My Roof is Leaking

My Roof is Leaking – What Do I Do and the Dangers of Waiting

No one ever wants to find water leaking from their ceiling. Whether you are home when the leak starts or come home to it, it is important that you take immediate action to avoid further damage to your home.

Contain the Leak

If you find water dripping from a bulges or discoloration in your ceiling, it’s likely that water is pooling on the other side of that bulge or dark spot. Grab a bucket, trash can, or some other container and place it under the site of the drip or suspected leak. You may even want to consider propping up a board inside the container so the drips hit the board and not the accumulated water. This will minimize the repetitive dripping sound.

Next, take an old screwdriver, locate the center of the bulge where water is accumulating and puncture it right in the middle. Though it might seem strange to punch a hole in your ceiling to stop a leak, the new hole will allow the water to drain smoothly and relieve pressure on the rest of your ceiling. If water accumulates and pools, the entire ceiling could collapse.

If you are confident you know where the leak is coming from and can safely get to the source, cover the exterior surface with a large tarp. If you can’t reach it, or feel unsafe doing so, it would be best to immediately contact a roofing professional. Many credible roofing companies offer emergency tarping services. As you may already know, unfortunately if your roof is actively leaking due to weather, a roofing professional can not repair the leak until that weather has stopped. The tarping service will act as a temporary fix to minimize the damage inside your home until your roofer can fix the problem.

An experienced roofing professional will inspect your roof both from the exterior of the roof itself as well as the inside of your home, typically through the attic. Inspecting the underside of the roof sheeting can show signs of water damage, however it is not a foolproof method so inspecting the roof for damage is needed as well.

Dangers of Waiting

It is important to act quickly when it comes to a roof leak. Leaky roofs never fix themselves or get better on their own. Even if the leak isn’t bad yet. Get it fixed now. Often we hear from homeowners that they noticed a stain on their ceiling or possibly some bubbling for awhile but thought it wasn’t serious. Avoidance and ignoring will not fix a leak in your roof. Many times by the time you notice damage within your home it is already too late. The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends inspecting your roof twice a year, in the fall and spring. Here is what to look for to prevent a fixable issue from turning into a damaging and costly repair:

On the inside, you should look for:

  • Dark spots
  • Spots where outside light shines through
  • Sagging

On the outside, you should keep an eye out for:

  • Missing, warped, rotting, peeling, broken, blistering, or buckling shingles
  • Clogged or slow-draining gutters/downspouts
  • Loose material or wear around chimneys or vents

If your roof is fewer than 15 years old, it can probably be spot-repaired instead of requiring a total replacement. Just remember that a small leak will not go away — it will only get worse.

Roof leaks are typically just signs of a much larger problem. Both danger and the probability of structural erosion increase if unaddressed. Regular inspections are your best defense against a leaky roof. Be vigilant, search for leaks, and talk with your contractor about the condition of your roof regularly.

Most Common Problems Found In Home Inspections

Buying a house is serious business. Whether a recently built estate or a modest fixer-upper, getting the lowdown on your potential home is of tantamount importance. A qualified home inspector is always your best bet for a thorough home evaluation, but it’s a good idea to have a general understanding of what to look out for.


Water is the number one enemy of many houses. Water damage to the structure has been the most damaging and costly, causing foundation problems, rot and the dreaded mold.

Things to Watch Out For:

