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How Construction Defects Can Cause Mold

Toxic mold is an increasingly common problem in homes and commercial real estate. While many homeowners have heard of toxic black mold, harmful molds exist in various forms. Depending on the exposed person, mold exposure may cause ill effects ranging from serious health problems to minor allergic reactions.

This article offers an overview of common construction defects that cause mold in homes and commercial buildings.

Different Types of Mold

Mold is a type of fungus that naturally breaks down biological materials. Mold is found almost everywhere in our environment as tiny spores, often light enough to float through the air. Mold spores may also stick to pets and humans. When mold spores rest in a damp area, they begin to grow and digest the material on which they landed.

There are many common types of mold that can affect air quality. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are over 100,000 different species. Some mold species are harmless, while others can cause potentially serious health effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pathogenic and toxigenic indoor molds release chemicals (mycotoxins). Concentrations of these toxic substances can lower indoor air quality.

The most common allergenic mold types found in homes and commercial buildings are:

  • Cladosporium
  • Penicillium
  • Aspergillus
  • Alternaria
  • Stachybotrys chartarum

Volatile Organic Compounds

Molds may produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or toxins as byproducts of their metabolism. VOCs generally evaporate at room temperature. When a person smells a musty odor, they smell the VOCs. Some VOCs produce adverse health effects, but generally, they are not very dangerous to the immune system. They can cause symptoms as mild as sneezing or sore throat.

In contrast to VOCs, toxins do not evaporate easily, and some are very dangerous to humans. In the end, regardless of whether a particular mold produces VOCs or toxins, all molds should be considered potential health risks. The presence of mold should lead to:

  1. Home inspection and mold testing
  2. Cleaning
  3. Permanent mold removal through mold remediation

You can't always remove mold with a simple bleach solution. A mold testing company may use different methods to investigate and clear a mold infestation. Sometimes, a visual inspection can immediately show a problem. But it's important to test air samples and determine if it's necessary to remove toxic mold.

What Causes Mold in Homes?

Mold spores may enter a home through windows or open doors and can come into the home after attaching to people and pets. For a mold spore to grow, there must be:

  1. Abundant moisture
  2. The correct temperature range
  3. A food source

Moisture can come from various sources. Many modern homes and buildings are very airtight. While this is great for insulation, it reduces the building's ability to "breathe." This lessens the potential drying effects of natural air circulation.

Architectural Problems to Avoid

Building contractors and specialists are bound by law to meet construction standards. Defects in or improper use of building materials can cause mold problems. Common construction defects include:

  • Inadequate structural support, leading to sagging floors and crawl space issues
  • Cheap or inferior materials installed in improper places
  • Poor or unsafe installation of beams, walls, and support structures
  • Lack of proper ventilation in building design
  • Defective appliances like dehumidifiers or air conditioning systems (HVACs)

While modern buildings may be airtight to promote energy efficiency, they must still allow ventilation. In other words, a reasonably constructed building should remain safe for use without constant repair. Proper ventilation and insulation during construction can ensure a building is energy-efficient and moisture-neutral.

A contractor's failure to meet these standards can severely affect property value. Even worse, it can enable mold intrusion as moisture builds up.

How Technical Problems Lead to Mold Intrusion

A well-built structure should be able to withstand inclement weather. Its internal systems, including pipes and conduits, should be durable. Moisture may enter a building and cause water damage as a result of:

  • Flooding
  • Broken pipes
  • Excessive rain

Moisture in a home or building may soak carpeting and other materials, creating a moist food source on which mold may attach and grow.

Moisture may also enter a building through walls and living spaces by way of leaks in the:

  • Roof
  • Walls
  • Windows

Such leaks may result from poor construction, faulty design, or faulty building materials.

Regardless of the source of moisture, mold will be drawn to the building once water enters it. It can then start feeding on ceiling tiles, carpet, insulation, paper backing materials, and drywall.

An Attorney Can Help

Home buyers might rely on their realtors for general mold inspection. But real estate agents aren't equipped to provide legal advice. If construction defects have led to mold growth in your home, consider hiring a lawyer. A toxic mold attorney can help you investigate potential claims. They can tell you about local mold laws and how to recover damages as soon as possible.

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