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If you’re in doubt of any unpleasant growth in your house, you should simply assume there is a problem whenever you see mold or smell mold odors.
Home Inspections in MD and DE including beach communities from Rehoboth, Bethany, Lewes to Ocean City.
In our last blog we mentioned the while at a Rehoboth Beach, Delaware home inspection a customer mentioned wanting to treat his own mold problem. When dealing with bio-growth in your home it is of the utmost importance to be sure to test the fungus to determine if you have mold or a wood destroying fungus.
Wood decaying fungus requires four fundamentals to survive which are oxygen, favorable temperatures, water, and food.
Once you have determined whether your home is suffering from a case of mold or a wood destroying fungus you can then proceed to treat. There are different types of wood destroying fungus, each with identifying characteristics.
White rot – breaks down all major wood components and commonly causes rotted wood to feel moist, soft and spongy, or stringy and to appear white bleached.
Brown rot – leaves a brown residue of lignin and the affected wood is usually dry and fragile, and readily crumbles into cubes. Although borates will kill wood destroying fungi, it will not add strength to the damaged wood. Just wondering, bleach isn’t an effective way to take care of a wood destroying fungus, right?
MOLD CLEANUP - WOOD FLOORING - CONTENTS: How to Clean Mold found on wood flooring in buildings.
This article offers advice on cleaning mold found on wood flooring, both when the flooring is already installed in a building and when wood flooring materials have not yet been installed in place. What caused this mold growth on flooring, and has the leak or moisture problem been corrected? Is there a risk of hidden mold between layers of flooring and if so, will that be a health or mold growth risk in the building? Does the mold growth on this floor indicate that the flooring is rotted and needs replacement, or can the mold be cleaned off and the floor remain in use? But often surface mold on wood flooring, new or installed in a building, can be easily cleaned and future mold growth prevented, as we describe here.
Of course it is being sold at an incredible price, but I am concerned about the likeliness I will not be able to clean it properly.
Here we are discussing cleaning mold off of wood flooring products that have not yet been installed in a building. Without a mold lab test (for example using the adhesive tape mold sample procedure at TEST KITS for DUST, MOLD, PARTICLE TESTS) we don't know from the moldy flooring question above if you are seeing mold or something else on soiled wood flooring, but it is reasonable to guess that a substance is mold based on its physical appearance (see MOLD APPEARANCE - WHAT MOLD LOOKS LIKE), especially if the flooring has been exposed to water, wet conditions, or high humidity. Except where major costs are at issue that would be effected by a determination of the type of material or mold present, or where there are other reasons to test for mold, in our opinion testing is not necessary for small mold cleanup jobs (less than 30 sq.ft.
Clean the wood flooring outside in dry weather, or in an appropriate indoor workshop where air, dust, and possibly moldy dust containment can be managed or won't be a problem. Watch out: be sure that your wood flooring has dried properly before it is installed or flooring shrinkage, gaps, or even more serious problems may occur.
Our wood floor photo above shows a mold-free wood floor but its boards are cupped upwards (convex wood floor board cupping), suggesting that there was a problem moisture source above the floor (such as a burst pipe or flooding). At right our moisture meter is measuring the moisture level of a different wood floor, showing that the moisture is in the danger zone for forming mold, rot, insect damage, and floorboard cupping.
If an exposed flooring surface remains stained even after surface mold has been removed, you will need to sand that surface - a step typically performed after the flooring has been installed. While in general we recommend against using bleach as a substitute for proper mold cleanups (MOLD CLEANUP with BLEACH) we have successfully used bleach (with great care) to remove stains in wood floors before re-finishing the exposed wood surface. Media blasting (MOLD CLEANUP by MEDIA BLASTING) can also produce a very clean wood surface with minimum damage to the wood. Stains that might remain on the flooring underside will be of no cosmetic import and as long as the floor is installed indoors and not exposed to water or high moisture, mold growth should not be a problem. If nonetheless you want to take steps for extra "mold proofing" you can, after cleaning and drying the wood, coat the underside with a fungicidal sealant, or even with simple quick dry shellac or a lacquer primer-sealer paint.
