Hot Environmental Topics

Bank Owned Homes & Mold

Jun 19, 2020 8:45:00 AM / by david sulock posted in mold, mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold contractor, Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold survey, mold assessments, mold consultant

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The recession of 2008 can still be felt today in the form of foreclosed properties that have been flipped.    These flipped homes look nothing like the home when it was bank owned.   Flipped homes certainly hold appeal for homeowners who want move in conditions homes.  The photo below shows a house that went through renovations.

flipped home-1

This is a photo of the same home same area pre renovation.   Note the mold on the wood furniture on the left hand side of the photo.

mold in home before flip (002)

Bank owned houses due to no occupancy, have wildly ranging temperatures and humidity fluctuations.  In short, the house gets hot and humid in warmer months, which allows mold to grow.  We have done homes where we come across mold on walls, trim, furniture, attics, basements and crawl spaces due to the house not being heated and cooled.  These homes also may be like this for years.  This certainly makes for homes that are in desperate need of rehabilitation, the question you have to ask is was the mold addressed?

Almost certainly mold in attics and crawl spaces are typically not addressed as these are not areas where the flipper will get bang for their buck or even look for repairs.

Basements typically get partially redone because it creates a living space that was not present before.  The problem is mold that has grown during the foreclosure process gets covered over by clean sheetrock, concealing the mold.  We have seen cracks in foundation walls covered by fresh sheetrock.

Basement mold

 

Basements in bank owned homes typically will have some levels of mold growth.  Again, when these homes are not occupied, there is a high possibility of mold growth.  

Why Mold Test a Flipped Home?

Many house flippers tend to look over the mold growth in basements, one because they are not aware it is mold growth and two, they are unaware of any water issues.  It is Curren's recommendation to always do  Mold Testing in basements of those homes that are being flipped, especially if they were once not occupied and a Foreclosure, sheriff sale, tax sale or bank sale property. There are times when basements are finished or re-finished and the mold growth is covered up, but not specifically remediated.  Meaning, mold will continue to grow and fester in these areas and will not just disappear.  

Attics are yet another area that are not in the realm of a house flipper.  When an house is not occupied for a period of time, humidity and moisture builds up, especially in an area that has no air flow.  Non-occupied homes do  not always have electricity and whole house attic fans, attic fans and humidistat attic fans will not turn on when necessary.  These situations lead to mold growth in attics.

mold can grow in an attic

Curren Environmental suggests Mold Inspections and testing in homes that have not been occupied for a period of time.  Mold growth will occur within 72 hours in the right environment.  Its not to say that home flippers are hiding the mold, they may just be missing that what they see is mold growth.  They are not mold experts.

Questions?

Call Curren Today

or email at info@currenenvironmental.com

 

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Mold Remediation with Post-Air Sampling Data

Feb 6, 2020 11:22:00 AM / by Tiffany Byrne posted in mold remediation, Mold Testing, mold assessments

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Mold is the four-letter word of real estate transactions. Finding mold can pause a sale and stop the sale all together.  If mold is visually found and/or confirmed via testing, the odds of the sale failing increases, unless you can get ahead of the problem.

IMG_1015-1
There are many stories of real estate transactions with mold growth, but this one is very interesting.
The story goes that a buyer was interested in a home and the property was an in an estate.  This particular property had been vacant for some time (About 26 months).  The buyers were from out of state and mold was a concern.  During the home inspection, the home inspector took air samples throughout the home. He also found possible mold growth on some wood furniture. Those air samples were mailed to an independent lab, and once the lab finished testing the samples, they sent a report back to the home inspector. The home inspector then sent the lab data to the buyer.   Elevated mold spore count were found indoors as compared to outside levels.   The levels were also higher than you would typically find in a home sand water damage.

 

Tape sample

 

Outside sample
 

 

Tape sample

 

What does mold lab data mean?
First, as part of the story, you need to know that this property was vacant for over 2 years. The heat was on as part of maintenance but the home was not property dehumidified (air conditioned in the warmer months). Mold growth occurs where there are moisture and organic materials. In this case, again there were only visual signs of mold growth on some furniture, but no visual signs on the sheetrock walls, kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets and no signs on the ceilings throughout the home.

