Mold is a form of fungus that grows from spores that float through the air and are invisible to the naked eye. It can form in any area of your house where moisture is present and collects on a surface for more than 24 hours.
Usually it is killed in the normal course of cleaning your house. Where moisture collects in areas that are not immediately obvious, such as in roof rafters, behind a sink, in air-conditioning ducts or in a basement a mold infestation can become a serious issue in your home. Aside from the fact that it looks unsightly, when it has grown and spread over a long period of time it can cause damage to areas where it grows; in the timbers of an attic, for instance.
Not only does an infestation look terrible it can also cause breathing problems for people with allergies or asthma. Some types of its spores, such as those from black mold and Chart Arum, can actually result in serious health problems and in some cases death.
If you are trying to sell your home it is the last thing that you want your prospective buyers to see. It can significantly lower the price that prospective buyers are willing to pay.
More importantly if you don’t declare a problem and it is later discovered in the property you may be opening yourself to being sued and be liable for any costs or losses associated with its abatement.
The best thing that you can do when selling your home is to ensure that any problems have been dealt with before you put your house on the market. There are many things that you can do yourself to alleviate the problem and this article discusses these in the following sections. In some cases you may need to call in professional help when the infestation is significant or has caused significant damage to a house.
Is an Inspection Necessary?
If there is any evidence of mold in your home it may be best to perform an inspection to discover the extent of the problem. In some cases this may be a legal requirement in the area where you live; this means that if you do not disclose the problem you may open yourself to a potential lawsuit.
In some areas there may be a legal requirement to perform a mold inspection before you can sell a home. If you’re aware of a problem in your house you should at the very least disclose this to prospective buyers in writing to avoid any future legal problems; in some cases you are legally required to do so.
You should check with your selling agent about any requirements related to mold inspections before selling your home. For instance, some banks will deny finance approval for loans to buy a house that has this problem so even if you manage to sell the house the deal could fall through if it is discovered and you have not disclosed it.
Preventing and Removing Mold
The first step in controlling and removing an infestation is to identify areas of your house where it is most likely to grow and spread. This is relatively easy in kitchen and bathroom areas (on tiling and in corners, for example) that you can see. The fact is that it often grows in areas that are not immediately obvious.
As a general rule anywhere there is moisture present or where water can enter a home are potential trouble spots. This can include such things as a leaky roof that allow water into your attic, flooding in your basement, a leaky window or one where you see condensation, water stains on your ceiling from a leak and so on.
First identify the source of any moisture then remove any carpets in affected areas, install mold resistant products, fix leaks in roofs, gutters and windows and attempt to waterproof the areas as best you can.
One part of the home that people sometimes forget to consider is the air-conditioning system. If mold has spread through the ducts of your cooling system then they need to be professionally cleaned otherwise you are simply spreading its spores throughout your home. It can also form in air-conditioning systems that have not been run for some time so this is another thing to consider even if your home was previously mold-free.
As a rule of thumb you can probably treat mold infestations yourself if they are less than about 10 square feet and there is no obvious structural damage where it is found. If you do take this approach make sure to use masks, gloves and other protective clothing.
If you find mold issues in hard to reach areas of your home such as in an attic or that appears to be coming from within a wall space or crawl space the best option might be to call in professional help.
Professionals will have experience in identifying the source of moisture or water leaks that are causing the problem; there’s nothing worse than cleaning mold areas only for them to reappear a short time later.
Getting expert help with your mold problem may not be expensive as you think. In the case of small infestations the cost can be as little as a few hundred dollars. Of course, in the case of a major growth that is widespread or entrenched in a house the treatment can cost in the thousands not to mention the cost of repairing any damage caused to your home by the infestation itself.
Make sure that you use a licensed or accredited remediation expert so that proper procedures and precautions are followed. Using professionals gives you peace of mind that the problem is solved and ensures that the issues in a house that caused the mold in the first place have been rectified, including underlying issues such as the causes of moisture build-up including leaks.
Once the mold remediation process is finished they will test to make sure the house is free of infestation and within allowable concentrations of mold spores. Look for a remediation company that will guarantee their work for a specified period after the work is complete to ensure that the problem does not reoccur.
Selling a Home With a Mold Problem
While it is possible to sell a house that has evidence of mold you should understand that it may result in a significant drop in price that you can ask prospective buyers as well as opening you up to the possibility of legal action and liability for any problems that are discovered subsequently by the buyer.
The best thing to do is take steps to alleviate the problem by first identifying its extent through a mold inspection and then addressing the areas where an infestation is present. In some cases you can do this work yourself but in the case of a major infestation or where it originates in difficult to reach areas your best bet may be to call in a mold remediation specialist who will guarantee that the full extent of the problem has been found and will not re-occur as well as identifying unseen damage that the mold may have caused.
While it may be time consuming, and sometimes expensive, identifying mold issues and treating them before you sell your house will likely save you money in the long run and shield you from potential legal ramifications – particularly if you are aware of a mold problem but do not disclose it to your prospective buyer.