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household mold problem


amac
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Hi, I live in south Louisiana and we recently purchased our home less than 2 years ago (we had all of the proper inspections before purchasing). We have a ranch style, slab house, with no attic, only a crawl space for the duct work (40 + years old).

When the weather turns cold our floors (mainly along the exterior walls) will develop condensation, which will then turn to mold. Our windows also grow an unusual amount of mold in the winter. But as soon as the weather warms up our issues seem to disappear.

We've been told that we need a self-venting roof and this should solve the problem.

We obviously have a serious moisture problem in our home.....any help solving the issue would be great.

Oh, also....since our home was recently purchased and it is obvious to us now that the previous owner tried to hide these issues, can legal action be taken because of the mold?

Thanks!!

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Thank you for the information, but it looks like he is only in Ms. & Al.

Any idea as to what may be the problem? Our inspector 1 1/2 ago didn't find any major problems wrong with the house....now we are finding things that couldn't of just started, they had to have been going on now for a while.

We thought it was because there was no insulation in the walls, so we ripped out sheet rock, installed insulation and the problem is still here...

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When the weather turns cold our floors (mainly along the exterior walls) will develop condensation, which will then turn to mold. Our windows also grow an unusual amount of mold in the winter. But as soon as the weather warms up our issues seem to disappear.

Do you use a humidifyer during the winter? You're a little outside of my service territory though I am licensed throughout Louisiana. I would suggest that you contact Peter Barilaro @ (504) 831 - 5336, Key Point Inspections, Inspector Barilaro was my trainer when I entered the home inspection field 7 years ago. He's a former code inspector, general contractor and army engineer. You'll be in good hands.

Marc

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Stop dinking around on this board and get a reputable building analyst out there - someone who will understand the building science of what's going on there. Only then will you be able to determine what's causing it.

It doesn't sound at all to me that "it's obvious" that the previous owner tried to hide the issues, and it's not necessarily something that's been going on for a long time - it could have begun after you moved in. In fact, it's probably just something that you are doing to create too much humidity in your home that's caused the ambient mold spore count in the home to multiply.

You've got a slab floor? Sure, mold spore will show up at the outer baseboard first because the outer perimeter is where the slab will be the coldest and interior moisture is going to cool there first. The mold is only the symptom of some other issue.

Mold was already there when you moved in and had been there 24/7/365 since the day the home was built. It's in the home of every single reader of this board and in the home of every single occupant on the planet. Every cubic centimeter of air that you and I and everyone else breathes contains mold spore, all day every day, and it's the same stuff that they keep calling "toxic," even though we've all been breathing it since man first evolved.

It only becomes visible when we do something that increases the humidity level in a home to the point where the spore count explodes. It can be something as simple as a homeowner that doesn't use the bathroom, laundry room or kitchen stove exhaust fans enough, an open fish tank, excessive use of a humidifier, a whole house air exchange system that's not being used or is malfunctioning, etc..

You said that you put in insulation. Well, the home might have had enough air leakage before that mold wasn't an issue but now that you've added insulation and new drywall and made the home tighter you might have increased the humidity level in the home by a hundredfold. Was it faced or unfaced insulation? If it was faced insulation, which side of the wall cavity is the vapor barrier on?

You might have a dryer duct that's loose and leaking. You might have a water heater that's inside the building envelope that's backdrafting or has a blocked flue and is dumping lots of moisture into the interior air or a furnace with a similar situation. There are too many possibilities for anyone here to diagnose the house sight-unseen.

Find a good building analyst and avoid any "mold inspectors" - they're only good at telling us what all of us already know - that there is mold in the air.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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We are in the process of hiring someone to look into this....just thought I would get other opinions, because everyone seems to have one, and they range from slab issues to poor circulation, and even roof leaks. We had our roof checked for leaks and there were none.

