Local News

Mold Can Be Costly, Risky To Health

Posted August 12, 2005 7:00 a.m. EDT

— It is a battle fought everywhere, but especially in the South.

A high-profile case of mold infestation at the governor's mansion is costing the state millions of dollars and forcing the governor and his family to move out of the 35,000 square-foot house.

The governor's mansion is more than 100 years old, making the cleanup very expensive. What you might pay to get rid of mold at your house varies.

  • Resource:

    All About Mold

  • Whether you catch it or a home inspector does, if caught quickly, it is not so bad. Experts say, however, they have seen cases in private homes exceed $100,000.

    "It's primarily because of the weather conditions, especially in the summertime when we have high humidity, high temperatures," said Lewis Ernest, who works for Marshall Miller & Associates of Raleigh, a firm that does extensive mold assessment.

    Ernest says he has seen mold in crawlspaces and crawling up walls.

    It is mainly an issue in vacant houses or homes over 20 years old. Ernest estimates three in 50 older homes have some degree of fungal growth.

    "If you find mold, you need to figure out why it's growing," said state mold expert Romie Herring.

    Herring says a bad HVAC system or a leaky window could trigger mold. It could also be caused by a major water loss, such as a flooded basement.

    Whatever the cause, Herring says you need to clean it quickly, before the price and the problem explodes. More importantly, you need to do it fast to protect yourself.

    "If your immune system is compromised, it may cause serious issues and there have been deaths associated with it," Herring said.

    So, what can you do to prevent an outbreak? The key is preventative maintenance.

    Have your crawlspace inspected for moisture. Make sure you do not have any window leaks and have your air-conditioning unit checked periodically to be certain it is controlling the humidity levels in your home.

    "If you maintain a watchful eye and do routine cleaning, most mold problems can be addressed fairly economically," Ernest said.

    You can use over-the-counter products for small outbreaks. For a larger case, experts say professional service is recommended.

    When choosing a firm, keep in mind that there are no federal or state guidelines for mold removal companies.

    You should look for a company that has a professional engineer, registered architect or certified industrial hygienist as its lead person. These individuals should have training and expertise in mold evaluation and remediation design.