A Year Later and No Toxic Mold


A year later and there is no "toxic mold..."

A little over year ago new neighbors moved in next door.  We had the initial greetings and are friendly, as neighbors should be. They have three children who are always happy to see me and I tease regularly.


A few weeks later they decided to finish their basement.

During the framing work, but just before the drywall was installed, we had a huge storm which dumped a couple of inches of rain.

The downspout indicated by the yellow arrow was angled such that it dropped its water directly into the corner on the ground.

The soil at that point was angled toward the house.  As such hundreds of gallons of rain water soaked right against the foundation wall, and a small amount came into the house.  A puddle had formed, which left a stain on the floor.

They called a company to help them with this DISASTER.  Long story short the solutions they proposed came to $10,000 - $12,000.  BUT,  my neighbors were told, the costs could go higher depending on what they found.

So what to do?  They asked me for my opinions on all this.  As I heard the story I could only smile, and they asked me what I was smiling about.  My answer?  "Let me get Mighty Mo and I will show you."

The water had come in between the slab and foundation wall.  With Mighty Mo (my thermal camera) I could show them there was no residual moisture, and I found no cracking in the foundation wall.  Going outside I showed them how the downspout and soil grading had caused the problem and the VERY CHEAP fix to prevent this from happening again.

They were astonished that my proposed solution was so cheap! 


Cheap is right.  Less than $200.

The materials needed - dirt, and an extension to the downspout.

The mulch and plants are the finishing touch, but do nothing to solve the problem.

The soil is built up, and the downspout is buried and extends to well beyond the foundation wall to the left.  Similarly the other downspout in the upper photo, on the left near the tree, is also extended out about 5' from the corner of the house.

There have been multiple heavy rains since this solution with no water getting into the house.

THIS IS IMPORTANT - WHEN THE "DRY BASEMENT" COMPANY HEARD ABOUT MY SOLUTION THEY WENT INTO OVERDRIVE!  THEY ATTACKED ME AS IGNORANT, MY SOLUTION AS INSUFFICIENT AND IDIOCY, AND OF COURSE THEY HAD TO SAY THAT MY SOLUTION WOULD TO LEAD TO "TOXIC MOLD"  DEVELOPMENT, AND ALL THREE CHILDREN WOULD EVENTUALLY MELT AND DIE.

Perhaps I embellished that a bit with the last three words.  But they always mention "the children."

Not to get into a long discussion here, but there is no such thing as "toxic mold."  That is the term all the dry basement and mold companies use, literally to scare people, but it is a misnomer.

From the CDC"The term "toxic mold" is not accurate. While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous. Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. There is always a little mold everywhere - in the air and on many surfaces. There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven."

The two underlines are mine.  And there is more:  "Mold exposure does not always present a health problem indoors. However some people are sensitive to molds. These people may experience symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation when exposed to molds. Some people may have more severe reactions to molds.  The Institute of Medicine (IOM) also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children."

Again, the underlines are mine.  And the always-touted-as-dangerous black mold?  "Mold growing in homes and buildings, whether it is Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) or other molds, indicates that there is a problem with water or moisture. This is the first problem that needs to be addressed. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Mold in or under carpets typically requires that the carpets be removed. Once mold starts to grow in insulation or wallboard, the only way to deal with the problem is by removal and replacement."

Really, it's that easy? 

Mold is NEVER the problem - moisture is the problem.  Mold is a SYMPTOM of the presence of moisture.  If you eliminate the moisture you eliminate the problem.  And I am a "Certified Mold Inspector" and understand this!

And in this house it is a year later and there is no "toxic mold..."  What do you know!

My recommendation:  I tell clients all the time that I have no financial interest in circumstances such as this one and to please call me when contractors tell them this or that.  I say - "I will always be honest with you."  Sometimes people believe me and sometimes they don't.  When they hear terms such as "toxic mold" and "health hazard" and they are justifiably scared.  Well, SOME people have sensitivity to Goldenrod and Maple Tree pollens, and in that sense they are "health hazards."  As I said, sometimes clients believe me and sometimes they don't.  I believe me.

P.s.  In my experience Lysol spray works better to kill molds than a bleach solution.  Just sayin'...



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Jay performs inspections Monday through Saturday, throughout Northern Virginia, from his office in Bristow to Leesburg and Centreville, to Great Falls and Vienna and everywhere in between!