Importance of Mold Testing with Home Purchasing
As a home buyer you are probably worried about mold being present in the home that you are thinking about purchasing. Mold is quite a hot topic today with the media, consumers, insurance companies and health care professionals. Certain molds can cause health problems in both healthy and immune system compromised people. Mold can be considered toxic if it produces mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins can be produced by many different mold species and its production is somewhat unpredictable. One point to be noted is that the presence of mold does not indicate the immediate presence of toxins. Some molds are not capable of producing these toxins. Mycotoxin production is known to be effected by several different variables such as temperature, humidity, time mold has been established, and aeration.
How do you know if the home you are purchasing has mold?
The first thing to do when you are walking in a home you are thinking about buying is to look for visible mold. Often mold can be seen on interior walls and finishes. Look for mold on all interior finishes. Pay particular attention to the basement or lower level. It is here in the lowest levels that mold will be more prevalent. Look for water stains and seepage. Ask the seller about any basement water issues that have occurred in the past. Mold requires moisture to grow. The more moisture in the basement or in the interior rooms the greater the probability that mold will grow. Use your sense of small to locate mold. If you small a musty or moldy odor in the basement or in the interior rooms then mold exists. Musty and moldy odors should raise red flags for you and further research and investigation on your part as the buyer is warranted.
Secondly, use your home inspector as a resource. When you have your home inspected the inspector will inspect all accessible areas of the home. Explain to him or her that you are concerned about mold. Most home inspectors disclaim mold as part of their home inspection because it’s an environmental concern rather than a structural or systems concern. However, most good home inspectors will tell you if they see mold. Follow the home inspector around so you can view all of the areas more closely. The home inspection is the time for you to really pay attention and look at all visible areas of the home. Some home inspectors are and can provide mold testing in the home.
Third you should ask questions of the seller. Ask the seller if there was ever flooding or water infiltration in the home. Ask the seller if there have been any leaking waste or plumbing pipes. Ask the owner if there has ever been water infiltration in the basement or lower area. If the seller states that they are not aware of any water infiltration or leakages have them sign a sworn statement stating that. If your basement floods after a month of moving in then at least you have some firepower in the form of the sworn statement from the seller. If the seller is reluctant then you may want to consider another home.
Fourth ask questions of your realtor. Your realtor is an “agent” which means to act in your best interests. Ask the realtor about the neighborhood and the potential for flooding. Ask the realtor if he or she is aware of any issues in the home.
You may want to consider putting in a mold or inspection contingency in the contract. This will allow you to release yourself from the transaction if mold or other issues are found in the home.
If you are very concerned about the presence of mold in the home or have known asthma problems then you may want to hire a certified mold testing professional. The mold inspector will be able to conduct air testing and surface sampling for mold. Usually this is done by taking a control sample from the outdoor air then taking several additional samples in the interior rooms of the home including the basement or lower level. Usually these samples are performed every thousand square feet of living space.
Surface samples are done to define the type of visible mold on a surface. These are usually performed using swabs or tape lifts. Air sapling coupled with surface samples will allow you to have a clear picture of the air quality present in the home you are thinking about purchasing. With proper mold testing you can make informed decisions about the home.
In any event make sure to keep your eyes and nose open for mold.