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  1. #1
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    Default Mildew like substance

    Hello all,

    Wondering how my fellow inspectors would write up a mildew like substance on the interior closet wall of a structure. Very likely a result of being closed up for some time now. Dehumidifier running in crawlspace, but not lower level which is a walk out basement. Moisture meter levels did not get above 12% anywhere in this lower level.

    Thanks in advance

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    Quote Originally Posted by sidney alstad View Post
    Hello all,

    Wondering how my fellow inspectors would write up a mildew like substance on the interior closet wall of a structure. Very likely a result of being closed up for some time now. Dehumidifier running in crawlspace, but not lower level which is a walk out basement. Moisture meter levels did not get above 12% anywhere in this lower level.

    Thanks in advance
    Well, depending on what it looked like in person I would say something like this:
    I found what looks like mold on the drywall in the____ closet. This is most likely from the home being closed up and high humidity in the home. You should have this properly cleaned. For more information you should visit the EPA site US Environmental Protection Agency.
    I do not write my reports in a passive voice. Call it what it is, MOLD!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    I'm on the other side of the fence from my respected friend Scott - and several others.

    The only way to determine that mold is mold is to have it laboratory tested. What you or I believe a substance to be is irrelevant until this has been done. Report what you see, you don't have to identify it. You're there for a home inspection not an environmental investigation - don't get the two mixed up or cross the boundary of your expertise.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    Note - Eric is spouting the party line here in Illinois. As correct as he (and they) are, IMnotsoHumbleO, this does a dis-service to clients. This is especially true when dealing with starry eyed 1st time buyers.
    I have a table towards the beginning of the report that lists various property information. In order to CMA, one of the items in that table is:
    Mold like substance (MLS) present: Yes or No
    Thereafter throughout the report as needed I use MLS. I've explained to clients Eric's statements almost verbatim. Some have actually asked me if I'm trying to pull their leg. Clients seem to be happy with the MLS designation.
    Don't be too wishy-washy clients won't like you later if the problem gets bigger. Lean towards Scott's advice.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    I don't use mildew, that being soft talk that means different things to different people.

    "Appears to be mould" works for me. I give it a wipe to see if it is active.

    Edit for Ray W - to see if it is 3-dimensional, actively putting out spores, if it is leaving a permanent stain or just on the surface, removable.

    We need to watch for the mold that is creeping out of the drywall from inside the walls. So I would probably explain that it appears to be only growing on the surface of the paint, likely from damp interior air.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 09-15-2010 at 09:29 AM.
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    "Appears to be mould" works for me. I give it a wipe to see if it is active.
    How does wiping determine if its active?


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    When such suspect growth/staining is found it needs to be further evaluated. Whether it is dead/inactive or not, it is still can be a concern. Dead mold still has spores that can affect people. As for saying a substance is mold without lab testing - that's a common approach for home inspectors. However, once you get into the field of indoor air quality you will not find any such methodology.

    In the attached photo from a few weeks ago I had little (no) doubt that some mold was present and I tell clients this. BUT - I can't factually say so without the proper testing and I for one like to stay to the facts in my reporting.

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    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    All mould should be considered bad, why even test, get rid of the conditions causing it and clean up the mould.
    Not all people will show adverse reaction, while others may.
    The only definitive proof someone may be prone to mould allergies is for allergy testing by doctor.

    Indoor Fungal Habits


  9. #9
    Mitchell Toelle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    I know that I will get some counter feedback regarding this but here goes. I use the term "moisture related growth" when reporting such observations, rather than mold or mildew. However, I don't have a problem during the walkthrough explaining to my Client that it may, indeed, be mold or mildew. I then recommend, both verbally and in writing, that further review be done by someone certified in that testing field to find out what it is and how to remediate. I will also discuss the potential cause of such growth and what might be done to prevent further such conditions.

    My reason for using the term "moisture related growth" is so that the Report does not get flagged by my Client's Insurance provider, thus preventing my Client from obtaining insurance once the remediation is done. It's that simple. Not a matter of soft selling a condition. My Client knows exactly what to do when I am done with them. Eye's wide open!

    Last edited by Mitchell Toelle; 09-15-2010 at 09:18 AM. Reason: additional info

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    I guess I do not have a fear of calling it what it is.... I have seen enough mould over the years and I have suffered though numerous classes on IAQ, mould and the like over the years that I'm pretty comfortable calling it out by name. Actually, when I lived in Mississippi, I teamed up with an environmental consulting firm. We tackled hundreds of mould projects(jobs) over about 4 years. I did the building science end of the project and the science guys/gals did the rest, and testing if needed or required by the client.

    I learned a great deal. Most of all I learned that testing for mold when you can see it or smell it is pretty much a waste of time and money, if you are just trying to see if you have it. Once the place has been cleaned, then testing has its place.