If the exposed (upper) surface of the flooring material is moldy and if mold stains have penetrated the actual coating, for cosmetic reasons you'd need to sand through the coating and through the stain until the wood appearance is satisfactory. V-grooved pre-finished flooring is not intended to ever be sanded, and if you do sand it, the result will be uneven removal of material so that the Vee-grooves are no longer consistent, ruining the finished floor appearance. Continue reading at MOLD REMOVAL, MEDIA BLASTING or select a topic from the More Reading links or topic ARTICLE INDEX shown below.
I agree completely that there can be wood stains that are not mold themselves, and that they can be harmless themselves and I also agree that mold panic is itself a costly problem. But in this case the stain proved very important, leading to hidden damage, triggered gy noticing that someone had just put poly over rotted moldy wood.

Indeed for stained floors that were not rotted, I too have successfully bleached out the stain as part of the renovation.
What I have is white on hardwood floor not sure if it mold or not but wiping with water had not gotten it up.
White bloom under the finish of a hardwood floor won't wipe-off and is usually a sign of moisture.
I have a white film appearing on recently oiled floorboards in a very old house which has an unaccessible basement which is vented, is this damp as there is a well in the garden and wondering if it travels under house?
The white film on floorboards I have wipes off easily but reappears after a couple of weeks. Our recommended books about building & mechanical systems design, inspection, problem diagnosis, and repair, and about indoor environment and IAQ testing, diagnosis, and cleanup are at the InspectAPedia Bookstore.
Adkins and Adkins Dictionary of Roman Religion discusses Robigus, the Roman god of crop protection and the legendary progenitor of wheat rust fungus.
The critique included in that article raises compelling questions about IgG testing assays, which prompts our interest in actually screening for the presence of high levels of particles that could carry allergens - dog dander or cat dander in the case at hand. Environmental Health & Investigation Bibliography - our own technical library on indoor air quality inspection, testing, laboratory procedures, forensic microscopy, etc. Fifth Kingdom, Bryce Kendrick, ISBN13: 9781585100224, is available from the InspectAPedia online bookstore - we recommend the CD-ROM version of this book. The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors.
A dirt floor crawl has two main problems which both contribute directly to the degradation of the structure, an Unhealthy living space and a source of energy loss. The other source of moisture was supposed to be the cure for the first, that is the instalation of crawl space vents whose purpose was to let moisture out. Dirt, and even concrete, crawl spaces have the high humidity levels necessary for mold growth.
Many people are allergic to these things, and experience a host of symptoms and don't realize that their dirt crawl space is affecting their health. There is another industry that has vented dirt crawl spaces to thank for its existence -- structural repairs to replace floor joists, girders, and sill plates -- basically the entire floor framing system under your house.
Remember, sub contractors are not employee's, all of our employee's work for us and are properly licensed, trained and Covered by workers compensation!
We thought it necessary to follow up with a blog on wood destroying fungus which many times gets mistaken for mold, leading to even more serious problems for the homeowner. While both are serious threats, wood destroying fungus can actually jeopardize the structural soundness of your home. However, since fungus is a plant that lack chlorophyll, it is unable to make its own food and so it feeds off of cells in the wood. Borates are highly destructive to all wood destroying organisms and, unlike other wood preservatives, they are non-volatile, odorless, and are less toxic than table salt.
The most effective and common method for moderate to severe damage is to replace the damaged wood. Only way to know for sure is to test,you can buy a kit at Lowes or Home Depot, mail it off for the results.
We discuss the pros and cons of using fungicidal sealants and bleach on wood floor product surfaces including the under-side as a mold-resistance improver, and give sources and list types of those products. Sanding or bleaching this mold won't fix anything - we need to find and fix the leak that caused this flooring to rot, and because the flooring is rotted, it needs to be replaced.
Physically cleaning means wiping, scrubbing with a scrubby sponge and any household cleaner.
