Monday, June 22, 2009

A note from a home inspector

What makes molds grow?

Molds will grow if we provide them with moisture and nutrients. If we keep things dry, molds do not grow

● Moisture ● Nutrients ● Suitable place to grow
High moisture levels can be the result of water coming in from the outside, through the floor, walls or roof; plumbing leaks moisture produced by the people living in the home, through daily activities like bathing, washing clothes or cooking. Water enters the building when there is a weakness or failure in the structure. Moisture accumulates within the home when there is not enough ventilation to expel that moisture.
Molds are undesirable when they grow where we don’t want them, such as in homes. Over 270 species of mold have been identified as living in Canadian homes. Molds that grow inside may be different from the ones found outdoors.

Prior to its close in 1990, much of the world’s supply of vermiculite came from a mine near Libby, Montana. This mine had a natural deposit of asbestos which resulted in the vermiculite being contaminated with asbestos. Attic insulation produced using vermiculite ore, particularly ore that originated from the Libby mine, may contain asbestos fibers. Today, vermiculite is mined at three US Facilities and in other countries which have low levels of contamination in the finished material.
Home inspectors should recognize vermiculite attic insulation (especially in homes build before 1991), assume it contains asbestos, not disturb it during the inspection, note its presence in the inspection report, and note its presence as a restriction to the inspection.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber. It can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance.

What Should Be Done About Asbestos In The Home?
If you think asbestos may be in your home, don't panic, usually the best thing is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone. Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. There is no danger unless fibers are released and inhaled into the lungs. Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don't touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow. Sometimes, the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it.

What is Radon?
Radon is a gas produced by the radioactive decay of the element radium. Radioactive decay is a natural, spontaneous process in which an atom of one element decays or breaks down to form another element by losing atomic particles (protons, neutrons or electrons). When solid radium decays to form radon gas, it loses two protons and two neutrons. These two protons and two neutrons are called an alpha particle, which is a type of radiation. The elements that produce radiation are referred to as radioactive. Radon itself is radioactive because it also decays, losing an alpha particle and forming the element polonium.

We thank Garry D. Heard of Greater Durham Home Inspectors who can be reached at 905-831-4887 or on the web

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