When I said that it was "obvious" the previous owner had tried to hide the mold I meant that we are finding areas in the house that were painted over and covered (trying to hide the mold). So I believe that this was an issue before we purchased the home

No, we do not use a humidifier, and yes we do use the vents in both bathrooms and the kitchen and our laundry room is located outside along with the hot water heater.

We installed insulation because we noticed one day (when the weather turned cold) that our walls were wet and mold was growing on the baseboards. So the mold was there before the insulation was installed. We don't have a problem w/moisture on our walls now.....its only on the floors. Yes, the insulation was faced and it was installed correctly.

We were told that we needed roof ventilation and that this would solve the problem. Once we figure out, and solve the issue.....will the mold stop growing or will some type of remediation need to be done?

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Call Brian Goodman. He works Metairie, doesn't he?

Brian is about 200-250 miles from Metairie, he is in Northeast MS.

Call my friend Sidney...

Sidney J. Chaisson, Jr., P.E.. Chaisson Building Inspection Services, Inc. Baton Rouge, LA 70808 (225) 769-6696 (225) 757-8299. Cell: (225) 413-7560

He might be able to help.

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Once we figure out, and solve the issue.....will the mold stop growing or will some type of remediation need to be done?

Figure out how you're causing it, change your habits or correct the situation causing it, clean it up and go on with your life.

Go here: http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldresources.html

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Building Analyst? I don't know who the inspector is that couldn't help amac 18 months ago but just because he couldn't doesn't mean that no home inspector can figure this problem. Sidney Chaisson would also be an excellent choice if he'll drive to Metairie. I always refer BR clients to him.

If neither Peter nor Sidney responds, let me know. If I can't figure it out, I won't charge. You need a solid report and documentation if you're going to take it to court.

I'm not surprised that you're getting a myriad of suggestions from inspectors who haven't even seen the house. Since the winter is over, the inspector will have to look at humidity levels, dew points and even then sometimes the inspector doesn't learn what he's looking for until he actually sees it.

Marc

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Hey Mike,

WE or not causing the problem.......I have lived in many different homes before with the same "habits" as you call them and have NEVER had this problem. We plan on getting this corrected.....and as I said before, I was only on here for opinions, if you have no input but arrogant negativity then stay off this forum!!

Scott, Marc, Brandon and Kurt......thank you for your time and information :)

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Hey Mike,

.....and as I said before, I was only on here for opinions, if you have no input but arrogant negativity then stay off this forum!!

Mike's the top guy for cutting through all the mold hysteria nonsense and actually offers spot-on advice about moisture issues. Some folks seeking "advice" jump on message boards only looking for reinforcement of their own opinion, particularly when they've already decided that others are to blame and they feel they've been wronged. These types will never consider views from experienced experts if it doesn't support their mission. I sometimes won't listen to what I don't want to hear too.

And, it's Mr. Arrogant Negativity's forum. I try not to insult the host, but I've been known to irritate other guests.

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You say you came here looking for opinions; yet only opinions that agree with your position are valid or acceptable? That ain't gonna fly; someone needs to be the devil's advocate here.

Oh, also....since our home was recently purchased and it is obvious to us now that the previous owner tried to hide these issues, can legal action be taken because of the mold?
YOu have yet to prove that it was an issue 2-1/2 years ago; yet you are fishing for ammunition for a legal case.

Our inspector 1 1/2 ago didn't find any major problems wrong with the house....now we are finding things that couldn't of just started, they had to have been going on now for a while.
I can only infer from that you are saying that the inspector screwed up. Still, 2-1/2 years is more than enough time to develop a mold issue that had never existed before. Heck, as little as a month is enough. It did not have to have been going on for a while.

When I said that it was "obvious" the previous owner had tried to hide the mold I meant that we are finding areas in the house that were painted over and covered (trying to hide the mold). So I believe that this was an issue before we purchased the home
That's not proof of anything. It's a 40 year old home. It would have been through multiple paintings and many homeowners paint just before they are going to sell the home.