Grade sloping (or draining) back toward the home. This could lead to damp or wet crawlspaces, foundation movement, cracking or settlement. Water wicking up the foundation could lead to rot in the walls, framing members and mold. Some indications of foundation movement include windows that are out of square; interior doors that have large, uneven gaps at the top when the door is closed; or floors visibly out of level. If you see this, know that the cost to correct this problem could add up quickly.
Stucco issues. Homes with stucco exterior surfaces, when applied correctly, will last a lifetime. However, a major flaw we see in the field could add up to water in the living space and big bucks out of your pocket. At the base of exterior walls, where the foundation and the bottom plate (sill plate) meet, a component of a stucco-surfaced wall called a weep screed is applied. We know water can enter stucco through cracks, around unsealed light fixtures, outlets and the like. The water then hits the house wrap and sheds down to the weep screed and out the building. This is brilliant, but when concrete patios, stoops or sidewalks have been poured too high and the weep screed is buried, the system cannot work and water may enter the walls and living space. When you are walking around a house and you see the weep screed disappear into the concrete, this may one day lead to water intrusion and damage.
Roofing materials. As homes age, so does the material covering the roof. This is the component of the house that keeps us and the internal workings of the house dry. As the roofing material ages, it lends itself to water intrusion and can lead to expensive repairs or even replacement. If roofing material is improperly installed, it can lead to premature aging. There are many types of roofing materials used to protect us from the elements. The most common, starting with the most economical, are asphalt shingles, wood shakes/shingles, terra cotta tile, concrete tiles and slate, just to name a few.
Asphalt shingles have a life expectancy of between 15 and 40 years. With age, asphalt roof shingles will begin to cup either up or down. They will blister and have granular loss. Next, the matrix (material holding the product together) will be exposed. At this point, water becomes the main enemy, waiting patiently for the opportunity to make its move.
Wood shingles and shakes will show similar symptoms as asphalt when aging. Cupping, curling, lifting, splitting, insect damage, rotting and missing sections are all possible.
Terra cotta, concrete and slate tiles have life expectancies of about 20 to 100+ years. These materials are very brittle. Expansion and contraction caused by the changing seasons will cause these tiles to crack or become loose. Walking on these tiles can be deadly to the material. Cracking and the signs of aging can be difficult to see from the ground. It will usually take a good pair of binoculars and a solid ladder to get a bird’s eye look at the condition of the roof. Any signs of previous substandard repairs should be a warning sign that water may have been leaking into the property.

Home style vs. building materials.

When looking at the house of your dreams, look for consistency in the architectural style and building materials. A single-story cottage-style house built in the ’40s with plaster walls and clapboard exterior siding that has added a new wing with modern building products may be an indication of unauthorized modifications and substandard workmanship. Should this be the case, it could add up to big bucks to correct and a severe heartache for the unsuspecting buyer.

Electrical wiring.

House fires caused by faulty electrical wiring are common. Modern homes have an ample supply of power and electrical outlets. Older homes do not.

It’s typical to see extension cords running from room to room in older homes. This places a burden on the electrical system, outlets and cords and thus could lead to a fire. Another common electrical problem found in all ages of homes is exposed electrical wires. Any wire that is exposed is susceptible to physical damage. If this occurs, it’s sure to wreak havoc. Open splice wire (when wire is conjoined using only electrical tape and/or wire connectors) is a typical do-it-yourself job and is common in garages, attics and crawlspaces as well as above dropped ceilings. This is high priority, however, and should be corrected by a licensed electrician.

Thermal Imaging Inpection

Benefits of Thermal Imaging

Infrared thermography (commonly called infrared imaging or thermal imaging) is an advanced, non-invasive technology that allows an inspector to identify deficiencies in buildings that can’t be revealed using conventional visual inspection methods.

Thermographic cameras detect radiation in the long-infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum and produce images of that radiation. The amount of radiation emitted by an object, called “Emissivity”, increases with temperature; therefore, thermography allows for variations in temperature to be identified.

Thermal Imaging can help identify

Energy loss

  • Missing, poor, settled, or improperly installed insulation
  • Heat loss and air infiltration in walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors
  • Damaged and/or malfunctioning radiant heating systems
  • Air-conditioner compressor leaks
  • Missing framing members and other structural defects that can lead to energy loss
  • Broken seals in double-pane windows
  • Flu leaks
  • Leaking air conditioning ducts or mechanical equipment

Moisture related problems

  • Plumbing leaks
  • Building envelope water intrusion (roof, walls, windows, doors, and foundation)
  • Wet insulation, cabinets, walls, flooring, and personal/business items

