Column: The Real Scoop

Welcome to The Real Scoop. This monthly column is intended to help homeowners and potential homeowners in our community address a variety of home related and real estate issues. As a Realtor, I am often approached by many homeowners and buyers to provide answers for a variety of questions pertaining to Greenwich and all things home related. In my quest to provide answers, I have relied on my own expertise, as well as that of many trade professionals I have come to know in our community. The information I have provided has been deemed very useful and greatly appreciated, so I have decided to share what I know with the Greenwich community. Here is this month’s selected question:

By Carline Martin

Q: We moved into our home last February. We have recently discovered black mold in our basement. This was not something we discovered during the purchase process so it appears to be recent. Is this something we should be concerned about and how can we get rid of it?

A: Thank you for reaching out with this important question. The presence of black mold in a home can be alarming to many homeowners and can, often, affect the sale of a home. While not everyone may be impacted by mold spores, black mold can be a health hazard, especially to those with high sensitivity and allergies. Symptoms can include headache, coughing/wheezing, itchy or burning eyes and/or throat, rashes and fatigue, although symptoms can be difficult to attribute to black mold as they are very similar to typical allergy symptoms. You should consult your doctor if any of these symptoms appear, especially if they are persistent, when these symptoms accompany the discovery of black mold in your home. It is important to remove the mold immediately. Here are a few things you should know about black mold and how to remove it.

Most black mold can be easily removed by applying a cleaning agent such as bleach. Start by cleaning the area with warm water and soap. Mix 3/4C bleach with a gallon of water. You can wipe the area with the bleach solution or put it in a spray bottle and spray the entire area with the solution. Wait 5 minutes and then wipe clean with warm water. ** It is important NOT to ever mix bleach with another cleaning product, such as ammonia or products containing ammonia, as the chemical reaction will produce a gas that can be deadly. Bleach mixed with water is all you need to kill and remove the mold. If you feel uncomfortable mixing your own solution, there are pre-mixed solutions you can use or, in extreme cases or if you do not wish to handle the mold yourself, you can hire a mold remediation company.

If you decide to attempt the removal yourself, it is important to prepare and take proper precautions before you start. Wearing an N-95 mask, rubber gloves and protective eye goggles is essential. Additionally, be mindful to turn off air conditioning, fans or any device that may blow mold spores to other locations. In the beginning stages, you should be able to eliminate the presence of mold by following these steps. Once removed, it is important to eliminate the source of the mold.

Mold grows in wet or damp locations. Therefore, it is important to keep areas such as basements and bathrooms well ventilated. A good extractor fan in bathrooms and installing dehumidifiers in basements should be enough to keep these areas dry and mold free. Additionally, it is important to repair leaks quickly and thoroughly. Mold grows quickly in the presence of moisture.

In cases where mold has become present as a result of a flood, it may be best to consider hiring a remediation company. These companies are skilled at identifying and thoroughly removing mold from affected areas. It is important to exercise proper due diligence when choosing a remediation company. Make certain that the company is trained specifically in removing mold. Before setting up appointments for estimates, ask each company if their work is guaranteed and what the terms of the guarantee are. It is also wise to ask if they have pollution liability insurance. Inquire about the type of mold testing that the company performs and whether they isolate the area they will be working on to prevent mold from spreading throughout your home. A good, qualified remediation company will be prepared to offer a thorough remediation plan. For more information, please visit the following link for guidelines pertaining to mold abatement and remediation contractors as set by the state of Connecticut.

If you have discovered mold in the dream home are about to purchase, this does mean you need to walk away. It is important to identify the source of the mold and make your purchase contingent of the proper removal of the mold and repair of the source. If you are building a new home, there are now mold resistant materials that can be used in the construction process such as mold-resistant drywall that you may wish to discuss using with your builder.

As we enter the fall season, part of your fall clean-up should be to remove leaves from gutters and to check your roof for any leaks or signs of mold. Clogged gutters can not only be a source of mold growth but can cause roof and window leaks due to the back-up of water. Proper steps taken now can save you aggravation come springtime.

SEND ME YOUR QUESTIONS – If you have a real estate or home related question for which you would like a professional opinion, please email me at with “Sentinel” in the subject line. Each month, I will provide answers to one or two selected questions. Email me your Real questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

This article does not offer the opinions of Berkshire Hathaway/New England Properties and is not intended to provide legal, medical or tax advice.

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