Mold and Water Damage in Homes – Windsor Essex Real Estate

Homebuyers often have concerns about mould, but are their fears justified? Although thousands of types of mould exist, only a few are actually harmful to people. Toxic varieties, such as moulds from the genus Stachybotrys, can produce chemicals linked to various health problems including sinus infections, asthma and certain respiratory infections. However, mould must generally be present in large quantities to have a noticeable effect on most people. Mould eats wood cellulose and can potentially affect the structural integrity of wood. Some insurance companies have excluded mould damage from both first party and third party coverage. Property owners may be able to obtain costly site-specific environmental insurance that specifically includes mould coverage. Mould is caused by water damage or excessive humidity, poor ventilation systems, wet construction materials or poor construction or design. Mould travels on air currents and is all around us, and so it is difficult to find a house that is completely mould-free. The smell should be the first red flag. Just because a house is nicely renovated and freshly painted doesn’t make it mold free, if there’s a musty, mouldy smell, and lots of plug-ins and potpourri, you should investigate further. The best advse is use common sense. During a home inspection, the inspector cannot open walls. Therefore, you may need to rely on your sense of smell. If moisture damage has built up in the basement over the years, the smell will reveal it right away, regardless of how nice it looks If there’s mould in their home, it can be a minor issue involving lack of circulation in the basement, or it could be a serious case of black mould coming through the drywall or baseboard, which probably needs to be ripped out. You can’t just wipe it off.  Either way, the issue causing the mould must be solved and the area has to dry out. Whether inspecting a home you should always look for signs of water damage. You should hire a home inspector or other mold professional  if there is a concern Be sure to inspect moisture-prone areas such as basements, bathrooms and kitchen cupboards. Mould behind a wall will not be visible to you, but signs of mould include: discolouration on finishes staining spotty patterns revealing visible mould growth (which may indicate a larger, unseen problem) musty smells. Mould issues can usually be resolved. The moisture or water source needs to be located and stopped, and then the mould needs to be removed. If the problem turns out to be widespread and remediation is necessary, it’s important to ensure that the entire problem area is remediated, otherwise the mould infestation could return. A proper home inspection may uncover indications of mould...

Read More

Avoid Basement Flooding Windsor Real Estate

Avoiding Basement Flooding Basement flooding is unfortunately a common occurrence in many parts of Canada. But the good news is that many types of basement flooding may be avoided. This publication explains some of the practical steps you can take to avoid basement flooding. How Serious Is Basement Flooding? Basement flooding is now being recognized as a potentially serious problem. There are many negative consequences associated with basement flooding, above and beyond the inconvenient mess and disruption of household routine. Research cites the following impacts: Chronically wet houses are linked to an increase in respiratory problems. Frequent occurrences of basement flooding can result in long-term damage to the building and equipment that may not be covered by insurance. Insurance rates may rise to compensate for repeated basement flooding claims, and/or the minimum deductible may be increased significantly. Property value may depreciate because the basement is prone to frequent flooding. Before appropriate measures can be taken, it is important to identify the causes of basement flooding. These range from problems originating in the individual dwelling to problems associated with the municipal sewer systems that serve entire communities. Why Do Basements Flood? Water can enter your basement for a number of reasons. Water in your basement is most likely to occur during periods of heavy rainfall, or when snow is melting rapidly during a spring thaw. In these cases, your basement can be wet because of: a leak or crack in your home’s basement walls; poor lot drainage; failure of the weeping tiles (foundation drains); and overflowing eavestroughs or leaking/plugged downspouts. Basement flooding may also occur because of: a blocked connection between your home and the main sewer in the street; a back-up of wastewater in the sewer system (or a combination of wastewater and rainwater from the sanitary or combined sewer system); and failure of a sump pump (in some areas) used to pump weeping tile water. Basements are also vulnerable to natural river flooding disasters, but these cannot be addressed by individual homeowners. Flooding Basics Municipalities attempt to prevent flooding by maintaining the public sewer system. Homeowners with private sewage systems (septic tank and field bed) can appreciate the need for regular maintenance, but unforeseen or accidental problems can occur in any type of system. Here is some municipal infrastructure terminology you should know: Sanitary Sewer A sanitary sewer is a pipe buried beneath the street that is designed to transport wastewater from your home. This consists of water from sanitary fixtures (toilets, sinks, etc.) and floor drains inside your house, and in some areas includes groundwater from weeping tiles around the foundation of your home. Storm Sewer A storm sewer is a pipe buried beneath the street that...

Read More

What to do about a wet attic Windsor Real Estate

Attic Venting, Attic Moisture and Ice Dams It is rare for Canadians to visit their attics. For many years building codes have required high levels of attic insulation, making attics less-than-hospitable places. People usually go into their attics for one of two reasons: animal intruders, such as bats or squirrels, or water leaking through the top floor ceiling. This guide deals with water entry, such as roof leaks, ice dams, and attic condensation. Consult your local pest control expert to rid the attic of creatures. What to Do If Water Comes Through Your Ceiling Find out where the leak is in your ceiling by measuring its location from the nearest outside walls. Then, go into the attic through the attic hatch. It is often hidden in the ceiling of a closet or in the wall of an attached garage. If it is in a closet, move the clothes out of the closet so loose insulation won’t stick to them. Take a good flashlight and a tape measure. When walking in the attic in older houses, step only on the wooden joists that cover the floor. The joists are usually spaced every 16 inches. They are often hidden under a pile of insulation. If you step off the joists, you will probably put your foot through the plaster or drywall ceiling below. Many houses, especially in warmer climates, have some type of floorboard over the joists. This makes walking easier but can make air sealing and insulating more complicated. Most houses built since the 1970s do not have attic rafters and joists, but trusses – usually at 24 inch centres – with the ceiling below attached to the lower chords. Walking in trussed attics is trickier than walking in older attics. If you find vermiculite insulation in your attic, do not disturb it. Loose-fill vermiculite insulation may contain small amounts of asbestos, and you should consult a professional if it is going to be disturbed. CMHC’s information piece Asbestos provides additional guidance. One further caution: if you find a significant amount of animal droppings from bats or birds, do not disturb them. They can grow molds that can cause several illnesses. To clean up droppings, you need good respiratory protection (masks) and clothing that can be bleached or discarded. Find the water leak. Use the tape measure to roughly locate where the water is dripping through the ceiling below. Lift the insulation in this area to find the pooling water. Sometimes the water runs along the attic floor for quite a distance before coming through the ceiling. Trace the water to its source. Look for leaks in the roof, especially around chimneys, plumbing vents, and attic vents – anything that...

Read More