Don't bring moldy wood flooring into its destination building until the flooring has been cleaned, or you risk contaminating the building with moldy dust. The wood should be below 18% moisture before any coatings are applied, and it should be thoroughly acclimated to the building interior where it is to be installed before it is secured in place. Be sure that all bleach or any other cleaning has been thoroughly removed before re-finishing a floor.
But be careful: inexpert use of any power-blasting or power washing method for cleaning wood can leave a raised wood grain and a very uneven surface that would be unacceptable for finishing on an interior wood floor surface. The top flooring surface will be finished and sealed after installation unless you are dealing with a pre-finished flooring product. While the stain does not itself signify an increased risk of future mold re-growth, its appearance may be unacceptable. In that case you'd have to fully sand the floor until it has become totally smooth before it can be re-finished. I think we need some science and authoritative citations about the makeup pf some wood stain marks. It could be that the floor was damp when finished or there could be a current moisture source below the floor.

Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. Sheryl Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, is an Immunologist and Associate Professor of Basic and Medical Sciences at Bastyr University in Bothell, Washington.
The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. All they need to grow is organic material such as wood, the right temperature range, and moisture.
Humidity levels from 50% to 90% are easily found in crawl spaces -- even relatively dry crawlspaces that have never flooded. The fact is, some molds produce a toxin called aflatoxin (toxic and among the most carcinogenic substances known) that causes illness and death in people.Sometimes, mold growth is hidden and difficult or hard to locate and find. Wood destroying fungi causes more damage to structures than all the fires, floods, and termites combined! It must be treated immediately as the presence of mold indicates moisture levels sufficient enough for the growth of a wood destroying fungus. They are most commonly found in rotting window frames, wet floor boards and fence posts, etc. They do not discolor the wood, are non-corrosive, environmentally safe and effective in controlling more than 45 different species of wood destroying fungi. This will only last a couple of days and may be minimized with the circulation of fresh air. However, if only a small area is affected, borates and reinforcing the damaged wood are a cost-effective alternative. Also see MOLD CLEANUP - WOOD FRAMING & PLYWOOD where we describe methods for cleaning wood surfaces in general. Don't waste money or time with mold killing washes, it's not necessary, and using bleach or similar agents can create a cosmetic problem or a problem with future adhesion of finish coatings on the flooring upper surface after installation.
This can mean storing the wood in the destination building for days or longer before it is installed. Surely there are exceptions, but this general rule on the diagnosis of wood floor cupping often holds. But deep stains can require removal of quite a bit of wood surface - something that can be a problem in wood flooring, and in particular if the flooring is a Vee-grooved pre-finished product. Certainly in our forensic lab I have often confirmed that it was fungal hyphae remaining in the wood that made up dark stains. Every aspect of the fungi, from aflatoxin to zppspores, with an accessible blend of verve and wit. Mold reproduces by producing millions of floating airborne spores, which some people are very sensitive to. In such cases, carefully conducted sampling and visual inspection may help determine the location of contamination. Fungi will significantly reduce the strength of the wood, if untreated for a long period of time. For now, if we dissect and study a stain that is free of fungal material I'll consider your tannin remark a great alternative explanation. The 24 chapters are filled with up-to-date information of classification, yeast, lichens, spore dispersal, allergies, ecology, genetics, plant pathology, predatory fungi, biological control, mutualistic symbioses with animals and plants, fungi as food, food spoilage and mycotoxins. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order.
You can imagine a carpenter figuring out how he's going to crawl under your home and get new 16 foot long 2" x 10"s in place, with all the duct work, wiring, plumbing, and bridging (cross bracing) that are attached to the old rotted joists, all while operating on his back in a low crawl space. However, mold testing is rarely useful for trying to answer questions or inquiries about health concerns.
Tannin is not mold nor is it humus, the black material left behind when mold is removed from wood. But also meanwhile, let's not assume all black stains atr tannins - many are mold that can even be identified to genera and often to species. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. The photo at the top of this page (with a floor register in the photo) is a good example of a tannin-caused stain.
Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order.

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