Test for Portland Mold, Home Inspection Tips

portland mold test home inspection

An unmistakably mold-stained wall, ceiling, or shower stall ranks among the least appealing sights in any home, let alone one you’re shopping on the red-hot Portland real estate market. Today we’re going to take a look at how to identify and test for mold, how to clean it up, and how to hopefully mitigate some of the specific root causes of the issue to prevent future growth — all in the interest of safeguarding your well-being and presenting your home for sale in the best possible light!

Introducing Portland Mold

Molds refer to a widespread and incredibly diverse group of fungi thought to comprise anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands of species. We tend to have a negative connotation of mold, but it’s important to note that these organisms perform vital decomposition services the world over, so we’ve actually got an awful lot to thank this fungal squad for.

Molds can grow both indoors and out on a wide variety of surfaces and reproduce by hardy spores that can disperse widely and persist for long periods of time in environments unfavorable for mold growth. Mold spores (and molds) are in your home and just about everywhere; a mold-free domicile is not a reality you can achieve, but you certainly can take steps to treat and ward off the rampant mold growth that leads to visible buildup and the potential health issues associated with it.

Mold Growth in Portland Homes

Molds require moisture for growth, favoring wet and humid microclimates. Persistently damp areas in a home can therefore foster mold. Here in Portland, we’ve obviously got a climate on the moist side of the spectrum, which means indoor mold is a common problem.

Some newer homes are so well-insulated that a lack of ventilation can promote mold growth. Older, draftier homes, meanwhile, may suffer from mold due to leaks, bathroom ventilation into attic spaces, and other issues. It goes without saying that homes that have experienced flooding or other forms of significant water damage are especially vulnerable to mold infestation.

Among the most common mold genera found inside buildings are Cladosporium, Aspergillus, and Penicillium. So-called black mold or toxic black mold, Stachybotrys chartarum (or S. atra), sometimes gains a foothold indoors on material with high cellulose content and lots of persistent moisture, such as water-damaged wallpaper, fiberboard or drywall.

Health Problems Associated with Mold

Household mold buildup can cause health and quality-of-life issues. It can trigger allergic reactions such as itchy eyes and a stuffy nose, for example, and exacerbate asthma symptoms. People with compromised immune systems, chronic respiratory impairments, and other existing health problems may be more vulnerable to adverse effects from mold buildup.

Identifying a Portland Mold Problem

The blackish, brownish, blueish or greenish speckles or patches of significant mold growth on walls, floors, ceiling, roofs, bathroom fixtures and the like are obviously the most blatant signs of a mold problem in a home. Even if you haven’t yet visually registered mold buildup, you’ll often be keyed into it by a musty scent. You may also be experiencing some of the above-mentioned allergic/respiratory symptoms, which should also be considered potential evidence of problematic mold levels somewhere.

In Portland, the number-one mold zone in homes is typically the attic. Mold commonly accumulates around leaky windows, pipes, gutters and fixtures. It can also build up in out-of-the-way places such as ductwork, wall interiors, and flooring or underlayment beneath carpeting.

While we often use the word mildew synonymously with mold, mildews are actually a separate variety of fungus that can generally be distinguished from true mold by their primarily white appearance.

If you’re having trouble detecting suspected mold, you may opt to hire a professional mold-testing/inspection service. There are many such companies in the Portland area. Aside from thorough visual surveys of your home, specialists may also conduct air-quality and moisture tests during a Portland mold inspection to determine the extent of your potential mold problem and take samples to identify, if possible, the type of fungus present.

It’s worth noting that the federal government hasn’t established any standard for levels of mold or mold spores. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, simply locating visible mold growth is sufficient to identify a problem and warrant cleanup and remediation.

Portland Mold Cleanup and Remediation

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that mold cleanup under 10 square feet in area is usually easily done by yourself. It may be worth seeking professional cleaning by contractors or companies familiar with mold for buildups of greater extent.

Scrub mold off hard surfaces using a cloth and a mixture of detergent or vinegar and water. The EPA recommends wearing goggles, gloves and an N95 respirator for the task to limit your exposure to mold spores.

More absorbent surfaces that have accumulated mold, such as ceiling tiles and carpeting, may simply need to be replaced.

Besides cleaning up mold patches, it’s important to try to diagnose the underlying cause of the mold growth. Reducing indoor moisture is an important step to take if you’ve experienced a mold issue, though in some cases, the realities of Portland’s climate may limit your options. Definitely, though, identify and repair any leaks, and use ventilation/exhaust fans, dehumidifiers, air conditioners and other tools to ward against excess moisture whenever possible.

Tackle Mold Before Selling your Portland Home

It’s hopefully stating the obvious to say that potential buyers are likely to balk at significant mold issues: Besides the unappealing look and odor, they’ll likely interpret them as red flags suggesting underlying leakage or structural problems. As you work with a Portland real estate agent to prepare your property for the market, identifying and remedying any significant mold problems should be a top priority.

August 2, 2019

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

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