Mold

As Per http://www.thefreedictionary.com/mold FungiECard

mold 2  (mld)   n.

1. Any of various fungi that often cause disintegration of organic matter.
2. The growth of such fungi.
mil·dew  (mld, -dy)  n.
1. Any of various fungi that form a superficial, usually whitish growth on plants and various organic materials.
2. A superficial coating or discoloration of organic materials, such as cloth, paper, or leather, caused by fungi, especially under damp conditions.
3. A plant disease caused by such fungi.


See the difference there?

But when you look at it… can you SEE the difference? It is pretty common for people to ask us if we saw any mold in the house. According to the definitions above, mold is the bad stuff that causes the disintegration of organic matter. Mold and mildew both happen in damp locations (as do termites I might add). Most often these funguys are found in crawlspaces, basements, and bathrooms. You know what else is found in these locations? Dirt, dust, grime. Fine dirt on the floor joists in a crawl space can look kind of like mold in the right light.

This from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold_growth,_assessment,_and_remediation

Molds are ubiquitous in nature, and mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust. However, when spores are present in large quantities, they are a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems.

Some molds also produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. The term “toxic mold” refers to molds that produce mycotoxins, not to all molds. Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and in some cases death. Prolonged exposure, e.g., daily workplace exposure, can be particularly harmful.

So, this wiki foretells of a second common concern.

  1. Disintegration of organic matter.
  2. Serious health risks to humans and animals.

funguy

Did you catch that part about “mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust“? Oh Boy! At this point all I can say is, no I didn’t see the mold spores in your dust. And I’m not sure if that is dirt or mold. And I’m pretty sure that is mold, but I don’t know if it is a bio-health hazard or if it is disintegrating the structure of your house. In fact, I’m starting to feel really pressured and I think I need to punt this ball down the field. Home inspectors are not responsible for the mold that may or may not be found in a home. There are people who’s entire career revolve around the identification and remediation of mold. They collect air, tape, and bulk samples and send these samples off to laboratories for proper identification. After the identification process is complete they can suggest a course of action for remediation to clean it up and make sure it doesn’t come back.

Not only are home inspectors not responsible, but most of them shy away from this issue entirely.  Alternatively, Carlson Inspection still takes pictures and notes any suspected substance which displays mold like properties.  If we are in a crawlspace and see a suspect area, we poke on the wood to see if it is still solid or if aforementioned disintegration has begun. If it smells musty or moldy that may even be mentioned in the report. And we do punt. If there is reason to suspect the presence of mold, we recommend a dependable, honest local business to do the job right. These indoor air quality guys specialize in such issues. A specialist is important when one is dealing with a potentially life threatening or structurally damaging issue in the home. They have moisture meters and infrared technology to find wet areas inside walls and other areas invisible to the naked eye. Some homeowners choose pest control companies to remediate fungus issues in crawlspaces. We can not condone that decision. These guys come in with a poison spray and coat the surface. No clean up, no remediation, just kill the mold and move on. I have crawled through several of these “treated” basements and I must say, it is slightly unsettling. The poison puddles on the plastic vapor barrier and leaves these crystals behind. The fungus that was treated is still visible on the wood. These conditions don’t instill much faith in this being a healthier environment for habitation.  Yuck!

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