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Signs of water damage in a new home or rental with Emily Kiberd
Episode 12015th September 2022 • Thyroid Strong • Emily Kiberd
00:00:00 00:16:34

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Episode Summary 

On this week’s episode, I’m breaking down some key factors to look for when physically analyzing your space and inspecting for mold. Besides having a professional do a full analysis, I wanted to give you some tips to empower yourself when you’re house hunting so you can make a more informed judgment and find the right home for you and your family. 

Key Takeaways 

When I was recently looking for a rental here in Boulder, CO, I looked at 20 places and every single one of them had signs of water damage一including homes that were built less than two years ago. There are quite a few inconspicuous visual cues to tune into when touring a space, such as cracking between two pieces of drywall (which often gets mislabeled as the house settling). Because the symptoms of mold exposure mimic Hashimoto’s, water damage and exposure to mold is something that you should consider when buying, renting, or building a home. 

How To Use Your Senses To Detect Water Damage and Mold 

If you enter a home and detect any sort of musty smell or something that resembles cat pee, there’s likely mold. It’s also helpful to tap into how your physical body is feeling and look out for any signs of brain fog, headache, or feeling like you can’t finish your sentences. Using your vision to detect obvious and hidden signs of water damage, like bubbling on the walls and stains on concrete, are also key when inspecting a home. 

New Construction vs. Old Construction 

My mold inspector informed me that newer builds usually look great for about two years, but because they were built so quickly, signs of water damage or water infiltration start to pop up faster than they do in older homes. On the other hand, older builds are more likely to have water damage events. From the moment a house is built, the building materials like wood and drywall can get infiltrated by water and start to degrade. 

In This Episode 

Emily shares her current journey that she’s on with inspecting mold in rental properties [ 3:09 ]

Emily lists the 5 things that she always checks when she’s touring a home [ 5:08 ]

Emily explains how a mold inspector can differentiate between poor craftsmanship and water damage [ 7:43 ]

Emily articulates why she would never live in a home with a crawlspace [ 9:16 ]

Emily talks about the difference between new and old builds [ 11:13 ]

Emily breaks down the two factors that help her make an educated home buying or renting decision [ 13:04 ]


If you have that genetic snip when you go into a moldy home, it may feel like you have symptoms of brain fog, headache fatigue, can't finish your sentence, confusion, or dizziness. [4:32]

Mold can grow within 24 hours, so if there's water damage in a new build, you can still have mold. [12:33]

If we strengthen our terrain, our nervous system, our resilience, our gut microbiome, the amount of muscle we have in the bone, we can detox from those exposures more easily, and ideally, more quickly. [13:37]

DISCLAIMER THIS PODCAST/WEBSITE/COACHING SERVICE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, and other material contained, are for informational purposes only. NO material on this show/website/coaching practice/or special guests are intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of YOUR physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding medical treatment. Never delay seeking medical advice because of something you read/hear/see on our show/website/or coaching practice.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

Topics Covered:

  • Common symptoms of mold exposure 
  • Insight from my personal experiences with mold inspections 
  • Details and signs that are easy to miss when looking for water damage
  • Who’s responsible for mold remediation in a rental home
  • What exactly to look out for with gutters 
  • My thought process around renting a home with water damage 

Resources Mentioned:

Follow Dr Emily Kiberd:

If you want more information on the 5 day Hashi Consistency Workout Challenge start September 29th,  join for free here.

