|Fox Lake, IL, September 26, 2007 —— Now that the waters have receded from recent flooding of the Chain O’ Lakes, Fox and Des Plaines Rivers, homeowners may face yet another unpleasant aftereffect — toxic mold.
Steve Beer, an Illinois certified and licensed home inspector advises that homeowners stay on alert for biological growth. Beer is the owner of Fox Lake based A Pro Team Home Inspections who offers residential and commercial inspection services in the Chicago area and Northern Illinois.
“The standing water and excessive moisture that accompanies flooding causes all types of biological growth to flourish,” says Beer. “Even with diligent clean up efforts, mold can still lurk behind walls, above ceiling tiles, in duct work or under flooring, which can cause structural damage to your home over time.”
There are also the potentially serious health effects to consider.
“While exposure to most mold does not necessarily result in health problems,” says Beer. “If left unchecked, active indoor biological growth does have the potential to cause very adverse effects.”
Beer cautions, mold can be serious. There are over 100,000 kinds of mold. Even if one is not normally sensitive to mold, repeated exposure to many types can cause allergic reactions like runny noses, itchy eyes, and skin rashes. People with mold sensitivities, respiratory conditions like asthma, and those with undeveloped or weakened immune systems—infants, small children, the elderly, cancer and HIV patients—may be at greater risk for much more severe symptoms or infection. Additionally, very dangerous molds do exist and can grow in your home, such as Chaetomium and Stachybotrys chartarum, which produce toxins that have been linked to bleeding lungs, neurological and immunological damage.
If you think you may have a mold problem, Beer recommends being proactive and hiring a qualified inspector to test it. Not only can testing find hidden mold, but it can also prevent homeowners from spending unnecessary cash on remediation.
“A professional inspector looks for biological growth in places that most homeowners would miss and knows how to collect valid laboratory samples,” says Beer. “He can also determine the severity of the mold problem: Is it an easy, inexpensive cleanup that you can take care of yourself? Or, will it require expensive, professional remediation? If you do have to go the remediation route, having a valid upfront test will help you to establish whether or not the company you hired fixed the problem correctly.”
Mold problems are of particular importance to home sellers and buyers. Sellers should realize that the presence of mold is a negative strike to most buyers. Beer recommends that a pre-listing home inspection by a professional home inspector can help them to identify and fix the source of a mold problem and other defects before they place their home on the market.
Beer also advises that buyers always make certain that their offer to purchase includes a home inspection contingency that covers environmental concerns. “This ensures that they will be able to test environmentally for mold, radon and other potential issues,” says Beer. It will also allow them to back out of the contract if toxic mold or other molds are detected.”