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I have a leaking window and the HOA sent a contractor to my home. There is a place under one of the windows about the size of a pencil that he said was mold. There is another place in my storage closet that is darker — about 14 inch by 8 inch — which he also said was mold and it would keep growing until he did the work. He said that it was dangerous for me to live here and he needed to replace all of the windows immediately and put in new drywall. The HOA says that if I have a window problem, then I have to pay and it’s almost $6,000. I’m very scared and don’t know if it’s necessary to replace all of my windows.

Liu C.

Hi Liu,

There are a lot of contractors out there that go around scaring people unnecessarily. This spot that is the size of a pencil, for example, is nothing to worry about. Personally, I would have someone just wipe it down with an algaecide, cover it will Kilz, and paint over it. That’s it — it’s nothing.

There’s also the question of, is it really mold? Unless it’s tested, you can’t be sure. Over the years, I’ve seen so much of it that there are certain indicators that you look for; but for the average onlooker, it would just look like dirt. Generally, it grows in circles and ringlets. That’s one of the tell-tale signs.

There’s a lot of hype and hysteria with mold, especially coming from other contractors. Based on what you’ve described, there’s nothing to fear.

The storage closet is not within the living space, so it’s not a problem because you’re not living in there and not breathing it. Just have it remediated and have the drywall repaired.

You need three conditions for mold to grow: natural product, dark and wet. If the area got wet because of the rain, it’s dry now. It’s not going to continue to grow; it will go dormant. If it’s not wet, it can’t grow. Mold is like grass. If you stop watering your lawn, it dies.

Before spending any money on new windows, I would first have them water tested to see if they really need to be replaced.

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Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as commercial General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Your Home Improvements” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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