Hi this is David from Fairbairn Home Inspections and today we’re doing an inspection on a 1960’s home in West Vancouver, so let’s go see what we can find. Ok, so here we are at the roof, we’re having a look at these asphalt shingles. This is a fairly cheap material, it’s just a pre-fab asphalt shingle, these typically last about 15 years, still a lot of granule cover on them. If we go up to the ridge caps, they are in poor condition, you can actually see that they’re dried out and they’re getting of loss of coating here, so they going to need replacement soon. And if we come over here to the chimney, we can see that somebody’s actually got a big piece of concrete here. I believe the chimney has leaked in the past and looks like there’s probably some damage below this concrete here. There is also a couple loose bricks at the chimney, so we’re going to need to get these repairs because a loose brick is not safe, it could fall on somebody.
So here we have an awning which is installed over top of the deck and it’s been installed on the roof shingles, you can see the stand-offs at the top there and if you look at the door below we can see some signs that it’s been leaking. There are some water stains, it’s actually been dripping off the front of the door.
Here we are at the back of the house and we’re having in a look at an addition which is actually leaking, if we go inside there’s actually a lot of mold in this wall right here and the reason is because they’ve let the vegetation and the soil get higher than the base of the wall. So there is water leaking in and they’ve actually had pooling water in the back corner and to also make it worse, is there are a couple of downspouts near by that are actually pouring water around the foundation wall. So we’re going to need a drainage company to come in, clear all this out, improve the grading so the water will drain away from the house and then we’re going to need some drywall repair inside and I’ll show you that in a moment. And here’s the other side of the wall and if we look, there’s actually quite a bit of mold growth at the base of the wall and if we take our moisture meter, it’s going to tell us if it’s wet or not. It’s actually really wet but we’re just going to show you, so we just put the pins in and we can see that it’s very, very wet. This is actually black mold.
One of the tell tale signs of a structural problem is all the doors in the house will actually close by themselves in the same direction and it actually latches too.
Hi, we’re here at the front of the house and one of the issues in this house is there’s some settlement going on with the structure and you can see right here you have some brick and cracking and going up the side. It has been painted over and the it opened up again. That’s one of the signs that it’s still moving. If it’s been painted and then the cracks open back up again, it may be an active settlement and if we come over to the side here a lot of this brick here by the window is cracked as well. There is actually some sinking going on in the living room. So we’re probably going to need a foundation contractor to come and have a look at this house.
Here is a really common issue I find with dishwashers. When you have a stone countertop, you cannot bolt the dishwasher to the counter and so there are no anchors to hold the dishwasher in place and if you push down on the door, look what happens. It actually rolls forward and that could hurt somebody, so we’re going to recommend they install some screws. It’s a really easy job, and it’s one of the safety items we look for.
And here we have a sink that’s actually leaking, dripping down from the bowl above. It’s one of those clear glass type sinks and usually they’re not mounted very well. This one is actually quite loose andy may be related to why it’s dripping. One of the things I always do is fill up the entire sink and then drain it, sometimes if you just run water into the sink a little bit, it won’t leak but when you push the stopper in fill it up and drain it down at the same time, it’ll actually start to leak. That’s one of the checks we do with every home inspection.
Thanks for watching. If we can help you with a home inspection, give us a call anytime at 604-395-2795 or you can visit us at vancouverinspections.com.
http://www.fairbairninspections.com | 604-395-2795
Hi, this is David with Fairbairn Inspection Services and we’re here in Maple Ridge and we’re about to start a new home construction inspection so I’ll show you what’s included and what we’re going to do.
I like to look out for small cosmetic deficiencies like this split board right here, this will be an easy repair and of course you can see it from the street.
Here we’re looking at a downspout that just terminates and drives water onto the shingles; I prefer to have these extended so that the water carries down to the gutter below. This will prolong life of the shingles and prevent roof damage.
Testing for combustible gas leakage.
We’re at the side of the house and we’re looking at some guard rails; part of the inspection is we want to make sure that everything is safe in terms of are the guard rails secure and we’re also looking out for anywhere that you have a drop over two feet where someone might fall and injure themselves.
Another thing we find a lot of is missing window well covers. If you have a window well in your basement you want to make sure it’s covered so that nobody can fall in and become trapped. The window well cover has to be removable so if there’s a fire or emergency someone can escape through the window well.
Here we can see a roof vent in the attic that has caused a small crater in the insulation below it. This is due to air pressure differences. On the right hand side we see a soffit baffle and this is basically a foam tray that allows air to pass over the insulation. You can see how much insulation is in this attic, it’s quite high. If we didn’t have these soffit baffles the bottom edge of the roof would be blocked and no air would be able to enter the attic.
So here we are in the ensuite bathroom and we’re testing out the plumbing so we’re filling up the sinks as well as the bathtub which has a Jacuzzi on it. I like to test sinks by filling them completely and running them through the overflow lines and then draining them and making sure they don’t leak. I suspect in new construction they may not be fully tested prior to the walk through. Another thing that we’re going to want to check for is that the sinks are properly mounted to the underside of the counter; that means having a supporting strap or a bracket to ensure the sink doesn’t fall.
Here we are using a thermal imaging camera to check the walls, ceilings and the floors of the building for any moisture or missing insulation. Here we can see the framing of the wall outlined in blue stripes. This allows to check for a number of things. We can also use thermal imaging to detect if there are any electrical or overheating issues or any plumbing leaks.
Here in the main upstairs bathroom we have a door that sticks in the frame when you try to open it, you can hear the squeaking. I like to use a laser level to check the walls and ceilings and the floors to see if they’re plumb and level. Sometimes an out of square door can be the cause. At any rate it should be covered by the builder.
So here we are doing our kitchen inspection, now because it’s a new construction we don’t have any appliances installed yet. We can check the connections and make sure that they’re present such as maybe an ice maker line for the fridge or a gas hook up for the stove. We’re also going to be testing our garburator, make sure the garburator works fine and it’s important to check our range hoods above the stove, we want to make sure they’re connected properly and they’re actually venting all the cooking grease and smoke outside of the home and that they’re well sealed.
Testing all fireplaces for leakage.
Here we are in the furnace room and there’s a lot going on in this room but I’ll show you what it does. Basically we have our hot water tank behind me here, this is an electric hot water tank and we’re just looking for really obvious installation defects such as for instance this release tube here, we want to make sure this is present, this is what actually would jettison the water and steam out if the tank were to overheat so basic safety things like that. We’re also looking for earthquake straps on the tank; those are required in some areas.
We’ve got around the corner here; we’ve got our main water shut off valve, so this is how we can shut off all the water to the property. I always like to point that out to the buyers, you know, this is where you can shut off all your hot and cold water.
We also have a sprinkler system in this house so the fire sprinkler shut off is located here as well.
Now on this side we’ve got our furnace. This is a high efficiency; I believe it’s a Lennox furnace so they’ve done a couple things here that I’ll show you how they’ve set it up. Basically it’s a high efficiency furnace for the heating but they’ve also left some refrigerant lines installed here so that if the owner wants to add a heat pump or an air conditioner these are already installed. All you have to do is put a coil above the furnace and install your condensing unit outside in the back yard so these are all ready to go. This is very common for new construction. What I like to do is check the filter really carefully inside the furnace, make sure that it’s not plugged with construction dust, you know after the dry wallers are here there’s a lot of dust in the air, you want to make sure that it’s clean and it’s not plugged and the furnace is going to have a healthy life.
Over here we’ve got a makeup air so this our combustion air for our furnace room, we’ve got a gas burning appliance so we actually have to bring in fresh air from outside so the furnace can use it to burn the gas. The other thing we’re looking at is if we come over here, we’ve got our valve set for our gas. They’re all labelled actually in this house, we’ve got furnace, we’ve got fireplace, range, so everything’s here. I like to show the customer where this is, how they can shut off the gas in case of an emergency and there’s also a main shut off at the gas meter outside.
