Moldy basement nearly tanks home sale for first time sellers and buyers

- Wednesday, February 16, 2022

A moldy basement won't pass most home inspections and it certainly won’t pass the smell test. In this episode, Adam shares a case study on how a moldy basement can easily tank a home sale.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Daddy himself, Adam Tracy. Adam and The Crack Man Rich have over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Rich as over 25 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcast provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: Moldy basement nearly tanks home sale for first time sellers and buyers.

Narrator: So Adam, I don’t think a moldy basement will pass most home inspections and it certainly won’t pass a smell test. Am I right?

Adam: You’re absolutely correct. It’s unfortunate that this situation does come up and usually it’s in the 11th hour of a home sale and it can really sink a deal, and in a lot of cases, cost a lot of money. So in this particular case we had a homeowner in Worcester MA who’s selling their house, and she was a first time home buyer when she bought the house. So, loved the house, it was time to move on during the nice hot market to make some profit. And during the home inspection, they had a first time home buyer on the other side, and during the home inspection, of course they come up with all sorts of little things, and then they found a what-can-be-a-kiss- of-death – specifically mold in the basement.

This particular house is with a fieldstone foundation, so it has kind of a natural tendency to be more damp than a concrete foundation, and part of it was finished so that there were some issues there as well, and it could really kind of cost a lot of money. So what happened here is the home inspector rightfully found some mold and had some concerns with mold, and that home buyer threatened to back out. So they kind of came to an agreement and they reached out to us saying, hey what can I do here? The first step is you need to mitigate the mold issue first, right? So they had to get a mold remediation company in there to actually get rid of the mold first. But in terms of selling the house, that wasn’t going to be enough because the home buyers, who were a little bit skittish at this point, really were afraid of future mold issues.

So there had to be some preventative stuff beyond actually mitigating the mold issue. So as a homeowner, and you have maybe a damp basement or an older foundation, and maybe you think you might have a kind of a musty basement smell or maybe there is actually mold there, what can you do? Well the first step is you need to make sure there is no mold, I mean that’s not a healthy living condition for anybody, so you need to make sure that there is none and there are plenty of mold remediation companies out there that you can contact, and they should be licensed and insured, and all that fun stuff. Once you get rid of the mold issue, if there is a mold issue, then it’s really about how do you plan a preventative strategy to keep the molds out.

Obviously, mold growth is subject to moisture, and moisture is something that is relative to what kind of foundation you have, or could be the area that you live in. So it’s a matter of understanding how to approach it. In this particular house, it’s because it was a fieldstone foundation, there’s only so much you can really do there. Fieldstone foundations are just naturally more moist because they’re not as tight construction as a concrete foundation. That’s not to say that every fieldstone foundation has a moisture issue, they’re just more prone to it. So in this particular case, because they were able to mitigate the mold, then what happened is we came in and we found the areas that were kind of the natural cause of it. Most of these houses that were built in late 1800s to early 1920s or 30s that have moisture issues with fieldstone.

The first areas that we always look at are the corners of the foundation. If you have the box, it’s the four corners. Usually there’s a downspout there, maybe not, or it could be an area that just has had kind of erosion over time, causing moisture to come through there. So we’re able to spot treat those areas, run water on the exterior, see where water’s coming in, and really kind of plug up all the holes if you will with some specialty mortars and some waterproofing materials. So once the walls get tightened up, then it’s really about making sure that the air quality is okay, and the way you can do that is through dehumidifier. Most dehumidifiers that you buy on the market were never really intended for an older construction home, these dehumidifiers are meant for new construction, concrete construction, and they may say they take 70-80 pints of water out a day. That’s fine, but that is really under a tested lab condition. When you have a fieldstone foundation and you suspect you have water issues or moisture issues down there, you need to really look at a more robust dehumidifier solution. These dehumidifiers that work in these environments really have to have a lot more air exchanges, which is basically how many times it actually moves the air in that space per hour than a smaller, off the shelf one that you may find at a big box store or online.

So these ones are more of a commercial grade and much more of a robust type of setup, and the important thing with these is because fieldstone foundations have a lot more air movement through the foundation walls, you need to really make sure these things are running all the time.

So even if the temperature is well like in the wintertime, it may not run as often because the air is dryer, it’s important that the humidity level never really gets above a certain point. Typically, we’d like to set up between 50 and 60 percent relative humidity, and that typically keeps the basement feeling comfortable, and it kind of keeps that musty mold smell and mold growth at bay. So, in this case, they were able to save the home sale, they were able to mitigate the mold or remedy the mold situation, they were able to do some preventative work there. Unfortunately though, it did come with a cost. The homeowner selling the house had to foot the bill, otherwise they’d lose the buyer.

So preventative maintenance on a home like this can go a long way especially as you get through a home sale process and being able to take care of the foundations and especially, mold or potential mold issues as you get your house ready to sell, that’s very important. Because oftentimes it costs a lot more in the 11th hour than it does the preventative approach.

So, in this case they were able to sell the house, move on, it just happened to cost him out of pocket, unfortunately and a little bit off the sale price.

Narrator: Thanks Adam, for sharing this case on how a moldy basement can easily tank a home sale.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit or call Rich at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Rich at Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.

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A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.

Toll Free: 866-929-3171

Call Us Today at 866-929-3171

A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.