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Need second opinion...

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I need confirmation that this is BLACK MOLD, in the attached pics. I'm not familiar with mold...to say with confidence, thus consider a recommendation. I'm not sure how to write it up in the report. Is this something that can be removed and safetly lived in?

Thanks in advanced!!!

- Haubeil

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More than anything else that simply looks like a severely underventilated attic and a poorly sealed hatch of stairway allowing moisture and dust to condensate on the surfaces.

Certainly, it could be treated for fungi as a precaution, but I don't think I'd go strongly down the mold path.

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You answered your own question. You are not familiar with mold and there ain't no way anyone on this board can tell you via answer.

Could be mildew. Note how it is not on the framing, yet on the plywood. Maybe plywood has an ingredient as a food source. Point is just write what you know and never tell someone it is Black Mold unless you know. Too much emotion involved for an average inspector. You are there to inspect, unless you happen to be a "mold for gold" inspector.

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Without taking a Sample and sending it in to a lab, you can't tell if it's Black Mold, Really Dark Grey Mold, Kinda Blackish Mold, Soot, Mildew or something else.

I agree with the others that it looks like a lack of ventilation.

Was this a new roof? Those nail blowouts look fresh.

Anyway, as for what you should state in your report, pretty much what you've already said. "I don't know what this is, you'll need an environmental specialist to tell you what it is and if it's safe. The same environmental specialist can also tell you if it can be lived with safely or if it needs removed. All environmental test should be performed and findings obtained before closing."

Something along those lines. Just remember, it's okay to say "I don't know" or "I have no idea, you need a specialist to determine that."

That's what specialist do.

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Let me join the chorus here. I wouldn't get into discussion of "toxic mold" bugaboo.

I have seen this same occurence, however, in an attic of a forty year-old house where a new sheet metal roof was laid over shingles and all vents removed. The owner, an original occupant, said the blackness only occured after the new roof, which, by the way, leaked somewhere. Very hard leaks to trace from inside, due to original shingles still there, probably at valleys.

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The discoloration is fungi and the cause is a poorly ventilated attic and too much moisture-laden air leaking into the attic from somewhere and condensing on the underside of the roof and those rafters. Were the bathroom fans and kitchen fan connected all the way to the roof or were they dumping into the attic? Were there gable end vents used in combination with eave or soffit vents and vents used near the ridge? If so, that's probably half the problem.

A competent trade needs to find and fix the source of the moisture migrating into the attic, adjust the insulation at the perimeter to allow more airflow from the eaves to the ridge and then make sure there are properly placed and sufficient number of eaves and upper vents, and that there aren't any gable end vents defeating the vent system. Then the underside of the roof and all of that exposed wood needs to be treated with BoraCare to kill the fungi and make that wood immune to future fungal growth.

There's no such thing as "black" mold. That's just a scary term coined by the media and co-opted by lawyers to scare the bejeezuz out of people. There are thousands of different types of fungi and you can't look at it and know which type it is. Besides, why would you want to know which type it is? The CDC and the EPA both say that identifying the type is pointless because it has to be dealt with anyway and the treatment method for one type is the same as for others.

Tell the clients that it's there. Tell 'em that the attic ventilation needs to be fixed, the source of the moisture causing it needs to be eliminated and the wood needs to be treated to kill the organism, because they'll eventually lose the roof to rot if it's not treated. Tell them that the identification of types of fungi is outside the scope of what we do, so you have no idea of whether it is one of the alleged "toxic" variety of fungal organisms. Tell 'em that if they are concerned about mold, because they already know that they are allergic to it, to hire a long-established and reputable indoor air quality firm to counsel them on the best and sanest method to deal with the stuff.

10 years ago, we called it mildew and would tell people to fix their attic ventilation, find and fix the source of the air leakage into the attic and treat the fungus to kill it. Inspectors had been doing that for decades and nobody was panicking. Then Ms. Ballard won her $32M lawsuit in Texas and it all miraculously became "toxic" overnight.

Ballard's award was reduced to only about $4M on appeal and in the end she received absolutely nothing for mold exposure, because they could not prove a causal connection. Instead, the court punished Farmer's Insurance for having responded sluggishly and in bath faith to her complaint in the first place. The media never really publicized that though. By then the mold train had left the station and was packed with lawyers and mold lawsuits had been born.

I'm waiting for the lawsuits over houses that make people ill because the builder was negligent for not having used feng shui to design them and orient them on their sites.



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Originally posted by homnspector

This is an interresting article from a link in "another" forum. Puts it in good perspective.


That article is, without a doubt, the best collection of information I've ever seen on the subject. It should be required reading for every home inspector.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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  • 1 month later...

Mr. (KWEE-ving) Connell also has some good insights into radon and as a law enforcement officer, into clandestine drug labs (he gives classes to HI's on how to recognize them and stay safe).

20% moisture is not really the magic number for fungal growth (according to him) because...

1. with a moisture meter, you aren't measuring moisture, you're measuring variations in conductivity.

2. actual moisture available to fungus varies with something called "vapor pressure", something I can't explain...

3. Some types of fugnus can extend rhizomes (act as straws for transporting moisture) for distances of up to 30' in order to import moisture to the material they want to eat.

Anyway, his posts are always well thought out and difficult to refute. He occasionally posts on HI forums. He also acts as an expert witness against Home Inspectors in cases in which they've performed mold sampling.

You should hear his little speach on Data Quality Objectives. If you don't know what those are, you'd better hope you never come up against him in court. He's never lost a case against a Home Inspector and he's happy to tell you how to avoid litigation involving sampling for mold.

He's a member of the committees tasked with writing the International Mold Sampling Standards and the Colorado Mold Sampling Standards. He will talk to HI chapters. I've heard him. It's an eye-opener. Ask him.

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