What caused mold to grow in a vacant home?
When the humidity is high and the property is not well ventilated, mold growth will occur. These spores can become airborne and move throughout the home. This home had a lot of carpets which contain organic matter (dirt, skin cells, etc.) and carpets hold mold spores.

Curren Environmental completed a mold assessment and found no outside water entry, plumbing leaks, roof leaks, etc. Mold growth was contributable to the home being vacant without consistent heating and air conditioning operating.  Mold Remediation at this property was performed and removed the airborne spore count to levels comparable to outside.  Remediation was performed as follows:

  1. The carpet was removed and tack strips were removed.
  2. All organic furniture that could not be wiped down was disposed of (fabric coating sofas and chairs.
  3. HEPA vacuumed walls and floors in the master bedroom, in-law suite, and 2nd floor.
  4. A broad-spectrum, FDA approved, fungicide was applied to the walls and the flooring in the rooms.
  5. Air scrubbers operated during and after the remediation based on volume of air in the space and goal of completing multiple air exchanges. 

As the story goes, post air testing showed that the elevated spore levels dropped dramatically at the property. Please see below. For this story, no walls were removed, no ceilings were opened nothing was torn down to the pre-construction stage.

 

 

Post remediation Data 1

 

Post Mold Remediation Lab Data 2

 

 
Post remediation Data 1

 

 

The ending, a happy buyer, a happy seller, and a clean home. Not every property that has elevated mold spores needs to have everything torn down and removed.   Mold testing must be assessed facting in history of the space, current conditions and an understanding of mold spores found and what environments these spore thrive.   A mold remediation professional will look at the data, photos provided and any other detailed information before handing over a cost. It is very important to understand that mold is everywhere and there are no “Mold Free” properties.  

Call for Mold Questions.

 

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Why do I have mold?  Will mold come back after remediation?

Nov 25, 2019 10:51:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in mold assessments, mold consultant, professional mold remediation

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"Why do I have mold?", is a common question we get from people who discover mold in their homes.   The short answer is that 95% of the time it is a moisture or a water problem.   Yes, mold can come back after remediation if you do not fix what caused the mold.  It can also come back if the mold was not properly remediated (wiping with bleach is not mold remediation).

Thousands of mold inspections and remediations have allowed a broad evaluation of mold growth patterns.  You can't be a good mold inspector if you are not accomplished in mold remediation.  Getting down and dirty remediating mold allows you to witness first hand how mold growth has occurred.  Remediating often times requires you to open up walls to get at the mold growth and you obtain a perspective as to how/why mold grows. 

Photo Oct 09, 9 43 30 AM-1   2018.10.26 12.06.31.535-2

Photo Nov 02, 12 47 54 PM

For instance, wood studs allow mold to grow more aggressively than metal studs when you have a wet area.   Floating concrete slabs can enhance mold growth on ceilings. When there are areas of termite damage you should expect to find mold growth as termites like a moist environment, like mold.   Did you know that your beloved mulch beds around your home can aid in humidity in a basement and crawlspace? Thus, creating an ideal environment for mold growth.  Also, the dehumidifier bucket that you got sick of emptying (filled with water every 2 days) now sits unplugged in the basement, ruining your line of defense in controlling moisture and keeping mold at bay. These factors as well as a host of other environmental and degrading building in fracture are the common culprits that cause mold to grow in a home.

(For example, lack of drainage and added mulch beds led to mold growth)

Curren Environmental does mold remediation to homes that have had mold remediation previously and the mold grew back, meaning remediation was not successful.  This happens due to top lack of following proper mold remediation protocols, using inferiors products to prevent mold growth from reoccurring and lastly removing the moisture source (many times there are more than one source) identification.  (Curren had one project where there for four sources of moisture that fueled the mold growth.)

Mold growth is typically found in homes when the property is being sold.  It may not be bothering the seller, but it may affect the buyer.  Everyone has different intolerance and tolerances to mold growth, one of the reasons there are no federal regulations governing mold growth. Mold growth can be a huge real estate deal breaker. If it wasn't it would be on the sale sheet, showing the moisture or water issue and where the area of mold growth. 

No, mold growth will not be on the sale sheet.  It is best to remediate the mold growth before the property is on the market, removing the issue in its entirety. 

Questions on mold remediation? Follow this link or call Curren Environmental today. 

