Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

Dear Barry: I recently had a flood problem in one of the apartments that I manage. The unit was vacant, and several weeks passed before the moisture condition was addressed. Now there is mold on much of the drywall. Everyone I ask has a different opinion about mold. Some say I should hire a contractor who specializes in flood damage. Others say I should get a professional mold inspection first. And one person says I should simply clean the mold with bleach and repaint the walls. What do you say?  Don

Dear Don: The problem with mold today is that is can no longer be viewed as purely pragmatic issue. The overriding consideration has become liability. The days when mold could be washed with bleach and covered with paint are over.  Mold is now a legal problem, as well as a health consideration.

At the same time, the health affects of mold cannot be dismissed. Some people have been severely harmed by mold exposure. On the other hand, there are cases where moldy walls could be washed and painted with no adverse health consequences to anyone. But much more is at stake than the likelihood of health problems. For example, what happens when a future occupant of the building learns that there once was mold in the building and demands documentation to verify that the mold was tested and that removal was done in accordance with environmental standards and with follow-up air-testing. In that case, you would wish that you had done more than apply bleach and paint.

This is the situation that now exists because of past lawsuits and widely publicized hysteria about the dangers of mold. It is from this standpoint that one must consider matters of mold, especially with rental property.

On this basis, a thorough mold evaluation by a qualified expert is recommended, prior to repairing and refinishing the interior of the apartment.