Q&A / 

Mold in the Attic

Dear Tim: We recently purchased a home in Washington State. We were here three weeks before we had any rain. The day before Easter, we got a tremendous rainstorm and high wind. When we got home late that night, we found water (about 1/2 an inch) in the first level of the home. We found huge bubbles in the walls where water was behind the latex paint and just blew it out like strings of balloons. We looked and found a lot of the ceilings were wet and dripping. We called in a company to tarp the roof. When I peeled back the foil backed insulation there was so much water up there in the attic area I got soaked.

We had to get $30,000.00 to put on a new roof. (Insurance would not cover it, they said it was a preexisting problem.) No one found any mold while doing this. They did not change out the insulation or replace the OSB. We had to have the ceilings removed because they were sagging from being damp. Now they discovered MOLD everywhere on the OSB. All work has been stopped for five weeks.

Because we are getting so many conflicting reports about cleaning OSB we are very scared. At first the insurance company was going to replace the whole roof OSB and then they said they would just clean it. We were told you can clean plywood successfully. We were also told that you cannot clean OSB successfully because mold feeds on the glues that hold the OSB together. You can only clean the surface, you can never get rid of the mold totally in OSB.

We are concerned about the resale of the house. We were told they will scrub the underside of the OSB but the stains will always be there. If I was a new buyer and saw these mold stains, there is no way I would want to buy the house. Can you please help me with advice on where to go from here and what is the proper way to clean this. Yes, there were three inspectors before we purchased the home and no one found any mold. Winnie H.

Dear Winnie: The first thing I would do is consider talking with an attorney. If I understand your story, the attention needs to be directed immediately to the three inspectors who looked at the house and did not discover the roofing flaw that caused the leakage. Some serious mistake must have been there or this rainstorm caused the leak, in which case I would think the insurance company should be holding the bag as that is what we all pay insurance premiums for.

You need professional legal advice at this point. Be sure to hire an attorney who can prove to you they have successfully prevailed in identical cases.

As for the mold, please go read my past mold columns to understand how and why mold grows. The existing mold can be cleaned and it will not come back unless the surfaces get wet again.


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