If you are a renter, you probably hate the idea of mold growing in your homes and would blame the landlord for not taking care of the house properly. However, mold in a property that you own can seem even more scary because the responsibility is yours.
But, is mold really such a problem?
Of course there are health risks and safety concerns to take into account, but does a wall of black mold make a house unlivable?
The truth is, many cases of black mold are treatable. If you can look past a patch of mold, you might find that you can snag your dream house at a discounted rate.
But, before you take the plunge and purchase a house festering with the stuff, it’s important you know what kind of mold is growing on the walls and most importantly how it can be treated.
It’s worth having the property inspected by professionals to see what the likely cause of the mold is and get an understanding of what it will cost to fix the issue.
If the property you have set your eyes on is a bit on the older side (from 1930-1977), it would also be a good idea to prepare yourself for the possible presence of asbestos.
During this time frame asbestos could be found in roofing tiles, patching compounds used in ceiling joints and of course, insulation and textured paints.
An excellent source for more on asbestos, its deadly effects on our bodies and its causes can be found here.
Here we have a run through of everything you need to know about black mold growth and buying an infected property.
Table of Contents
Mold is More Common than you Might Think
For as long as humans have lived indoors, there has been problems with mold. However, mold is certainly becoming more of a problem now. Because homes are now built with energy-efficient in mind, they are designed to be well sealed and insulated.
The problem with this is it removes ventilation. Houses need to be able to breathe in order to keep a fresh air flow. If the air-flow isn’t good it allows moisture to settle which makes for the perfect breeding ground for mold.
Is Mold a Cause for Concern?
The appearance of mold in our homes is unsettling. We’ve heard all of the horror stories about how mold can cause difficulty breathing, chest infections and other nasty illnesses.
A little mold won’t hurt you, unless you already have respiratory problems. The only time mold becomes a real health concern is when the spore count exceeds the natural levels we’d find outside.
There are many varieties of black mold that can be present in a home. Most of which are not toxic. They are allergens, however, so depending on your own sensitivities you may or may not experience problems because of mold presence.
There is a single variety of toxic mold that is a cause for concern.
This mold, Stachybotrys chartarum, is very rare. It is likely to be found in houses that have been abandoned or unoccupied for very long periods of time, or in houses where there has been a very significant long-term moisture problem.
The problem is that this variety of mold looks identical to more harmless varieties.
Asking the estate agent about the previous home owners could give you an indication as to whether the mold in the home you like could be Stachybotrys chartarum, but you shouldn’t just take their word on it.
Have a professional survey the house and analyze the mold for complete peace of mind.
What Causes Mold to Grow? Moisture
It only takes a little bit of excess moisture to cause mold to grow. That unsightly wall of thick black mold in the house that you want to buy could have been caused by something as simple as an unnoticed dripping faucet.
Research by the Environmental Protection Agency has shown that a wall material or soft furnishing being wet for 24 to 48 hours causes enough moisture for mold to grow. This means that an unnoticed leaky window can cause significant mold growth in just a couple of days.
Most of the time, mold can be self-treated. It takes more than just a simple wipe-down with a wet cloth, though. This might effectively remove some of the unsightly black marks but it does nothing to clear away the spores.
You’ll find that over a few days or weeks, the mold will grow back in the exact same place. You may have even exacerbated the issue by wetting the walls.
This perceived stubbornness could be the reason why so many tenants and homeowners are terrified by the appearance of mold. They may think that because it grows back, it is indicative of a deeper issue with the house.
However, the likely issue is that the mold just isn’t being treated as aggressively as it should be. A mix of detergent or bleach needs to be used to eradicate the spores, and ventilation needs to be improved to prevent the issue from happening again. Just some of the ways you can treat and prevent mold growth include:
- Using a Fan to Improve Circulation
- Replacing Air Filters
- Keep Walls and Soft Furnishings Dry
- Use a Dehumidifier to Keep the House’s Humidity Below 60%
- Wipe away Condensation from Walls and Windows
- Insulate Cold Surfaces
If the mold problem in the home you are looking to buy is significant, you would be best advised to hire a professional to clean away the mold.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends leaving cleanups to the professionals when the mold growth exceeds 10 square feet.
Inspecting a Potential Property with Mold
If you have noticed black mold in a property you are interested in purchasing, it’s potentially far worse than you first can see. Chances are, the current owner has cleaned up the black mold on the surface level without treating the issue for the long term.
While many aspects of homes can be inspected yourself by using a simple checklist, we highly recommend having the property inspected by professionals and gauge the true extent of the problem.
Professionals will take a look at the general condition of the building as well as external factors that could reduce the ventilation in the home or cause problems with moisture that could facilitate mold growth.
Some examples of structural issues that could cause mold growth include:
Should you Buy a Property with Black Mold?
In most cases, you will be fine to buy a house with black mold, as long as you are sensible about it and take a measured approach.
Before making the purchase, pay for a professional survey by a structural inspector to assess whether there are issues with the actual building that need to be addressed. Next, have the mold analyzed to see whether it is toxic mold.
If it is toxic or the mold is substantial in size, you will need to think about the cost of hiring a professional to clean the mold.
Finally, think about any adaptations to the house you will need to make to improve ventilation. Get an estimate for all of the potential works and use these sums to negotiate a better deal with the sellers.
If the cost of the repairs is too high and the sellers are unwilling to drop their price enough to make the sale a viable option, walk away.
Repairing mold damage can be very costly if it turns out to be a structural problem and if you are unable to recoup the costs elsewhere, you could find the cost of the house to be way over budget.