So here we are in the garage and what we always want to do with the overhead garage door is we want to test it out to make sure it’s safe. Now this garage door it’s got an opener stuck here and there’s a remote control and there’s also a button on the wall that raises and lowers the door you’ll notice at the bottom you have sensors so if somebody were to go underneath the door or drive underneath the door while it was closing it would auto reverse and then back up. I like to test it two ways, I like to test the sensors and I like to test the actual resistant of the door. So if we bypass the sensors give it a bit of resistance and see if it reverses as well.
Testing all arc-fault safety breakers.
Here’s a tip for you: if you’re getting a new construction inspection done, bring along a roll of green painters tape and if you find any drywall blemishes, nail pops, defects, cracks, missing paint, anything like that just put green tape up on the wall and that way the builder can find it later when he’s having the repair workers in to fix any problems.
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. David Fairbairn of Fairbairn Inspections in Vancouver talking about mold. How’re you doing today David?
David: Oh, Mark I’m ready to talk about mold today.
David: I hope you’re looking forward to some mold.
Mark: Mold sandwich. So the question you wanted and this is funnily enough, the question I asked you last week, is why is there mold on my windows?
David: Yeah, so we’re going to talk about mold on windows and so this is probably one of the most asked questions and yourself included, I think we were chatting before the hangout and you we’re actually saying, I’ve got some mold on my windows, what’s going on? So I said o.k., let’s do a talk on this and explain what’s actually happening. I’d like to maybe share the screen
Mark, is that o.k.?
David: o.k. I just going to pull up some photos, I actually have some photos from various places, so I’m just going to put it up on the full screen here. I don’t know if you can see that. . .
Mark: I can see that.
David: o.k. so we’ve got some mold on this window here. Now this is a photo of probably you’ve seen a lot of houses like this, so what’s going on with this? So this kind of mold can look kind of scary when you first pull back your drapes and you look at your window and you’re going, first of all its black and anybody who’s watched TV or read any articles on home improvement, you’re going to hear toxic black mold so I get asked this a lot. Is this black mold? The first thing I want to get out of the way is black mold is the wrong name for it. They are talking about a certain species of mold called Stachybotrys and it’s not always black, it can come in different colours, it can come in blue so I want to get out of the way, you actually can’t tell what kind of mold you have unless you actually take it to a lab and sample it. So we know what common types of mold we have indoors so we can usually guess it’s between three different species but if ever have any doubts just as a disclaimer, always call a certified mold specialist who can come out and assist you with your problem before you go jumping to any conclusions. So anyways, we’ve got this mold growing on a window here so basically what we have is, if you think about a house you’ve got a window which is going to be probably the coldest spot on your wall. So first of all it’s on your exterior walls, second of all, a lot of heat loss through windows, right? So this one here, we’ve got an aluminum window frame, I believe it’s an aluminum frame window so it’s probably a chilly day and we’ve got a high indoor either temperature and or humidity, right. So mold on windows, I’m going to go ahead right away and say 99% of the mold on windows problems is going to be coming from indoor humidity so you’ve got a lot of areas where humidity and moisture can originate in homes and the number one is going to be your shower, you’re showers can generate a lot of moisture and cooking, if you’re cooking pasta, you’re going to be sending a lot of water and steam and vapour into the air and your moisture floating around the air is going to settle on the coldest spot just like when you take a can of coke out of the fridge and it gets frosty, right so that’s the same concept here; we’re creating condensation and windows are hot spots for condensation because they’re so cold. So were looking at that and basically the first step you can do to prevent moisture on windows is to ventilate your house properly so this is point one, you’re going to ventilate the house properly. So how is the moisture getting out of the house? Is it clinging to the windows or is it being ventilated properly, so let’s look at a few options for ventilating the home.
So the most obvious option here is we’ve got a bathroom fan and unless you live in a kind of an older house that’s never been updated or you’ve never renovated the bathroom, you probably have one of these in your home and basically we’re going to want to make sure that that fan is running not only when you have a shower but in some cases we’re going to want to have it run for quite a while after you have the shower. So if you go to a newer home, I think yours is actually quite new, you’ve got an eight year old home, we’re actually going to want to run that fan for I believe the building code actually requests that it run for eight hours in every twenty-four hour period. So you may actually have a timer on your fan or in some areas we may have the fan hard wired to run twenty-four hours a day. As the houses get newer the draft is reduced, you’ve got a tighter house, you got a more weather resistant house and there’s not as much in the way of fresh air flowing through the house. You’re going to have to mechanically ventilate it and that’s our number one way to do that.
This is a control that you see a lot in our area in Vancouver, this is a humidistat. So what this does, this was used a lot during the 90’s is that it will actually read the relative humidity inside the house and it will click on the bathroom fan to exhaust the air out of the house when it goes over a certain threshold so this one here is actually turned fully on, I don’t think they realized it was all the way on when they took the picture but the recommended setting for these that we usually see is about 40 to 50% relative humidity so you’re going to set it between 40 and 50 and when you shower and when you cook it’s naturally going to turn on the bathroom fan. Now these kind are extinct now in our area in new construction because our requirements are just a little bit higher and we’re actually having to run the fan for a set period of time.
So here’s a way you can avoid moisture problem windows, this mess of lines here, this is a cross section of what’s called a thermally broken window. Now in the old days we didn’t have what’s called a thermally broken window, it would just be you’ve got the glass sitting in a metal frame and there’s metal connected all the way through, underneath the glass and you’re transferring heat underneath the window very effectively outside and you’re cooling off the window. Same thing, you know, you put a spoon in a hot bowl of soup and the spoon gets hot, that’s convection you’re losing heat across the material, so now what we’re doing, we got our thermally broken windows, this is a newer style of window and we’ve actually got this Polyamide Thermal strips that are actually separating the frame and they’re actually broken, breaking the frame in half and they have very little thermal transfer so they are keeping the inside of window warm and the outside cold and you’ve got this break, so you can imagine the condensation would be a little bit lower on this style of window.
Just going to show you, this is a microscopic shot of some mold growing and the type of mold is called Cladosporium. Now Cladosporium is a very, very common indoor mold and when you see mildew and mildew is a type of mold, you know a lot of time you can get mildew and it’s going to be what’s called Cladosporium. Now Cladosporium grows anywhere that you’ve got warm sort of wet conditions, you see it a lot growing on towels, cheese, bread, and things like that, so it’s a common indoor mold and this is actually under a microscope. This is how they identify the type of mold you have.
So one last thing, I’m going to show you with our bathroom fans, if you’re going to install bathroom fans, it’s just a reminder, you don’t want to install too powerful of a bathroom fan because you can actually pull the heat out of your house and if you install a bathroom fan that’s oversize for your bathroom you can increase your heating bills quite a bit so the calculation that we use is take the square footage of the bathroom and multiply it by 1.07 which gives us, it’s usually slightly larger than the square footage of the bathroom. So if you had a 80 square foot bathroom you’re probably going to want to put a 90 CFM which is cubic feet per minute bathroom fan into the bathroom and that’s going to properly ventilate your bathroom so if I was to summarize what’s causing mold on windows, interior moisture conditions are going to account for almost all of it and if you can properly ventilate your home you can prevent that problem and the last thing I’ll leave you with is, if you need to remove any mold from your windows technically you should be calling a mold removal or abatement company but if you want to do it at home the CDC recommends one part bleach to ten parts water mixture and put that into a little spray bottle, spray it along the bottom edge of your window and clean it off and repeat as necessary and that is one way to remove the mold. Now if it returns then you should call somebody so that is what causes mold in windows. If you have a problem please give me a call, I’d be happy to take a look at it, we can do sampling, we can take a swab test, we can test the air in your home, there’s just a myriad of tests that we can actually do to make sure you that have a healthy home.