Electrical deficiencies

  • Circuit breakers in need of immediate replacement
  • Overloaded and undersized circuits
  • Overheated electrical equipment and components
  • Electrical faults

Identification of Pests

  • Possible pest infestation, as revealed by energy loss through shelter tubes left by boring wood-destroying insects
  • Animals such as snakes, bats, rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, etc. inside of walls, attics, and crawl spaces

Location of building components

  • Stud/ joist/ beam placement
  • Pipe location
  • Heating and cooling duct placement

*Please note that FSG predominantly uses thermal imaging to find moisture damage and pipe leaks.*

Thermal imaging limitations

  • Images can be difficult to interpret accurately when based upon objects with erratic temperatures
  • Accurate temperature measurements are hindered by differing emissivity’s and reflections from other surfaces
  • Thermal imaging is only able to directly detect surface temperatures (It cannot see through walls like an x-ray scanner)
  • Conditions of the jobsite can have a substantial effect on thermal imaging (If it has just rained, early morning temperatures vs afternoon temperatures, very cold or hot environments, etc.)


Should I Buy A House With Mold

   Ask A Professional

    You love everything about the house: the floor plan, the neighborhood, the backyard, the kitchen, even the colors. But it has some mold and the seller is unwilling to do anything about it. Take it or leave it. How do you decide?

 What Is The Source

  The most important thing is determining the source of the mold. A light dusting of mold on a few surfaces around an empty house because the air conditioning was turned off is not a reason to be freaked out. Knowing what has caused the mold is the first step to figuring out how much there is and how to fix it.

    Once you determine that it is a roof or plumbing leak, for example, and the location, then you can begin to evaluate the extent of the problem. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a standard of 10 square feet of mold as the maximum area that can be safely cleaned up by a homeowner. But sometimes there is more mold hiding inside walls and ceilings that is not visible. This is where the advice of a mold professional can make the difference. A pro can determine the source of the moisture causing the mold, if it is not obvious, and give you a good idea of the extent of the infestation.

Get An Estimate

    From there, you can get an estimate of the cost to remediate the mold, and add in any additional expense for time you won’t be able to occupy the home while it is being remediated. Once you have a number and a time-frame, you can make a sensible decision as to whether to go ahead and make the purchase.

Call Slab-2-Shingles

If you are purchasing a home with mold Slab-2-Shingles can help you with all your mold concerns. Have one of our inspectors give you a free estimate. We have been solving mold problems here in Southwest Florida for over a decade. No matter what your homes mold situation is we can help.


Invisible Mold And Air Quality

Hidden Mold

Not all molds are visible. Signs of mold are not always obvious. It is very possible for mold to be growing in spaces you cannot see. In places such as under the carpet, pads and rugs or behind drywall, paneling and wallpaper. Some other common places include air handling units and their drain pans from sitting water, liners of the a/c duct work that have gotten wet from condensation and roof materials that became wet from roof leaks or improper insulation. An air quality inspection can find this invisible mold.

You Should Test Your Indoor Air Quality

What Is An Air Quality Test?

An air quality test is a sample of air taken from inside that is then analyzed at a lab. The lab tests for particles like mold spores, asbestos, pollen and other allergens. Each air sample contains 75L of compressed air providing a small insight into the environment. These tests will show what you cannot see with your eyes.

What Is A Mold Test?

A mold test is a way to quickly tell if you have mold or not. These tests use a swap of the area of concern. This swap is then put into a liquid that will turn green or purple. If this liquid turns green there is no mold present. However if the liquid turns purple then mold is present. The mold test is quick way to test for mold although, it will not tell you the type or level of mold. A mold test will also not detect mold spores in the air.

Which Test Is Better?

This answer depends on what you are looking to find out about. We recommend that you use an air quality test since it is more accurate. An air quality test provides the most information about the environment of the samples. A mold test is a good way to get a quick answer. If you are concerned with if there is mold growth on a table. The best way to determine if mold is in your home is with an air quality test.

