Mold Assessment Services in Nashville – For or Against?

HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, offers mold assessment services (inspection and sampling) in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.  Some have suggested that mold services including testing and assessments are not necessary.  I disagree and here is why.

First let me say that mold services are not for everybody.  At HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, we have undergone training at two agencies and I can say that this is a complicated subject and a very serious service to offer.  It is not unreasonable for some to go through the training and find that they simply do not understand the material.  If you are poorly trained, or you just cannot understand the information, then you will not be able to offer a quality service.  I encourage those people not to engage in mold assessments.

Second, I agree with those who see a conflict of interest when an individual is trained, tested and “certified” by the same agency (like a lab) that will provide support lab services for the assessor.  How could you ever fail?  I think it is important that third party agencies do the training and certification, not the company offering lab services. 

Third, lab support is critical to successful mold services.   If you have poor lab support in the form of sample processing or the physical report, you will not offer a quality mold service.  At HABITEC we use the MoldREPORT which is an excellent presentation of the lab results.

Fourth, some suggest that you can determine whether or not you have mold in your house just by using your eyes or nose.  Therefore, there is no need to test.  I strongly disagree.  The EPA and many in the business of IAQ will tell you that scientific knowledge of mold is growing every day.  What is known today will be enhanced tomorrow.  An example is that there are hundreds of species of mold and many more suspected.  They come in many different colors, shapes, sizes and textures.  They are created from different sources.  Some have little smell at all, especially if it is dormant.  To suggest that an individual can “know” they have mold in their building based solely on their senses of sight or smell is a mistake.  This mistake can waste money cleaning or removing material that is normal household dirt or, worse, endanger someone’s health if not identified correctly. 

Mold assessments should only be conducted by individuals who have undergone quality training and testing, individuals who can clearly explain to their Client the many aspects of mold including options for mitigation, and individuals willing and able to help the Client through the complete mitigation process including mitigation verification.

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

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Crawl Space Mold? Who Cares?

CRAWL SPACE MOLD?  WHO CARES?

 
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WOW, what a year 2010 has been for crawl space mold in Nashville and Middle Tennessee!  If you live there and especially if you work in the real estate world, you have probably noticed a clear uptick of mold issues in crawl spaces.  But do we really care?  I mean after all no one actually lives down there.  And few people ever go down there.  So who cares if there is mold in the crawl space?  Well, if you have a crawl space, you should care.  Did you know that some experts say that 40% or more of the air that enters the home or building enters from the crawl space!  So if you have mold in the crawl space, soon you will have mold inside the building.
 
At HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, offering environmental services including mold assessments as well as home and commercial building inspections, we have seen an increase in calls about mold in general.  Why do you think that is?  Well, I think it all started with the May 2010 flood.  Those homes and buildings that may have had a mild issue with mold suddenly became very active with mold and then came the ripple effect of mold growth.  Mostly in the form of people getting sick.  And most of that in the form of respiratory distress.
 
Look at the picture below.  What’s wrong?  HINT:  What’s that white stuff on the wood?

ANSWER:  For now we call the white stuff microbial growth, or mold-like material.  Many people quickly call this mold, but without a lab analysis we don’t know for sure.  Samples should be taken and sent for lab analysis.  Only a trained lab technician can make the final determination if a foreign material is mold or not.  To declare a foreign substance is mold based on the senses of sight or smell is a risky business.  See the closeup of the material below.

Clearly something happened here to create this growth.  For mold growth to occur, there must be excess moisture, a source of food (like wood), and a surface to grow on (like wood).  Bingo, we get microbial growth and possibly mold.  Certainly this should be treated seriously and removed if possible. 

If the lab tech declares this mold, the EPA and HABITEC recommends that the mold should be removed (remediated).  If it not practical or possible to remove the mold and the material it is growing on, the mold should be cleaned (mitigated) as much as possible and then the material it is growing on should be treated with a fungicide.  

But first, anytime you have a mold issue, the first thing to do is eliminate the water source.  If you don’t eliminate the water source, the mold issue is likely to return after remediation or mitigation.  See the article Water in the Crawl Space to learn more about water in the crawl space and how to fix it.  Once the water source is eliminated, then you can go after the mold. 

Crawl space mold can show up on the wood joists and beam as shown above, or on the subfloor as shown below.

In the case of the picture above, condensation from the HVAC duct has worked its way onto the subfloor and caused damage and mold growth.

Another mold issue in the crawl space is mold growth on HVAC ductwork, as seen in the picture below. 