Call Curren Today

 

 

 

 

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The Truth! Mold in Basements.

Jul 29, 2019 10:16:00 AM / by Tiffany Byrne posted in mold inspections, mold assessments

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One of the most inspected areas for Mold Inspections are basements. Basements are subterranean, meaning basements are under the earth’s surface. It is cooler under the earth’s surface and the soils under the surface holds moisture. Mold growth occurs on organic surfaces such as wood, furniture, and porous items. Mold does not grow on steel or metal unless there are dirt and dust particles, mold can grow on those organic materials.

Moisture can get out of control when not properly managed in subterranean areas, causing mold growth over time on organic surfaces. There are also some one time-events that can happen such as water rising from the ground and into the sub flooring, or leaking through windows, foundations, vents and doorways. Other events such as a pipe bursting and plumbing leaks (hot water heather leak when they fail), if not fixed will cause mold growth.

First and foremost, in any subterranean space a dehumidifier should be running continuously year round. A dehumidifier will reduce and maintain the level of humidity in the air surrounding it. The dehumidifier works by grabbing the moisture in the air and then dumping it into the “tray”. Instead of emptying this tray every day or every other day or never…run a hose from the dehumidifier to an area where the water can be delivered such as sump pump or sink.

Mold needs moisture and organic materials to grow, such as in the basement photo below. This basement had water intrusion, no lid on the sump pump and no working dehumidifier. Water was also coming from all four corners of the basement and was not corrected.

Mold Growth on basement Rafter

Because the water issue was not resolved and there was no dehumidifier, mold growth occurred. Mold growth does not happen overnight, it takes a while for it grow and when it grabs a toehold on organic materials, it will grow in the right conditions fast.

Sump Pump No Lid leads to Mold-1

There are other instances where mold growth occurs because there are no dehumidifiers running.For example, in the picture below, if you look closely, you will see a film on the wood paneling, these are colonies of mold growth. There was no water entry into this basement, mold growth occurred overtime due to the moisture in the air and the organic materials (wood paneling) for mold to grow on.

Mold growth on panneling walls

Mold growth was found on the wood paneling. The basement above was inspected during the summer, which is hot but cooler below the earth’s surface. There was no dehumidifier running and the basement was very humid. In situations such as above, if mold growth is on one side it will be on the other side of the paneling.

Last – don’t do this! All this does is hide the problem, not take care of the problem – it may even cause more!

Does not Prevent Mold Growth-1

Check your basement for any leaks, water intrusions and provide a dehumidification system.If you do not, mold growth will occur, you may not see it now, but trust me, you will soon

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How much does a mold assessment cost?

Mar 11, 2019 8:31:00 AM / by david sulock posted in mold inspections, mold survey, mold assessments

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Mold surveys on average can cost $300.00 to $700.00 for a residential dwelling.  Mold inspection costs are contingent on size of the area evaluated and if mold sampling (surface or air sampling) is performed. 

Thorough inspection include not only an experience mold inspector but include infrared evaluation to locate moisture

Infrared mold inspection

 

Commercial mold assessments  can start around $600.00 and go into the thousands of dollars contingent on building size and sampling performed.  Many commercial mold inspection include are sampling to assess overall air quality in the space.   Health concerns driven by employees and tenants in leased spaces dictate compliant rooms where inspection is required.  Vacant commercial spaces that are purchased or have new tenant leases often have mold assessment performed to assess mold risk and as  baseline for overall air quality relative to mold.  In short the longer a space is unoccupied, the greater the likelihood that mold growth will occur.

 

commercial mold assessments

 

When is mold sampling necessary?

Mold sampling is completed to verify that a stained surface is mold or mold air sampling is performed to assess for hidden mold or general air quality. 

The photo below shows stained wood supports and there was a question in the real estate transaction if the staining was or was not mold.   Surface tape sampling was performed.  Ultimately the staining was found to be mold, a red flag in the photo are the cobwebs, insects and mold both need moisture to thrive.

mold inpsection sampling

 

When is air sampling for mold necessary?

Many mold inspections are driven by a concern that water damage occurred in a space (either disclosed or suspected).  When mold is suspected but not visible, air sampling is typically performed.   You might have a newly renovated space, which would clearly conceal any evidence of mold either past or hidden, air sampling is very thorough way to evaluate the space.  Even infrared may have a problem if the water source has been addressed, you moisture meters and infrared cameras no matter how expensive can only find moisture when present.  Often times the water issue is repaired but the mold is not remediated.

