Siding Mold on siding

Published on May 18th, 2018 | by Henri

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Black mold and rotting wood under vinyl siding

Q.  I have a serious black mold problem that has caused structural damage and I don’t know where to begin.

About two years ago I started noticing some small signs something was going on (a small spot on a living room ceiling, some black showing up on vinyl siding that looked like dirt where the siding met a room jut-out). Then when I went to paint a bedroom I noticed some interior drywall damage and the paper just peeled off so I called a roofer and siding contractor.

He climbed all over the roof and attic and found nothing. He ripped out the drywall and found extensive black mold. He then went back out and found that when the vinyl siding was installed the contractor did no caulking. Since it was winter when the problem was found, we decided to have him caulk the exterior, rip out the damaged drywall and affected insulation and seal the area back up until spring when we can address it from both inside and outside.

In the upstairs bedroom above the living room, several 2x4s are structurally compromised, the wall sheathing is gone. The subfloor is also rotted, and it appears to have spread into the adjoining bedroom and probably the cavity between the living room ceiling and bedroom floor above it, and probably down to the first floor exterior living room wall.

Fortunately we have not gotten sick and no one uses these rooms and the vinyl siding was only installed on one side of the house which we had done twenty years when we first moved in.

The rest of the house has the same original aluminum siding from the builder. What do I do next? Who do I hire? Do I need permits? Should I insist on replacing the 2x4s rather than encapsulating them? And I am worried about re-sale. How do I fix this right and satisfy any future buyer that the problem has been fixed?

My husband is not as worried as I am (he does environmental pollution remediation for corporations and is used to seeing nasty stuff) and thinks I am panicking. I am at a loss what to do next and am sick with worry. Thanks.

A.  If you are truly panicking, you are on the right track!

You do have a very serious problem, and my guess is that it started 20 years ago when you had the vinyl siding installed since this is the only part of your house affected (you have not mentioned any such problems on the other sides of the house with the original aluminum siding).

The absence of caulking is unlikely to be the cause of such damage. It is more likely that the installation of the vinyl siding was improperly done by inexperienced installers. Most of the leakage problems I have investigated over decades of inspecting vinyl siding installations were due to improper installation of trim pieces around windows, doors, and all other joints with adjacent surfaces.

You should have the vinyl siding checked and any deficiencies corrected. The siding may have to be reinstalled or replaced by an experienced general or siding contractor.

Once this is done, all affected wood – studs, sheathing, subfloor, insulation, etc. – should also be replaced. A general contractor with extensive experience in remodeling and restoration of damaged structures is the best contractor to hire, and no corners should be cut in performing the repairs.

I cannot answer the question about permits needed. An experienced contractor should know what the local requirements are.

In these days of full disclosure, you will surely be asked to list on the disclosure forms required at the time of sale all the problems you incurred and what was done to fix them. So please make sure that you save all photos taken during the repairs and all paperwork pertaining to them. It may still scare off some prospective buyers worrying about some other hidden damages, but it beats a lawsuit later from some litigious people looking for compensation for “hidden damages” you didn’t reveal.

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