Mold on the ductwork is especially troublesome because mold has the ability to migrate inside the insulation through small cracks in the seams or any holes.  If mold gets inside the ductwork, you have the worst case scenario for mold dispersal throughout the building.  Remember, mold growth is possible because of mold spores.  Mold spores are microscopic particles dispersed by mold to facilitate propagation.  Like weeds in bloom.  Once those blooms disperse, more weeds will grow.  And if you put some wind behind this process, like the air from the HVAC blower, the whole building can become compromised.  Worse case scenario!

Thank you,

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Beware the Flat Roof!

Nashville Home Inspections – Beware the Flat Roof

While many commercial buildings have flat roofs, there are not that many homes that have flat roofs.  And I say good!  It seems that the challenges of flat roofs are just too great for most contractors to overcome.  This article deals with how a flat roof can go bad, and the ripple effects when it does.  Look at the picture below.  What’s wrong?

HINT:  Flat roofs do not drain very well.  They may be cheaper to build on the front end, but in the long run they can be fragile and problematic.

  Flat Roof

Flat roofs are frequently made of built-up material such as asphalt based slurry over layered composite sheeting.  Usually, the last layer of material is a cover of rock, or aggregate.  See the photo below.

Flat Roof Ag

Answer:  Two fold.  Flat roofs are not suppose to be truly flat.  They should have a small amount of grade that slopes to the edges or to drain ports.  Also, flat roofs without the aggregate layer are in direct line for damages from the sun.  The purpose of the rock is to reflect the sun’s rays, especially UV rays.  Without this aggregate, the sun has a straight shot at the bituminous slurry and that can lead to drying and cracking.  See the photo below.  Between that and the build-up of tree debris, this is a disaster waiting to happen.

Dried Flat Roof

Eventually this will crack and allow water and whatever else is on the roof penetrate the building.  If there is a buildup of tree debris, like leaves, then that “whatever” can be a mold soup.  See the photo below.

Flat Roof with Debris

The photo below is of the area above with an opening kicked through.  Mold soup like no other!

Mold Soup

If this roof leaks, the results in the space below can be significant.  See the photo of the walls in the room below this roof.  Parts of the ceiling have fallen down and mold is growing on the walls.

Wall Mold

The pic above of what happens when the mold soup runs down inside the walls below.  Back up on the roof, if this soup is allowed to stand long enough, stuff starts to grow in it!

Roof Growth

So while it may be cheaper to build a flat roof on the front end, in the long run, flat roofs require greater care and attention to make sure they are working properly.

Thank you,

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!

Unusual Red Flags for Mold Inspections – 11-07-10

Tennessee Home Inspections – Unusual Red Flags for Mold Inspections – 11-07-10

Tennessee Mold Assessments/Inspections completed by HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, involve first a mold survey or inspection where we look for “red flags” that are indicative of conditions conducive to mold growth.  Common red flags include a musty odor in the building, growth of foreign material on a wall, water leaks, and so forth.  Sometimes the red flags can include non-standard, unusual, issues unlike those common issues mentioned before.   Look at the two pics below.  Why would a home owner have these components as part of there air conditioning system?

HINT:  Sometimes homeowners try everything under the sun that they can think of to deal with mold issues.

UV HVAC Cleaner

In the pic above you are looking at a UV cleanser that is bolted onto the HVAC ductwork near the interior unit of a split system.  Now look at the pic below.  This cannister of Bad Air Sponge was found near the same unit as is in the pic above.  Hmmm!  What do you think this is for?

Bad Air sponge

ANSWER:  The Eclipse UV Cleanser is available as an air purfication system for controlling mold, mildew, bacteria, germs, viruses, etc.  UV stands for ultra violet, like rays from the sun.  Get it, the sun

The can of Bart Simpson Bad Air Sponge (get it?) is available, apparantly at Bed Bath and Beyond, to aid as an air freshener and odor removal. 

So these two components have some common ground.  They are used to mitigate air quality issues like those caused by mold.  Hmmm.  Someone better check the disclosure statement regarding mold issues in this home.  If not there, maybe someone should ask the owner why these components are needed.  Both of these components will qualify as red flags for mold growth in this home.

Thank you,

Richard Acree

Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC,  and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lebanon, Gallatin and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at http://habitecinspections.com, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of  the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain, WordPress, and Blogger, and Founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and comment on those blogs and group.   You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook and Richard on Linked.  Thank you!