Mold – Don’t Read This One While Eating Lunch
I attended a lunch and learn last week and the topic was…mold. Not so great to stare at pictures of black mold while chowing down on a sandwich, but we attorneys are made of strong stuff. I’ll share with you what I learned about mold and how to deal with it when it’s in a home you’re buying or selling.
Mold vs. Mold Problems
Unless your home is in the Antarctic, your home has mold spores inside. Mold is a natural substance found virtually everywhere on the planet, and so it is naturally tracked indoors. Does this mean every house has a mold problem? No. Generally, if the mold spore count in the air outside the home is about the same as the mold spore count inside the home, there is nothing to remediate.
So when is mold a mold problem? When the mold spores are more highly concentrated inside the home than outside, when mold is visible inside the home, or it has a “musty” smell – those are signs of a problem.
The Rainbow of Mold
Turns out that mold can be in a rainbow of colors. It’s a common misconception that “black mold” is a “toxic” or worse variant of mold. Mold can be green, white, blue, black, brown, gray, and all may cause health problems equally.
Consequences of Mold
We know problem mold is bad – but why? First, mold can cause serious health issues to people who are very young or elderly, have a compromised autoimmune system, or are sensitive or allergic to mold. Exposure to mold can cause allergy-like or asthma-like symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, watery eyes or nose, and even a “burning” sensation in the lungs.
Second, since mold only grows where there is moisture, it is your canary in the coal mine, letting you know about a larger issue – if there is mold, there is likely a leak or water damage in the house.
Testing for Mold & Remediating
If you suspect a home you own or are thinking of buying has mold, there are companies who perform noninvasive tests for mold. In addition to air sampling, a professional can remove outlet covers or baseboard molding to get inside a wall for testing. New Jersey does not license mold remediation services, so be careful to use a highly qualified and ideally, recommended, service.
So you’ve determined that there is mold – now what? First, you have to find the source of the moisture and fix it, whether it’s a leak in the wall, missing roof shingle causing water to drip into an attic, or a flood in the basement. This has to be addressed, or the mold will just come back. Next, the mold itself must be remediated by a professional. This is not the time to pull up YouTube and find a do-it-yourself video. Professionals will ensure the area is properly sealed off so as not to spread the spores, will kill the mold, and will treat the area to make sure that the mold doesn’t come back.
A handy checklist to keep mold from becoming a problem in the first place:
1. Use exhaust fans in moist areas like bathrooms and kitchens
2. Use a dehumidifier in the basement and attic
3. Keep the home well ventilated
4. Keep your gutters clean. Leaky gutters increase the chances of leaks into the house
5. Watch your grading. Soil that slopes towards your house increases the chance of water penetrating into the home.
I’m happy to chat with you about your mold issues if you’re buying or selling a home. Just not during lunch. Call me directly: 856-330-6096, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am not an expert on mold. You should always check with a professional mold expert if you suspect a mold issue. The article above: (1) does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for personalized legal advice from a qualified attorney. You should not act upon any such information without first seeking qualified professional counsel about your specific matter.