Do You Really Need An Air Quality Test?

Here in Southwest Florida the answer is YES! The high humidity and high temperatures increase your risk of mold. Florida is known for its water and mold is known for loving the water also. Schedule your air quality test NOW!

Irma still causing damage with Mold

Mold Problems As A Result Of Irma

It has been over a year since Irma landed here in Southwest Florida. Slab-2-Shingles is seeing a lot of mold issues caused from small amounts of water getting into the home. In most cases this water has been unnoticed and/or untreated for over a year, therefore, creating the perfect conditions for mold spores to form.

Four Things Mold Needs To Grow

  1. First, mold needs organic matter to use for food. Drywall, wood and carpet in your home serve as excellent food.
  2. Second, like everything living the spores need moisture. It is important to keep water out of your home since it needs water to grow.
  3. Third, mold needs warm temperature like the inside of your walls.
  4. Lastly, it needs oxygen to breath.

Mold In Your Home

Mold is in the air! There is always mold in the air. It is almost impossible to have a 100% spore free test result. It is only in high concentrations that the mold spores become harmful. Your home only needs the water to get onto the organic material like drywall or wood beams. Once the moisture collects, the combination of  poor ventilation and high humidity create the perfect environment.

High Winds

The high winds from Irma forced water into a lot of homes. Even if your roof does not have an active leak water may have gotten into your home. The winds where so strong and carried large amounts of water. Our inspectors are seeing more and more cases of water in walls and attics. These are homes that did not show any signs of an active leak. When their roof is inspected the inspectors see signs where water has entered the home.

Mold Remediation

Slab-2-Shingles can conduct an air quality inspection to test for mold spores. We also are experienced in mold remediation. No matter what your mold issues are you can count on us! Our team is professional and just as concerned with your family’s health. You can call our office at 239-262-0058 and schedule an air quality test or remediation.

Or book online by clicking bellow.

Book Online

Home’s Age In Wind Mitigation Is Important!

The Year Of Your Home’s Construction Is Important In A Wind Mitigation

In 2001 the State of Florida adopted the 2001 Florida Building code.  This code set forth more stringent requirements for the construction of a new home to withstand a hurricane. This new building code became effective on March 1, 2002 for any home that had a building permit issued after that date.


Florida Uniform Wind Mitigation Inspection Form

The State of Florida created the Uniform Wind Mitigation Inspection Form. The inspector performing your wind mitigation completes this form. Insurance companies use this form to provide the consumer with discounts on their insurance premiums. This is based on the ability of the home to withstand a hurricane.


A Wind Mitigation Inspector evaluates seven different components of your house during the Wind Mitigation Inspection. We have reviewed these components in a previous article. (What Is A Wind Mitigation and Why Do You NEED It).The first component of the Uniform Wind Mitigation Inspection form asks the inspector to record the building date of the house. For home’s built in 2002 or 2003 the inspector must provide the building permit issue date for the home’s construction.



Image from NACHI of a diagram showing the different parts of a wind mitigation.

NACHI – Florida Wind Mitigation


Why Is The Building Permit Date Important?

The first thing a Wind Mitigation Inspector should do when performing a Wind Mitigation Inspection is to determine the year the house was built.  This is done by checking the building permits in the town or county to see when the building permit was issued for the construction of the house.  The construction completed date and the Certificate of Occupancy date is not critical for a Wind Mitigation Inspection.  Therefore the issue date of the permit has the most importance for the inspection.

Discount Determined By Year Building Permit Issued

When answering section one of the Wind Mitigation Inspection form the critical issue is on what date was the building permit for the construction of the house issued.  For permits issued after March 1, 2002 the house would have been constructed pursuant to the 2001 Florida Building Code. You should receive a reduction of your hurricane insurance premium. Furthermore section one of the wind mitigation form treats all house construction permits issued after this date equally. This is not true for all of the other sections of the Wind Mitigation Inspection form.


