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I looked at a 40-50 house that had what appears to be mold/mildew in two of the closets, one closet had it on the ceiling the other was on the wall close to the floor behind some items. This house was unoccupied and the closets were on opposite ends of the house. What caused it and what should be done? Thanks!

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Doug,

I believe the short answer is moisture caused it. Since the house is empty and the mold is in the closets, my guess is there was high humidity from not running the HAVC combined with no air movement or light in the closets allowed the stuff to grow.

I would help educate my customers by sending them to http://www.epa.gov/mold/

I would recommend the drywall be replaced.

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I think that I might say something like this: "I found what looks like mold on the walls of the closet. I did not find an active water leaks or source of moisture, so this is most likely from the home being closed-up with no HVAC running. You should contact a company that specializes in the cleanup of mold to take care of this problem."

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Originally posted by Tom Raymond

Uhh, Mold Specialist, replace the drywall? It' a little mildew in the closet of a vacant house. If there is no active leak, wash it with tilex and paint it. I've got worse mold than that growing in my fridge.

Tom

Then you should replace your fridge.

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Originally posted by Tom Raymond

Uhh, Mold Specialist, replace the drywall? It' a little mildew in the closet of a vacant house. If there is no active leak, wash it with tilex and paint it. I've got worse mold than that growing in my fridge.

Tom

Who said anyting about a Mold Specialist?

Treat this just like you would treat anyting or system with a home. Tell your client what you found and what they should do. As with most everything, home inspectors should not design the repair.

Sure Tilex will take care of what you can see but what about the stuff on the other side of the drywall that you can't see? Also, last time I looked at a bottle of Tilex it did not list getting rid of mold on drywall as an acceptable use.

This is the reason you tell your client to contact a person who specializes in problems like this.

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I find that exact stuff frequently in closets 1940's and 50's home as Doug has originally described.

It's usually on an exterior wall, it's isolated, and doesn't occur anywhere else. No A/C's here.

My personal theory is just an old stuffy closet that never gets circulation or light. Wet shoes, damp socks or towels and just plain old bad housekeeping contribute to a little bit of growth.

I tell folks to clean it, prime it and re-paint but I'm sure to also attach the EPA link.

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Originally posted by randynavarro

My personal theory is just an old stuffy closet that never gets circulation or light. Wet shoes, damp socks or towels and just plain old bad housekeeping contribute to a little bit of growth.

I agree, as I see that type of issue in many unventilated closets where there are no moisture intrusion problems.

Dom.

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If that is mold (very odd color), it likely happened when the house was occupied. Water vapor/ humidity will actively and insidiously seek a colder surface on which to condense like on the outside wall in an unheated closet, or on the wall in an unfinished basement, or under the roof sheathing in the attic. When the moisture is trapped like by clothing against the wall in a closet or in the corner of an unfinished basement or in a poorly insulated and ventilated attic, you get mold.

I’d also send my client to the EPA website for guidance on mold clean-up and not to a mold clean-up specialist. Ugh. I know this is a thread drift but I’m also directing folks to the CDC which is not as wimpy as the EPA re: mold info. Below is some info I gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web site that I send to clients with mold concerns.

http://www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm#Q1.

1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333, U.S.A.

Tel: (404) 639-3311 • CDC Contact Center: 800-CDC-INFO • 888-232-6348 (TTY)

I highlighted the sentences in RED.

I heard about "toxic molds" that grow in homes and other buildings. Should I be concerned about a serious health risk to me and my family?

The term "toxic mold" is not accurate. While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous. Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. There is always a little mold everywhere - in the air and on many surfaces. There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven. A common-sense approach should be used for any mold contamination existing inside buildings and homes. The common health concerns from molds include hay fever-like allergic symptoms. Certain individuals with chronic respiratory disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma) may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression may be at increased risk for infection from molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment. For the most part, one should take routine measures to prevent mold growth in the home.

I found mold growing in my home, how do I test the mold?

Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Current evidence indicates that allergies are the type of diseases most often associated with molds. Since the susceptibility of individuals can vary greatly either because of the amount or type of mold, sampling and culturing are not reliable in determining your health risk. If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal. Furthermore, reliable sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable or tolerable quantity of mold have not been established.

