Mold Detection – Things to Consider

Mold Detection – Things to Consider

There have been a lot of alarm bells concerning mold, the damage it causes and the considerable health effects associated. In reality, we come across and breath in mold spores every day, because they are literally everywhere.

Mold detection in Vancouver is important, especially due to our wet moderate climate. In the outdoors, mold is nature’s way of breaking down organic material, which is a good thing. In the home however, mold can be problematic, especially when the spores are airborne and breathed in or ingested.

The problem is… mold will affect each person differently, depending on a number of factors. People most affected by mold are those with weakened immune systems, allergy sufferers, the elderly and the very young.

Scientists and researchers still don’t know exactly how bad the effects of mold exposure is on one person compared to another. Mold produces “Mycotoxins” which are essentially chemicals that cause illnesses in people and animals. One of the reasons why mold is problematic in the home is because it likes to grow on organic materials in building materials such as cellulose, wood, ceiling tiles, etc. Mold really only needs four things to survive… food, water, oxygen and moderate temperatures. This is yet another reason why mold detection here in Vancouver is so important. Mold thrives in Vancouver.

Although not nearly as common as many other types of mold, the infamous “Black Mold” has received the vast majority of media exposure.  Black mold usually grows after extensive flooding or prolonged water damage.

Being a home inspector, we look at all types of homes, condos & townhouses and see the tell tale signs. Mold detection is not only important here in Vancouver, but being able reduce is especially beneficial.

In the piece, I will give you some tips with mold detection in your home and how to keep it under control. I’ll share the basics in this article so you can better identify and help control it when you see the signs. Keep in mind, that it is impossible to completely eliminate mold from your home, but knowing how to control it will certainly help.

Mold detection, warning signs:

  • Does the home or a particular area in the home have a musty odor? Commonly basements or crawlspaces fall into this category.
  • Do you see signs of water stains, swelling or indents on the floor baseboards, cracking or bulging paint on or by the windowsills?
  • Have you noticed any “mushroom like” growth in you home, perhaps in a closet or carpet or growing on rotten wood?
  • Have you seen any white patches under carpets, behind furniture, in cupboards or cabinets?
  • Do you see spotty areas of black and white on surfaces in the home?
  • In basement areas or crawlspaces, have you see efflorescence? (A white chalky by product resulting from moisture seeping through concrete)

Preventing or controlling the spread of moisture and mold

From the outside:

  • It is always a good ideal to keep flowerbeds away from the side of the building… As mentioned, concrete is porous and will allow moisture to seep through into the basement or crawlspace. Do not allow vegetation to grow too close to the home (trim it at least 1 foot away). Do not store firewood against the home or in the basement.
  • Applying a waterproof membrane around the outside perimeter of your home is one of the best ways to significantly reduce the moisture into your home. Also, be sure to seal all cracks in the concrete.

From the inside:

  • Check all areas of possible moisture, such as basements, crawlspaces, closets below or behind bathrooms and main plumbing fixtures. Do not keep old books and cardboard boxes exposed in the crawlspace or basement. Instead, store them in dry, sealed plastic boxes.
  • Be sure that the moisture in the home and especially in the bathrooms is no higher that 50%.  When showering, turn on the fan before hand, while and keep it on for at least ½ hour after you shower to help vent moisture out.
  • Staying with the bathroom, carefully look at the grout and ceramic tiles for cracks and wear. Be sure to re-grout these areas and apply moisture/mildew resistant caulk at all joints, especially where the wall/tub and shower meet.
  • Ensure that there are no signs of any plumbing leaks throughout the home, especially at all joints, valves, dishwashers, under kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • Check your water heater, looking for signs of leaks and ensure it is sitting on a drain pan.  Also, check that your washing machine hoses have been properly connected and show no signs of wear. (I also tell my clients to replace their rubber washer hoses with steel braided hoses as they are better quality and much less likely to leak) Also, ensure that you shut off the water to the appliance prior to replacing the hoses or you could cause small flood.
  • Look to see if your toilet is leaking or “sweating” along the tank or bowl. Overtime the condensation will contribute to moisture issues.

Detecting and preventing mold is only one piece of the puzzle. I will be addressing how to deal with Mold when you do find it in an up coming article, so stay tuned. If you have any questions about mold detection and you are in the Vancouver area, give me a call or otherwise send me an email.