Mold is a critical part of the natural order, helping to decompose organic material and return nutrients to the soil. But there's nothing natural about a mold garden flowering in the crawlspace of your house. Certain strains of mold -- namely stachybotrys chartarum (aka "black mold") and the aspergillis family of molds -- produce mycotoxins that can cause serious health problems if ingested [source: Nolo.com]. But even allergies to more common molds can lead to hay fever-like symptoms, dizziness and skin rashes [source: Department of Health and Senior Services].
Mold spores are carried by the wind and breed in moist environments. During the construction boom years, when materials were scarce and time was tight, builders sometimes resorted to using damp plywood, sealing it up behind drywall before it had a chance to dry. Unlike hardwoods such as cedar and oak, plywood and other processed construction materials contain tons of natural sugars, a feast for mold [source: Lstiburek].
Even in new homes, mold will grow quickly wherever moisture infiltrates and festers in sealed areas. If pipes aren't properly insulated, they can produce condensation, which collects between walls. If an attic doesn't have sufficient ventilation, even the tiniest leak can produce a forest of mold. If the heating and air conditioning ducts aren't properly sealed, they can carry mold spores throughout the house, spreading allergens to unsuspecting residents [source: Garber].
For lots more information on construction planning and building materials, follow the links below.
- 5 Questions to Ask a Prospective Contractor
- Why does a flooded house need to be torn down?
- Why hire a contractor if subcontractors do all the work?
- How Home Floor Plans Work
- 10 Types of Insulation
- 5 Long-Lasting Building Materials
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- Curiosity Project: 10 Natural Building Materials
- Building Science. "Information Sheet: Groundwater Control." May 12, 2009http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/information-sheets/1-foundations-and-site-work/groundwater-control?topic=doctypes/information-sheets/info-sheet-foundations-sitework
- Emrath, Paul. National Association of Home Builders. "Characteristics of Single-Family Homes Started in 2009." October 7, 2010http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?genericContentID=145984&fromGSA=1
- Garber, Richard. Engineering Times. "Your Best 'Mold Insurance.'" January 2003http://www.nspe.org/resources/pdfs/Licensure/FTC/FTC-Jan-03-MoldInsurance.pdf
- Handy American. "Installing a Roof Can Be Tricky-Consider Hiring a Roof Contractor"http://www.handyamerican.com/articles-roof-installation-roofers.asp
- Lewis, Marilyn. "How to avoid buying a lemon" MSN Real Estate.http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=13107861
- Lstiburek, Joseph. Building Science. "Mold Explosion: Why Now?" January 1, 2007http://www.buildingscience.com/documents/published-articles/pa-mold-explosion-why-now/view?topic=resources/flooring-probs
- McQueen, M.P. The Wall Street Journal. "Cracked Houses: What the Boom Built." July 13, 2009http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203872404574258531574049434.html
- Nolo.com. "Toxic Mold: Who to Sue"http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/article-29622.html
- Pulkkinen, Levi. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "Owners sue Quadrant Homes over 'sick' houses." November 19, 2009http://www.seattlepi.com/local/412486_quadrant19.html
- Roney, Maya. Bloomsberg BusinessWeek. "Foreclosure's building problem." August 22, 2007http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20393984/
- State of Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. "Mold"http://www.dhss.mo.gov/IndoorAir/mold.html
- Toy, Vivian S. The New York Times. "Your New Condo Leaks? Join the Club." October 23, 2009http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/25/realestate/25cov.html?_r=3
- Ueno, Kohta. Building Geek. "Proper Technique for Flashing and Window Installation." August 6, 2007http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpqJxbk5qwc
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