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Recent medical studies show that mold is one of the most common causes of allergic symptoms and certain types of mold can cause fatal disorders.  The presence of mold, fungus and mildew can create a health hazard in a home, and homes should be tested to determine the type of mold growing in a home.  Our inspectors can perform swab, air and carpet samples to determine the type of mold and the amount of mold growing in the home based on a limited sampling area as requested by a buyer.  The samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis and the results are generally available in five business days.  It is also important to understand why mold is growing in a home and where the source is coming from.  Our inspectors may be able to tell you possible reasons why the home is experiencing a problem with mold growth and what repairs are needed to eliminate mold growth in the home.  Always remember we are generalists and not specialists. 

Lately, mold has been in the news as a serious health issue.  We want to make sure you are informed about this problem.  Mold can cause many health effects for occupants of the home, and it's important to understand what to do about mold growing in your home.

Here are some frequently asked questions about mold from www.epa.gov and www.cdc.gov

What is Mold?

Molds are microscopic organisms that can be found everywhere in the environment.  They can be found both inside and out, but are most prevalent in moist conditions.  Mold grows on plants, foods, leaves, and other organic material.   Mold produces spores that travel through the air and can get into your house.

Where Does Mold Grow Inside the Home?

Molds thrive where they can find sources of water, food, and physical space.  This includes areas that are moist from flooding, plumbing leaks, roof leaks, showers and bathtubs, refrigerator water pans, clothes dryers that are not vented to the outside, or water found in houseplants.  Basements, attics and crawl spaces are common locations for mold to thrive.

What Problems Does Mold Cause?

Mold spores are released into the air, travel inside the home where they may begin to grow and reproduce and are inhaled by occupants.  Most mold are not dangerous and only cause allergenic symptoms in humans.  Symptoms include: congestion (nasal and sinus), respiratory problems (wheezing, breathing difficulty), burning eyes, blurred vision, sore throat and irritation, possible fever.  Cognitive thinking problems have also been linked to mold in homes.  Those with asthma or allergies and people with weakened immune systems (children, elderly, pregnant women, cancer or AIDS patients) will have more difficulty coping with mold.  Stachybotrys, a toxic mold, has a possible link to infant hemorrhage.

Not all molds are dangerous, however, it is essential to determine if the mold in your home is toxic.  USA Today, Dateline, and many other media sources have revealed the increasing alarm about this health problem.

I Can Smell Mold, But I Can't See It

You do not always need to be able to see mold to know that you have a mold problem.  Mold can grow inside walls, under carpet or in other areas that are not easy to see.  Moldy or earthy smells and any allergic reactions you are experiencing are your clue that you have a mold problem

What are the Different Types of Molds?

There are three basic types of mold

Allergenic molds are the most common types and cause allergenic symptoms.

Mycotoxic molds are toxic to humans and can inhibit or prevent growth of other organisms.  Mycotoxins are found in residential homes and commercial buildings and will cause anything from basic irritation to immunosuppression, cancer or death.

Pathogenic molds cause serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems (those taking chemotherapy, infected with HIV/AIDS or other auto-immunity disorders).

As far as species are concerned, there are thousands.  Some of the most commonly found molds in homes are:  Cladosporium (allergenic mold), Penicillium (mostly allergenic, some species mycotoxic), Aspergillus (mostly allergenic, some species mycotoxic), and Alternaria (mostly allergenic, some species mycotoxic).

How Do I Determine if the Mold is Toxic?

It is impossible for people to distinguish between toxic and benign molds just by looking. A professional sample must be taken and sent to a mold laboratory for analysis. If you find mold in your home, it is best to have it tested.  Be especially wary of blackish molds.  However, it is not necessary to have common "bathroom" mildew tested. Bathroom mildew can usually be cleaned with bleach, does not require a food source (but does require water), and is not toxic.

If the Mold is Toxic, What Do I Do?

If the mold in your home is toxic, it must be cleaned by a professional and the source of the mold growth must be corrected.  If the source is not fixed, the mold will likely return.  If mold is growing in your home, it is getting a water supply from somewhere and in order for the mold to die, its water supply must be cut off.  Homes with synthetic stucco may also cause mold problems since synthetic stucco has been known to trap moisture beneath the surface of the stucco.  If you believe synthetic stucco problems are the reason for mold growth in your home, you should have the stucco moisture tested and inspected for repairs that need to be made. 

How Can I Prevent Mold from Growing in My Home?

Although mold spores are present in the air, there are things you can do to prevent mold from growing in your home.  Any water leaks or other moisture problems should be corrected immediately.  Your home should have adequate ventilation including exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens.  Clothes dryers should be vented to the outside. Bathrooms should be cleaned with mold killing products.

The Georgia Realtor magazine and the Environmental Protection Agency recommend good maintenance and housekeeping practices that should be followed regularly.

  • Homes should be inspected regularly for evidence of mold, water damage, and leaks.  Also, the presence of a musty or earthy odor is a sign that mold is present.
  • Remove mold from walls, ceiling, floors, and paneling.  Do not cover mold with paint, varnish, or waterproof sealer, since the mold can resurface.
  • Vent crawl spaces under the home and put a plastic cover over the dirt to prevent moisture from entering the house through the ground.
  • Raise the temperature of cold surfaces where moisture condenses by using insulation or storm windows.
  • Carpet on concrete floors can absorb moisture.  Under the carpet, a plastic sheet and additional sub-flooring insulation should be installed, or the carpet should be replaced with area rugs.
  • Remove and replace moldy shower curtains and other items that have sustained water damage.
  • If your home has mold and you have it listed for sale; you need to disclose the problem to avoid potential legal issues later.

How Do I Test for Toxic Mold?

If your home has mold, call today to have it tested. Professional Home Inspectors of Georgia performs swab, air, and carpet mold tests depending on each specific instance to determine if your mold is toxic or not.  It is a good idea to determine what type of mold you have before calling an industrial hygienist because such services can be very costly.   Professional Home Inspectors of Georgia can also tell you how to rid your home of moisture problems to help inhibit mold growth.

Why Do I Hear So Much About Stachybotrys?

Stachybotrys is a toxic mold that has a possible link to infant deaths.  Read more about Stachybotrys at www.doctorfungus.org and www.cdc.gov.