Mark: Awesome stuff David. So just to clarify, you’re a certified mold specialist as well as doing home inspections, is that right?
David: That’s correct, yes. So we do both residential, commercial inspections for property purchase and then of course the mold division where we do indoor air quality testing, we can do consulting if you have a leak or flood, you need post or pre remediation consulting, we can do that as well, just give us a call, we’d be happy to give you a quote.
Mark: Awesome, so one part bleach to ten parts water for window mold, to clean it up ourselves and get the fans running.
David: There you go Mark, yeah. You got a project for this afternoon I think, eh?
Mark: We’ve been running the fans a lot and it makes a big difference. So that pretty much sums it up. We’re going to explore mold a whole bunch more with David over the next few weeks, so come back and see us and if want to get hold of him FairbairnInspections.com, there’s tons of information on his website or give him a call 604-395-2795. Thanks a lot David.
David: Thanks Mark, talk to you soon.
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. David Fairbairn; he’s a home inspector in Vancouver. How’re you doing this morning David?
David: I’m doing great, Mark, how’re you doing?
Mark: I’m good. So swimming pool inspections, what should be included?
David: o.k., so you’re buying a house, you want to get the swimming pool checked out pretty carefully. Sometimes a buyer will actually not get the swimming pool inspected, will by pass it and look mostly at the house but I think your face says it all. There’s a lot that can wrong with a swimming pool, they’re huge, huge cost centres if you have major repair. Swimming pools even when they’re just operating, they’re very expensive, right, just to heat them, put chemicals in. You can’t imagine, repairs really add up, so I think probably in the world of inspection some of the best return on investment is getting a swimming pool inspected. So when you call us we have a trained pool inspector on our team who can come out and we can actually do it at the same time as the home inspection, so basically it’s a package where we come out, we inspect the home, we can take of the swimming pool and can take care of the hot tub at the same time, you can get it all done and we put it together on the same report for you, onsite, it’s delivered to you onsite and then you receive an email within about 30 minutes to an hour depending on how much information we need to add on to it. The pool inspection includes, you know, obviously a visual examination of all the parts to the pool, so we’re looking at the liner, the basin, if you’ve got a vinyl lined pool we’re going to take a look at the condition that, we open up all the skimmers, we do light the heater if possible, sometimes depending on the time of year the heater may not be lit, we’re going to give it a shot try to light that heater and see if we can get it to fire and see if it’s operating properly and of course it’s going to include the filter, pump, all your mechanical equipment. This is probably where we find most issues is in the mechanical areas of the pump house, right, usually we probably find one leak every single time, that’s very, very common, those aren’t too expensive and we also find out a lot of pump problems, if the pump hasn’t been used properly or run dry for a while. So we’re going to inspect those, the hot tub itself we’re going to, if it’s a package unit where you’ve got the pump built in, we’re going to open it up, inspect the mechanicals and heater on the pump and we’re also going to inspect the electrical run pole, o.k., because that’s a big part of it because you’re often running a sub panel to the pump house and I would conservatively estimate that 80% of them are unsafe. They’re usually corroded or they’re installed wrong, there’s some handyman wiring going on so obviously for a safety standpoint we’re going to take care of everything that could be a safety hazard to you and your family and that’s the big thing, if we do nothing else we just want to make sure that pool is safe.
Mark: What about checking for leaks?
David: Checking for leaks, so what we’re going to do is we’re going to obviously check for visual signs of leakage. If we show and the pools half full and you know the hose has been running for a week, we may suspect there’s a problem that has happened of course, we’re going to look at your mechanicals too, obviously a lot of water in the mechanical room, you may be losing a lot of water there, and in some cases our pool inspector may say, I think you have a leak in your basin, you know we see a crack in a the basin or you know we think you may have a leak at the skimmer or whatever it is. So we can actually do a follow up visit so there’s the standard pool inspection, if you need a leak test done it takes about 72 to 96 hours depending on the size of the pool but we can actually do a drop test. We’re going to fill it up, measure the level of drop of the water to see if you actually have a hidden leak because you’ve got a lot of buried lines so we can actually do that for an additional cost and if we suspect that may be the case, that you do have a leak, we will recommend that and we can actually handle that as well.
Mark: So in your reports do you have photos and you’re specifying everything that you finding?
David: Absolutely. It’s very similar to our home inspection report, same template, same format where you receive a digital report. Now we offer swimming pool inspections as a stand-alone, you can just get the pool inspected. If you call us up we can send somebody out, we can get a report by the same evening. If you do it with the home inspection we roll it all together with the home inspection and you will receive a digital report with photographs and descriptions of all the issues found and one of the things we like to do with the pools is if we can is actually provide a quotation so if we have a for instance a bad filter, bad pump, we’re actually going to be able to provide you with a rough estimate of the range in prices you may pay to replace that item so we try to keep it very straightforward and easy to understand and of course we take photos of everything including all the safety hazards and we put it together in a PDF file which you receive by email.
Mark: Awesome, so if you’ve got a pool, these are the guys to call to make sure it’s safe, make sure if you’re buying or selling your home, get an inspection done so that your clients on either side can feel more confident and you close that sell quicker. This is the guy to call, David Fairbairn at fairbairninspections.com Call him at 604-395-2795. Thanks a lot David.
David: Thanks Mark, have a great day.
Mark: Hi it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with David Fairbairn of FairbairnInspections.com in Vancouver and you can reach him at 604-395-2795. Today we’re talking about the gross stuff, we’re talking about mold. So how’re you doing today David?
David: I’m doing pretty good Mark. Mold’s not that gross – if you like blue cheese or if you like beer mold is pretty good. Penicillin if you like not getting sick. Mold is pretty helpful. It is gross and in some cases pretty helpful. I’d like to show you today what mold looks like – have you seen a lot of mold?
Mark: Unfortunately, I have.
David: Excellent, ok so I’ve got some photos for you. We’re talking about what mold looks like. So this is probably one of my top questions when it comes to mold related questions – somebody is standing there looking at something and going I think that might be mold, I can’t tell. What I want to start with is that it’s very important to note you can’t tell if something is mold or not just by looking at it. You can know what mold usually looks like and you can know different growth patterns, but if you’re not sure, you should sample it. Take a sample of the material and take it to a lab for testing because they’re actually going to be able to tell you if it’s mold or not. Even myself, doing mold for years, I’ve done testing and sampling and investigations and there’s still some cases where we find mold where it doesn’t look like mold or it doesn’t look like anything. What I’d like to do is show you how mold grows and this will give you a better idea about how it appears and what it might look like. So what we’re looking at now is a microscope slide of some mold. What we’ve got here is the structure of mold and you can see that it’s not just a blob of slime, it’s actually quite defined and that’s because mold is a plant. It’s part of the fungus family, so when you have mold you actually have fungus. Mushrooms, those are fungus. There’s different types of fungus and mold is a type of that. So it grows like any plant and when you look at it up close, you will notice that it has branches just like a tree or a plant and you’ve got the tips where you have the spore production (the circles). So if we look at what that actually is we’re looking at is called Mycelium. Mycelium is the structure of the mold – it’s in all the branches woven together. The branches are called Hyphae or Hypha individually. So this is how it spreads and grows and once mold sets up, it takes about 24-48 hours to grow in material and after a certain amount of time usually 10-14 days it’s ready to reproduce. So the mold decides to release some spores into the air and hopefully those spores settle and grow more mold. So when you hear about respiratory problems, people getting sick from mold, it’s the spores we’re talking about, it’s not the actual mold material, it’s actually the spores that are floating around in the air and you’re breathing them in because some spores are toxic.
