Homebuyers often have concerns about mould, but are their fears justified?
Although thousands of types of mould exist, only a few are actually harmful to people. Toxic varieties, such as moulds from the genus Stachybotrys, can produce chemicals linked to various health problems including sinus infections, asthma and certain respiratory infections. However, mould must generally be present in large quantities to have a noticeable effect on most people.
Mould eats wood cellulose and can potentially affect the structural integrity of wood. Some insurance companies have excluded mould damage from both first party and third party coverage. Property owners may be able to obtain costly site-specific environmental insurance that specifically includes mould coverage.
Mould is caused by water damage or excessive humidity, poor ventilation systems, wet construction materials or poor construction or design. Mould travels on air currents and is all around us, and so it is difficult to find a house that is completely mould-free.
The smell should be the first red flag. Just because a house is nicely renovated and freshly painted doesn’t make it mold free, if there’s a musty, mouldy smell, and lots of plug-ins and potpourri, you should investigate further.
The best advse is use common sense. During a home inspection, the inspector cannot open walls. Therefore, you may need to rely on your sense of smell. If moisture damage has built up in the basement over the years, the smell will reveal it right away, regardless of how nice it looks
If there’s mould in their home, it can be a minor issue involving lack of circulation in the basement, or it could be a serious case of black mould coming through the drywall or baseboard, which probably needs to be ripped out. You can’t just wipe it off. Either way, the issue causing the mould must be solved and the area has to dry out.
Whether inspecting a home you should always look for signs of water damage.
You should hire a home inspector or other mold professional if there is a concern
Be sure to inspect moisture-prone areas such as basements, bathrooms and kitchen cupboards. Mould behind a wall will not be visible to you, but signs of mould include:
- discolouration on finishes
- spotty patterns revealing visible mould growth (which may indicate a larger, unseen problem)
- musty smells.
Mould issues can usually be resolved. The moisture or water source needs to be located and stopped, and then the mould needs to be removed. If the problem turns out to be widespread and remediation is necessary, it’s important to ensure that the entire problem area is remediated, otherwise the mould infestation could return.
A proper home inspection may uncover indications of mould or structural deficiency issues, although there is no guarantee that it will. However, an inspector cannot speak to chemical contamination or health risks. The inspector may recommend that the homeowner enlist the services of a mould investigator.
Source Edge Newsletter