The Dangers of Mold
Molds produce allergens, which are substances that can cause allergic reactions, as well as irritants and, in some cases, potentially toxic substances known as mycotoxins. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin
Carpet at Risk
Carpeting is an area of the home that can be at high risk for mold growth. In order to grow, mold needs moisture, oxygen, a food source, and a surface to grow on. Mold spores are commonly found naturally in the air. If spores land on a wet or damp spot indoors that contains dust for them to feed on, mold growth will soon follow. Wall-to-wall carpeting, as well as area rugs, can provide an ample breeding ground for mold if conditions are right. At especially high risk for mold growth are carpeting located below ground level in basements, carpet in commonly moist or damp climates, and carpet that has been wet for any period of time.
Identifying Mold in Carpeting
Just because mold is not immediately apparent or visible on a carpet's surface does not mean that mold growth is not in progress. In fact, mold will probably only be visible on the surface of carpets in unusually severe cases of growth, such as carpet damaged in flooding that has remained wet for some time. InsideOut Inspections can detect specific types of mold spores by using state of the art equipment to pull air samples from your home. The following are some examples of identifiable instances where mold growth has occurred or is likely to occur:
The best method for combating mold is to not allow mold growth in the first place. The best way to do so is by ensuring that conditions conducive to growth do not exist. Below are some ways to prevent mold growth in carpets.
In many cases, if mold has grown on carpet, cleaning will not be possible. If growth has occurred on more than one area of the carpet, or if there is a large area of growth, the carpet will probably need to be replaced.
About 24 hours is a reasonable amount of time to wait after testing to be sure that wider cleaning will not discolor or damage the carpet.
Another option in instances where mold growth is not widespread is to remove the ruined section of the carpet. If cleaning has been attempted unsuccessfully, the area of mold growth may be removed and replaced with a patch of similar carpet. Of course, this will only work in situations where aesthetics are not a big concern, since exactly matching the patch to the original carpet may be difficult and the seam may be visible. If mold has grown in more than one area of the carpet, or if the area of growth is larger than a couple of feet, this will probably not be an effective method of mold removal.
As with all areas of the interior at risk for mold growth, prevention is the best method of control for carpet mold. Eliminating high-moisture conditions and preventing the risk of flooding or standing water will reduce the possibility of growth. Inspectors will want to know where to look for and how to identify mold growth in carpeting. It is also helpful to know how to determine if carpet should be replaced, or whether there is a possibility of cleaning and saving it.
Carpeted bathrooms are bathrooms that have carpeted floors instead of traditional floor surfaces, such as tile or vinyl. Despite their tendency to foster mold and bacteria, carpets are sometimes installed in residential bathrooms for aesthetic purposes.
Disadvantages of Carpets in Bathrooms
The pad beneath the carpet may soak up large amounts of moisture. Some of the common ways that carpets may come into contact with moisture in bathrooms include:
In addition to potential mold growth beneath the carpet, bacteria can accumulate in carpeting that surrounds the toilet. Bacteria are contained in urine, which can be accidentally deflected onto the carpet.
The following are recommendations that InterNACHI inspectors can pass on to clients who are experiencing urine- or moisture-related problems with their bathroom carpet:
In summary, carpets installed in bathrooms can trap moisture and urine, substances that can cause structural damage and health problems.
Bathroom ventilation systems are designed to exhaust odors and moist air to the home's exterior. Typical systems consist of a ceiling fan unit connected to a duct that terminates at the roof.
The fan may be controlled in one of several ways:
to the fan because of its static charge. Inspectors should comment on dirty fan covers.
Ventilation systems should be installed in all bathrooms. This includes bathrooms with windows, since windows will not be opened during the winter in cold climates.
The following conditions indicate insufficient bathroom ventilation:
The most common defect related to bathroom ventilation systems is improper termination of the duct. Vents must terminate at the home exterior.
The most common improper terminations locations are:
Improperly terminated ventilation systems may appear to work fine from inside the bathroom, so the inspector may have to look in the attic or on the roof. Sometimes, poorly installed ducts will loosen or become disconnected at joints or connections.
Ducts that leak or terminate in attics can cause problems from condensation. Warm, moist air will condense on cold attic framing, insulation and other materials. This condition has the potential to cause health and/or decay problems from mold, or damage to building materials, such as drywall. Moisture also reduces the effectiveness of thermal insulation.
Perhaps the most serious consequence of an improper ventilation setup is the potential accumulation of mold in attics or crawlspaces. Mold may appear as a fuzzy, thread-like, cobwebby fungus, although it can never be identified with certainty without being lab-tested. Health problems caused by mold are related to high concentrations of spores in indoor air. Spores are like microscopic seeds, released by mold fungi when they reproduce. Every home has mold. Moisture levels of about 20% in materials will cause mold colonies to grow. Inhaling mold spores can cause health problems in those with asthma or allergies, and can cause serious or fatal fungal infections in those with lung disease or compromised immune systems.
Mold is impossible to identify visually and must be tested by a lab in order to be confidently labeled. Inspectors should refrain from calling anything “mold” but should refer to anything that appears as mold as a material that “appears to be microbial growth.” Inspectors should include in their report, and in the inspection agreement signed by the client, a disclaimer clearly stating that the General Home Inspection is an inspection for safety and system defects, not a mold inspection.
Decay, which is rot, is also caused by fungi. Incipient or early decay cannot be seen. By the time decay becomes visible, affected wood may have lost up to 50% of its strength.
In order to grow, mold fungi require the following conditions to be present:
If insufficient levels of any of these requirements exist, all mold growth will stop and fungi will go dormant. Most are difficult to actually kill.
Even though mold growth may take place in the attic, mold spores can be sucked into the living areas of a residence by low air pressure. Low air pressure is usually created by the expulsion of household air from exhaust fans in bathrooms, dryers, kitchens and heating equipment.
The following tips are helpful, although not required. Ventilation ducts should:
I recommend getting a home inspection with your real estate purchase.A solid home inspection can save you from costly home repairs and unseen problems.You cannot get your home inspection payment back after ordering an inspection but, is it better to pay for an inspection or find out after you buy the property that you need a new $10,000 roof or septic system?It is helpful to know the structural integrity of the property your buying and little things you might need to repair that you never thought of.Hows the roof?What type of plumbing system do I have?Any signs of water intrusion?How much is it gonna cost me?The home inspector will go over everything he finds in person with you at the property if you like and also he will give you a detailed written report so you have it in writing.Its up to you as the home buyer ultimately.If you don't get one it can cost you in the long run
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