So that’s the idea behind the growth. If we look at it here, it’s eating away at this bread – you’ve probably seen bread mold before, it usually doesn’t look this extreme, but this is just for illustration. We can see that the mold here has taken root, it’s feeding off the material, mold will grow in any organic material if the conditions are right. If it’s warm and wet it usually thrives and at one point or another we get spore production and this one is actually in full spore production mode.
So we’re looking at an attic now Mark, this is a fairly new construction building, this house is only… do you want to guess how old this attic is?
Mark: From the state of the OSB and some of the other clues I can see there, probably no more than 10 years old
David: Yeah, it’s actually 1 1/2 years old. So just as an aside, we perform home inspections, you should always get even if your house is a year and a half old. Get it inspected every single time. So this attic a year and a half old, terrible ventilation problems and they’re also using OSB which stands for oriented strand board, which has basically replaced plywood in most new construction and you can see that it’s made out of wood chips. It’s also a great surface for mold to grow on. I would conservatively say it’s about 150% more likely to grow mold than plywood or wood itself. So you have to be very careful with this material. And what we have here is – you can see the blotches and as you move up the the centre of the screen, you can see black blotches forming everywhere. This is the same attic here and we’ve got this growth pattern and as the blotches form, they start connecting together. So what’ve got is mostly black, in some areas it’s mostly white and in some areas it can turn blue. Mold can look like any of those and still be part of the same family of mold. So it’s very important to get it tested because you won’t be able to tell what type of material it is until you actually get it tested. Any idea what happened here Mark, want to hazard a guess? This is an attic as well.
Mark: A leak in the roof?
David: A leak in the roof. This is actually a marijuana grow operation.
Mark: So a leak from downstairs?
David: A leak from downstairs, exactly. So marijuana grow operations are very damaging, particularly to attics. Here the moisture was so high that the entire attic was just covered in a web of mold. This is actually post remediation – so they’ve actually gone through and cleaned all the mold out – this was what was left over, the staining – so you can imagine how bad it was before this. tThis is a type of mold called Penicillium which is related to Penicillin and it can be harmful. This is something you don’t want to play around with especially if you see it at this level. This is the same house, a grow operation where they had removed the growth and this is after thousands and thousands of dollars of removal. So you can imagine how thick that must of been before for it to take root that deeply that they weren’t able to get the lines out of the wood, the nails are rusted, they had a huge, huge amount of moisture going up into the attic. So that’s something we can see. So that’s what mold looks like.
What you should do – there’s two tests we offer. We can do sampling, so we can come in and actually test the mold stain to see if it actually is mold and if it’s alive or not and we can do an air quality test which is where we sample the air in the home and provide you with results of how many spores are floating around. So we have some different equipment to do that. This is our Zefon Bio Pump, this is some of the equipment we’re using. This actually sucks air through the top – that white disc at the top is called a spore trap and it will capture the spores floating around in the air and we break it open and put it on a microscope and we can tell if there are any indoor air quality issues.
So if you have something that looks like mold or you’re not sure – play it safe and get it tested. You can call us at 604-395-2795 and we can come out and determine if you have a mold problem, where it’s coming from and what to do about it.
Mark: Awesome. So I think we’ll . . . I don’t know if there’s anything more to say.
David: Mold can look like a lot of things. It can be fuzzy, it can be black webbing like that and as we go along with our next episode, I’ll bring some different shots of different things we have found in homes – everywhere from a wall that looked completely bare and it actually had mold on it, up to a room that was basically falling apart. We’ve got some good stuff coming up so stay tuned.
Mark: Awesome. So we’ve been talking with a building inspector, home inspector and mold specialist Mr. David Fairbairn of Fairbairn Inspections in Vancouver. You can reach him at fairbairninspections.com with tons of great information on the site or you can give him a call at 604-395-2795. Thanks David
David: Thanks Mark. Talk to you later.
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. David Fairbairn of Fairbairn Inspections in Vancouver. We’re talking about mold. What an exciting Christmas topic David.
David: Just what you’re hoping for Mark, eh?
Mark: So mold in crawlspaces, let’s talk about it, where does it come from?
David: Absolutely, Mark. We’re going to see a lot of similar themes here that line up with a lot of the other mold talks we’ve done because the causes are still the same so I’d like to screen share here a little bit so you can look at what we’re talking about, so let me know if you can see the image that comes up here.
So here we’ve got a diagram courtesy of Price and Dunlop. Let me know when you see it.
Mark: Yes, it’s there.
David: O.K. great, so one of the things that you’ll see with every single mold related problem is that they’re all caused by generally the same thing. If you have moisture problems you’re going to have a mold problem and mold is a symptom of a moisture problem that is somewhere in your home. Crawlspaces are very, very sceptical to mold due to the fact that they’re extremely wet environments, they’re generally neglected a little bit; people don’t often go down into the crawlspace all the time the same way they do with checking their windows or even their attic. I would say the attic probably gets looked at a little bit more than the crawlspace depending upon how much storage is down there but here in this drawing we can actually see depending on the style of crawlspace you have it’s going to be extremely damp and you know, these are the areas where mold can really thrive. So we’re looking at two different floors. We’ve got one on the left, it’s a dirt floor and this is a very old style crawlspace. You probably are never going to see this in new construction or anything later than a certain date but if you go back far enough you do have these dirt floors and if they’re not ventilated properly you’ve got what’s called rising damp so that moisture is actually rising up from the dirt and it’s equivalent to here it’s says several gallons a day which I feel that that’s not wrong, so you can get this damage to the floor framing and the other thing about crawlspaces is there’s lots of wet wood down there for them to latch onto. Mold really likes organic surfaces and especially porous services so if you have something like wood or drywall it really latches on when you’ve got a lot of moisture and it set up shop pretty quickly.
So, on the right hand side you can see that they’re recommending you should have a vapour barrier down in the crawlspace. Now a vapour barrier is basically a poly sheet and you’ve probably seen them in a lot of crawlspaces and one of the biggest problems with these vapour barriers is that they’re usually not tight and here we can see it says seal at edges, that’s an important concept. We’re going to want to seal the vapour barrier down, this plastic sheet and weigh it down with gravel and that’s going to prevent what’s called rising damp. So, the main thing is just to show you how much moisture you can get in these spaces.
So, that’s number one, it’s called rising damp and it’s pretty easy to solve, you basically seal up the base of your crawlspace and that’ll hopefully mitigate that.
So, problem number two, we’ve got a photo here, this is a crawlspace in Langley and what has happened here is we’ve got a drain tile issue. Now drain tile is your perimeter drain, it runs around the outside of the house. It’s a big pipe and it carries water, ground water and rain water away from the house. It keeps it from ingressing into the basement, the foundation or crawlspace and what we have here is, it’s become blocked so this house was built in the 80’s and we’ve got this old type of pipe called Big O Tile which is a black corrugated plastic and it plugged up and actually this particular house, there was a root punching through the side of it from a tree, it had actually broken through the drain tile and it’s actually a leak, you can see a puddle inside the crawlspace. So here’s the source of moisture right here and again this is going to cause mold growth in the crawlspace. So that’s number two.
Number three, so this is that really nasty photo I was going to show you. This is one of the worst mold problems that I’ve come across not in terms of how broad it is and all over the place it is but it was very localized it was just in one spot but what we actually have here was a plumbing leak so we can see there’s kind of a grey pipe running across the top of the picture horizontally and that was going to an exterior hose bit and what happened, he didn’t winterize his hose bit. As the temperature drops you can have freezing at that hose bit and it will crack and burst and you’ve got a pinhole leak and this had been leaking for years and years and we can see that you’ve got a lot of mold, that white fluffy stuff is actually fungal growth, that’s sort of a really extreme version of some mold. O.K., that’s the third reason here, plumbing leaks.