You can also find more info re: mold from the EPA at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/moldguide.html

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I've seen mold that requires professional/specialists to remove and mold that a handyman can clean up. If it's a handyman job, then it's probably not that bad. Correcting the cause and a little clean up and paint should be enough.

I believe contractors that specialize in mold removal are not necessarily qualified to test mold, even if they are certified to do so. Besides being the product of a two or three day course, I honestly feel that whatever they find, it will be presented in a way that will be a sales pitch.

If it is important to test mold, an industrial hygenist or a micologist has to be brought in.

Mold is everywhere and there are thousands of different types of mold, of which only a few that are toxic. Some people may be more sensitive to mold than others, but I do not panic just because I see a little mold. I am more concerned with the cause than the symptom.

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What I was trying to convey is what the client should be told in your report so that it will not come back to haunt you down the road. I agree with the EPA website, etc., and that is most likely what I would do if this was my home.

I have seen old homes like the one being talked about in this thread with similar problems. Many times it can be traced back to the home simply being closed up with no ventilation. Add in the Southern humidity and temperatures and you have plenty of moisture to support mold.

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Originally posted by Mike Lamb

If that is mold (very odd color), it likely happened when the house was occupied. Water vapor/ humidity will actively and insidiously seek a colder surface on which to condense like on the outside wall in an unheated closet, or on the wall in an unfinished basement, or under the roof sheathing in the attic. When the moisture is trapped like by clothing against the wall in a closet or in the corner of an unfinished basement or in a poorly insulated and ventilated attic, you get mold.

Ah, Alabama. Never mind.

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This occurs on homes of this age since most do not have insulate walls with plaster for an interior surface. The wall also does not have a vapor barrier. When someone hangs clothes particuarly coats or fabric that are not permiable, the fabric acts as a vapor barier placed on the wrong side of the thermal mass. At this point Brownian motion and impaction takes place causing tiny particles to be deposited on the wall surface, as well as condensation on the plaster. You only see staining caused by the particles, and possibly some minor microbial growth.

You should recomend either insulating the walls or adding vents to the closet and or doors.

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This occurs on homes of this age since most do not have insulate walls with plaster for an interior surface. The wall also does not have a vapor barrier. When someone hangs clothes particuarly coats or fabric that are not permiable, the fabric acts as a vapor barrier placed on the wrong side of the thermal mass. At this point Brownian motion and impaction takes place causing tiny particles to be deposited on the wall surface, as well as condensation on the plaster. You only see staining caused by the particles, and possibly some minor microbial growth.

Both Brownian motion and impaction require air space between the wall and the coats. I'm not buying the coat as a vapor barrier thing either and if the coat is acting as a vapor barrier then that rules out Brownian motion and impaction.

Brownian motion would require a particle source like someone smoking in the closet or an operating talc factory. Both Brownian motion and impaction produce an airbrushed effect going from dense centers to faded gossamer-like perimeters, not the leopard spotted growths shown in the photo

Impaction requires moving air not the lack of moving air.

Honestly, it looks like mold or mildew to me.

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  • 1 year later...

The closet is a favorite hang out for mold and mildew. They leave our clothes smelling musty and sometimes stain the fabric. The first step is to air out the closets. Take everything out, even the stuff that smells fine. Hang your clothes on the line outside where the sun can hit them. When you first hang them up, brush them off to remove any mold spores that may be there, and cover your nose and mouth while doing this.

Once you've set them out in the sun for awhile, wash them. Along with your regular laundry detergent, add about 3/4 cup of vinegar. Vinegar is an all-natural mold removal, and it will take the smell right out. If it doesn't work on the first wash, try again until you get the results you want.

Mold and mildew removal can all be done at home by yourself with household materials. Get it removed quickly, and you can ensure the best results.

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  • 3 months later...

See my other response, on the other thread, John. If you repeat this same post in another thread, I'm going to start deleting. We don't appreciate it when folks post a bunch of identical stuff to these posts because it wastes everyone's time as they click on the thread only to find it's someone sowing links.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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