The new 2001 Florida building Code required the use of better materials for certain components of the home.   Homes built under the 2001 Building Code are more likely to withstand a hurricane. That is why the permit date is important in the Wind Mitigation Inspection Report.


Any house constructed under a building permit issued before March 1, 2002, the effective date of the 2001 Florida Building Code, pays a higher insurance premium than a house constructed under a permit issued after March 1, 2002.


A State Licensed Wind Mitigation Inspector must conduct your Wind Mitigation Inspection. For twenty years Slab-2-Shingles, located in Naples Florida, has been doing home and wind mitigation inspections. Licensed in the State of Florida and Slab-2-Shingles services Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs and Estero. Slab-2-Shingles has performed thousands of these inspections.


In conclusion the construction date of your home plays an important factor in your wind mitigation inspection. Also, the construction date affects your hurricane insurance rate.

What Is A Wind Mitigation and Why You NEED It



State of Florida Building Code

In 2001 the State of Florida adopted the 2001 Florida Building code.  This code set forth more stringent requirements for the construction of a new home in order to withstand a hurricane. This new building code became effective on March 1, 2002 for any home that had a building permit issued after that date. Therefore, this is especially important for coastal cities such as Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs and Estero. Per the new laws, a Wind Mitigation Inspection performed by a licensed Inspector can save homeowners thousands off their insurance premiums.


Wind Mitigation For House Insurance

The State of Florida created the Uniform Wind Mitigation Inspection Form. A licensed inspector completes the Uniform Wind Mitigation Form while performing the Wind Mitigation Inspection. A wind mitigation inspection measures your home’s ability to withstand a hurricane. Consequently insurance companies will use your wind mitigation inspection to evaluate discounts applied to your insurance premium.

View a copy of the Florida Uniform Wind Mitigation Form

Wind Mitigation Form


A Wind Mitigation Inspection evaluates seven different components of your house.  The insurance companies use the answers on your wind mitigation report to determine the discount.

Factors A Home Inspector Considers For A Wind Mitigation:
  • What year was the house constructed?
  • What year was the roof installed?
  • How is the roof deck attached to the roof trusses?
  • How are the roof trusses attached to the house walls?
  • What is the geometry or shape of the roof?
  • Does the roof sheathing have Secondary Water Resistance protection?
  • What type of wind and missile protection do the windows, doors and garage doors have?


The seven wind mitigation components are not rated equally. When determining your insurance discount, each component has a different rank. Certain components are more important than other components in a Wind Mitigation Inspection.


Discounts For Wind Mitigation’s

The State of Florida adopted the new 2001 Florida Building Code, which became effective on houses that were permitted for construction on or after March 1, 2002. The new codes imposed more stringent building requirements on the construction of all new homes and roof coverings. Therefore, any house permitted for construction after March 1, 2002 will receive more discounts than a house permitted for construction prior to that date.


Since the 2001 Code was adopted, the State of Florida has adopted numerous modifications to its Building Code.  These modifications require that additional hurricane protections be installed in every new home permitted after the effective date of the new Florida Building Code.  The main addition, to the 2004 Florida Building Code, is the requirement that all glass openings in a house be protected by impact rated windows and doors or that all glass openings be protected by impact rated shutters.


Therefore to qualify for a discount on a homeowner’s insurance policy, a state licensed wind mitigation inspector must conduct the wind mitigation inspection. For twenty years, Slab-2-Shingles has performed thousands of home inspections in Southwest Florida. Slab-2-Shingles’ licensed inspectors are available to service homes in the Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs and Estero areas. Call 1-239-262-0058 now to schedule your wind mitigation with one of our friendly and professionally licensed inspectors and start saving on your home insurance today!


We hope this information has helped explain the importance of having a wind mitigation inspection and how this service coupled with certain component of your home effect your homeowner’s insurance rates. You can find more information on Wind Mitigation inspections and other important information concerning related inspections for your home such as radon inspections, mold inspections, home inspections and home watch servies at our web site

What is a Wind Mitigation Inspection?