    So, this is why I say that if you see mould then you need to call it that. If you are not sure what it is then say that you are not sure what it is, but that it could be and looks like mould. Do not soft sell the problem whatever you do.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    Right on Scott.
    A few weeks ago I was going through an 8 unit building basement, before I got out of the basement I was spitting up a lot of blood. Since I don't normally do this I was a bit concerned. WebMd listed this as one of the signs of 'acute mold exposure'. Blood spitting lasted about 30-45 minutes. Testing, yeah right.
    As Scott said, after clean-up or during litigation, go for it. The rest is nonsense.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist


    Caoimhin P. Connell - Forensic Industrial Hygienist
    Indoor Fungal Concentrations
    All houses have mould; all houses contain billions of mould spores. Any time drywall is installed in an home, thousands of mould spores are installed on every panel, since the very fiber matrix of the drywall contains mould. All houses have the types of moulds identified by the sensationalist media as “toxic moulds.” Every cubic foot of air in a normal, healthy dry home contains hundreds of mould spores. So, you now know that your property has mould, and you now know that your property has “toxic mould.” Since it is there, we also know that if a “Certified Mould Inspector” or other type of poorly trained mould consultant performs a “mould test,” we already know that it will be “positive.”
    The question is what is post clean up testing going to tell you? What am I missing?

    Indoor Fungal Concentrations


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    Basically, whether the guys you are paying big bucks to to get rid of the nasty black stuff so your darling little children won't get sick did a half way decent job of it. Realistically it's about CYA.
    It's about risk level. For me it seems I can handle a lot of nasty exposures because I'm still alive amazingly. Other people don't do so well even with just a little exposure. Reducing the risk level is a realistic goal. Eliminating the risk level is for good salesman.

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    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    "The question is what is post clean up testing going to tell you? What am I missing?"

    Post mitigation testing will tell you whether the clean up was successful. In my experience it often is not and testing will prove it.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    Post mitigation testing will tell you whether the clean up was successful. In my experience it often is not and testing will prove it.
    Given the numbers of possible contaminants in the house - where clean up was not undertaken - would anyone expect to find a clean environ clear of what was just cleaned as part of the mould remediation? One area will contaminate the other over time?

    It seems to me all this testing doesn't really address the condition but only the symptoms. Giving clients a false sense of security?

    Does anyone in actually ever guarantee the house is 100% free of mould as part of their analyzes and remediation?


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    The only definitive proof someone may be prone to mould allergies is for allergy testing by doctor.

    The real problem in assessing the problem with mould testing is that, regardless of what the mould test results are and what is found, that the test results tell you nothing of consequence to the occupants/future occupants of the house.

    The first and foremost thing one would need to do (if one thinks they are having a mould related health problem) is to correct the moisture problem, and the second thing one would need to do would be to be tested for allergies, including moulds - only then would any mould testing of the house be of any consequence ... if no occupant is allergic to mould - what is the problem, and, if an occupant is allergic to mould and the cause of the mould problem was taken care of, the mould cleaned up and removed, then what is there to be allergic to which is not going to be in other environments?

    I am allergic to many things:
    foods: chocolate, wheat, tomatoes, corn, milk, eggs, to name a few
    environment: trees: pine trees, magnolia trees, oak trees, to name a few, pollen from most types; weeds: golden rod, pollen from most types; etc.
    heck, we were off camping this weekend and I spend a couple of hours in the ocean body surfing and having fun, only to leave with a stuffy and runny nose, all congested, guess I am allergic to the ocean too (those symptoms lasted two days) ...

    Okay, do I need to go around eliminating all of the above from my environment, or do I simply adjust as best I can and then deal with it?

    I could go around testing everything everywhere, but, like mould, *I KNOW* it is there, and *I KNOW* that I cannot get rid of all of it (one cannot get rid of all of the mould either ... unless they want to live in a plastic bubble).

    Sorry for what ended as a rant ... but there is no need for ANY of that mould testing without first knowing precisely what type of mould one is allergic to - and I do not recall any mould is gold types recommending that PEOPLE get tested instead of paying the mould is gold types lots of money for worthless tests ... BEFORE OR AFTER mitigation.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    A dark discoloration was noted on the ____ (fill in the blank). This is likely a mold or mildew of some type and is the result of an excessive amount of moisture and/or a lack of adequte ventilation. Identifying specific mold types and determing the extent of any mold problem is beyond the scope of this inspection. Inspections from mold specialists are availalbe and should be obtained if more information is desired.

    The above is my standard blurb.... I'm sure someone will critique it but it's worked for me for years..... I hate the "mold-like" as it insults everyone's intelligence.... mainly my own.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    A dark discoloration was noted on the ____ (fill in the blank). This is likely a mold or mildew of some type and is the result of an excessive amount of moisture and/or a lack of adequte ventilation. Identifying specific mold types and determing the extent of any mold problem is beyond the scope of this inspection. Inspections from mold specialists are availalbe and should be obtained if more information is desired.

    The above is my standard blurb.... I'm sure someone will critique it but it's worked for me for years..... I hate the "mold-like" as it insults everyone's intelligence.... mainly my own.
    What is mildew?

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    What is mildew?
    Don't know, don't care I've just heard it talked about before.

    See there... it shows I know nothing about it and they'd better get someone who does.

    Edit - Okay.... you got my curiosity..

    Mildew - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Last edited by Matt Fellman; 09-15-2010 at 09:22 PM.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    Don't know, don't care I've just heard it talked about before.

    See there... it shows I know nothing about it and they'd better get someone who does.

    Edit - Okay.... you got my curiosity..

    Mildew - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Please tell me you don't use Wikipedia for information! It has much more misinformation than it has correct information.......

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  21. #21
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mildew like substance

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Please tell me you don't use Wikipedia for information! It has much more misinformation than it has correct information.......

    I am not quite sure about all of that. Wiki does pretty good 99% of the time.

    As far as calling something miuldew......that is the nice way of saying mold and not freaking people out. It still has to be dealt with the same way.

    Lets just say that mildew it the nice mold


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