The photo below shows air testing inside of a ceiling cavity.   The property was under contract and the buyer found permits for demolition and rebuild of the space above due to a water leak.  This portion of the dwelling which was a walk out room had been deconstructed walls and a sheetrock ceiling (newer with obvious repairs).  Air testing was warranted at s the ceiling could not be visually inspected and the space was going to be finished by the new owner.  Long story short, mold was found above the ceiling and remediation was performed at owner's experience. 

mold inspection

Experienced mold professionals know the basis of any mold growth is that for Mold  spores to grow the surface must be moist  Dry areas will not have mold growth.  Just as a room can have different temperatures so can the room have different humidity levels.   The inside of wall cavities are ideal conditions for mold growth.

mold found a finished wall

 

When do you  perform a mold inspection or mold assessment?

  • When purchasing a home
  • Unexplained musty odors (mold growth off gassing)
  • Spotting on possessions.
  • Experiencing health concerns
  • Water leak in office or home
  • Buying a bank owned home.
  • Buying a home that was flipped.

 

Mold Questions? Click Here

 

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Should I perform a mold inspection?

Feb 25, 2019 9:42:00 AM / by david sulock posted in Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold survey, mold assessments

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Should I get a mold inspection?

 

Mold inspections are commonly performed as part of many  residential real estate transactions.  Mold inspections are typically driven by the buyer as opposed  to a requirement  of the mortgage approval process.  There are three main factors that are attributable to the increase in Mold inspections.   The primary driver is consumers being more educated about mold (thank the internet).  The aging housing stock allows for degraded building infrastructure (deferred maintenance) which provides  opportunities for mold to grow.   the reverse of degraded materials is better building techniques and home improvements that create tighter building envelopes that help retain moisture in the built environment, which in turn fuels mold growth.  

 

The photo below represents deferred maintenance that allowed mold to grow.   To know the exact reason, you would have to speak to one of our environmental managers.

mold inspections are part of the home buying process

 

There are a few situations that should make you look for a mold problem.  Mold inspections should be completed on homes that  have been unoccupied for extended periods of time. If a house has been closed up and unoccupied for months or years, humidity most likely has built up inside and caused mold to grow.  All bank owned properties should have a mold inspection performed due to the humidity concerns mentioned above.  Homes that have been flipped or rehabbed should have a mold inspection performed because these homes have a high probability of growth (Most were bank owned) and we have found that often times the mold has been covered over or ignored by the real estate investor.  Flipped homes should have mold inspections with air testing to search for hidden mold.

 

The piece of furniture in the photo below, has mold growing on it.  The mold manifested itself over a period of weeks after moving into an older rehab home.  Curren found mold behind the newly finished walls and water entry from the foundation wall that was not properly water proofed prior to sheetrock.

mold inspections can find hidden mold

 Home inspections typically do not cover mold inspections and most home inspectors are not experienced with mold.

 

The photo below was flagged for having mold, a part of the photo has mold and  apart is not mold.  Do you know which is which?

IMG_3698-1

 

Mold inspections should be performed on homes where water damage has occurred either one time or when chronic water issues are present.  Basements and crawlspaces are target rich environments for mold growth.

 

1-888-301-1050

 

What affects the cost of a mold inspection?

Two main factors determine the cost of a mold inspection.  Mold inspection costs are based on the time it takes to complete the inspections, simply put larger homes take longer to inspect than smaller homes. If mold testing is needed it will add to the inspection cost as you now have laboratory analysis to pay for and time for the mold professional to interpret the data.

The best mold inspections are professionals that have experience in both mold inspection and remediation.  Finding mold during a mold inspection and following the project through to remediation provides the firm a 360 degree view of the mold problem.  We have completed thousands of mold inspections and remediation and while they all have similarities there are nuisances to each project.  

 Do I need to inspect a  new home for mold? 

New homes should have mold inspection because there is actually a term we use called new home mold.  Mold can grow during the home construction process, the crews working on a new home don't have the experience with mold and accordingly are not aware that growth has occurred.

 

 

residential mold inspections

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