Post: Moldy moderns Newer, poorly constructed homes more likely t
Posted by Sharon on 12/12/10
Moldy moderns Newer, poorly constructed homes more likely
to harbor fungus
Sunday, December 12, 2010 03:01 AM
By Jim Weiker
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
"When Lori and Nate Lee moved from Maryland to Lewis Center
five years ago, they bought the perfect home for their
growing family: 2,800 square feet, four bedrooms and a
basement they immediately finished....
...Every home will build up mildew and mold in moist areas
such as bathrooms. Much of it is harmless if regularly
cleaned. But some types of mold, such as stachybotrys, can
be serious, especially to children and those with allergies
or respiratory problems such as asthma...
...The clearest evidence of mold is seeing it. Other clues
that your home might have a hidden mold problem include:
• Moisture routinely appears on inside walls or windows.
• Dark water streaks appear on the outside walls of the
home, suggesting black mold behind the wall.
• Screws, electrical receptacles or other metal pieces in
the wall are rusty.
• The home has a musty smell.
• Floors under carpet along exterior walls are damp.
• The home's residents have coughs, watery eyes or sore
throats they can't shake.
Steps to take
• Monitor indoor humidity with a hygrometer. Readings
should be below 50 percent in the summer and below 35
percent in the winter.
• Place a dehumidifier in damp areas such as basements.
• Open windows or use exhaust fans when producing moisture
in the bathroom or kitchen.
• Remove carpet in damp areas such as basements.
• Contact a mold inspector or other specialist if mold is
visible on drywall, wood floors or other organic surfaces.
Such inspectors aren't licensed, so consumers should check
their credentials and ask how long they've been in business
and how they've been trained and certified.
• Contact a lawyer if you think you have a legal case
against the builder, but expect to spend in the five
figures if you sue....
.."I kept cutting and cutting and cutting," said Reichman,
who has spent the past month repairing the damage....
...For Reichman, the discovery was all too familiar. He and
other builders and experts say mold plagues some newer
central Ohio homes, especially those built during the
housing boom of 1999 to 2006.
"I'm seeing this over and over," Reichman said. "The time
frame when those homes were built, in that period, five to
seven years, will have those issues."...
..."I've seen it from several builders," Reichman
said. "It's sad to say that homes built 100 years ago are
holding up better, which is upsetting because we have so
much better technology and materials today if we used them."
Others agree that mold has become a familiar problem in new
homes, especially those with stucco siding.
"There were not problems like this 35 or 40 years ago,"
said Jerry Warner, the city of Delaware's chief building
inspector who helped a Delaware couple negotiate a mold
problem with Dominion Homes.
...."If I built a house 80 or 100 years ago, I was a true
craftsman," said Stubbs, who lived in central Ohio before
becoming director of facilities planning and construction
for Clarke County Schools in Georgia. "I'd build one house
a year. ... We don't build like that today. We take
Other explanations for the rise of mold problems in newer
• Oriented strand board, which became a common sheathing
material for homes about 20 years ago, absorbs and
transfers water more readily than plywood, which was the
sheathing of choice for older homes. Even when plywood is
used today, it is more likely to be three-ply plywood
instead of the four- or five-ply used in earlier homes.
• Stucco is thinner than it used to be, with less cement,
and is frequently poorly installed, with two thin coats
instead of three thick ones.
• Many homes built during the housing boom used a paper
vapor barrier, which can be difficult to properly install,
instead of Tyvek or other wraps commonly used in the past
• Newer homes are typically built in empty fields, offering
no protection from wind, rain and sun - especially a
problem on western exposures.
• Homes built in the past 20 years tend to be tighter than
older homes and therefore more likely to trap moisture
inside if not properly ventilated, creating what Tom Flood,
the president of Air Technology in Hilliard, calls a "giant
petri dish." This was especially a problem in the 1980s
and '90s, when builders commonly put plastic between the
studs and drywall as a moisture barrier.
....During the housing boom, homes didn't receive the
attention from swamped inspectors that they might have
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