Mold issue in San Diego..

KMS Woodworks Woodbridge Environmental my friend lives in San Diego, near the ocean. The landlord told her there is a humidity problem living near the ocean and she will see mold growing inside, she has been getting unusually sick and thinks it is due to the mold issue. It sounds like he was letting her know about mold, and that she could keep on top of it herself. Do most homes in that area have trouble with mold and humidity? Is this a usual thing? is this normal?
  13 answers
  • Mold is a very common condition near water. I see it a lot during the early spring along the east coast where I am located. However there are many reasons that can allow mold to develop even when living near a damp environment. 1st off if the house has air conditioning it must be properly sized. If its over sized it will not remove enough moisture during its run cycle. It will cool the house or apartment down fast but will not remove moisture. 2nd. Proper ventilation is also a key element in preventing mold. How many posts have we seen on HT where people have had issues with mold in their bathrooms. By simply opening a window when taking a shower will go a long way to prevent mold development. 3rd. Incorrect amount of insulation and proper vapor barrier. Humidity itself is not the reason why mold grows. It is the physical moisture that condenses on surfaces that is the concern. While higher humidity will help feed a current mold issue, It takes a wet surface to get things started. You may ask what does insulation and vapor barrier have to do with it? Humidity in the house and or outside of the house travels towards a dryer source of air. As the moisture moves through the wall surfaces inside or out, it needs to contact a vapor barrier to prevent it from continued movement. If the vapor barrier is faulty and many are, the moisture will continue towards the dryer source. Normally this dryer source is cooler air. At a certain distance from the other side of the wall, the inside of the wall cools down enough to cause the vapor to condense into water. Much like the ice tea glass does in the summer. The colder liquid cools the glass and on a humid day you begin to see the outside of the glass getting wet. This exact same thing happens inside of the wall. In addition as an example of the bathroom again. If the ceiling has to little insulation above the ceiling cools down. This results in condensation forming on the ceiling. Normally we do not see this moisture as it is normally slight. But we do see the eventual black stains that begin as mold starts to feed on the painted surface. This also can occur on the outside walls of a home if its poorly insulated or the insulation became damp because of the faulty vapor barrier. I would suggest that this lady have a mold check done with air tests and visual inspection. If the house is suffering from a pre-existing condition and based upon the landlord already warning about this issue from the beginning I believe he or she would be responsible for the tenants health issues if he does nothing other then to warn her about something that has yet to occur. I would also tell her to have her attorney check into the landlord's responsibility to her should she get sick from a pre-existing condition that has not been properly addressed. Think of this. Are all the houses along the water suffering from this? No. reason is the way the house was constructed and maintained. It is only those where shortcuts are taken to save money, (rentals) where these issues rear their ugly head.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jan 24, 2013
    Another issue that Woodbridge did not mention is the "food cycle" for mold Mold is a Saprophyte, which is a fancy botanical term for "living off dead stuff". One common method to prevent mold from forming is to remove its "food". Common sources in a home are the paper in "drywall" and the wood framing members. paperless drywall and cement board products are naturally mold resistant because of this. ( the mold is after a carbon source) and cement board is silica based. Having spent some time is humid tropical locations, the ample use of tile, which is easy to clean / sanitize, prevent mold farms from getting established. In the case of showers the mold feeds on soap and skin residues...keeping these under control will also keep the mold under control.
  • Bernice H Bernice H on Jan 31, 2013
    @KMS Woodworks ickkk! Saprophyte....sounds like an alien outof a horror movie! food cycle...aarrgghhh
  • Bernice H Bernice H on Feb 13, 2013
    @Woodbridge Environmental Thanks , that's what i am thinking too..a low rental place i think.
  • Christy B Christy B on Mar 17, 2013
    Some houses are just moldy, and I am very allergic to it, so I hate it. My parents used to own an expensive home in one of the most affluent towns in the country, but every time we went to visit we would al be getting asthma, itchy eyes, sneezing, etc. It's awful. The people who have commented know a lot more than me, but it seems to me that the sunnier the home, the less mold (except for a house I knew in San Francisco that had mold only in the basement).
