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Question:

I just moved into a home I purchased. At the walk through, I noticed stains on the carpet around the outside walls of each room. I had not seen these stains at the time I made the offer because the house was filled with furniture.

My real estate agent told me that it was just dust that had settled on the carpet over time, and could be cleaned. I had the carpets professionally cleaned after I moved in, but the stains will not come out. He tried spot cleaners, but nothing works. Any ideas?

Answer:

From my experience, the stains are probably mold that is growing in the carpet because of excess moisture in the crawl space of the home.

It is probable that the only solution is replacing the carpet and pad. But first, find out how much moisture accumulated, and develop a plan to remove it from under your home.

If the carpet cleaner used water, he only added to the problem because mold requires moisture and a nutrient source (like the jut back of the carpet) to grow.

Question:

I recently bought a mobile home. After I moved in, I noticed stains on the window sills. I thought maybe, at first, that someone had left the window open. But almost every window sill in my house has these stains, many on the fixed-pane side of the sliding window. Any ideas on how to address these leaks, or whatever they are?

Answer:

This is a very common problem -- particularly with mobile homes.

The reason is because when the manufacturers build these homes they put the windows in AFTER the siding is applied. That means that the window flange that is supposed to go under the siding to shed water to the outside of the window allows water that hits the siding above the window to run BEHIND the flange, and into the structure. This leaves window sill stains.

Unusually, seeing silicon caulking on the trim above and around a window is a Reportable Condition for a home inspector because it indicates that the owner thought the window was leaking. But on a mobile home, the absence of the caulking is the Reportable Condition.

One of your annual maintenance responsibilities as an owner of a "manufactured home" is to caulk the window headers. Also, you should have someone climb up on the roof, and caulk around the penetrations -- like plumbing vents, roof vents, skylights, etc. -- to keep them sealed.

Window sill stains are a modern phenomena -- not only because of the lack of mobile home window header flashing, but because of condensation. Back when I started building, we always installed terra cotta window sills -- a water proof material -- or at a minimum, wood window sills. The reason was because we knew that the windows would "sweat" during the winter months. Since condensation was inevitable, we built the home to accommodate it.

But today, almost all builders just return the drywall back to the window to form a sill. And, of course, since drywall doesn't tolerate moisture, it becomes the location that deteriorates first and allows mold to begin to grow.

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