Florida Realtor, a business magazine for the Florida real estate industry, has raised concern about mold, including as it relates to air conditioning and ventilation.

An article in the April 2002 issue said, “Mold can be found almost everywhere that moisture accumulates, from tree limbs, to pool decks, to the floorboards and interior walls of poorly ventilated rooms.”

The topic surfaced in the real estate publication because “the presence of mold in a residential or commercial property is likely to become a source of contention in valuing a property, preparing contracts, and closing a sale.”

The story noted, “In Florida, more than 35 insurers have asked the state Department of Insurance to spell out their responsibilities in mold-related claims. They may also seek to limit the amount that would be paid out on a single mold claim.

“Both current homeowners and prospective buyers should review their insurance policies closely to see if mold-related problems are covered.”

The story went on to say that builders need “to look at their construction practices in an effort to reduce the potential for mold problems.”

It ends up stating that the issue requires a balanced approach. Citing Leslie O’Neal Coble, an attorney: “There does appear to be a problem, but it is not as life threatening as some people would make it appear. But it is a mistake for owners — or real estate professionals — to ignore this important issue.”

HVAC contractors are joining in the call for an awareness of the issue. In a letter to a number of realtors, DebonAir Mechanical of Big Pine Key, FL, said, “When a realtor is discussing the working condition of central air conditioning equipment in a home or business, rely on the experience of a qualified air conditioning contractor for verification of safe ductwork and equipment. All equipment should be serviced a minimum of once a year. All air filters should be changed one a month.

“If you have water condensation around ceiling grilles or wall grilles, your air conditioner is not dehumidifying and future problems will develop. Mold, fungi, and duct mites breed in cool, moist areas. There are over 300,000 different types of mold and most are part of our day-to-day life.”

Publication date: 10/14/2002