Knoxville woman discovers hidden black mold in basement after buying home

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A couple weeks after Brenda Goode moved into her home she started feeling sick.

“Severe sinus headache, pressure, coughing and a scratchy sore throat, and this was every day,” said Goode.

Many older homes in East Tennessee were built with basements and were generally used as a utility space. Goode recently bought a 70-year-old home with a cellar believing it was trouble free. However, she said big problems in the basement were discovered.

The tidy looking three-bedroom rancher built in 1945 has a basement where she can park her car. There’s also a crawl space in the cellar that is half filled with dirt.

When she was first taken into the house, Goode said she asked the realtor what the smell was. The realtor said the place just needed to be aired out.

“I was told it was where the house had been closed for a period of time,” said Goode. She temporarily left the house on the advice of her doctor, because after living there a few weeks, she started feeling ill.

According to Goode, the basement made her sick. She said she didn’t go into the cellar before buying the house, but says she neither saw nor was made aware of mold in the crawl space until after moving in.

“It was heartbreaking, heartbreaking because remediation is going to b every expensive,” said Goode. She believes mold throughout the cellar floor is creating her health problems.

Right after Christmas, Goode hired certified mold specialist Gene Walshaw to check her basement. He used this special electronic device to capture air samples. The mold count was alarming.

“There was a high count of some molds that are hazardous to human health,” said Walshaw.

The results of his test showed 25,826 per cubic meter. Normal is 1,500 spores or less.

“The types of mold that we found here can cause pneumonia, irritation to the respiratory system, throat and nose,” said Walshaw.

Photos in the FHA appraisal completed before Goode moved in are easy to see except for one picture: the crawl space in the basement.

“He must not have used a flash on his camera,” said Walshaw. When lit, the mold in the crawl space is easily visible.

On the other side of the basement, Walshaw found bare soil without a plastic cover over it. He says that allows moisture to fill the basement creating mold. He also found water leaking onto the basement floor. He says the water is getting trapped by a three sided retaining wall outside the house right next to the basement.

Water that gets in here can’t get out. So it just builds up soaks into the ground and goes through the foundation into the basement and crawl space,” he said.

In a FHA disclosure statement, the previous owner was asked if he aware of mold in the property? The answer was no.

“I don’t understand [how the seller wasn’t aware of the mold,]” said Goode.

The FHA appraisal states the survey of Goode’s home was not an inspection. However, Goode says she was under the impression a home inspection was not necessary. Now the Department of Housing and Urban Development has gotten involved, HUD says it is reviewing Goode’s case in an effort to resolve the matter.

Goode says she has been asked to send her appraisal documents and a copy of the mold report to HUD’s office. She still hasn’t moved back into the house and says she won’t until the mold is eliminated and the issue resolved.

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