Got Mold? Survey Says Consumer Concern Increases Regarding Mold in the Home

March 16, 2005

First there was radon, then carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds.

Now the latest home invader is mold and, in a national survey released by CertainTeed Corporation and conducted for them by Opinion Research Corporation, 55 percent of the 1,040 respondents expressed concerned about mold in the home.

Mold is reportedly clearly a growing problem. In Texas alone, there have been nearly 40,000 insurance claims filed for mold-related issues over the past five years. And high-profile home mold cases, such as entertainer Ed McMahon’s, consumer crusader Erin Brockovich’s and musician Ted Nugent’s, have thrust mold into the spotlight even more.

In fact, one in four adults surveyed said they have experienced a problem with mold in their homes or know someone who has.

“Mold has been around forever, but in the past few years it has emerged as a financial and health problem for homeowners because increased numbers of people are getting sick from nosebleeds to seizures to respiratory ailments to memory loss,” explained Glenn Singer, manager of building science for CertainTeed’s Insulation Group.

Biggest concerns from mold

Not surprisingly then, when asked about their largest concern regarding mold in the home, 65 percent of respondents cited a health risk to themselves or their families as their first choice. Thirty-one percent of respondents selected the expense of repairing their homes as their second choice and 27 percent of respondents said structural damage to their homes was their third largest concern.

Builders and sellers beware

So how would survey respondents take to buying an existing home that had a mold problem or purchasing a home from a builder who had a problem in the past? Not very well. In fact, 84 percent of survey respondents said they would not.

When asked what they would do should they discover mold in their houses, 56 percent of survey respondents said they’d call in a mold remediation expert, while 34 percent said they would try to clean it up themselves. Five percent actually indicated that they would move. Forty-eight percent said they would sue a builder, previous owner or landlord if they found mold in the walls of their home. Forty-six percent said they would not sue and 8 percent said they don’t know what they would do.

So how does mold get there in the first place?

The survey also queried respondents as to what they think is the most common cause of mold in the home. The answers? Forty-five percent of respondents said excess moisture, 15 percent indicated living in a humid climate, 13 percent said poor construction, 11 percent a leaking roof, 10 percent a leaking or burst pipe and 3 percent water spills. Another 3 percent responded that they didn’t know.

Ways to minimize risk of mold in the home

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York City Health Department, homeowners can minimize the risk of mold by keeping these tips in mind:

— Fix any water leaks.
— Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60 percent) to decrease mold growth.
— Clean and dry any damp furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
— Clean hard surfaces with water and detergent. Dry completely.
— Prevent condensation on cold surfaces (i.e. walls, pipes, roof,
floors) by adding fiber glass insulation.
— Do not install carpeting in areas where they may be a perpetual
moisture problem in a home.
— If constructing a new home, ask your builder about products to
minimize the potential for moisture and mold growth such as
MemBrain, a smart vapor retarder placed inside wall cavities. It
allows excess moisture that gets into wall cavities to escape.

Survey methodology

The survey of 1,040 adults nationwide was conducted by telephone Feb. 18-21, 2005, by Opinion Research Corporation. At the 95% confidence level, the margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the total sample.

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