I had an interesting situation happen on an escrow earlier this year that I wanted to share with you all.
The sellers had disclosed some water damage in a bedroom corner that they had installed a water drain on the exterior of the building to remedy. The buyers decided that to be safe, they would have the corner checked by a mold testing company to be sure the water didn’t do any extra damage. While the corner was the one of most interest, the testing company would check the entire property.
The inspector came in with his moisture readers to sweep the whole property and used his reader to check to see if were other concerning locations. And it was quite the shock for everyone when an entire wall on the opposite end of the house was giving off huge moisture numbers. 90% moisture was coming up on his reader along the entire 20′ wall.
Needless to say, the buyers were terrified. The remediation costs to repair both sides would be in the tens of thousands.
Looking at an expense that large they decided to call a 2nd company as well for another opinion. This particular company is a one woman show, but she’s a microbiologist with PH-Ds and they wanted to hear from someone with her particular background.
Our second inspector came in with a moisture reader as well – and sure enough, the wall was testing at 90% moisture.
But then we started doing more digging.
We started thinking about it common sensically – if the wall was 90% moisture, it should be wet to the touch. But it wasn’t. It was completely dry. Did you know that metal in a wall can give off a false positive? Lo and behold, poking out of a floorboard along that wall was a piece of what looked like metal backing for insulation. The new theory was that the insulation in the wall was installed with a metal/reflective sheet backing and it was giving off the false positive. There would only be two ways to test for sure: open up the wall (drill a small hole) and swab or take some air samples to see if any mold was in the air.
The homeowners gave permission for a small hole to be drilled behind the couch, but the wall was made of some sort of plaster that the drill wouldn’t go through. So the air samples were taken – and completely clear and normal. While technically the only way to TRULY know would be to tear open the wall, the buyers felt confident that they’d covered their bases and were feeling okay with moving forward. They ultimately bought the house and closed.
So what was the lesson learned here?
- Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have multiple opinions.
- Research vendors thoroughly.
- Sometimes thinking logically and using some common sense might be a good place to start.
- Still, always follow up with testing to be sure.
If you’d like more information on the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles, or to have help looking for your next home, please feel free to reach out! I’m happy to help, no obligation.