If you’re looking to lose weight with Hashimoto’s:

If you’re looking to beat the Hashimoto’s fatigue:

If you want to learn more about 3 things NOT TO DO in your workout if you have Hashimoto’s and WHAT TO DO instead:

If you want to dive right into Thyroid Strong online workout program:


Emily Kiberd:

The symptoms of Hashimotos greatly mimic the symptoms of mold exposure, difficulty losing weight, fatigue, hair loss, brain fog cat finishing your sentence dizziness, and this is just a shortlist right, the symptoms of mold exposure go on and on. So I think it's really important to empower yourself if you're looking at living in a new space, whether it's a rental, or buying a new home, what are some key factors that you need to look for when you are physically analyzing your space? Yes, you can bring in a mold inspector, you could bring in a structural engineer to bring in an architect to help you especially if you are building a new home or about to buy a new home. But I think it's really important to empower yourself with the knowledge as well. So myself having gone through eight mold inspections on a home, we lived in an office I worked in, in a house that we bought and are now renovating as well as three different rentals. I think it's really important to take what you've learned from experience from naturopathic physicians who specialize in mold that I've had on the podcast like Joe, Krista and shippi Melanesia Franek and take all these pieces of knowledge. And when you go and decide is this new space is this home with your some of us live in our home 90% of the time or physically in our home, breathe in the air in our home 90% of our time? Is this home, good for my health. I'm the only one that has to live in my body, I take care of my family is this place right for me. So I'm going to share some things that I've learned along the way, in terms of what to visually inspect for things I would never include in my house search if a home had these certain qualities, not to go with that home, and how to really use all your senses and to really tune into your own body of what you're feeling when you're physically in the home to see if there's mold and then you can make an educated choice moving forward. Is this the house for my family? Is this where we're going to live and everything's a kind of risk reward and it's managing the risk is this worth it for me because it's very challenging, even with new builds to find a home that has not had water damage. So I hope you enjoy this episode. If you did rate and review on iTunes to spread the word for us Hi She ladies

Emily Kiberd:

What's up lovely ladies, Dr. Emily hybird. Here with thyroid strong podcast. I am a chiropractor, a mama to Elvis and Brooklyn and I have Hashimotos what is currently in remission. On this podcast I share simple actionable steps with a little bit of tough love on how to lose that stubborn weight, get your energy, getting your life back and finally learn how to work out without burning out living with Hashimotos.

Emily Kiberd:

