Know Before You Buy a Home: Mold Remediation May Be More than You Bargained For

Pre-screening for mold can save you in the long run

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you will ever make. Discovering costly problems about a house before you buy saves frustration, time, and money. Investing in a pre-purchase mold screening ensures you are buying a home that doesn’t have major mold issues. Home inspections catch a lot of problems, including potential structural problems, but home inspectors generally don’t test for environmental issues such as lead, asbestos, radon, and mold.

Mold flourishes in damp, dark areas inside houses and often out of site in walls and roof structures. Thousands of mold types grow naturally in the environment. Mold only needs moisture and an organic surface to grow. If a house has leaky pipes, bad siding, roof leaks, or water underneath, mold is likely growing. Poor air circulation in bathrooms without proper ventilation also causes mold growth. It is impossible to avoid mold entirely, as it is a necessary part of the environment. But mold should never take over your home.

Mold overgrowth issues are expensive to remediate. It may be necessary to replace building materials to remove mold. While homeowner’s insurance may pay for a broken pipe and the following cleanup, it generally will not pay for mold removal.

Home Advisor estimates that mold remediation can cost anywhere between $500 and $6,000, depending on the severity of the infestation.

It is important to know that this is only the cost of removal—not the cost of replacing sheetrock, drywall, flooring, or other materials. This also doesn’t account for months and years that might go by before discovery. During this time health issues can arrise that often go untreated or are potentially misdiagnosed.

Illness and allergy symptoms connected to mold

Many people have allergies that are tied to mold and mildew. Most mold allergy symptoms are similar to hay fever: itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and congestion. Mold can provoke or cause the onset of asthma in highly sensitive people.

The media has promoted fear about “toxic black mold.” Many molds are blackish in color and are no more harmful than any other type of mold. There are rare, toxic molds that certain persons react to more strongly than others. People who are immune-deficient, the elderly, and young children are more susceptible to toxic mold.

Some people experience reactions to mold and mildew that seem to dissipate when they leave the environment where mold is present. When indoor air quality problems inside a home or building make a person feel sick, it is known as “sick building syndrome.” This is not something you experience when looking at a potential home purchase. The length of time spent in the home during walkthroughs or home inspections is not enough to elicit sick building syndrome symptoms.

The Pacific Northwest: A Mold Mecca

The Pacific Northwest provides the perfect conditions for mold to grow. Our rainy winters lead to the exceptional summers Portlanders love. The downside is mold is often happily growing in and around a home throughout the winter and spring months.

Since mold needs only a damp environment and organic material to metastasize, it often flourishes on the inside of walls. Thermal imaging is one of the best and least invasive ways to find moisture on the inside of walls. It allows you to “see” where moisture has collected in unseen areas. The seller won’t necessarily know where moisture has collected in the home. Homebuyers benefit greatly from thermal imaging. With a clear idea of where moisture is providing a haven, mold testing can be done before you sign on the dotted line.

Local mold testing is a must

Mold remediation may be more than you bargained for. It is always better to know upfront if the home you want to purchase currently has mold overgrowth, excessive hidden moisture issues, or is a potential haven for mold.

It takes a local company to understand the needs of local people. Healthy Home is a Portland-based environmental testing company. We are Portlanders who understand the local environment and the types of mold growing in your home or potential new home. Healthy Home’s certified, highly trained technicians can help save potential home buyers hassle and money. Contact us today. We offer clear pricing and flexible scheduling options.

Dan Rouse