Mold from exterior water intrusion.

7 Replies

I submitted an offer on my first flip today. The main concern I have, and the reason I assume the house hasn't sold yet, is mold in the first floor walls. It is only in four or five spots, and I'm confident that it won't be that hard to remove. 

The house is on a slab, and the siding goes basically all the way down to the ground, which is not graded at all. I was wondering if it's OK to run the dirt up over the siding a few inches to create a proper slope? There is some siding damage on the bottom row, and I assume this is causing most of the mild issue, but I want to make sure there won't be a problem for the future owner. 

There looks to be adequate gutters and downspouts. I'm located in mid Michigan if that helps.

You definitely don't want to run dirt over wood siding, it'll accelerate the deterioration and invite termites.  You're pretty dead on that the first two things you want to look at are gutters and grading, though.  Code here is something like 2" from siding to the dirt.  I honestly don't know how they'd treat having dirt against Hardiplank since its cement board, but you might be able to replace the bottom foot or two with that stuff and get away with it, depending on whats behind the siding.  They do a 4x8 cement board siding, you could probably cut that down and run a band of it around the house before you started the siding pretty handily and slope from it.  I'd get some local advice on that one, code and problems are going to be different from Georgia to Michigan because of the different climates.

I don't worry about mold as much as some people.  Mold is no joke, but all mold is not created equal.  Most of it is fine if you just wipe it down with clorox, then treat it with hydrogen peroxide (it soaks in better), then kilz it and move on.  We don't get much of the black mold that's so bad around here.  If its major you need to replace the sheetrock, and treat the studs like I said.  In fact, if the sheetrock has gotten pretty wet you probably want to pull it down and replace it anyway and check the insulation and studs behind it for problems.  If its just surface mold on the sheetrock a good mold/mildew cleaner and some paint will do it.  If you do a lot of mold work, make sure you clean the HVAC system.

Thank you, @Darrell Shepherd  for the detailed response. It is actually vinyl siding, and I don't know that termites are very common around here, but there is obviously still wood behind the siding. The mold doesn't scare me, but I do intend to cut out the drywall to remove insulation and inspect the studs. The cement board is a great idea. It will be somewhat costly to run it all the way around the house, but it has to be graded somehow, and that sounds better than tearing up the whole yard. 

@Nick Thompson  

My husband just did repairs on a home where the damage became apparent due to recent heavy rains here in Texas.  The hardie board which was buried in about 3" of dirt, was completely brittle.  It would be my guess the vinyl hasn't been keeping the water out either.

Bottom line is that no siding is going to be completely waterproof and you want to do your best to keep any source of moisture away from the home.  I have learned this through my husband's multiple rants about flower boxes and plants up against the side of a home.  Even though he has made some good money repairing the resulting damage, he would rather his clients not have to pay for such things.

Have your gutters and downspouts checked for proper placement and look for ways to divert water.  French drain maybe?

@Cindy Meyer

I was potentially thinking french drain as well. I will have to ask the contractors if that would be sufficient with no ground slope. My other thought was to grade way from the house, basically coming to a small trench fifteen get away, and then add a french drain there. Thank you for the creative thinking.

I just had a similar problem with a commercial property with vinyl siding. My contractor took off the first couple of rows of siding. He then applied I think it was called ice break? They use it on roofs in vallies. Sticky on one side. Seemed to fix our leak during this unusually wet Summer. I would also try to correct your grading.