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Water Damage, Mold and House Insurance
You’ve had water damage in your house due to a burst pipe, a roof leak or a heavy summer storm. You hope that your insurance will cover the damage. What to do? First, read about mold below. You may not know the implications of water and mold damage.
What Is Mold, and Why Should You Care?
Molds are part of a group of micro-organisms called fungi that also includes mushrooms and yeasts. Molds are familiar to most people as food spoilers on items such as bread or fruit. Molds are nature’s decomposers in the food chain.
Mold requires the following conditions to grow:
- Mold spores (which are always present indoors and outdoors)
- A food supply which means anything organic such as books, carpets, clothing, wood, drywall, etc.
- A source of moisture
The last condition is moisture, it is the only practical factor to control in most houses.
If allowed to grow inside your house, mold can be a problem because:
- It can damage your possessions
- It can cause health problems, for example:“ … mold … can cause … allergic reactions such as asthma or allergic rhinitis, non-allergic reactions such as headaches and other symptoms [including] lung and breathing infections” (Health Canada, 2003).
Dry Quickly to Avoid Mold!
1 — Contact your insurance broker
First, call your insurance broker or agent and report the water damage. You can expect to discuss these questions and issues:
- How did the water damage occur?
- Is this damage covered by your policy?
- Did the damage occur during the period your policy was in effect?
- Are you reporting the water damage promptly (within 24 hours) to allow quick drying and repairs?
2 — Hire Premiere Restoration
Hire a reputable restoration company to clean up the water and make repairs as needed to your house. A thorough and fast cleanup will help avoid mold growth. If you wait too long and mold growth starts, cleanup costs will increase significantly. This is what you should be looking for:
Mold grows quickly; that is why you need us in your house promptly.
Premiere restoration is certified and trained in water damage restoration and mold remediation.
- Identify the source
- Stop the damage
We follow basic, good clean up practices after your water damage. Here are some things to look for:
- The moisture source is stopped
- Wet items that can’t be salvaged are removed
- What can’t be removed is dried quickly
- Ideally, drying is initiated within 48 hours (to minimize mold growth)
- No reconstruction is done until the area is thoroughly dried
You’ve Got Mold
If you already have extensive mold, for example, you’ve had water damage while you’ve been away for two weeks or there was a long delay between the water damage and our arrival, then we will have to discuss the following points:
1 — Drying the damaged area
2— Removing the mold safely
To protect our staff, you and your family from exposure to mold, Premiere Restoration follows certain procedures. Here are some things we do:
- The affected area will be sealed off from the rest of your house.
- The workers will be wearing protective gear.
- There will need to be an exhaust fan removing air from the affected area to the outdoors.
- No chemical disinfectants such as bleach should be used during clean-up, only pet and people safe cleaners.
- If transported through your house, moldy materials will be sealed in plastic.
3 — Inspecting for mold
We will inspect:
- Areas adjacent to the mold growth
- Behind wallpaper -if warranted
- In areas where water may have seeped, such as wall cavities, basement subfloors, crawl spaces, etc.
- Under wall-to-wall carpeting -if warranted
Mold Remediation Residential
Mold is everywhere we look. It’s one of the most effective decomposing agents in our world, existing off moisture, oxygen, and a source of food. The drier you keep your home, the less likely it is that mold will colonize. But in homes with high humidity or a specific moisture source, mold can colonize as quickly as 24 hours. Afterwards, it can be difficult to keep contained, especially if it travels through your home’s ventilation system. Once the spores have spread, you could have a bigger problem on your hands than you originally experienced.
No matter what species of mold you have, if you have sensitivities to it, it can greatly affect and/or damage your health. Symptoms to mold exposure can include headaches, runny nose, congestion, eye irritation, breathing difficulties, irritated throat, coughing, sneezing, and many more. Prolonged exposure can cause the development of chronic illnesses, as well as respiratory infections like bronchitis. Needless to say, mold can severely affect the health and happiness of your home or workplace occupants.
Preventing Mold Growth in your Home
Keep humidity levels down: Air conditioning systems and dehumidifiers can help prevent mold growth by keeping moisture levels down. If possible, in a dry climate, open a window to release accumulated moisture in the bathroom. A dry home is not a home for mold.
Proper Ventilation: Stagnant, damp air can cause the necessary moisture for mold to colonize. Make sure your bathroom is well ventilated. Opening windows and properly installing exhaust fans will prevent mold growth. Make sure your dryer vent exhausts outside, for if the moisture is being directed into the attic or another enclosed space you could experience a major problem.
Fix outside leaks: Mold has a very hard time colonizing and growing when deprived of its source of moisture. Bring an inspector in to identify the areas of the home that are exposed to outside elements and get them repaired. This way, you can eliminate mold at the source.
Mold in Commercial Buildings
Mold can create serious adverse effects for occupants in your building, especially to occupants with asthma or other respiratory problems. Depending on the type of mold, it can off-gas toxic substances that could lead to headaches, sneezing, lethargy, and other factors.
Mold thrives off of moisture, which means controlling the moisture levels in your building is crucial to providing a safe indoor environment for your building’s occupants.
Preventing Mold Growth
- Have your maintenance crew fix plumbing leaks: Excessive moisture can create a prime environment for mold-growth. Leaky pipes are the first culprit for mold to form and the easiest to fix.
- Be aware of condensation: Condensation may seem harmless, but it’s a powerful source of moisture. Mold only needs 24-48 hours to spread. You can prevent moisture in the air by adding dehumidifiers or increase the circulation throughout the space. This can be done with additional fans or ventilation in the HVAC system.
- Keep HVAC systems running smoothly: Have your maintenance crew check any drip pants to ensure they are being emptied correctly. Moisture can accumulate and create conditions for mold growth if not. Also have your crew check for obstructions in the HVAC system to ensure condensation is not accumulating where it shouldn’t.
- Vent moisture outside: If you have equipment such as dryers, boilers, or heat generating equipment, make sure that any steam or condensation is vented outside. This way moisture will not become trapped in the walls.
- Low humidity is key: Make sure the humidity levels are below 60% within the building. Ideal ranges would be 30-50%, if possible. Dehumidifiers can help keep the moisture levels down.
- Keep foundations dry: One area that is commonly missed is the foundation of the structure. If this area is wet due to ineffective drainage, mold can start colonizing and grow right at the base of the building. In order to prevent this from occurring, build a slope to provide drainage to drain away from the foundation.