Fourth reason is, we’ve got a photo of a crawlspace vent. This is something I see a lot of where someone has actually blocked off these crawlspace vents and when you block off crawlspace vents you are starving your crawlspace ventilation. You don’t have any fresh air coming in, so you’ve got this moist stagnant air in the crawlspace and the mold will quickly grow in that case so a lot of the time it’s very simple, just remove the cover off of these crawlspace vents and sometimes the home owner will put bat insulation behind it and if you can remove that and go back to the original design condition of the crawlspace, you can solve a lot of your mold problems.
Now the next question is what do I do about, what do I do if I have a mold problem. The thing with that is you want to call a mold remediation company to come in and remove the mold because some of this stuff is really nasty and you don’t want to be breathing it in and if it gets all over your wood, it’s all over your crawlspace, it can get quite expensive in the same way that we were talking about attic mold, you can be looking at thousands of dollars to remediate your crawlspace and in really extreme cases you can have structural damage. Going back to this photo you can see that the bottom plate of the wall frame is actually rotten away and this house now is sitting on a rotten piece of wood so what we’re going to need to do is actually jack it up and replace that plate underneath to get at that support so you don’t what to leave this too long because you can have structural damage.
I think the last thing I do want to point is if you think you have, you think you have crawlspace mold but you’re not sure is to get your crawlspace inspected and we can assist with that. We do crawlspace inspections on large scale, small scale, we can do one house or we can do an entire strata complex. If you have a crawlspace you’re not sure, kind of smells musty down there, an air quality test would be a great idea. If you can get some air sample of that crawlspace, send it to a lab and we can actually tell you what kind of mold is down there and how much there is.
Mark: Great, so we’ve been talking with Mr. David Fairbairn. He’s not only a home inspector in Vancouver; he’s also is a certified mold remediation specialist, so he’s the guy to call. Check out his website, fairbairninspections.com or give him a call at 604-395-2795. Thanks David.
David: Thanks Mark, take care.
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Vancouver Home Inspector and Mold Specialist, Mr. David Fairbairn of Fairbairn Inspections.com. How are you doing today David?
David: I’m doing really good, how are you Mark?
Mark: I’m good, so we’re going to talk about shower mold today, the causes and remedies, what’s the deal with shower mold?
David: Well, I’d like to talk about shower mold and I hope you’re ready to see some photos of said mold, Mark. It’s kind of a common problem we have in homes especially you don’t have to have a flood or a leak to get shower mold, you just have to have a shower. So I’ve prepared a couple photos and I’m going to try to screen share again. Hopefully this goes through this time; I’ll ask you to verify if you see it on the screen here. Can you see that?
Mark: There it is.
David: O.K., excellent, so that’s our cover page. So shower mold. I want to look at some of the myths about it and the facts about shower mold and then at the end I’d like to go through what you can do about it to fix the problem. Let’s get right into it. Showers are gross, they’re dirty, there’s a lot of standing water in them and so they’re a perfect breeding ground for mold growth. So here we see a photo of a pretty standard, tile shower. Obviously this one’s had a significant amount of water leakage over the pan, you can see in the foreground there, couple tiles have been removed and you can see that there’s nothing left of the backing board at all. What we have here is a moldy shower. Now I’m going to differentiate between the shower mold that you can see and the shower mold that you can’t see. If you’re looking at the surface of the shower, you’re standing in the shower and you’re looking down and you see black you’re probably looking at surface growth of mold and it’s taking root in porous surfaces so one of the things about mold is that it like to set up in porous surfaces, it really likes organic material, it really likes drywall, it really likes anything it can bite into and take root. So here in this case we see it around the bottom edge and it’s probably because we’ve got some silicon, there’s silicon caulking right around bottom edge of the pan and the mold has taken root in there. We’ve even got some black fuzzy stuff on the left hand side so this is obviously a pretty significant problem. In this case the shower was actually being torn out and rebuilt due to the moisture problems. But if you have a fairly standard shower, it’s not uncommon to get this kind of growth and it’s not necessarily a reason to panic.
So we’re looking at the edge of the shower here. We can see that the caulking has started to peel up and we’ve got some growth occurring at the edge, the inside corner, so the first thing we can do to make sure we don’t get shower mold growth is to scrub it down and dry it out after you shower. Sometimes you’ll see a squeegee or one of those windshield wiper blades inside the shower where you can wipe it down afterwards. The dryer you can keep the shower the less chance you have of growing mold in it. Second thing you can do is you should be resealing your shower periodically. This is one of the biggest myths about showers is that you don’t have to reseal them. Now there is two ways you should seal your shower, you should seal the corners with silicon and around the base of your pan and around doors, with a quality caulking, here’s one that comes to mind, GE makes it, I believe it’s called tub and tile, something like that, it’s a caulking that you can go around the edges with because mold will grow on the caulking and it’s time to replace it and that’s just typical for a shower.
Second thing you should do, is you should is seal up the actual grout and you can actually get a grout sealing product as grout is quite porous and eventually water will get behind as it passes through the grout and into the backing boards. So that is our non-visible mold. That’s what’s actually growing behind tiles and once you reach that point, you may have to demolish the shower if it gets bad enough.
Here we’ve got a real source of potential mold. This is a bad idea, Mark. I don’t know if we’ve talked about this before in our discussions but windows in showers are never a good idea. They don’t really work, they’re actually allowed by the BC Building Code but you know they’re kind of desirable because they let a lot of natural light into the bathroom but it’s not a good idea to put it in the shower. You should actually put it in a wall somewhere instead. Here you can see that we have a lot of growth of mold around the cold window, right, so we talked last week about mold in windows. What’s happening here is that mold is growing on the cold part of the window, it stays wet a considerable amount of time after you take a shower what also happens here is that the water actually leaks into the wall through the top of the tiles and if you look at the edge of the tiles, that sort of edge closest to you, you can see gaps and cracks in the grout so water is actually leaking behind this wall and this wall had a huge amount of moisture below inside the backing boards so that’s when you really get extreme cases.
If you look here, you really want to make sure that there’s no holes in your tiles, there’s no cracks in your tiles. This is a foreclosure home from Port Coquitlam and we can see that the owners have kicked a hole through this side of the wall and they have solved it by putting duct tape and some garbage bags over top of it. So it’s not really a proper seal and of course this is a terrific way to introduce water in behind the wall cavity. This one was actually was ending up in the kitchen, there was a huge leak that went downstairs to the kitchen below and caused enormous amount of damage. It cost thousands of dollars to repair.
So our next photo we’re showing some moisture readings around a shower, so one of the things that happen, when showers leaks or when you have cracks or gaps around the shower, water can actually get into the drywall and travel down the wall. In this case you can see this is a toilet valve right next to that, it’s about six feet away from the shower and we still have heightened readings as the water travels through the wall so be very careful to always keep your shower curtain, that would be probably the number one thing. This is the same shower here, this is actually a real poor shower design, it doesn’t have a lot of mold in it but we actually found that it was leaking into the walls and there was hidden mold in this one.
Last thing I want to talk about is how to minimize surface growth is to run your bathroom fans so we were talking about it last week, how to reduce mold in your home. The same applies here. If you’ve got a shower and you keep getting mold growth, you need to be running your bathroom fan. Your bathroom fan exhausts the wet air from the house and introduces dry air into the house through the ventilation so run your bathroom fans as much as you possibly can and if you keep your shower clean, dry, and you run your bathroom fan and you’re resealing it on a regular basis, you shouldn’t be having a huge amount of trouble with mold in showers.
