What About Mold from Moisture Problems in Buildings
We expect that molds growing on damp surfaces indoors can get airborne.
We find these moldy or conducive conditions indoors:
- Moldy window sills, from moisture condensation on glass or on metal frames.
- Moldy bathroom or bedroom walls, more on exterior, or behind furniture.
- Moldy, water stained, or wavy walls or ceilings below leaks.
- Moldy attics, often on large areas under the roof, from condensation.
- Moldy odor in basements (damp? carpet?) or in cabinets below sinks.
- Mold or water stains with white “efflorescence” salt crystals deposited on masonry.
- Moldy crawl spaces from poor drainage, bare soil, poor ventilation.
- Rotted wood from slow leaks around tubs, showers, toilets, or roof eaves.
We see spots or fuzzy growth on surfaces.
- Mold spores land on surfaces everywhere, just waiting for moisture to grow.
- Mold growth indicates excessive moisture that permits amplification.
- Mold indoors is usually limited by water availability (also needs food & light).
- More mold grows inside windward S & W walls near Puget Sound from rain & leaks.
- More mold grows on the N side walls and attics near Puget Sound (away from the sun, so cooler, more condensation; and driven by the prevailing wind).
- Mold colonies start from seedlike “spores” or fragments, and grow out rootlike threads to form circular spots, then a mat of “mycelia” or “mildew”.
- Outdoor molds grow on living and dead matter, and in soil.
We should fix moisture or mold problems, and avoid airborne mold.
- Mold growth indicates a problem with moisture, and maybe other wood destroying organisms (WDOs) such as wood rot fungus or insects (beetles, termites, ants).
- Breathing airborne allergenic mold particles can cause health problems.
- Other fungi are less of an air concern: mushrooms, yeasts, rusts, smuts.
We have moisture and water intrusion from indoors and outdoors from many sources.
We must avoid conditions conducive to moisture, surface molds, or WDOs, such as:
- Damp materials.
- Moisture condensation.
- High humidity.
- Inadequate ventilation.
MOISTURE & MOLD INSPECTIONS:
We inspect a structure to find or evaluate if and why it might have problems.
- Purpose: to find signs of water damage and mold growth, to guess possible sources/causes, to decide if it’s a past problem, or significant, active, and increasing.
- Mold odor is useful evidence of damp mold, pointing to a source or a pathway.
- Moisture can be measured within building materials using conductivity meters.
- Water stains or rust are important flags and evidence of conducive conditions.
- Inspectors reporting on conducive conditions in real estate transactions must have a License as a Structural Pest Inspector from the State Department of Agriculture.
- Our inspections are limited to surface mold and conducive conditons (not a complete WDO inspection that includes wood rot or insects).
- Wood rot fungus often has stringy white mats or “brown cubical rot”, and soft wood.
We find a few of the many natural molds growing indoors.
- “Mold” includes thousands of species of filamentous mycelial fungi like mildew.
- Molds are a normal component of house dust (less than 1%).
- Molds are the microscopic plantlike version of mushrooms.
- Some types grow mostly outdoors; their spores are often found indoors.
- Mold types that grow in the wettest conditions may be worse for humans.
- The type of mold usually does not change how we deal with it. It’s “just mold”.
- These surface molds are not the structural wood destroying organisms (WDOs).
- Mold throws out spores when mature, when humidity is high enough.
- Mold particles (spores and mycelial fragments) get airborne when disturbed.
- Disturbing dry mold can release much of it into the breathing air.
We test to confirm some hypotheses we have guessed after inspection.
- Mold odor can indicate the presence of hidden damp growth.
- Test the air (at least 3 locations, including outdoors) to find what we are breathing.
- Test. before/after cleanup, or for reassurance even though no mold was found.
- Test the growth to confirm it is mold, if it is uncertain (stain?).
NEXT: 2. Mold Inspections
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