Why do you need a wind mitigation inspection?

The question is a good one, and the answer is simple: to save money. If you live in the in an area that requires windstorm insurance, you are all too aware of the outrageous insurance premiums we must all pay just to live in our own homes. With the hurricanes that have battered the southern United States over the past few years, insurers have raised their prices to unbearable levels.

In order to mitigate this expense, you as a home owner have several options available to you. The most effective tactic for reducing your premium is to have a wind mitigation inspection. What that is exactly, is a close inspection of your home that may reduce your premiums by up to 45%. Obviously, this is a very useful service, and one that will pay for itself in a very short amount of time. The savings from reduced wind insurance payments can go towards paying off the home sooner, eliminating credit card or installment debt, or into your bank account, which is something, everyone likes. The simple fact of the matter is that we could all use more money, and saving some is like making more. Cutting cost on your wind insurance is a smart play during these trying times.

Windstorms are so damaging to a home for several reasons. The incredible strong winds assault your home using a number of forces. They simultaneously create uplifting, shearing and lateral forces that cause massive destruction to a home. Often times they will also destroy windows and doors, allowing water in which will cause severe damage to the interior of a home. The high winds can also blow debris onto and into the home, further destroying the property. Worst of all, in the event of a breach of the homes outer shell, the high powered winds can cause the roof to come up or even off as the combination of forces at play wreak havoc on an unprotected structure.

During a wind mitigation inspection, a certified expert inspector will come to your property and look for key features of your home that show that it will be less likely to be harmed or catastrophically damaged during a hurricane or strong wind storm. Features such as concrete block construction, the presence of gable end bracing, a hip roof, the presence of a single or double roof straps, the presence of a secondary water resistance barrier, or shutter and opening protection will all qualify a home for wind mitigation certification. This allows the inspector to give your home a certificate stating that it is better equipped to endure such an event than a home lacking these features and, therefore, should not have to pay as much for insurance coverage. Since these types of structures suffer less wind damage, the insurers are willing to lower their fees. If that were not enough, the state of Florida mandates that insurance companies reduce their rates for homes with certain wind mitigation features. So, with a wind mitigation certificate in hand, you are guaranteed to pay less money per month than a home owner who does not. You may even qualify for a refund check from your insurer once you have had your home inspected. That is money on the table, just waiting for you to take it.

Most existing houses already have features in place that will qualify them for wind loss mitigation certification. In Florida, homes built after 1994 in Broward or Miami-Dade counties and homes built after 2002 in the rest of Florida, typically have many wind mitigation features already built in. This means that the majority of homes that fall under this category will qualify for some discounts in their windstorm insurance payments.

There are some useful websites that will help to illustrate the points made here about Florida mitigation to a greater extent., and stipulate exactly what will and will not qualify. Also, look up Florida statute 626.0629 for literature on the Florida state laws that guarantee home owners discounts for wind mitigating construction features in their property. This legislation came into effect on March 1, 2002 as a part of the new statewide building code. This legislation stated that homes proven to show construction features that made the property more wind resistant must be given a discount by their insurance carrier. These new, adjusted rates were required to be submitted by February 28, 20003. These discounts apply to both newer homes built in compliance with the FBC (Florida Building Code) and older homes that either have or have added wind resistant features. These new rates came into effect in Florida in 2003 and are now available for all home owners to take advantage of.

Wind mitigation inspection fees are very reasonable, and quickly recouped by the monthly savings. They typically only cost $150 dollars and take no more than 20 minutes. The typical savings realized by the home owner after having an inspection are 10% to 45%. The courteous inspector that will come to your home looks only for features outlined as qualifying for a payment reduction according to your insurance carrier. They will not report anything else to the insurance company. A quick visit search on this website will let you instantly locate a friendly professional to set an appointment. Make the choice to have your home inspected by a certified wind mitigation inspector today so that you too can begin enjoying lower insurance payments month in and month out. There is simply no reason for you to pay the incredibly high insurance premiums when the chances are, you do not have to. One phone call today can save you money for the rest of the life of your home.

