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Potential signs and mitigating factors of a mold problem   PDF  Print  E-mail 
Posted by  
Sunday, 03 October 2004

Potential signs and mitigating factors of a mold problem

Susan Lillard



·         Black, brown, orange, pink,  or green speckled walls or around any plumbing grout or tile.

·    Musty, earthy, or urine scented odor.


·      Deficient siding, siding that is not covering a building adequately, or certain types appear to be more prone to mold (i.e., Hardie Plank which may not be installed properly; meaning without a "tray," or applied inadequately; thus cracking, L.P, and untreated wood, Oriental Strand board (OSB) or wood and materials) not weather protected in lumberyards and prior or during construction, and the wood becoming moist due to water intrusion, humidity, etc. This is known as "lumberyard mold." (More information on this below)


·     Wood siding where the paint has cracked and water has intruded (poor maintenance).


·     Mild to severe unexplained illness, see symptoms, in combination with any other building problems listed on this page.


·     Swollen, crumbling walls or buckling floor boards.


·     Sewer backup which has caused water harm.


·     Leaky roof or flashing installed improperly.


·      Flood or hurricane damage.


·      Leaky window or door.


·       Washing machine overflow, washing machine leaks such as drain valve phalanges, leaky gaskets, etc.


·     leaky toilet seal or bathtub drainage problems.


·     Lack of ventilation.


·     Relative humidity over 55%.


·      Damp basements.


·      Disaster damage (hurricane, flood, earthquake, monsoon, lightening, etc.).





  • Leaky door or unseated windows that have broken seals.
  • Plumbing leak/inferior plumbing job.


  • Lumber is one of the worst problems, combined with moisture.  That is why the United States is the most insidious in the world on record for mold problems -

1.  The first mistake is the fact that some lumber mills are obtaining their inventory from the rain forests, where many fungal species live, and they are not treating the wood with fungicides.

2.  Previously, builders often used kiln dried wood, but unfortunately the use of quality wood products has essentially ceased. Due to the cost factor, most contractors use "green" wood. This wood does not have the ability to endure humidity and moisture factors as kiln dried wood does.

3. The worst problem is that most home improvement stores and lumberyards disappointingly store lumber outside and are often ignorant to the problems they may be imposing on possible customers. When these products are exposed to the elements, fungal growth often starts even before the wood is purchased. Wood that is purchased with any visible mold (lumberyard mold) should be returned to the vendor immediately as it is a potential source of a serious health hazard.  If that wood is exposed to at least 55% humidity or any moisture, dormant mold can begin to self-replicate and turn into a potential health hazard. 

4. It is also much safer to purchase a home that was constructed during the summer months as lumberyard mold can also proliferate during the construction phase, as well.  Most builders have to make a year-round living, thus they do construction during wet, winter climates.  Often, due to time constraints, they seal up these houses before they have thoroughly dried out.  This can make a perfect breeding ground for mold to grow.


  • Water damage after a fire. (Unfortunately, many restoration companies fail to address or prevent mold while they control water/fire restoration).

  •  Faulty air conditioning or heating system.

  • Vinyl siding that is defective or installed in a incorrect manner, such as trim pieces missing or bowing, or not installed properly around windows or has holes from branches or improper care. 

  •  Clogged vents or air ducts.

  • Cracked or disconnected hoses behind refrigerators from automatic ice makers/water dispensers or dishwashers.

  • Construction defects that could lead to water intrusion (i.e., windows not seated properly, soffits with pieces missing or installed in the wrong direction, cracked foundations, shoddy workmanship). 

  •  Poor planning (i.e., lack of crawl space, sealed windows, no overflow spouts in sinks/bathtubs, carpeting in bathrooms.

  • Downspouts that are disconnected, allowing water to flow under the foundation or along the siding.

  • Poor drainage

  • Cut-rate materials; substandard plumbing, shoddy siding, etc.

  • Flat roofs that are not properly maintained (annually checked for drainage, bubbles, holes and coating).

  • Location; flood zones, water table, environmental issues, etc.

  • Improperly installed or maintained basements.

  • Poor carpet cleaning jobs where excess water was not removed properly.

Note: Carpet absorbs mold, bacteria, dust mites, cockroach mix, chemicals, and many other toxins. It should be avoided if at all possible.  Throw rugs and natural or even synthetic flooring is a much healthier alternative.  Many industrialized nations who recognize the hazards of mold have banned wall to wall carpeting in new home construction due to health concerns.

*Despite construction problems, some recent mold concerns can be attributed to overall problems resulting from the greenhouse affect.

This is not an all inclusive list, nor does it suggest you may possibly have a mold problem. For more information, seek the advice of a professional. 

Last Updated (Monday, 15 July 2013)

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