Moisture Penetration and Mold Advice Needed
I am looking to purchase a property and right now I am in my "inspection period" meaning I have a certain number of days to bail on this if I choose to.
A little background. This is a bank owned property in Miami, Florida, I entered into contract with them back in January 2012, but come closing day they had a title defect so they took the property off the market and several weeks ago they cleared the title defect so we are back in contract again. Back in January I did a full professional inspection including termites and things passed with flying colors.
Six months later I got back into contract with them and the first thing I did was to take the old inspection report as well as the numerous pictures I took previously and reinspect the property. Two things I found:
(1) Termite droppings and wings that were NOT there before. This is new, this is evidence of live termite activities and I already have an estimate for the treatment, so I am OK there.
(2) Water penetration - on an outside wall where there is a security light, that light was busted and hanging loose on the wall, exposing the electrical box behind it. We had the dry season back in January, and that light was fine, since then we had a lot of rain, water got into that light, travelled down along the conduit to another box on the inside, and go behind the walls. The exterior wall is an 8" concrete block wall, with 1/2" wood furring on the inside, then the sheet rock cover. As you can see the water stain from the electrical box and below, the sheet rock actually warped and caved, creating a 3/4" gap between it and the countertop that wasn't there before (Yes, I cross checked previous pictures).
I am not too concerned about repairing the sheet rock, however I am concerned about what might be growing inside that wall. You see, since the contract went into hibernation, the bank had the power turned off to the property. Until last week, when I said I need to reinspect the property they didn't turn the power back on. There was no air conditioning helping with the moisture during the last few months when this happened.
I then ordered a mold test, they collected a sample within a foot of this wall, and one outside the house. Results came back today. Here are the results although I can't make much sense out of it other than something is "ELEVATED". Can someone help?
Is there reasons to be alarmed?
No big deal, just rip the sheet rock out and spray bleach and take care of it, or OH MY GOD THIS IS GOING TO REQUIRE LEVEL 5 BIO HAZARD CONTAINMENT CONTACT?
To the experts, if this is a house you are looking to buy, will you:
(1) RUN, DON'T WALK, NO WAY I AM BUYING THIS.
(2) It's a health hazard, it could cause issues, buy at your own risks, you need expert mold containment services and it's going to cost.
(3) It's an issue, but not a big deal, but I would escalate this as a bigger deal to try and get a credit for repair from the bank.
(4) It's a minor issue that can be handled by a DIY. Small areas less than 10 square feet probably not something I would be overly concerned about.
Thanks for any comments. I need to let them know by Thursday 7/5 if I am going to walk away.
Yes, the counts are elevated. They are not out of the park. The tester should really have taken more than two samples for comparison. You already know that the sheet rock is damaged and will have to come out. You said that the basic structure is masonry. Mold can only thrive on organic materials, such as the wooden furring strips between the masonry and on the paper facing of the drywall. I would cut the drywall back at least one foot past the known area affected by water. Check the furring strips to see how they are affected. If they are easy to replace, then do it. If not treat them with a fungicide. There are several out there that are effective, bleach being one of them. Let everything dry, then seal it with Kilz or something like it. Then go back with new drywall. This doesn't look like a big massive mold problem. Wear a respirator while you tear out, keep the dust and debris to a minimum. Bag all the affected material as you remove it. Run an exhaust fan as close to the area as possible. If someone who will live there has severe asthma, is being treated for cancer or has some immuno-compromising condition, then you need decide whether this is a job you should tackle or if you should run away. Otherwise, I would negotiate for some price reduction to handle the problem. I hold a mold remediation certificate, so to me it isn't that big a deal. The pictures show a realatively minor problem. Thanks to the news media, many people are intimidated by mold, but there isn't a house out there that I couldn't find mold in somewhere, my own included............ and I have yet to see any reports of a normally healthy person who died because of moldy drywall :laughing:.
Thank you Maintenance 6 for the explanation.
I am not too familiar with mold. I basically did the inspection for the peace of mind because there was moisture penetration and they had no air conditioning.
I also did not know why they did not do more samples. They said they did one near the affected area and another one outside, I thought that was standard operating procedure.
When I called to find out about the results, the person who did the sample told me the numbers were "off the charts" and Stachybotrys in the report is the toxic black mold that kills.
Here is what he told me...
That I need to hire a mold remediation company to come seal off the area and "bomb" the place. This is to kill off the mold. Then I can remove the damaged sheet rock. If I don't bomb the place and remove the rock the spores behind the rock will come out in mass and cause a big mess. He said to not open up the sheet rock until something done. That due to the high concentration in the air the mold might have actually spread beyond the sheet rock and to the kitchen cabinets. I am going to have to remove the counter top, and possibly some of the kitchen cabinets. He said if I just use bleach or something this black mold will grow right back.
I am thinking if I have to tear out kitchen cabinets then I don't want this house anymore.
In searching on the internet I am not getting a consistent impression.
OMG..... What you have to realize is that you already have some level of spore count in the living space. Tape some plastic up around the work area and set up a fan to exhaust the area. Then get it opened up and remove the nasty stuff.
