The last thing you want when buying a new home is a major mold issue. This can affect the structural integrity of your home, as well as cause health conditions, such as respiratory problems or skin irritation. The following are three places you should always fully inspect before putting in a final offer on a home.
#1: The attic
Roof leaks are a major cause of moisture that leads to mold growth. This is especially true in unfinished attics, since insulation absorbs major amounts of moisture from even a minor leak. As a cursory inspection that you can do yourself, simply look around the attic with a flashlight. You are looking for wet insulation, visible black or dark green mold growth, or signs of water damage on the rafters or roof sheathing above. If you spot what appears to be mold or water damage, plan for a more involved mold inspection. Sometimes, old signs of water damage are present even though there is no mold and the cause has been repaired, so a professional inspection is helpful.
#2: Under sinks
Leaking pipes, especially inside cabinets or walls, can be ongoing for months or even years without anyone noticing. This creates the perfect environment for mold growth. Open up all undersink cabinets and check for possible moisture and mold damage. Signs to look for include water damage to the cabinet itself or the wall behind the cabinet, as well as visible mold growth. You should also gently poke the wallboard behind sink pipes to make sure there is no softness that indicates a water leak behind the wall. You may also want to check the wallboard in the room opposite the in-wall sink pipes for softness or visible signs of water damage.
#3: Around windows and doors
Another major place for possible mold is near any egress to the outside, namely windows and doors. Check beneath the sills, especially, since a leaky window frame can result in moisture collecting at this lowest, and often hidden, point. Also, check for signs of moisture rot around wooden frames and sills, including peeling or bubbling paint. The wall board surrounding a window or door may also feel soft if there is a leak. Other egresses, such as vents or pipes that lead to the outside aren't immune from mold damage. Check around these as well for any signs of moisture issues.
For more help, contact a mold damage inspector in your area.