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dudeman 04-27-2008 08:46 PM

Moldy Musty Smell
Hi all, new to this forum and hoping you can help out. We purchased our home in Oct of 07 here in St Augustine, FL. The house was build in 2002. We had the typical home inspection and the inspector also has one of the infrared cameras. Nothing major turned up, only things mentioned were some small moisture in the corner of one of the window sills in our master bedroom and small exterior surface cracks in the stucco, neither of which he said were abnormal.

The reason I'm writing is that there is a strong moldy/earthy smell in the closet of the office in the front of the house. It is very noticeable especially when putting your nose to the inside walls of the closet. I'm concerned of course that there is mold on inside of the wall, or in the drywall. There are no physical signs of mold any where in the closet, just that rather strong earthy smell. The walls in question are exterior walls on the other side of the closet as far as I can tell, one in the entryway leading to the front door and the small one facing the front of the house. The closet is approx 5 ft wide by 2 ft deep.

Curious what you guys think. Have read about high mold inspection/remediation costs and am a bit concerned. Wondering how to proceed. Was considering cutting out a small portion to see what's behind there, but I'm kinda afraid at what I might find and haven't done drywall work before. Let me know if you need any other info. Thanks!

P.S. Was wondering if any costs related to inspecting/potentially fixing would be covered by a structural warranty from the builder, 1 year AHS warranty or insurance. The structural warranty from builder originally is transferable, but we and the homeowner tried several times to reach them to do the transfer and we never got around to going directly to the builder's local office. Wondering if we can still do that after the fact.

inspectorD 04-28-2008 05:43 AM

Messy issue
If it smells like mold, well it probably is mold.
I have seen it in 1 year old homes.
First get your inspector back to see if he missed something and give them a chance to make it right.
And talk to him about getting a real stucco inspector out there. One with a moisture meter and probe. The thermal cameras will only show if there is a temperature differential. You need to know if it is wet.
Also get ready for some exploratory lookin. You will probably have to cut into the suspected area to know for sure. This is typical of leaking stucco issues.
First find out what the issues are and documented. Then contact the pay up people.:D

dudeman 04-28-2008 04:41 PM

Great, thanks for the info. Will work on making sure the 10 yr home warranty is transferred properly first and then get things checked out.

inspectorD 04-28-2008 06:50 PM

Your welcome ....and good luck.
Let us know what happens. We'll be here.:)

handyguys 04-29-2008 08:14 AM

Do you know what kind of stucco? I do not want to alarm you but there is a type of synthetic stucco that could be a big headache if it wasn't installed correctly. Cracks in stucco may be "normal" by some peoples measure but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be fixed. You need to prevent water from getting in the walls, cracks will allow water in.

Anyway, normal, old fashioned, stucco breaths some what. New fangled synthetic stucco does not. if the newer kind lets any water in the walls due to cracks or improper flashing the water will just lead to rot, mold and general decay.
Here are some educational links on synthetic stucco (EIFS)

triple D 04-29-2008 08:39 PM

Just a thought.....
Is there carpet in the closet? If so, peel it back and take a look under it. You might also find it could be something in the closet. I'm thinking if there's mold inside the walls, you probably wouldn't smell it that strong through drywall, primer, and paint. I think you would see mold visible in the closet, and probably on or under the floor. Just my two cents, always here to help, and welcome. Good luck.....

dudeman 07-01-2008 01:47 PM

Heh, was doing some additional mold searches and found my original posting that I forgot about. Sorry for posting my question and disappearing afterwards.

No I do not know what type of stucco it is.

The closet does have carpet, pulled that back and see the concrete slab and all looks good.

I had a certified mold inspector come to the house today and he used his thermal camera and moisture meter in the closet but did not record any abnormal moisture readings or detect anything visually. He did however turn up moisture readings of 25-30% in the corners of the window sills on a window in the front office and the one I mentioned in the master bedroom. He suspects that the flashing around the window to be the culprit and has seen this type of thing quite often.

He will be sending a report via email tomorrow morning and then I will attempt to go through the homebuilder warranty process first and then potentially through my home owners insurance policy second. Not looking forward to the process. I'm most concerned with what might be behind the walls and whether any future issues may come up.

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