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Closet with Exterior Wall - Moisture Issue


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I recently put in an offer on a house that is on sale through a bank foreclosure. The house is fairly old, built in the 1920?s, with plaster walls. After the bank accepted the offer I scheduled a home inspection and the inspector pointed out an issue that caused me some concern. Near the front door of the house is a closet with an outside facing wall. On this outside facing wall is actually a window (bit odd for a closet) that looks like it is no longer properly sealed around the exterior of the window frame, possible letting some moisture in. There are some cracks in the plaster near the edge of the frame, where you can see into the wall a bit.

When you enter the closet there is definitely a musty smell. The inspector said that closets with an exterior wall are at a greater risk for mildew/mold due to the lack of ventilation and temperature differences between the main house.

Is the musty smell worth scheduling a mold inspection? The company I called said it would be around $700 - $1000 for an inspection. I know mold is a pretty serious issue, but does the musty smell warrant the cost of a full mold inspection?

I probably would knock down those closet walls to open up the entrance of the house and seal the window if I were to purchase the house. Should I be taking this issue more seriously?

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You're welcome. Do what Bill said.

I see these closets hundreds of times a year; all with windows, all with minor mustiness caused by no heat source or air circulation, outside wall, resulting micro-climate causing dew point somewhere that makes for a little mustiness.

Rip it all out, insulate, personally I'd omit a vapor barrier so I'd have "breathing" to both sides of the wall, drywall, be done.

Forget mold testing; it's a load of crap.

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As Kurt pointed out, this design is very common in houses from the '20s & '30s. I wouldn't even go as far as what Kurt recommended. Fix any leaks that might be letting water in around the window, then don't store stuff up against that wall. It'll be fine. If you want to insulate the exterior wall, so much the better, but it isn't necessary.

A mold inspection won't tell you anything useful. Don't do it.

Please don't knock down the closet, "open up the entrance," and seal the window. It'll look like hell.

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Thanks for the responses! It's good to hear that a bit of mold in the closet isn't a huge red flag in need of a separate inspection. It's definitely something I will address by looking at where the moisture is coming from and finding a possible solution to prevent it from occurring in the future.

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