Is That Mold in Your New Construction? Here’s What to Do
Think buying a home that’s just been built means you don’t have to worry about mold issues?
Blogger Staci Salazar found that out the hard way when she discovered black mold growing under her daughter’s bathroom sink, barely three weeks after moving into their custom-built home.
“When you move into a new home, especially a new build, you kind of expect things to go well, at least for a few months,” she wrote on her blog Our Family Lifestyle. “Dealing with black mold less than three weeks in was definitely never a thought that crossed our minds.”
Mold remediation expert Nelson Barnes Jr. told The Washington Post that new homes built with energy efficiency in mind are conducive to mold growth because airflow is restricted.
“They’re too green,” Barnes said of the tighter construction of newer homes. “Houses need to breathe.”
According to Barnes, for mold to thrive requires the ideal temperature, a source of food and moisture.
The tip-off to Salazar’s mold issue was a funny smell her daughter had complained of coming from the bathroom. After she discovered the mold beneath the sink, Salazar went to report the news to her husband and noticed water coming out of an electric socket in their new mudroom.
“Let that sink in,” the mom of five wrote of her discovery. “Exposing our family to symptoms of mold sickness was not something I had even imagined this early on.”
Initially, her contractor just wanted to send in a construction team to rip out and replace walls, but Salazar insisted on having a health inspector present. Not long after, she received a message from her builder that he was sending in a mold remediation service.
Instead of just addressing areas where the mold was visible, the remediation crew used their technology to trace the source of the moisture issue — the condensation line for the home’s new air conditioning unit — and cut into walls to remove affected areas.
We recommend taking the following steps:
- Identify the source and take steps to cure it.
- Hire an environmental consultant to assess the situation.
- If recommended by your consultant, hire a qualified mold remediation company.
Basements are often the mold culprits in new home construction, especially if building begins before the foundation has completely dried and condensation gets trapped within the walls.
“The biggest thing, the absolute biggest thing in mold remediation is the evacuation of spores,” Barnes said. “Because with surface mold, you can go in, clean it up, wipe it down, put in a dehumidifier and you have done nothing to control the spores.”
In her book, The Brand New House Book: Everything You Need to Know About Planning, Designing and Building a Custom, Semi-Custom or Production-Built House, author Katherine Salant suggests homeowners-to-be take a few steps to avoid the introduction of mold into their new homes:
- Ensure exhaust outlets — like for stoves and dryers — are vented to the outside of the house;
- The grade of the yard needs to slope away from the house to avoid not only water seeping into the foundation but from it getting into the basement and providing mold “sustenance;”
- Consider upgrading exhaust fans in bathrooms to more expensive and quieter models that family members would be more likely to use.
One of the biggest keys to preventing mold in new and older homes is regular maintenance, according to Salant. Furnace filters need to be checked and cleaned regularly and as do the coils on the air-handling system and the drain pan below.
“If the pan doesn’t drain properly, mold can grow and the mold spores can be distributed throughout your house through the ducts,” she said.
If you suspect your new home construction may be harboring mold, Stock Environmental Consulting — with over 20 years of experience — can provide testing, inspections and assessments of the issue. Schedule your appointment at (732) 383-5190.