Buying a house with what looks like mold in dead space

Old 08-28-17, 05:26 PM
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Buying a house with what looks like mold in dead space

Had the property (it's in South Florida) inspected just a day ago and there was what looks like mold found in a door raised up about 10 feet up that leads to dead space behind the kitchen. It's in a hallway located near the center of the house. As you can see from the pictures, there's also a return air vent on the ceiling near the door to dead space.

Any thoughts on what to do from here? Home inspector recommends an air quality test with 4 samples to make sure it hasn't spread to inside the house. One outside, two on opposite ends of house, and one to get a swab of the substance. The cost is $125/sample or $500 total. Seems like a lot of money and I've heard mixed opinions about whether there's any value in testing it vs. just cleaning it/fixing source. I don't think the inspector looked in this area of the attic above the dead space either because when I asked him if he saw any evidence of leaks in that area, he said he wasn't able to get to a lot of areas due to duct work, etc. Is this valid or do I need someone that will look more aggressively? I'm also afraid that if I call a mold company they will blow it out of proportion and potentially delay the lending/closing process. I've heard you have to be careful mold companies in FL. Some friends have advised me to just clean up and not worry about it. There wasn't evidence of mold anywhere else in the house, other than a small amount of "black substance" near the den A/C vent. I'm not sure what the purpose of the dead space is or how the mold got there. Possibly some condensation from the return air vent got in the dead space?

House was bought as an investment 5 years ago and leased to one tenant who seems to have maintained the rest of the house well. Seller wouldn't disclose anything as they never lived in property, but tenant did say there was some on and off A/C issues which were eventually resolved. Property is 18 years old and appears to be well maintained. House is being sold as-is.

Pictures are attached. Any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-28-17, 05:56 PM
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IMO, you have to know the source of the mold, before you buy. Do the current owners have anything to say? Let them pay for the tests. They want to sell the house.
Old 08-29-17, 05:50 AM
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Personally I think people's concerns over mold are far overblown, but I don't have asthma or any other respiratory problems so mold doesn't have much affect on me. I also have to mention that I am NOT a mold expert and have no special education in that area.

In you pictures it appears that the mold is in small, enclosed closet like spaces where there would be minimal air circulation. Couple that with southern Florida's heat and humidity and an AC problem and some type of mold is probably guaranteed. If the tenants had packed those areas full with clothes or boxes air circulation would be further restricted making the problem worse. I think cleaning and disinfection should get those areas taken care of pretty easily. If the problem reappears I would add some ventilation grates to the doors to improve air circulation to those areas. I would also keep an eye on the humidity level in the home especially during the shoulder seasons when the AC won't be running. If the humidity does get high (above 55-60%) I would get a dehumidifier.
Old 10-24-17, 05:39 AM
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Also in Florida. I had a bad cough/throat clearing problem for years. Doctors couldn’t find the problem.
Turns out I had mold behind my kitchen cabinets. Major hassle to get it all cleaned up. $$$$$$$
Cough went away within 2 weks of mold removal.
I say run from the house.
Old 10-24-17, 05:48 AM
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Don't know much about mold but have seller pay for test. You can walk away from deal if to bad.
Old 10-24-17, 06:10 AM
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I agree with others. Require that the seller pay for mold tests. Additionally, (at least here in La) seller, by law, has to disclose any known issues. If its mold & the seller knows, they have to disclose it by law.
Old 10-24-17, 06:14 AM
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There are mold spores in every cubic inch of air we breath; it's all a question of what kind of mold, and how many . . . . or the density.

As it's a concern, get the house tested for excessive mold, and use an independent environmental testing agency . . . . . one which DOES NOT also do remediation work. There's an inherent conflict of interest, and many firms will conceal their affiliation with a remediation concern . . . . which they will recommend.

As a Real Estate Broker, I've arranged for many mold assessments, and NEVER have I had one conducted where, if the testing agency also provided remediation services, they would not find a dangerous level of toxic mold spores in the interior atmosphere that required thousands of dollars of "their" remediation service.

An independent evaluation is the only way to have confidence in the analysis . . . . otherwise, walk !

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