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July 12, 2008

Facts About Mold

There are many concerns these days with mold in the home. Once pipes burst or there's water damage in a home, there's a strong chance for mold to grow. With the increase of bank owned homes on the market, and many having been closed up for quite some time or not having the pipes drained in the winter, mold is an ever growing topic for worry. Home buyers ask about mold in the home frequently and here are some things you should know about mold.

1. There are an estimated 400,000 types of mold, and less than 100,000 have been named. An estimated 1,000 types of mold have been found in homes in the U.S.

Less than 80 molds have been found to cause some type of illness, with only a very few that are considered toxic.

2. Molds are fungi. In nature, molds help break down dead materials on soil, plant matter, foods, and many other items. Molds produce microscopic cells, called spores, which are spread through the air. Spores act like seeds, forming new colonies when there is an appropriate temperature, moisture, and food source.

3. There are three major Mold Groups

Allergenic – generally mild symptoms – scratchy throat, itchy eyes, rash, etc.

Pathogenic- usually causes some type of infection and can cause serious health effects if the person has a suppressed immune system.

Toxigenic - Mycotoxins can cause serious health effects in almost anyone.

4. The most important step in solving a potential mold problem is to identify and correct the moisture source. Some of the common indoor moisture sources include:

Flooding, condensation, water seepage from basement walls and slab, roof leaks, plumbing leaks, humidifier use, inadequate venting of kitchen and baths, improper venting of combustion appliances, and failure to vent clothes dryers.

5. A homes relative humidity should be kept at 20-40% in the winter, and less than 60% the rest of the year. Molds will readily grow at 70% moisture content.

6. Ways to control moisture include dehumidifiers, proper ventilation, air circulation near cold surfaces, and efforts to control the production of moisture in the home. All identified molds should be investigated, cleaned/removed by a qualified individual.

Your local Ohio home inspector has the ability to test for mold in your home or the home you're considering buying. Remember, just because there's evidence of mold in the home and though it should be removed, it doesn't necessarily mean it's black mold.

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