Posted On 30 Apr 2021
Does your house have a mold problem? Mold can affect your health, and it affects your home insurance policy and rates, too. Learn more as you maintain your home insurance coverage at an affordable price.
Which Molds are Bad?
On any given day, you could find one or more of five common molds in your home. They are Stachybotrys, Cladosporium, Penicillium, Fusarium, and Aspergillus. While Aspergillums are the least toxic, Stachybotrys is the most toxic. It’s been linked to hay fever, pulmonary edema, liver damage, brain damage, and death, especially in people with compromised immune systems, infants, and the elderly.
How do I Know if My House Has Mold?
Because it’s potentially deadly, you need to know if your house has mold. Do a visual inspection and look for black, gray, brown, or blue anywhere there’s moisture or wetness, including in your bathroom, basement, or laundry room. Remember, though, that you can’t always see mold. It may be hiding behind drywall or under flooring.
Dry rot and musty odors are two signs of mold. Health problems like chronic nasal stuffiness, cough, wheezing, sore throat, upper respiratory infections, or skin and eye irritations are also signs of mold. Investigate immediately if you think your house is affected because early treatment could help you get a handle on the problem.
Can I Get Home Insurance if my House Has Mold?
Most home insurance policies cover “sudden and accidental” damage. So, if your bathroom pipes burst while you’re out of town and cause moldy floors, you could file a claim and get the mold removed.
However, if debris accumulation on your roof causes mold growth, you probably cannot file a home insurance claim to repair your roof. That’s because this type of mold growth is considered by most insurance companies to be a home maintenance issue and thus not covered by your policy. Leaking water and moisture build-up that leads to mold growth over a period of time will also be excluded. By addressing it right away, you have a better chance of removing it before it causes damage and affects your home insurance.
Small areas of mold growth can be cleaned and treated with bleach or another mold cleanser. Remember to wear a respirator and protective clothing as you perform this task to protect yourself from an allergic reaction.
If your building requires more extensive remediation methods, hire a professional to access the mold, determine the extent of the damage and create a removal plan. Depending on the growth, treatment could require renovations like drywall or sub-flooring replacement. In this case, hire a reliable professional to remove the mold and treat the area properly.
The Inside Story
The bad news: Exposure to indoor mold can trigger serious allergic reactions and even infections
The good news: Taking precautions against this risk can help prevent health problems, limiting your exposure.
The potential for indoor exposure to mold has increased in recent years because of the way we live. To conserve energy, buildings are being built more tightly — and the tighter the structure, the greater the exposure to indoor mold. Using synthetic building materials literally seals buildings and reduces air movement, creating a higher moisture content that nurtures mold growth.
Poorly designed or maintained heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems contribute to indoor mold exposure; Air filters and air filtration devices provide a comfortable habitat for mold, especially in high humidity conditions. HVAC systems can re-circulate air that contains mold spores and toxins if there are no effective filter systems to trap them. Failure to maintain and clean systems lead to unchecked mold growth and circulation indoors. Humidity worsens the problem; mold thrives in humid conditions.
Human factors contribute to mold exposure, including the fact that we spend so much time indoors, and many of us have compromised immune systems from diseases and medications. What’s more, new and harmful mold organisms are circulating constantly.
Although there’s no practical way to eliminate all indoor molds and mold spores, to stop indoor mold growth and reduce the presence of mold, we’d recommend taking these steps:
- Clean small-scale molds ASAP, using a 10% solution of chlorine bleach; always wear the proper Personal Protection Equipment (which includes gloves, eye protection, and a mask to protect against airborne spores) and dry surfaces completely after cleaning.
- Fix leaks quickly; moisture from leaks provides an ideal environment for mold growth.
- Seal surfaces with a substance such as paint to which fungicide has been added.
Large-scale mold problems require the use of professional cleaning services that employ such treatments as oxidizers, fungicides, bactericides, and shielding compounds, which seal the antimicrobial agents within the treated surface.
PROTECTING A HOME FROM MOLD
It’s important to have a plan and routine in order to protect a home from mold. This involves constantly looking for watermarks on ceilings or walls, signs of mold growth, and musty smells. If mold is caught early enough, it can be removed with a simple cleaning solution of bleach and water.
However, preventing mold from growing again requires that the source of moisture be eliminated. The area where the mold started growing must also be dried properly. In some cases, the surface or area might simply need to be replaced. After cleaning the mold and attacking the source, be sure to place all rags, clothing, materials, paper, and other debris affected in a plastic bag to be thrown in the garbage.
Mold is similar to insect infestations and rots in the respect that it is usually not covered under a Homeowners insurance policy. Standard policies afford coverage for sudden or accidental disasters. However, they don’t offer coverage for cleaning or maintaining a home. If the mold is a direct result of a burst pipe or other covered peril, the insurance company may cover the cost to eliminate the mold.
Since mold is also dangerous, it’s important to tackle the problem immediately if it arises. Mold can cause family members in the home to become sick. Symptoms are usually similar to allergic reactions or hay fever. The best way to avoid all of these problems is to take steps to prevent mold. The following steps can be taken to prevent mold from growing.
Reduce Humidity Level.
It’s best to keep the humidity level between 30% and 60% by utilizing dehumidifiers and air conditioners. Be sure to place exhaust fans in all bathrooms and kitchens. If carpet is desired, avoid installing it in bathrooms or kitchens. It’s best to have carpet only in rooms that aren’t exposed to moisture on a regular basis. Another important thing to remember is to avoid letting water pool and collect under house plants.
Check & Replace Hoses.
Be sure to regularly inspect pipes, fittings, and hoses. It’s best to replace hoses to appliances that use water every five years. At about $5 or $10 per piece, the cost of replacing hoses is much less expensive than dealing with a major mold problem.
Use Mold-Reducing Products.
Clean all bathrooms in the home with bleach and water regularly. There are also several other cleaning products available that are designed to kill mold. It’s a good idea to add mold inhibitors to paint before applying it to the walls or doors.
Exercise Caution after Water Damage.
If at any time a large amount of water comes into contact with the home’s interior, it’s important to ensure that carpets, upholstery, and any other surfaces that hold water are dried thoroughly and promptly. Everything should completely dry within 24 to 48 hours following the initial water contact. Items that can’t be dried should be discarded. If there is standing water, remove it promptly. In addition to promoting mold growth, standing water is a prime breeding ground for microorganisms. After all, areas have been dried, wash and disinfect well. This includes the surfaces of appliances, closets, walls, shelves, floors, heating systems, and cooling systems.
Check the Roof & Gutters.
Another way to prevent mold is to check the roof and gutters frequently. Clear the gutters of any debris. If there are any leaks in the roof, have them repaired immediately to avoid water seeping into the home.
Although mold is problematic, it can be prevented with proper care.