Mold symptoms are rather prevalent in the Pacific Northwest, there being long stretches of rain or air high in relative humidity without much sun to dry things out. I see symptoms of mold all the time in my home inspections and customers sometimes shrug it off as if mold is a necessary evil in our neck of the woods. However, for clients who have respiratory problems, the presence of mold is a serious concern and even a deal breaker.
How do we deal with mold symptoms? Are they indeed a way of life for us Washingtonians, or can they actually be prevented from developing? More importantly, once mold growth becomes apparent, either from neglect or failing prophylactic techniques, can we expect to have any success in eliminating it through therapeutic approaches? Trying to answer these questions is the subject of this blog.
Symptoms come in the form of pungent odors, discoloration, and fungal growth. They might be readily apparent or their source might be behind walls or otherwise hidden from view. Getting a professional house inspection specializing in mold could be the only option in some cases. But there are procedures the owner can follow on his own that will give him a good idea of whether he has a problem. These procedures begin with shutting all doors and windows and keeping them closed for a minimum of twelve hours. This ensures that any mold spores outside stay isolated from the indoor environment.
First, use your nose as an indicator. Tracking musty odors, areas where breathing is difficult, and degraded air quality is often effective in locating the source, whether hidden mold or conspicuous. Next, search for accumulated excess moisture, using dank smells, the feel of saturated air, and sight as guides. Condensation and discoloration on walls, drapes, and window sills are symptoms commonly indicative of fungal growth. If applying bleach to the symptom removes it, you probably have mold.
Correcting Conditions that Cause Mold
Mold needs both moisture and food to grow. Once you've removed it, eliminating the moisture source is mandatory to keep mold from coming back. Condensation is the biggest culprit, and it is caused by humid air combined with insufficient ventilation and/or insulation. Pooled water probably comes from a leak, which may or may not be easy to trace to its source. If necessary, get professional help with your leak detection.
Measures to Help Prevent Mold
To discourage mold from developing in your house, take these preventative measures. Cover your entire crawl space with a vapor barrier and seal it around the foundation. Improve ventilation in the crawl space and attic, especially if moisture content is high. Dehumidifiers and mechanized ventilators are options to consider. Storm windows and better insulation can ameliorate cold surfaces and reduce condensation. Basically, go symptom by symptom, trying to eliminate the cause of each one. If you need further help, solicit the expertise of a home inspection.
Tags: Air Quality, ASHI, Black Mold, Home Inspection, Home Inspector, House Inspection, Leak Detection, Mold Removal, Mold Symptoms, Washington State
Published on March 15, 2012 | Comments: 0