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Real Estate & Property Law

: Florida Community Association Construction Law Blog

WHEN IS IT JUST MOLD AND WHEN IS IT SOMETHING ELSE?

By Alan E. Tannenbaum

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Guest Article by:


Felix Martin, P.E., Principal
Marcon Forensics
Orlando, FL

While inspecting the interior of a residential unit, you observe black mold growing on the walls.  Is it a sign of poor housekeeping or of more serious problems?  Should you consider vacating the unit immediately or ignore it altogether?

Mold infestation is a widely misunderstood malaise, both in terms of overestimating and underestimating its potential danger.  Because of this, it is important once mold is encountered to properly assess its source and the remedial action to be taken.

What we know as mold, fungus and mildew are generally the same thing. It is nearly impossible to completely remove molds from the environment. Molds reproduce through microscopic spores that exist in the air around us. At low concentrations, mold and mold spores are not harmful to animals, but molds release allergens and at higher concentrations can produce allergic reactions that may vary greatly from person to person. Generally, young children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems should avoid touching mold or inhaling higher concentrations of mold spores.

When relatively mild, mold infestation may be cleaned with a solution of house chloride mixed with water.  Excessive infestation may require removal by mold removal specialists.  However, mold removal may be just treatment of the symptom and not a complete solution.  Cleaning visible mold may not address the causes for the mold to exist and may prove a short-sighted and expensive misguided solution. 

For mold growth to occur, two things are needed: moisture and an organic food source.  Mold growth on an interior wall generally uses the paper cover on the wall drywall as the organic food source.  In a typically well conditioned interior air space, there is insufficient air moisture to encourage mold growth.  Visible mold growth is a sign of excess moisture.  If the source of excess moisture is not removed, simply cleaning the mold will not prevent its return. 

Sources of excess moisture vary.  If mold growth is observed at the ceilings or near air conditioning air vents, the cause of the excess moisture may be the mechanical system.  Perhaps the air conditioning system is not removing excess moisture or is not running correctly, or the clothes dryer is not properly exhausting moisture. 

Where mold is observed on wall areas near the bottom of exterior wall windows and doors, the excess moisture may be originating from rainwater leaking around the windows into the wall cavity.  This is a much more troublesome problem in that if left unaddressed, may cause rotting of structural members inside the wall cavity, requiring extensive and expensive repairs.

 

If mold exists, it may be insufficient to call a mold removal company, as they generally treat the symptoms and not the disease.  Particularly in cases where wall or ceiling mold has been removed and returned, it is important to contact a forensics firm to determine the source of the excess moisture.  Only then can potential sources for the excess moisture required for mold growth be identified and an adequate remediation plan put in place.

 

 

 

 

Full post as published by Florida Community Association Construction Law Blog on October 08, 2009 (boomark / email).

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