ImmunoLytics: Older Homes Have Increased Likelihood of Mold

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Homes Built Before 1970s Should Be Tested

Albuquerque, NM, July 10, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Almost every city that existed prior to the 1970s has neighborhoods that reflect traditional home-building styles. These sought-after, older neighborhoods often possess charm and high property values based on the distinct character of older homes. Older homes typically are built over crawlspaces or basements, and the vast majority of those are unfinished. Those unfinished spaces can be a breeding ground for mold that can contaminate indoor air, making the homes unhealthy to live in.

Why Are Older Homes Different From Newer Ones?
During the 1970s, the innovation of central air conditioning coupled with the energy crisis of the 1970s changed home construction as energy efficiency became the priority. As a result, newer residential structures with tighter building envelopes became standard. Floorplans, construction materials, and ventilation strategies were updated. The focus on energy efficiency required the adoption of better insulation materials, energy-efficient windows, and more efficient heating and cooling systems. 

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“Older homes are three times more likely to suffer water damage from leaks or weather events than newer homes,” explained J.W. Biava, President of ImmunoLytics, a mold testing laboratory. “According to the Consumer Affairs Journal of Consumer Research, approximately one-quarter of insurance claims filed include water damage. Mold only needs 24 to 48 hours to reproduce when exposed to moisture.”

At the core of many mold problems with older homes is the later addition of central air and heating. Typically, HVAC systems were added well after the home was built. It is common to find HVAC systems in unfinished crawlspaces or basements below the home or in unfinished attics, which can lead to a variety of issues:

·      Moisture and Humidity – Crawlspaces or attics can often have high moisture levels, which can lead to mold, mildew, and rust on HVAC components.

·      Poor Insulation – Crawlspaces are typically less insulated than other parts of the home, leading to heat loss and reduced HVAC efficiency.

·      Pest Infestation – Crawlspaces can attract rodents, which may damage HVAC ducts and wiring.

·      Limited Access – The confined space can make it difficult to perform regular maintenance and repairs on HVAC systems.

·      Air Quality Issues – Crawlspaces, attics and basements can accumulate dust, dirt, and other contaminants that can be drawn into the HVAC system and circulated throughout the home. Because ductwork is often used in these unfinished spaces, any leaks will literally suck mold, fiberglass from insulation, or dust into the home’s air.

·      Condensation and Corrosion – Temperature differences between the crawlspace and the HVAC system can cause condensation on metal components, leading to corrosion.

·      System Overload – An HVAC system installed in a crawlspace or attic may be undersized or oversized.  This can lead to the system being overworked due to poor conditions or homes will cool too fast not allowing the air conditioner to remove humidity inside the home.

·      Ductwork Issues – Ducts in crawlspaces or attics can develop leaks or become disconnected, reducing the efficiency of the HVAC system.

“Older homes can become moldy homes because of the unfinished crawlspaces and attics that can hold heat, moisture, and dust, which creates an ideal breeding ground for mold,” Biava said. “HVAC systems in unfinished areas create moisture through condensation when warm air meets cool AC ductwork.  Any leak in ductwork can systemically spread mold throughout the home.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but don’t fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.

The EPA offers a variety of strategies to fix potential mold issues:

  • The first step is for the homeowner to have the house tested for mold.
  • Additionally, homeowners should look for water buildup outside the house that could seep into the basement or crawl space.
  • If there is a mold issue, homeowners should put together an action plan to remedy the problem permanently. There are various remedies including:
    • Removing the mold contamination (remediation).
    • Fogging the contaminated areas to kill the mold with a natural botanical solution.
    • Depending on the severity, walls may need to be knocked out and replaced and landscaping may need to be redone to prevent water coming into the house.
  • If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations in EPA’s Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, the guidelines of the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC S520), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations.
  • If you suspect that the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system may be contaminated with mold, consult EPA’s guide Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? before taking further action.  Note: Not running the HVAC system can create additional problems due to increased humidity when AC is not utilized. So, it is best to continue as-is until the problem can be addressed.

“Mold can be very serious and lead to a variety of health issues,” Biava added. “For many people there are symptoms that never go away. The most common are chronic fatigue, brain fog, arthritis, headaches, common pain and long covid.”

For people living in older homes, ImmunoLytics offers a do-it-yourself mold testing kit for only $36 per room. The test will look for 37,000 different species of mold, and all kits come with expert consultation. More information is at ImmunoLytics.

BioBalance also offers solutions for removing mold from carpets, crawl spaces, surfaces, and the entire home. Information is at BioBalance.

CONTACT: Joanie Griffin ImmunoLytics 505-261-4444 [email protected] 

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