damage or spots to check out.

Next, they will walk through the home and check out the spot where mold is most likely to grow. This includes checking around HVAC systems, basements, attics, and areas around pipes where there may be leaks.

Mold inspections are also non-invasive and will not compromise the structure of the home unless specifically authorized. For example, to check spaces behind drywall or underneath carpets, inspectors use infrared cameras. This technology can detect unusual temperature fluctuations on walls, floors, and ceilings with thermal imaging technology. This helps identify areas with hidden water damage.

The technician may also use humidity readers to check the air’s moisture levels in various spots in the home. If any mold or suspected mold spots are found, they will take videos or pictures for recorded evidence. In addition, some air or fiber samples may be collected for further testing back at the lab to determine which types of mold are growing.

You may also want to have an air quality inspection before buying a home in addition to a mold inspection. If mold is growing in the home, there is a high chance that other toxins could be present. Air quality inspections test for asbestos, dust, gasses, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, radon, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and other chemical compounds that could be harmful to your health. Ask in advance regarding any of this type of testing since it is outside of the scope for a mold inspection.

4. Mold Inspections Identify Potential Future Issues

Moist environments breed mold growth – and this is often caused in homes because of condensation. Condensation occurs when there’s a major difference in temperature between indoors and outdoors. Mold thrives in moist environments where condensation is present, like around windows, doors, or walls with poor insulation.

So, if mold is identified during the inspection, it could be a sign of structural issues that need to be addressed. This could be as simple as re-sealing entry points – but it could also require more intense renovations.

Identifying points of condensation before putting any money down gives you the chance to ask the owners to correct the issue before you purchase the home.

5. You Can Start the Mold Removal Process Quickly

It is not fair to say that you should avoid buying a house with mold under all circumstances. In some cases, the presence of mold can be mild and easily fixable. But it is far easier to remove the mold before you move in – so scheduling an inspection before the purchase is the best approach.

Non-toxic molds can be removed with a deep cleaning, especially on surfaces like tiles, sinks, or tubs. Bleach and heavy-duty cleaners can be used to scrub away mold. However, you may want to hire a professional cleaning service to take care of this issue.

If mold is growing in the carpets of the home, it is best to have it removed and replaced. The floor beneath should be sprayed and cleaned out before a new carpet is installed to prevent this from growing again. Pieces of moldy drywall, insulation, or wallpaper will also need to be removed and replaced.

You may also want to consider renovating areas of the home where mold has grown to add in better ventilation.

6. It is Your Buyer’s Due Diligence

As a buyer, you’ll need to perform your due diligence to protect yourself.

Now, it is fairly standard for potential buyers to schedule a home inspection for a property. A standard home inspection will supply you with a host of helpful information. Often an inspector will signal a problem with the plumbing, foundation, or roof of the home. This is the time to schedule an indoor air quality mold inspection.

An inspector’s role in assessing the overall structural integrity of a building, so what may be a small thing at the time (like mold or condensation) can be missed entirely. A mold inspection cost will be in addition to your home inspection, but the information and reassurance you get from it are worth it.

7. You can Leverage Test Results in Negotiations

If your professional mold inspection results show an unusual presence of mold in the home, you can use it as leverage in your purchasing negotiations since it falls under environmental contamination.

Make sure you have the exciting closing day you’re hoping for by ensuring that there will be no unwelcome surprises once you move in. A mold inspection is an excellent place to start.

There is no risk in scheduling a professional mold inspection in any home or property that you’re seriously considering buying. The process is quite simple, and it will give you peace of mind that you are making the right investment.

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