Before the mold-is-gold bandwagon started a decade ago we home inspectors would tell people that they had some "mildew" or "fungal growth" and to correct the source of the moisture, clean up or treat the fungi, paint as necessary and go on with their lives. Then Ms. Ballard won her lawsuit in Texas and the mold-is-gold craze hit. Now just about everyone needs to call all fungi "mold," is convinced they couldn't possibly have anything to do with having caused it, looks for someone else to blame for it and considers legal action.

That's a reality; an unpleasant reality, but reality nonetheless. Maybe that's not you, but I don't know that and neither does anyone else responding here.

What is it exactly about the EPA site linked above that is unacceptable to you as a source of credible information about mold?

This is a home inspectors' forum. Leaving reality out of this discussion for the sake of not bruising your psyche, when you might very well be gathering ammunition for a lawsuit and trying to place another inspector in your crosshairs is not an option.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Note: Thanks Bill. You apparently responded while I was typing a response. It's OK for folks to insult me. I can take a punch or two and still not go down. No harm, no foul.

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Hey Mike,

WE or not causing the problem.......I have lived in many different homes before with the same "habits" as you call them and have NEVER had this problem. We plan on getting this corrected.....and as I said before, I was only on here for opinions, if you have no input but arrogant negativity then stay off this forum!!

Scott, Marc, Brandon and Kurt......thank you for your time and information :)

The information Mike gave you was absolutely correct.

I have a building where everything is the same in two bathrooms located in different units, all of the systems are working and the only difference is how the owners use the spaces. One bathroom is pristine, and the other has Microbial Growth. The difference is that the unit with MG, the owner keeps the door to the bathroom closed and only runs the vent as long as they are in the bathroom. They have a humidifier in the bedroom and when I went to the unit (three hours after shower usage) there was standing water on the floor.

Your same habits in different buildings/homes do have an effect.

With an open mind ask yourself these questions that could have an effect.

1) do you keep the interior at the same heat that the previous owners kept the home at?

2) Do you cook any more or less than they did?

3) Do you shower any more or less than they did?

4) Do you have the same number of occupants that they did?

5) Has anything changed with the roof, walls, or windows? (It sometimes rains in Louisiana right?)

6) Do you ventilate the house as much as they did?

7) Did they have a de-humidifier?

Any number of more questions.

If you answered any one of these questions with I don’t know (not just I don’t think so) then you do not know and you will not be able to push a lawsuit. Because they will say the only thing that changed was you now live there.

You need to find the cause, even if you have to take some responsibility.

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Hi Amac,

You're welcome for the little help I provided. The reason I did not answer your question is that there are guy's with more building science knowledge who I knew would come along. Mike not only runs this forum, but moderates the Journal of Light Construction building science forum as well. You may not like what he has to say, but he's worth listening to.

Plus, it's pretty much impossible to diagnose your issue while staring at the computer-- someone needs to actually look over the house.

PS:

Thanks for the laugh when you told Mike to stay off of this forum. Out of all of the members, you had to tell the owner to stay out. (kind of)

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amac,

If you inquire about a home inspection or a speciality inspection such as you may need, you will likely find attitudes far different than you do here on this forum because this is a forum of mostly home inspectors and the discussions get a little rough around the edges and even contentious sometimes. None of these guys are rude people. It just seems that way when they 'talk shop'. Other professions are likely the same when they assemble among themselves.

Marc

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amac,

I'd like to give another thumbs up for Sidney Chaisson. He's a smart guy with lots of experience.

As for your problem, here's my take on it, for what it's worth:

1 The mold is a symptom of a water problem.

2 The water problem is caused by condensation.

3 Condensation occurs warm moist air comes in contact with a cold surface.

4 To solve your problem, you have to either lower the moisture content of the air or raise the temperature of the surfaces. We can't tell you how to do that because we haven't seen you house. If you can't figure it out on your own, call Sidney or someone like him.

I'm not exactly clear on how a "self venting roof" (whatever that is) is going to reduce moisture levels in your house.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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