What's up lovely ladies Dr. Emily hybrid here I wanted to share a current journey that I'm on related to mold. I know we've had a lot of mold guests on the podcast recently, and I wanted to insert my two cents. So recently, we moved into a new rental property. And every time I look at a new house that we might potentially be living in, I enter the house and I use my senses I use my nose and see if there's any sort of musty smell, or any sort of smell that resembles cat pee because that smell of cat urine can be the off gassing of a certain kind of bold so as I go into rental I'm using my nose to pick up any smells right smell can also be very alerting for danger. Especially when we have lived in moldy homes in the past and have been affected by mold out of physical level whether it's brain fog fatigue, hair loss, skin infections, I use my other sense which is how does my body physically feel? Am I getting brain foggy? Am I getting a headache a certain percentage of the population have a genetic snip that makes us more sensitive to mold we are like a canary in the coal mine when it comes to mold. So if you have that genetic snip when you go into a moldy home it may feel like you have those symptoms brain fog headache fatigue can't finish your sentence confusion, dizziness, so that's another sense I use when I'm checking out a home the next sense which is usually probably the easiest is sight. So I walk into the home and most people who are probably walking in there with me like a realtor or the homeowner I immediately start looking up and I'm looking at where Are the ceiling meets the walls, which they probably think I'm crazy, but you know what, I'm the only one that has to live in my body and in a house. And so I always check these five things. So I'm looking for rusty means which might be coming through the drywall. Right so if there was a water leak, and was affected a nail that rust from the nail can come through the drywall right that water causes chemical reaction, resulting in rust on the metal, which then can seep through the drywall. The second thing I look for is salt stains, especially in the concrete in a basement. It's also known as efflorescence. And so I'm looking for that salt looking stain on a concrete maybe in a mechanical room or in a basement that will be a sign of water damage, whether it's the foundation wasn't sealed properly, or there was some sort of water leaking down from up above. So the second thing I look for are salt stains, also known as efflorescence, the next thing I'll look for is paint bubbling. And typically I'm looking in the bathrooms under the sinks if there's bubbling on the vanity, under the kitchen, where the plumbing is basically any where there's plumbing, I'm looking for paint bubbling, sometimes I'll look right above the shower, especially if there's not a proper exhaust fan holes in the air. After we shower out doors, right, there's not a proper exhaust doesn't mean high humidity in a bathroom which can cause paint bubbling. When water soaks into certain building materials, it creates that visible bubbling effect. The fourth thing I look for is any sort of buckling or separating of a molding from the drywall. So water can cause building material to work. And when this happens, it starts to pull away from each other or create this bowling effect. So where there's molding, whether it's down at the baseboards, or up above where the wall meets the ceiling, I'm looking for if there's any sort of buckling or separation of that from the drywall. The fifth thing I'm looking for is if there's cracking between two pieces of drywall and so when two pieces of drywall meet, then there's usually tape put there and if there is water damage, sometimes those two pieces of drywall will start to separate. And you'll see that tape lines at a very straight line, oftentimes retold by maybe a contractor or homeowner that the house is settling, right that the house is sinking into the ground and finding its wedge in the soil. I find that not to be the case, water can eat away at building materials causing the crack, peel rot away. And you know, sometimes it can be poor craftsmanship. That's definitely in some cases. That's why you would bring in a great mold inspector to differentiate Is it water damage? Or is it Poor craftsmanship or where to drywall pieces met. So those are the five things I look for, you know, so other things I'm looking for are nail pops. So when the nail is pounded into the wood, is there's water damage to that wood, there's expansion of the wood and then the nail start to pop out and push to the drywall. So you'll see this kind of circular nail pop in the drywall. The other thing I just look for it just like signs of water damage. Is there a patch of water damage, maybe it just coloration in the paint, that would be a sign that there was a leak somewhere in an ideal world, you would check the attic and see if there's any staining on the bottom of the roof, which is kind of what we're going through right now check the attic didn't happen to check it during a walkthrough of the house when we wanted to rent it but checked it after. And there's some staining which is a sign of our old roof leak.

Emily Kiberd:

So we are we brought in a mold inspector waiting for the results. I'll have to do a part two to this podcast to share what those results are what we're going to do about it in terms of remediation. Since we aren't the homeowners in different states have different regulation on whether a homeowner has to remediate the mold or not Colorado there's very little tenant rights and very little regulation. So if there's mold found in the home, the homeowner doesn't have to remediate it. So I'll have to give up part two once I got the results back in two weeks from the mold inspectors.

Emily Kiberd:

The other things I consider when I'm looking at a rental and even consider when I'm looking at a home to purchase is is there a crawlspace I would not live in a home with a crawlspace because water can collect their mold can grow there and then mold can go into the air specifically mycotoxins and then start to rise. So in the wintertime when we're heating our homes and heat rises, that air gets pulled from the crawlspace and rises. So if there's mold in the crawlspace it will rise just as heat rises and air rises. So I really, really try to avoid a home with crawlspaces. I know in certain parts of the country it is really common like in Texas, Melanesia Franek who was on the podcast talked about crawlspaces and her experience with them. So go check out that episode. And the other thing I would really check for is flat top roofs. So flat type roofs kind of like those more modern designs, or even some older homes that are just flat across the top they are not pitched will hold water, right because water is meant to drain but even a flat top roof has to be pitched properly to drain that water. So if that water is not draining properly, it's going to sit there and it's going to degrade and erode the building material. Ideally, you would bring a roofer in once every three to six months to check if there's any cracks or if any thing in that flat roof needs to get sealed. I don't know anyone that brings in a roofer every three to six months. So I would try to avoid a home and I know there's some newer homes that are really beautiful and have that flat type roof or try and avoid a home that has that kind of roof. I'd go for one where there's a pitch water runs down goes into the gutter. You know speaking of gutters, you want to find a gutter that is shuttling like I always walk around the perimeter of a home if I'm about to rent it to see is water getting shuttled away from the home. Some homes, literally the water comes down the gutter and then dumps right next to the house next to the foundation. And if the foundation is not sealed properly, then that water over time will infiltrate the foundation in the concrete. So is the water getting shuttled away properly from the house is the gutter have an extension where it's dumping the water a couple feet away from the house really important.