Mold, Moisture and Your Home

Mold, Moisture and Your Home

Mold Basics

  • The key to mold control is moisture control.
  • If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.
  • It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.

Mold is a type of fungus. Mold spores are found in both the indoor and outdoor air, but they will only grow if they find the right conditions. Mold requires three simple elements to grow:

  1.  Moderate temperatures
  2. Nutrients (food)
  3. Moisture

Mold can start to grow on interior building surfaces and furnishings if there is too much moisture. Eventually, the mold will damage the materials it is growing on and may cause health effects for occupants.

Mold and Your Health

Health effects from mold can vary greatly from person to person. Common symptoms can include coughing, runny nose, wheezing and sore throat. People with asthma or allergies may notice their symptoms worsen.

All molds are a potential health hazard

Many molds are capable of producing substances that can be harmful to your health. Molds can produce allergens and irritants that can cause illness. For this reason, all indoor mold growth should be removed promptly, regardless of the type of mold present.

Some people may have more severe reactions

  • Children
  • Individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities such as allergies or asthma
  • Persons with conditions severely weakening their immune systems (for example, people with HIV infection, chemotherapy patients, organ transplant recipients)

Anyone with concerns about health effects from a moldy environment should contact their medical provider.

Home Investigation

The most practical way to find a mold problem is to simply use your eyes and nose to find signs of excess moisture and mold growth. If you see or smell mold, you should assume that a problem exists.

Look for signs of moisture or mold

  • Mold can have a cottony, velvety, granular or leathery texture
  • The color of mold can vary from white, gray, brown, black, green or other colors
  • Mold damage may look like discoloration or staining on the surface of building materials or furnishings
  • Noticeable mold odors are described as musty or earthly

Look for signs of water damage or excess moisture

  • Water leaks
  • Standing water
  • Water stains
  • Condensation problems

Search behind and underneath furnishings, stored items, and building materials (For example, under carpet and pad, wallpaper, vinyl flooring, sink cabinets, or dry wall)
Mold and water can show up in many places

Why is mold growing in my home?

Molds are part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter, such as fallen leaves and dead trees. But indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air.

Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.

Can mold cause health problems?

Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants and, in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis).

Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold. Research on mold and health effects is ongoing.

This article provides a brief overview; it does not describe all potential health effects related to mold exposure. For more detailed information, consult a health professional. You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.

How do I get rid of mold?

It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors. Some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust. Mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present. Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold but don’t fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will recur.

Who should do the cleanup?

This depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3-foot by 3-foot patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself, following the guidelines below.

  • If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet, consult with an InterNACHI inspector.
  • If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations of the EPA, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygenists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations.
  • Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold. This could spread mold throughout the building.
    • If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water.
  • If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.

Tips and Techniques

The tips and techniques presented in this section will help you clean up your mold problem. Professional cleaners or remediators may use methods not covered here. Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage. It may not be possible to clean an item so that its original appearance is restored.

  • Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
  • Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely.
  • Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold.
  • Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces.
  • Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel. If you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a specialist. Specialists in furniture repair and restoration, painting and art restoration and conservation, carpet and rug cleaning, water damage, and fire or water restoration are commonly listed in phone books. Be sure to ask for and check references. Look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations.

What to Wear When Cleaning Moldy Areas:

  • Avoid breathing in mold or mold spores. In order to limit your exposure to airborne mold, you may want to wear an N-95 respirator, available at many hardware stores and from companies that advertise on the Internet. (They cost about $12 to $25.) Some N-95 respirators resemble a paper dust mask with a nozzle on the front, and others are made primarily of plastic or rubber and have removable cartridges that trap and prevent most of the mold spores from entering. In order to be effective, the respirator or mask must fit properly, so carefully follow the instructions supplied with the respirator. Please note that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that respirators fit properly (via fit testing) when used in an occupational setting.
  • Wear gloves. Long gloves that extend to the middle of the forearm are recommended. When working with water and a mild detergent, ordinary household rubber gloves may be used. If you are using a disinfectant, a biocide such as chlorine bleach, or a strong cleaning solution, you should select gloves made from natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane or PVC. Avoid touching mold or moldy items with your bare hands.
  • Wear goggles. Goggles that do not have ventilation holes are recommended. Avoid getting mold or mold spores in your eyes.

