Can You Sell a Home with Mold Issues?
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Getting ready to sell a home can be an overwhelming experience, and discovering a mold infestation in the house you're looking to sell only adds to the stress. If you are trying to sell a property with mold, you probably have many questions about how to handle the problem. Here we will address the most important things to know about mold issues so you can make the right decisions before selling.
What is mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that grows in moist environments and spreads by producing tiny spores. While there are thousands of different varieties of mold, the types most commonly found in homes are:
A family of mold containing more than 200 different species; starts as white and later darkens to green, brown, black, or yellow; thrives in starchy environments like food and compost piles, but can survive anywhere there is moisture
A brown, green, or black mold that can grow in warm or cold habitats
A distinctly fuzzy blue, green, or yellow mold that most frequently grows on food but can also appear in water-damaged homes
A dark, slimy mold also referred to as “black mold” or “toxic mold” due to the adverse effects it can have on human health; grows in humid environments
While the terms “mold” and “mildew” are often used interchangeably, they are actually two different fungi. Mold comes in darker colors like black and green, while mildew is gray or white in its earlier stages and may later turn brown. Mold also has a much fuzzier texture than mildew. In addition to the two taking on different appearances, it should also be noted that mold is much more difficult to get rid of than mildew, and it poses a higher threat to a person’s health.
What causes mold in a house?
While different types of mold thrive under varying conditions, they all have one thing in common: They need moisture to survive and spread. Unfortunately, carrying out everyday household activities produces a lot of moisture. Actions like showering, cooking, and doing laundry release steam into the air, creating moisture that allows mold to grow. Issues like leaks, flooding, and poor ventilation further increase the likelihood of mold appearing inside the home, as does the presence of a humidifier.
Where is mold most often found inside a home?
Mold most commonly appears in the following locations in a home:
- Bathrooms—especially sinks, showers, and tubs
- Basements, attics, and crawl spaces
- Around windows or doors leading outside
- Near vents or air conditioners
- Near leaking pipes
- On or under floors, carpets, walls, and ceilings
Is living in a home with mold dangerous?
While not everyone is sensitive to mold, breathing in the invisible spores mold releases into the air can cause people to experience asthma attacks, coughing, sneezing, and irritation to the eyes and skin. Children, seniors, and people with preexisting health conditions are more likely to experience these symptoms. While more severe health problems caused by mold are rare, it is still best for your health to remove mold from your home as soon as possible.
What are the signs your house may have mold issues?
Mold is usually easy to notice in its earliest stages unless it is in a hidden location, like a floor covered by a carpet or on a wall behind furniture. A thorough examination of any spots in your household where mold is likely to build up should make it obvious if you have a mold problem.
Some further signs of mold in your house include chipping or peeling paint or wallpaper, a musty odor, and water stains or discoloration.
How do you detect or test for mold in a home?
If you are unsure whether a stain in your home is mold or just ordinary dirt, a good way to tell the difference is by placing a drop of diluted bleach (a mix of 1 part bleach and 16 parts water) on the stain and waiting a few minutes. If the stain becomes lighter in color where the diluted bleach was applied, it is mold. There are also home mold test kits available to buy.
However, testing for mold yourself will only alert you to the presence of mold; it won’t tell you what type of mold you are dealing with or what is causing its presence. Having a professional inspection done is the best way to figure out how to deal with a mold problem so you can eliminate it.
How much does mold testing cost?
According to HomeAdvisor, a typical mold inspection can cost anywhere from $296–$1,003 as of 2021, with an average of $645. The two main factors affecting the cost of an inspection are the size of the property and whether the inspector needs to do any digging or crawling in small spaces. Essentially, the more time and effort an inspection requires, the more you can expect to pay for it.
How do you treat a home for mold?
Many small mold infestations can be treated at home by mixing a cup of borax with a gallon of hot water and pouring it into a spray bottle. Spray the affected area and scrub with a brush, sponge, or rag, and the mold will usually disappear. Be careful not to get the surface too wet, or the moisture might attract more mold, and do not rinse after cleaning, as the remaining borax will continue to fight any mold that tries to come back.
Of course, while borax kills most types of mold, other types cannot be eliminated using this method. If you cannot successfully remove the mold using borax, you may need to schedule a professional mold remediation.
What occurs during the process of mold remediation?
During a mold remediation, the area containing mold is blocked off with plastic sheets to prevent the mold from spreading further. The remediation professionals then remove and dispose of any unsalvageable materials like drywall and insulation.
The workers begin the cleaning process by spraying biocide onto the affected area to prevent the mold from reproducing. Once the biocide has done its job, they use a HEPA vacuum to remove mold spores from the air. Finally, they use a sander to remove any mold remaining on surfaces and wipe the area clean.
What is the average cost of mold remediation?
According to HomeAdvisor, mold remediation in 2021 usually ranges from $1,121–$3,329 ($10–$25 per square foot), but extensive projects can cost over $6,000. The average homeowner can expect to pay approximately $2,215.
Does your typical homeowner's insurance policy cover mold removal?
Whether or not homeowners insurance covers mold removal usually depends on the cause of the mold problem. Most policies will not cover mold damage if it results from neglect, bad repairs, or normal wear and tear. As a general rule, you can expect your insurance to cover mold remediation if the root cause of the mold is another issue covered by the policy, such as a burst pipe or malfunctioning appliance.
How long does mold remediation take?
How long mold remediation takes varies from one job to the next. Factors influencing the amount of time mold remediation takes include the size of the infestation, the type of mold, and the damaged material. The whole process usually lasts between 1 and 5 days, but more difficult jobs may take 7 days or more.
Should you DIY mold remediation?
The EPA suggests that homeowners only perform their own mold remediation if the mold is only in one part of the house and the affected area measures 10 square feet or less. Larger infestations should be handled professionally. If you are unsure of whether or not professional mold remediation is necessary, ask your inspector what they recommend after they finish checking for mold.
What is the success rate of mold remediation?
While mold usually does not come back after remediation, failure to properly eliminate the moisture that caused the infestation in the first place can result in more mold cropping up later on. Fortunately, taking special care to keep the previously affected area as dry as possible usually prevents mold from returning.
Can mold destroy a house?
Mold is a living thing that needs to eat to survive, and when it doesn’t have access to its natural diet of rotting trees, it will consume your home. Leaving mold unattended can lead to it eating away at walls, floors, ceilings, and various other materials in a building. In extreme cases, this erosion can even lead to structural damage, so it's essential to deal with a mold problem as soon as it's discovered.
Can you sell a home with mold issues?
While it is legal to sell a home with mold issues, this information must be disclosed before selling, and be aware that the house will most likely not pass a mortgage inspection. This means that unless you remove the mold from the property, you will probably only be able to sell to a cash buyer or real estate investor.