I'd ask this guy to name somebody who died from Stachybotrys poisoning. Sounds like this guy has fallen for the media hype or is promoting one of his remediation customers to drum up business. True, you don't want to live around this stuff, but it isn't anthrax either. There are some indicater molds that aren't on his chart which is surprising. At least he took an outside sample, but I would have taken two more samples. One across the room and one from another room remote from the incident. The problem is that if somebody takes a sample right up next to a mold colony, he can drive the counts off the charts, even though it could be a relatively small colony. You then have a skewed picture of the problem. For example, if somebody took an air sample from the inside of a plastic bag full of moldy bread, the spore counts would be astronomical, while the rest of the kitchen was relatively clean.
The mold will only grow back if not properly cleaned and the moisture level remains high. Solve the moisture problem and the mold will go dormant. Clean it, treat and seal it and it won't come back unless the moisture comes back. There are several basic fungicidal compounds used today. Quaternary ammonia and phenols are some. Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach) is another. Most fungicides have one of these as a base regardless of what fancy trade name they hang on the bottle. The key is to scrub down what you can't remove, then treat it with some kind of fungicide. After it dries, then seal it to lock down any embedded mold fragments and spores that can't be removed. You should wipe down the rest of the surfaces outside of the contaminated area with a household cleaner. That should take care of the free floating spores.
Oh, and forget the "bombing". Totally ineffective.
Because I keep seeing "bleach" mentioned, I want to link this article that provides some information about why bleach is not effective to combat mold.
HD and Lowes both sell appropriate fungicides. If you decide to tackle the mold remediation yourself, you would be wise to also rent a large HEPA air filter.
There is no explanation about why bleach will not kill mold in that article. In fact the whole thing is suspicious to me since he mentions "mold and mildew" in the article. Anybody truly knowledgable about mold would not make that mistake, since they should know that mildew is a specific class of molds, none of which will grow on building materials. In addition, molds rarely grow on roof shingles. Algae does and so do bacterias. Bacterias will feed on the oils in asphalt. All of which can be killed with an anti-microbial. Heck vinegar will kill most of this stuff. The reason that molds keep reappearing on tile surfaces is because 10 you either didn't clean effectively, or 2 (and most likely) you've got a recontamination by providing a new batch of food (soap scum) and a surface that is constantly being rewetted. Not because the cleaner wasn't effective. We're killing mold here, not aliens. Mold is far from bulletproof. This is certainly a Mold is Gold site placed to promote an organization that has no national standing in the mold industry at large. If you don't believe that Sodium hypochloryte kills mold read this article. Particularly read the conclusions.
One of the reasons that mold is gold companies downplay the effectiveness of bleach is to further their own agenda. After all, if you were paying thousands for some guy to disinfect your house, do you want him to show up with a bottle of clorox? The general public is so misinformed about mold that it's comical.
Good work, 6. After reading that article again, I can see your point. Still, that doesnt mean that their active ingredient is not a mold killer- just that they prefer to sell iot to you as its a product with much higher $$$.
Big advantage though, is their active ingredient is not as harmful to breathe compared to bleach. Still either one- you should use a gas mask.
Personally, I would not hire a mold remediation company if I was dealing with an isolated area. I don't believe occasional exposure to mold (or bleach :)) will hurt you if you're a healthy adult. Now, this is just my opinion, you have to make up your own, so don't sue me if you do get sick...
I'm not saying mold exposure can't have a negative effect, but the "black mold" thing is a hype. When we bought our house, the home inspector put down that we had black mold in both the attic and the basement. When I asked him about it he said that "I saw some black spot that may or may not be mold, but it's better to put it in the report just to be sure" So basically, nobody wants to tell you that it's not a problem if they can be held liable for it later.
We had no mold in the attic or basement, but we did in one of our bathrooms (which the inspector completely missed by the way). This was due to a leaky shower door. Once I the leak was fixed, I simply ripped out the drywall, dried the area and cleaned it with some bleach. No big deal. Sure the stuff is nasty, but I simply don't believe it's deadly unless you have some sort of hyper sensitivity to mold or are exposed over extremely long periods.
Mold needs moisture, so I would worry more about fixing the source of the water problem and find out if it has caused rotten wood, termites as you mentioned, or any other damage.
Replacing drywall is easy if that's the only problem you have.
THose who have to be concerned about mold are people with a hypersensitivity, asthma, a compromised immune system or are undergoing cancer treatment. The very young or the elderly may be prone to having problems more easily than a normally healthy person. THe one problem with bleach is that people tend to misuse it. As the article says, 2.4 percent will not only kill molds but break down the proteins of the mold organism into it's component parts. People tend to want to use more bleach than necessary, risking the creation of chloroform compounds that are more dangerous to health than the mold ever was. Ten percent bleach with ninety percent water is more than enough. Scrub it, treat it, dry it and then seal it to lock down any stray mold fragments or excess spores. And always, always get the moisture under control to prevent a return.
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