Here you can see, this is a moisture meter. This is one of the tools we can use to actually read behind the tiles, that’s actually giving us a pretty high reading. This is the same shower and of course this is how we can tell if there is any damage.
And this is a picture of how to clean your shower. I actually jsut pulled a stock photo of it. What we’re looking at is, you know, clean your shower, shower mold is not really a health hazard. We can certainly test it and check to see if there is an issue with the shower but you want to keep it clean and dry and there are products you can buy from the hardware store, one comes to mind, Microban, there’s another one called Moldex, there’s actually a couple of different products you can buy at the hardware store that will not only remove the mold but will actually leave a layer that will prevent future regrowth of the mold, so it leaves a product on the surface of the tiles.
So basically to recap, you want to keep it clean, dry, well ventilated and well-sealed. And if you follow those corrections you’ll have, you won’t have shower mold growths. Hope that helped out.
Mark: So one thing I had a question about was, what happens, is all mold visible? Can you see all the different kinds of mold or it looks clean but there’s actually mold on the surface?
David: Excellent question Mark. I think we were talking about that a couple hangouts ago about what mold looks like. Mold can look really scary or it looks like nothing and the only way to tell if you have mold on the surface is to test it. If you don’t know if you have mold, or you think you might have mold, you can smell it, something is off, you usually get that sixth sense where you may want to look into this problem, call us and we’ll come out, we’ll sample it and we’ll check to see if you have an issue.
Mark: That’s great David. So, David Fairbairn of Fairbairn Inspections.com and Fairbairn Environmental, they’re going to have a new website or a subset of their website. David’s been cited in the 24 Hour Magazine and on Global TV about mold. He’s a mold expert and so he’s the guy to call if you’ve got any problems. Come to Fairbairn Inspections.com or give him a call 604-395-2795. Thanks David.
David: Thanks Mark, talk to you again.
Mark: Hey, Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation with David Fairbairn of Fairbairn Inspections in Vancouver. How are you doing today David?
David: I’m pretty good Mark, how’re you doing today?
Mark: I’m good. So we’re going to talk about mold and what’s actually included when you do a mold inspection in the Greater Vancouver area.
David: Yes Mark, thanks for asking, so today we’re talking about mold inspection which is probably our most popular service when it comes to mold, once in a while we’ll get somebody who says, o.k. I just need this one wall sampled or whatever it is. Mold inspection is for somebody who basically wants us to come in and basically go through the entire house or the entire condo and provide you with a full report on whether or not you have mold in there and if you do the conditions that are actually causing that mold and what we do is we offer package, it’s a mold inspection and this is a full inspection using moisture equipment, we’ll be going through the whole house, we inspect the inside of the ducts, we inspect behind everything, around the windows, in the kitchen especially and we inspect for signs of mold and if we find it, then sample it. This could be done in conjunction or as a stand-alone from our air quality test and the air quality test is the other half of the equation where we sample the air inside the house and provide you with a lab report that actually says what you’re breathing inside the house. Together, if you get these two done, you’re going to have a full review on the mold conditions inside the house, whether or not it’s safe, whether or not the levels of mold in your house are elevated or if they’re just normal from normal use from say you’ve got a family of four living in a small area, you know you may have mold that’s not the buildings fault, it’s actually because you have a lot of people in there. So what I would like to Mark is to show you the inspection report, we have a sample report right here that shows you what it looks like when you receive it. I tried to actually get a lab sheet, that shows the actual results from a laboratory but they all have the address stamped on it so for privacy reasons I don’t want to do that, but I’m going to show you what an inspection report looks like. This inspection report we did for a government office in the lower mainland, you can’t say too much more than that but what they were basically were worried about is that they had mold, they could actually see it but they wanted to know how bad it was, so this is a full mold investigation and then of course it describes the, I had to remove on here but we’re actually going to on the report illustrate what the results of the sampling are. So as we go down, so basically it outlines areas of concern, in this building here, we had a very old building and they had a number of areas where water was actually ingressing through the wall cavity; can you see that on the screen Mark?
David: o.k. so we’ve got water coming in through the walls here, there was actually moisture damage in several areas and our mold inspections include thermal imaging and moisture testing as well as a number of other tools that we can measure how normal the building is and where these problems are coming from. You can see on section 1.0 an outside air sample was collected and what we sent to the laboratory. So we also looked at exterior mold conditions; it’s usually not as much of a concern for owners. A lot of time you get moss or algae growth outside which is sort of normal especially on the north side of the building in our sort of rainy area, this would be something we would expect to see, you know staining and growth and we’re just going to outline these concerns for you. We had again, you know, what we talked about a few weeks ago around the windows, this is something that we really see a lot of as well as we’ve got a number of moisture problems from both from the inside of the building as well as the outside that are actually causing this mold growth buildup on the windows. The windowsills were rotting here. As you go down you can see that there’s a breakdown of on section 2.0 here reveals the presence of Stachybotrys so this is actually what we were talking about last week was the toxic black mold and we give a breakdown of the type of mold found in your house with descriptions of everything. So once we see that, we go o.k. we need to go a little bit deeper here, you know we need a mold abatement company to come in and actually hunt all this mold down and remediate it which can be quite expensive so this is what you need to know about especially if you are selling a property or you’re a renter or if you have a lease with landlord. This is something you really need to know.
Moisture testing, we’ve a number of moisture concerns in this property here as well as the bottom of the walls was saturated with water right next to the bathroom and what it turned out was they had a huge sewage backup a couple weeks before and the owner never had really dealt with it. When you get a flood like this you have to get a professional restore it, you just can’t fix the problem and wait for it to dry out because first of all you can see in the bottom of the left picture, it won’t dry out and the second thing is you can have mold growth. Mold will set up in ten to fourteen days from the initial time that it was wet; you’ll actually get mold growth in that period of time.
We can see a few other concerns; you see there was actually some food equipment in here so this is an investigation into what’s causing this. The back of this box, you know we had definite concerns with this box here in the bottom left, in the red oval, you can see the growth and water damage on the back of the box so this place got really, really wet, not only inside but through a number of leaks in the wall .
The duct work; we’re going to inspect your duct work; we have equipment to do this, snake cameras, hydrometers, things like that, that measure conditions inside the duct work. We had a few problems with the ducts that were disturbing and I think that goes to the end of the report.
So I’m going to switch that back off and head over to, can you see me again?
David: O.k. so that’s a basic report and that’s something we would provide to you within about 24 hours from the inspection. The inspection takes about two to three hours depending upon the size of the property and we charge depending upon the size of the property. This is the full, this is the best way to determine if you have mold in your home so call us in and we’ll go through every nook and cranny in the house to provide a whole breakdown and uncover all the surprises that are actually in your home. It’s really important if you’re concerned about your health, you know if a family is living there, you have tenants if you’re renting a basement suite and they’re complaining about mold you need to bring us in so we can give you an idea about what you’re dealing with and it’s something you should give us a call about. The number is 604-395-2795 and we can also be reached at Fairbairninspections.com and give us a call and we’ll help you.
Mark: Great stuff David, so again if you’re looking for some mold, you have some concerns about mold, you want to make sure that you don’t have or do have and take the proper steps to clean it up. These are the guys to call 604-395-2795 or go to their website fairbairninspections.com. Thanks David.
David: Thanks Mark, see you again.
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with David Fairbairn from Fairbairn Inspections in Vancouver. He’s a home inspector and we’re going to talk about Air Quality, how are you doing David?
David: I’m doing pretty good Mark.
Mark: So, we’re still in the same spot this morning; beautiful day in Vancouver, a great day to be outside but what are the signs that air quality testing might be required in my home?
