We’re talking with David Fairbairn certified home inspector, about Mold – what does it look like, is it toxic, how do I get rid of it?
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation and we’re here this morning with David Fairbairn from Fairbairn Inspections in Vancouver BC. David’s a certified home inspector and we’re going to be talking about is there mold in my home. How you doing this morning David?
David: Doing great Mark – how you doing?
Mark: I’m great. So, tell me what does mold look like?
David: The biggest myth about mold that you’re going to find is that it actually is visible. In most cases, if you have mold in your home you may not be able to see it. Mold can grow on walls, it can grow on countertops, it can grow on an surface but it may not be the fuzzy black stuff that you see on HGTV – and everybody says, ‘oh my gosh here’s some toxic black mold. So that’s the biggest myth about mold is that you can see it all the time. Now if you can actually see it, usually it’s pretty bad. If you see a lot of dark stains, fuzzy stuff mold growth – usually you’ve reached a point where the mold is what’s called viable. There are two states of mold: there’s non viable which is dead mold and there’s viable which means it’s going to release spores in the air and it may be harmful. So if you see mold growth that’s heavy, it may be viable and you need a qualified home inspector or mold inspector to come and check it out to determine the state of it. But in general, it takes on a few different forms – you see a black sort of furry growth, sometimes I’ve actually seen white, I’ve seen blue. So the thing is, if you suspect mold in the home, the first thing you should do is test it or call somebody who knows about mold to come and test it for you because you may not be able to tell if you have mold or not just by looking.
Mark: Ok, so now I’m freaked out… so is there mold in my home?
David: Well, the answer is yes. Almost always yes. For instance, if you leave a loaf of bread out on your counter and you leave it over night, you will have mold growth by morning. Where do you think that mold came from? Well, it actually came from spores that were already in the air. Right now I’m sitting outside on this beautiful day and I’m actually breathing in quite a few types of mold right now. I’m breathing in something called ganoderma, which is actually a type of fungus – it’s a mushroom – and I’m breathing in those mold spores but they’re not toxic and they’re not going to harm me. Just walking around in the woods or in your own home you’re going to be breathing in different types of mold spores. But the stuff we’re actually worried about is toxic mold and that’s mold spores that are floating around in the air that contain mycotoxins and a mycotoxin is molds way of destroying other molds in order to win the evolutionary mold race. So those are the things that sometimes can be harmful to people. So the answer is yes, there is mold in your home but generally we don’t see harmful mold unless there is a significant amount of water damage, that’s the first thing that usually causes a mold outbreak. If mold doesn’t have moisture – it won’t grow. If you get rid of the moisture, you’ll get rid of the mold. We see this a lot, especially in home inspections where somebody has had a flood in the basement, we’ve had a leaking shower, we’ve had a plumbing leak somewhere. These are the kind of situations that usually lead to mold growth if the drywall and the wood is just left wet and mold sets up and starts growing. This is where we really serious problems.
Mark: So, how do you get rid of mold?
David: The best way to get rid of mold is to get rid of the moisture first because if you remove the moisture and that means humidity, moisture in the air, moisture in the materials – if you get rid of those things mold will basically die off. But you should remove all the material that’s been affected. So if you have mold growth all over some drywall, you’re going to need to remove that drywall and replace it. That’s the best way to do it, to dispose of the damaged product. Now, lets say you have mold in an attic it may not be prudent to just to replace your entire roof and I don’t think anybody’s actually done that unless it’s been really extreme cases. So what we’re probably going to want to do is treat the mold. There is a few different ways you can treat the mold. You can blast it with dry ice, this is a new method they’re using right now where they basically take a sand blaster and shoot dry ice against the wood and it sterilizes the wood. The other method is chemical treatments and of course the best way is to replace the wood.
MarK: You inspect a lot of houses every week, are you seeing a lot of this?
David: Absolutely. I would probably say about 25% of homes that I inspect in Vancouver have some level of mold in them that’s visible. It’s really common in bathrooms. Bathrooms are actually a really under rated source for mold; they are extremely humid, there’s usually poor ventilation – either the bathroom fan doesn’t work or nobody runs the bathroom fan so you don’t have that exhaust going on; and they’re used quite a bit and are usually left wet all day – somebody showers in the morning and then they go to work and leave a soaking wet room. You can get a lot of mold growth in a bathroom very quickly. I’ve actually seen entire houses that are full of mold and they all stem from one bathroom. It’s extremely common. Another really common area for mold is attics – we see it in a lot of attics especially if you have poor ventilation in the attic. Another area where we see it is where there has been a past flood or leak, especially basements. Basements are a huge source of mold, so get it checked out. If you smell something funny you might have a mold situation.
Mark: Thanks a lot David. We’ve been talking with David Fairbairn from Faribairn Inspections. You can reach him at 604-395-2795 or at www.fairbairninspections.com. He’s got a ton of information on his website – again 604-395-2795. Thanks a lot David… have a great day.
David: You too Mark, thanks
Author David Fairbairn is a certified, licensed home inspector serving Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. He has been featured in the media and has contributed to "24" Newspaper, and Global TV. He has spent years working with residential and commercial building projects, and holds a Power Engineering License in BC. Why not give him a call for your next Home Inspection? Call 604 395-2795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today!