  • Christy, no houses should have any mold. This is a sign that the house has issues with moisture or water intrusion. This can be anything from a water intrusion issue in the basement to incorrectly sized cooling systems. Mold also has a lot to do with poor air sealing where dust, pollen, mold is drawn into the home because of poor construction practices. I see this all the time with very expensive homes. The good news is however it all can be fixed. It just takes people who understand how mold grows and develops and additionally how a home is constructed.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Mar 18, 2013
    Here in the arid west mold is far less common than in other parts of the country. This is due to the lack of moisture. But as Woodbridge mentioned above any home could have moisture, and the reasons are due to poor construction, venting, sealing etc. Material choices also come into play. Mold requires a food source, and this typically includes a carbon source. Wood and paper are the most common carbon sources in a home. The reduction of these materials will reduce the potential for mold to become established. paperless drywall, cement based backer boards, tile, concrete, silica based plasters, the list can go on and on.
  • Christy B Christy B on Mar 18, 2013
    My parents tried to get rid of it but were unable to. Ironically, they never smelled it and it did pass the mold test when they sold it. But with mold I am like a beagle, and I could smell it and got allergies. Re the comment above, there was no basement and no cooling system. I am hoping to move to the Central Valley in Costa Rica, and am hoping there is not a mold problem, because there is a lot of rain in the winter. :(
  • Christy B Christy B on Mar 19, 2013
    This has been a really interesting post; I learned so much about mold. I am still wondering how all these moldy homes pass the mold inspection when they are being sold. Also, re the need for a carbon source and the problem being in the construction, etc., I am wondering if once the house has been made (poorly) and you have a mold problem, you are pretty much out of luck if you do the basic mold-busting things and still have the problem. In the home I spoke of, you could never see mold, but I smelled it and reacted to it with allergies.
  • most homes do not have a mold inspection. This would be another Deal killer in the eyes of many real estate agents. Also simple test do not always reveal any mold at all. As air tests require the mold to be airborne when testing, Swab tests require seeing the mold. As been stated if you have moisture issue, suspect mold. There are no homes built, unless they are solid glass, and cement that will not support mold development. That is a simple fact. If you smell mold, suspect a moisture issue. A qualified mold inspector should be able to determine without much fanfare if a mold is present or not. A poorly constructed home tends to develop mold faster then ones that are properly built. lastly if you smell it, it has or had mold. Not all molds can be easily seen or detected. Often sellers will hide mold by painting over. What they do not realize just because you cannot see it does not mean its not there. Also remember, older carpets can hold mold from past events, so reactions can be simply the result of a past mold event that has been long gone.
  • Christy B Christy B on Mar 20, 2013
    In one instance I knew of, I could smell the mold but the owners could not. When the sold it, they finally listened when the real estate agent selling the house suggested placing scented things in some of the rooms. It was not visible, and the owners had long since removed the carpets, put in French drains, and those "windows" that go on the roof to add sunlight to the rooms! They used to re-paint with paint that had "fungicide" in it, clean cabinets with bleach, open shutters every day for light, take furniture outside to get sunlight, etc etc etc and there was always a smell. But I'm confused: I thought it was stated that mold in a house was due to poor construction, yet you say that there are no houses that will not support mold development. I guess you are saying it is a matter of degree? I never thought I would spend so much time chatting online about mold, especially since I am not a home owner, but it's pretty much the only thing I'm allergic to. And people always think if you say a house "has mold" that you mean that there is mold all over the walls. Not the case, but the spores or whatever are in the air, and it's unpleasant. I wonder to what extent mold is responsible for some of the mysterious illnesses that so many people have....
  • Any time I inspect a home and smell those air fresheners particularly those in the basement areas I suspect a mold issue that someone is attempting to cover up. In my business it is a small world and with all the activity's that I attend I hear about all sorts of issues from fellow inspectors. So even when people attempt to "fix" an issue many of us know about them before we even arrive to the clients home. I had one a few years ago that I inspected, real bad mold issue in the house. The deal died and the house went off the market a few months later. About a year ago I got called to do an inspection and when I entered the address into my data base system that house came back up as a red flag for me. After reviewing the report I had generated I did the inspection and found all sorts of tricks the seller did to hide the issues that were uncovered about a year and half later. They stated on their disclosure that they did not know about any issues with the house. I know the deal died again and that there was some sort of law suite against them from the potential buyers for lying on the disclosure form. The old saying goes what comes around goes around.
  • Christy B Christy B on Mar 21, 2013
    It's a nightmare. But many people seem unaware of it. I have stayed over at people's homes and gotten allergies, then smelled the mold, and I think the owners are unaware. Sometimes it's just in one room.
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