David: Well Mark I get this question a lot whereas the question would be do, you have mold in your home and if you want that question answered then you should get an air quality test so that’s almost the same question: do I have mold in my house. Let’s look at some of the reasons you might think you have mold and then go from there. So, you are living in your home and you see mold, that’s a pretty good reason to test for mold, you obviously have some sort of issue because you should not be seeing mold growth and we have covered this in other topics about where mold grows, you know, showers, windows, doors, attics, crawl spaces, places like that. If you see mold growth you should call us and we’ll take a look at it and we can sample it, determine where the mold is coming from and what to do about it. So that would be the main thing is if you want to find out if you have mold. In many cases you’re not actually going to have visible mold and you can still have mold in your home. Now mold can hide in places, it could be behind a wall somewhere, it could be below your carpet, it could be behind the fridge, you know, you’re not going to be able to see it on a regular basis so this is where we bring in what’s called Air Quality Testing. Air Quality Testing is the way to determine what you’re breathing in and it will actually provide you with a list of every type of mold spore that you’re actually breathing in on a daily basis so let’s look at some of the symptoms that you may have that would prompt you to get this Indoor Air Quality test done.
Now I’m going to scare you but generally I say use your intuition so if you think you have mold, you might, you know, I find a lot of times, somebody will actually call me and say you know what, I think I have mold, I just got a musty smell in my house, it doesn’t smell fresh in here, it used to, got a flood, you know the guy came in and fixed it and it smells funny. Okay so that’s the big thing, odours, right, do I have mold in my home.
Second thing, you’re coughing, this is a big one. If you’re unusually sick for a long period of time, you know, it’s flu season right now, it’s January and it’s going around but if you’re persistently getting a cough, it only happens when you’re home, that’s a pretty good sign that your indoor air quality is pretty poor.
Another sign, your family is complaining of itchy eyes, itchy redness, even sometimes on your skin, you know if you’re itchy. These are all symptoms of or they can be anyways, of having a high level of toxic mold spores in your home.
Now the concept here is when you get mold, the mold grows and it reproduces the same like flowers do except without using pollen, it uses spores, it releases spores into the air and spores float around and they land and grow new mold and over time the mold is actually evolved to be some spores, some strains of mold that have actually evolved to be toxic and this is a competition evolution that they’re doing where they can battle off other types of mold and they kill off other types of mold and they dominate and unfortunately a by-product of that is mycotoxins, they’re called, is that they can be harmful to people. You’ve probably heard about toxic black mold, you know, we’ve talked about it before where in the states a while ago there was a case where an infant had actually died and they were looking at toxic black mold as possibly being the case of what happened, so it’s scary stuff and the indoor air quality test can tell you fairly definitively if you’re breathing anything in.
So, I’d like to introduce you to the indoor air quality tool of choice which is an air pump, so this is a Zefon brand Bio Pump. This actually draws air through a small cassette called the spore trap. The spore trap right here has a sticky plate inside, we’re going to actually sample the volume of air from inside the house, bring it across the plate and bring this to a laboratory and have the laboratory evaluate what’s on the place and by bringing it for a set period time we can tell per however many litres of air what you’re breathing in. So what we do, is we typically take this, let’s say we’re in a garage right now, we think there’s mold in the garage, we’re going to run this for a set period of time, a set flow rate with one of these spore traps and we’re going to run another one outside. If we run the one outside, get the results from that, compare it with your indoor we can triangulate, we can tell, okay you know what, normal for this neighbourhood, we’re in Surrey right now, normal mold level would be here and this is what’s in the background, stuff you’re breathing when you go hiking in the woods and it’s higher inside the garage, we have a mold issue that needs to be looked into. So we’ve actually got this report which shows you the exact species, everything that you’re actually dealing with. I’m going to try sharing my screen Mark and show you what a lab result for mold looks like. Let me know if you can see that. Can you see that?
David: O.K. without giving too much away, I’ve hidden the address, so this is from Mold & Bacteria Labs, Canada, they are a local lab, there are a couple that do this kind of evaluation, this is one of them and this is a test we did in Vancouver on a townhouse complex about five days or six days ago and you can see that there’s three columns and the columns correspond to, which spore trap we used, so we have our outdoor control which is our baseline, we have our main floor and then our top floor and what we wanted to determine was if there was mold inside the house, so we can look and we can actually see down the left there we’ve got a list of different species of mold, oh pardon me, would be the genus of mold; genus is a family species. So if we go down we’ve got Alternaria, Aspergillus, Ketonium, Qitasporium, and these are the different types of mold and they all have their own characteristics. Some of them are toxic, some are not and we can compare our outdoor to our indoor and what you can see on this one it’s pretty clean. There are no real issues here, we felt that the mold levels inside the house were considerably lower than outside and it was not really a huge cause for concern. We do see that Cladosporium down the left there and the center column that’s a little bit higher in which case that was from some wet towels so that wasn’t really a concern because later testing it will lighten up but overall it’s a pretty clean report and we can at the bottom that the total number of spores 5,300 outside versus 360 inside is pretty good results. I would hope for that result if I tested my house and it looked like that I would be a pretty happy camper. So that’s the kind of stuff we can do with this and if you think you have mold we can come in, test it pretty easily, it’s not overly expensive and it’s relatively painless and you just want to make sure all your doors and windows are closed for several hours prior to the testing and we can actually get you that lab result that you can keep on file and if you decide to sell your house or if you decide to get work done then you have a record of what you’re breathing in on that exact date. There’s no other way to do that and it’s very in demand right now, I get a lot of requests for this and it’s a great tool.
Mark: Awesome, so that’s all about air quality with Mr. David Fairbairn of Fairbairn Inspections. Give him a call at 604-395-2795 or go to his website fairbairninspections.com Thanks David.
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Mr. David Fairbairn talking about attic mold, attic mold, mold in your attic, I’ve got lots of that, you can see here. The details about what’s critical about it, why you need to know whether you’ve got it or not, how to test for it, how to get rid of it. How are you doing today David?
David: I’m doing good Mark; hope you’re ready to see some pictures of moldy attics.
Mark: Love it.
David: Yeah, so attic mold, this is a huge, huge question I get as a home inspector about, first of all is there mold in my attic, you know, that’s probably the number one question when we do a home inspection and we go up to the attic and the two questions I get are is there mice in the attic and is there mold in the attic. Those are the two scary sort of unknowns when you go up to an attic and if you think about an attic and you look at the sort of design of it they’re very, very prone to moisture and humidity problems because they are basically a sealed wood box sitting on top of your house so if you don’t have proper ventilation and a waterproof roof membrane above you that’s keeping the water out and you aren’t adding unnecessary moisture into the attic, then you’ll have a dry attic. If you’re ventilating it properly, you’re not adding moisture and your roof doesn’t leak you will generally have a dry attic. But if you miss any of those points generally you’ll get mold growth or some sort of growth up there that has to be dealt with so, what I like to do is show you some visuals. I’m just going to do a screen share so let me know when that pops up for you, if you don’t see it let me know, you should see it come up pretty quick.
Mark: You got it.
David: Alright, so what I wanted to do was give you a case study of the house that we inspected; this property in Vancouver and they had a considerable problem with moisture and condensation in the attic. Now this is a concrete tile roof which is very popular in East Vancouver and they generally breathe pretty well but you have to be careful with them because in this case you’ll see why. So we’re looking at the soffits here, this is the underside of the eave’s and it doesn’t come out really that clearly in the picture here but what we have is there is a lot of staining around the actual soffit vents and these soffits are perforated so the air will rise up and travel through the attic and carry all the moisture out but in this case there was a lot of staining and rust around the soffits so that’s, when we are doing a home inspection and we come up to this property for a mold inspection, that’s the first thing we look at, what’s the condition of our soffits and generally you can tell if you have an issue right off the bat before you even go into the attic; if you see this, this is a big red flag.