Emily Kiberd:

So all this being said, when I was looking for another rental of Boulder, I looked at 20 Different rentals. So for management companies, some from really big management companies and Boulder, some that are from homeowners, and I looked at 20 rentals, and all 20 of them had some signs of water damage. So it's tricky. And even some of the newer builds right, because some of the newer builds I looked at one apartment was built within the last two years had water damage around the windows. I'm thinking this is a new build. How can this be and a lot of new builds go up really quickly are built quickly and are built like thing. They don't allow the building to settle. My mold inspector was just telling me this the other day that new builds usually look great for about two years. And then there's signs of water damage or water infiltration into the space because they were built so quickly. So even in newer builds can have water damage, which as we know, 24 hours of water damage, mold can grow within 24 hours. So if there's water damaged in new builds, you can still have mold. The thing with an older home, you know the home we rent is from 1965 is there's more potential for more water damage events. No once the house is built from that moment it's built, it is going to degrade right building materials, the materials we use wood, drywall, its forests, it can get infiltrated by water, and it can degrade. So the older the home the more potential for more water damage events possible. I think there's no ideal situation.

Emily Kiberd:

So I think there's two things I think you make an educated guess. And you find the home that is most appropriate for you. For us. It was near our kids school, it was in the neighborhood where we bought a home and are renovating that home. It's an a great community. And we felt like, Okay, if anything comes up, we can take care of it and work with the homeowner. I think the second thing you need to take into account is building your terrain. So Nancy Kroll talks about this in her podcast, go check it out about you know, mold is everywhere. We can get exposed to it anywhere right at the grocery store in our home wherever we go and the kids school. But if we strengthen our terrain, our nervous system, our resilience, our gut microbiome, the amount of muscle we have in the bone, we can detox from those exposures more easily and ideally more quickly. So I hope that helps for those of you who are in the mold camp have lived through water damage and mold exposure and might have a little bit of a PTSD from it like I do. These are some of the things that I use to check for water damage. If I'm moving into a new space, whether it's a rental, or I'm buying a new home, or even going through construction I'm currently looking at like the wood that they do use to construct the house is their lumber mold, like is the wood been sitting out unprotected in the rain for too long, and now there's mold on the wood building the house. So that's another factor in this big picture.

Emily Kiberd:

So I hope this helps. This was a shorty. I hope you took some notes. And I hope this empowers you right? As a tenant or going into the relationship of a tenant landlord where you can make the best decision for yourself your body because you are the only person who needs to live in your own body. So let's make it optimized.

Emily Kiberd:

Alright ladies, I hope this helps. If you liked this episode, go to iTunes, subscribe, rate and review. Give an honest review. I like all feedback and I'll see you next time If you enjoyed this episode or even learned just one new piece of information to help you on your Hashimotos journey, would you do me a huge favor? rate and review thyroid strong podcast on iTunes, Spotify or whatever platform you used to listen to this podcast and share what you liked. maybe learn something new. And if you didn't like it, well shoot me a DM on Instagram Dr. Emily hybird I read and respond to every single DM I truly believe all feedback is good feedback. Even the ugly comments if you're interested in joining the thyroid strong course a home workout program using kettlebells and weights where I teach you how to work out without the burnout. Go to Dr. Emily forward slash T 's waitlist. You'll get all the most up to date information on when the course launches and goes live special deals and early access bonuses for myself and my functional medicine doctor friends again Dr. Emily forward slash T s weightless hope to see you on the inside ladies