Beginners Guide: Mold – The Home Buyer’s Nemesis

Mold is one of the worst things you could have in your new house. It is harmful to your health and the smell it emits creates an unpleasant living environment. Its blotchy appearance is unsightly and will likely turn away any visitors. Don’t embarrass yourself or put your health at risk by purchasing a mold-infested home. There are many measures you can take to ensure you don’t have to suffer from this situation.

Protecting Your Purchase and Your Family

The first step is learning what causes mold and understanding where it comes from. Moisture and humidity are the main causes of mold. If the house you want to buy has been damaged in a flood or storm, this is a bad sign. Water damage and mold infestation can threaten the structural integrity of the house. The wood will rot and the house may not be able to last nearly as long as an uninfected house. Always review the house’s history to see if it has been in a flood or severe storm.

To determine if you have a mold problem, you first need to know what mold is and looks like. Mold is a fuzzy, discolored fungus that grows very rapidly. It attaches itself to walls, furniture and food and is very difficult to get rid of. Luckily, mold is usually easy to spot and can appear in a variety of colors including yellow, white and even brown.

Hiring an Inspector

Before purchasing a home, make sure you hire an experienced home inspector who knows how to inspect not just the basics (like foundations and plumbing) but also places that may have mold. You might be able to negotiate this as one of the seller’s expenses. If the inspector does find mold in the house, this should be a deal breaker or at least lower the sales price by several thousand dollars.

When You’re Already Living There

So what happens if you don’t discover the mold problem until after you purchase the home? You must take steps to rid your home of the infestation immediately. Children and pets have weaker immune systems and thus are more susceptible to illness, so it’s best to move your pets and children from the infected area immediately. Then sterilize the entire area by cleaning everything in the house and placing small items in 2-gallon sealed bags and using trash bags for larger items. You should remove everything from the infected area into the unaffected area to avoid the spread of mold onto your personal belongings. Remember to thoroughly clean and sanitize all surfaces to ensure a healthy and sterile environment.

The most effective way to remove household mold is to call a mold exterminator. Sure, you could try to remove it yourself by lightly spraying peroxide and vinegar over the infected area. (You should never spray bleach on the infected area. In addition to being toxic, bleach doesn’t completely remove mold particles, but rather kills the existing fungi.) But if you have large amounts of mold in more than one room, you’re going to need professional help. Mold exterminators will not only eliminate the existing mold but will also prevent it from growing back. Go over the situation with the exterminator thoroughly so you understand the cleaning process and the level of your infestation.

Once the mold is removed from your home, you need to focus on prevention. Since water damage is the main cause of mold, inspect your home and check the pipes for leaks. Close all doors and windows during storms and get all leaks repaired immediately. A ceiling drip may not seem like a big deal but, if left unattended, it could evolve into water damage in your floor.

Mold is destructive and harmful to any material it lives on. It can make even the strongest immune systems weak after prolonged exposure. The short-term effects mold has on humans include infections, allergies and even toxic mold disease. Toxic mold disease can occur after being exposed to the bacteria inhabiting a mold-colonized environment. When exposed to damp, moldy environments, people often experience headaches and respiratory problems. If you remain in the infected area for a prolonged period of time, you may experience more severe illnesses such as fatigue, cancer or lung disease.

The cost of medicals bills that you will rack up after living in a mold-infested home is much more than the cost of hiring an inspector. Becoming critically ill is not a risk any home buyer should be willing to take.

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