Shopping for a House? 5 Things to Look Out for to Avoid Buying a Moldy Home
Searching for a new home can be a stressful and complicated process, but one thing you will want to watch out for when evaluating if a house is right for you is whether or not it has a mold issue. Mold is a destructive and unhealthful house guest, one you don’t want inhabiting a home you wish to buy. To avoid all the headaches and difficulties of owning a moldy home, make sure to take note of these five ways to inspect your prospective home as you search the real estate market. These can also be applied to looking for a mold-free rental home or apartment as well.
A musty or moldy smell in a home is a telltale way to immediately reveal if there is a mold issue. I have often gone to a house showing where I could promptly ascertain that there was mold present. For me, this was enough to prevent going forward with an offer. If you smell an odor that may indicate mold, but wish to still investigate to see where it is coming from or how bad it is, that is an option. Just beware that a musty or pungent, rotting smell is very likely to reveal a concerning mold problem in the homem, and you will want to proceed with caution and do some more probing to discover the source of the smell.
Evidence of water damage is another clue to watch out for when evaluating a home. Look out for water stains on walls, floors, or ceilings. These are generally from a water leak of some sort and can indicate that water was present long enough to generate mold growth. Mold can start to grow on a damp surface within 24 to 48 hours. Any sort of leak or dampness in a home can generate the environment that mold thrives in. Check basements and crawlspaces for signs of previous flooding, as well as attics and ceilings for any signs of a roof leak.
Faulty plumping can also create water leaks that can be revealed by visible water damage. I like to check under sinks and around toilets, showers, and hot water tanks for any signs of water damage and mold. During your home inspection, make sure the inspector checks for any leaks or plumbing issues as it will inevitably cause mold.
Condensation or High Humidity
Buying a home in a humid climate, or buying a home with insufficient ventilation can create issues with unhealthy levels of humidity in a home. Be sure to check for proper ventilation, especially in bathrooms, kitchens, and attics. Check bathrooms and windows for condensation and mold growth. If you live in a very humid climate, consider investing in a good dehumidifier to maintain your home at a healthy humidity level, ideally between 30 to 50 percent.
Obviously, visible mold in a house is a definitive way to tell if a home has an issue. Black, gray, or brown spots or areas can reveal mold growing, though there are many other colors of mold. It can look like staining on a surface, or like a furry growth, or just specks of color. The most commonly known is black mold, which is Stachybotrys chartarum. “Black mold” and other molds can cause many harmful reactions or symptoms. This mold can grow in or on walls, ceiling, floors, basements, attics, etc.
Mold needs organic material to grow, such as paper products, wood products, and cardboard – although mold can grow on inorganic surfaces if it is getting some sort of organic material that it can feed off of caught on the surface. Mold is much easier to clean off of inorganic surfaces, such as tile, plastic, concrete, etc, than on organic material such as wood or drywall. Often mold growing on drywall or organic surfaces needs to be completely cut out to successfully remove the mold. Simply cleaning the surface may not be sufficient to fully exterminate mold.
Other Ways to Check for Mold Before Buying a Home
In conclusion, when shopping for a home be sure to check for musty or moldy smells, signs of water damage or leaks, indication of high humidity or condensation in the home, as well as making sure there is adequate ventilation, and finally check for any evidence of visible mold or staining. After investigating all these things, it can be helpful to get a mold inspection done during the home inspection. Often the home inspector can also check for mold and run a test to make sure the levels of mold in the home are not too high, which could indicate that there is hidden mold.
Deciding on what house to buy is an important decision, and one you don’t want to regret later. Investing in some time and effort to investigate the home for mold is critical to avoid an expensive and destructive issue. Also, paying a bit extra for a mold inspection during the home inspection can be helpful in discovering something you may have missed.