So, I labelled it heavy growth; this is the inside of the attic, it was quite bad, it was a cold day and there was literally water dripping off the ceiling and we’ve got what looks like some black mold growth growing in the attic here. And this is your sheathing, a sort of metal sheathing paper that they use on concrete tile roofs and just as an aside, I just wanted to point out, here a lot of people say you have mildew growth in your house, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that Mark, somebody said you know, there’s mildew in the bathroom shower, that’s actually the wrong term for it because mildew in nature will only grow on plants, they will not grow on any other surfaces, so mildew is pretty much a plant specific mold and it will not grow in homes unless you have plants. So it’s not mildew, what we’re actually looking at is mold growth, we’ve got some different colours, we’ve got some white, we’ve got some black. We took a sample and sent it to the lab and it came back as a combination of a few different types of mold, all of which were needing to be remediated.
So there was a lot of damage to this attic and here is another photo of the insulation below and we can see the condensation in this attic was so bad that is was dripping on the insulation and those little pock marks on the insulation are from the water dripping off the top of the attic onto the insulation so the insulation in this case was damaged. So if you do see that, even if it’s dry when you go up in the middle of summer and you see insulation that looks like this, this is another big red flag that you may have a serious moisture problem in your attic. Not necessarily a leak, it can look like a leak when you first go up but if you’ve got water dripping in a uniform pattern like that as opposed to one area it’s generally going to be a condensation problem.
Alright, so I want to go into the causes of attic mold because there are only a handful of them and ninety percent of the time they’ll fall into one of the few categories. So here we are, we’re looking at some bathroom vents . . .
Mark: That’s brilliant, oh my God.
David: My favourite part about this is how he decided to use an exterior hood, like I don’t know what the benefit of that is, it’s generally to keep the rain out, but he decided to terminate and on the left you’ve got another one coming up and it goes right there and stops right there and it’s got a little hood on it too, you can’t see it in the picture. So we’ve got two bathroom fans, now we’ve got a family that’s taking showers every morning, sometimes twice a day if they’re doing sports and you can have one fifteen minute shower can generate an incredible amount of steam, I think it’s somewhere around .83 of a kilogram of vapour for a fifteen minute shower which is actually quite a lot, right, if you think about that, how many pounds is that, it’s just under, it’s about 1 ¾ pounds right, of vapour and you’re adding that straight into the attic and that’s a terrible, terrible design. So the big thing here is that probably most, the majority of attic mold is caused by improper bathroom fan termination so that’s the first thing we’ve got to look for, are you adding extra unnecessary moisture into the attic and this is a huge one. We always report this if we see it and it’s usually caused some damage by the time we find it.
So our next issue is this is something we come across especially in older homes where the owner has added additional insulation into the attic. What happens is they put insulation in and make it thicker and what they do is, they actually block off the soffits, o.k., so the soffits like I showed you in the first picture, you’ve got a vent at the bottom of that eave and the air is going to rise up through the soffit pass through the attic and out through the roof vents and in this case you can see that the soffits are actually blocked on the left two rafter base and on the right hand one you can see they’ve added what’s called the soffit baffle so if you’re adding insulation to your attic you need to put a soffit baffle in. It’s a Styrofoam tray that slides in between the rafters and it allow air to pass above because otherwise you’re going to choke your attic and you’re going to create a huge amount of moisture in your attic so this is probably number two on our list of what causes mold in attics is people getting a little bit too excited with the insulation. The other thing you’re going to want to do is if you’re changing your roof out to a different type, have a guy check out how much ventilation you actually have. If you’ve got one roof vent and you’ve got a huge roof area you might want to add two or three more and there are calculations on this based on the square footage of the attic, so you have to check that.
So the answer to what can we do about mold; this is an example of a treated attic, so when you see white like this you know one of two things have happened; they’ve either had a fire and they have painted the smoke damaged wood and I’ve come across that many times where there has been a fire and the homeowner is usually pretty up front with it or you’ve got a mold problem in the attic that’s been remediated. In this case it’s been remediated and it also sprayed a layer of product onto it that prevents regrowth of the mold.
Mark: That’s like a silver based paint?
David: Yeah, there’s a couple different products, I’m not entirely sure which one this one is but I can get you a list of the different products they offer, it’s basically a layer you can spray onto the attic that prevents mold from ever happening again, taking root again and it’s particularly important in attics where you have OSB sheathing so the OSB is, you’re probably familiar with the different types of sheathing you can have in the attic, that’s those boards between the rafters. In this case I believe it was actually plywood, in a lot of attics you’ll have OSB or even Strand Board which is very, very susceptible to mold growth and that’s why I don’t recommend it for roof replacement. If you’re ever doing a roof replacement don’t put in OSB sheathing, put in good quality plywood that’s going to resist mold growth and your attic will last longer. So this has been fully remediated by a mold abatement company and per attic, if you have an attic that you have mold in you’re probably wondering about cost. It generally, I mean the minimum you’re ever going to get this done for is probably, if it’s just a small area, you’re looking at a thousand dollars, if you go in a large area, I’ve seen it go as high as four thousand for a complete remediation and there’s a number of different ways that they can remediate it, they can do a chemical scrub on the wood, the one that I like that’s sort of getting a lot of traction now is called dry ice blasting, it’s almost like a sand blaster and you blast dry ice along the material, it actually removes a layer of the wood but it’s very, very effective if you want to go scorched earth on your attic and there’s no chance of anything, that’s actually really a good method by which you can do it.
I think we’re actually back around to the start. Switch off the slide show there. Just to recap, ventilation is everything when it comes to attics especially in a wet climate like ours as well as making sure that you’re not adding any moisture to the attic so, bathroom fans, check your bathroom fans, check your dryer exhaust and check your kitchen range hood. All three of those I’ve seen in a lot of attics where they actually dump into the attic and you can create some really nasty problems in your attic. If you have a healthy attic it will make your roof last longer, be healthier for your family and it increases your resale value because when you go to sell there’s no surprises. So if you think you have mold call somebody out to have a look at it.
Mark: So does it get worse in the winter in terms of condensation?
David: Absolutely, yes, especially in buildings that has poor insulation to begin with. One thing I don’t think I touched upon is even your attic hatch where you enter and leave the attic, a lot of time those doors aren’t sealed with weather stripping and they aren’t insulated with some insulation on top of it and you can get a lot of heat up there and the heat will just settle, right on the sheathing, right on the nails and that can cause huge condensation, yeah, so that’s true, it’s worse in the winter, during hot humid summer days as well you can get a lot of problems there. I’ve seen attics that have just been completely blocked off and left that way for a couple seasons and the roof is actually starting to collapse in some cases because the plywood is so inferior that, if plywood sits at more than twenty percent moisture content it can actually lose its, it’s called delamination and delamination is where the plys of the plywood actually separates and you can lose the structure. That’s not a roof you’re going to want to walk on and that’s why in some cases
I’ll show up at a property and go I don’t want to walk on that roof, let’s take a look at the attic first. You go in the attic and I would have probably fallen through if I walked on it so, yeah so definitely with the temperature swings you can have a lot of damage up there. So again, ventilation is everything.
Mark: Awesome, so there’s everything you ever wanted to know about attic mold and why it’s very important, the stuff will make you sick or wreck your house pretty quick so it needs to be taken care of! If you have any doubts, if you want to know, if you’re going to buy or sell a home, here’s the guy to call Mr. David Fairbairn of Fairbairninspections.com 604-395-2795 Thanks David.
David: Thanks Mark, take care.
Mark: You too.