How do I know when the remediation or cleanup is finished?

You must have completely fixed the water or moisture problem before the cleanup or remediation can be considered finished, based on the following guidelines:

  • You should have completed the mold removal. Visible mold and moldy odors should not be present. Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage.
  • You should have revisited the site(s) shortly after cleanup, and it should show no signs of water damage or mold growth.
  • People should have been able to occupy or re-occupy the area without health complaints or physical symptoms.
  • Ultimately, this is a judgment call; there is no easy answer. If you have concerns or questions, be sure to ask your InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection.

Moisture and Mold Prevention and Control Tips

  • Moisture control is the key to mold control, so when water leaks or spills occur indoors, ACT QUICKLY. If wet or damp materials or areas are dried within 24 to 48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases, mold will not grow.
  • Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
  • Make sure the ground slopes away from the building’s foundation so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
  • Keep air-conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
  • Keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60% relative humidity (ideally, between 30% to 50%). Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, which is a small, inexpensive instrument (from $10 to $50) that is available at many hardware stores.
  • If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes, ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.

Actions that will help to reduce humidity:

  • Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters, to the outdoors, where possible. (Combustion appliances, such as stoves and kerosene heaters, produce water vapor and will increase the humidity unless vented to the outside.)
  • Use air conditioners and/or de-humidifiers when needed.
  • Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering. Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running the dishwasher or dishwashing, etc.

Actions that will help prevent condensation:

  • Reduce the humidity (see above).
  • Increase ventilation and air movement by opening doors and/or windows, when practical. Use fans as needed.
  • Cover cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, with insulation.
  • Increase air temperature.

Testing or Sampling for Mold

Is sampling for mold needed? In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building’s compliance with federal mold standards.

Surface sampling may be useful to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results.

Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.

Suspicion of Hidden Mold

You may suspect hidden mold if a building smells moldy but you cannot see the source, or if you know there has been water damage and residents are reporting health problems. Mold may be hidden in places such as the backside of dry wall, wallpaper or paneling, the top-side of ceiling tiles, or the underside of carpets and pads, etc.

Other possible locations of hidden mold include areas inside walls around pipes (with leaking or condensing pipes), the surface of walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), inside ductwork, and in roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation).

Investigating Hidden Mold Problems

Investigating hidden mold problems may be difficult and will require caution when the investigation involves disturbing potential sites of mold growth. For example, removal of wallpaper can lead to a massive release of spores if there is mold growing on the underside of the paper. If you believe that you may have a hidden mold problem, consider hiring an experienced professional.

Cleanup and Biocides

Biocides are substances that can destroy living organisms. The use of a chemical or biocide that kills organisms such as mold (chlorine bleach, for example) is not recommended as a routine practice during mold cleanup. There may be instances, however, when professional judgment may indicate its use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain, and these spores will not grow if the moisture problem has been resolved.

If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area and exhaust the air to the outdoors. Never mix chlorine bleach with other cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia because toxic fumes could be produced.

Please note: Dead mold may still cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is not enough to simply kill the mold; it must also be removed.

Ten Things You Should Know About Mold

  1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposure include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
  2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
  3. If mold is a problem in your home, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
  4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
  5. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30% to 60%) to decrease mold growth by:
    1. venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside;
    2. using air conditioners and de-humidifiers;
    3. increasing ventilation; and
    4. using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
  6. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  7. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials that are moldy (such as carpeting and ceiling tiles) may need to be replaced.
  8. Prevent condensation. Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof and floors) by adding insulation.
  9. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting.
  10. . Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, provided moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.