How Do You Check For Mold After a Storm or Flood?

mold after a storm or flood

Hurricanes, tornadoes, and even heavy winds can cause property damage and side winds bringing in water to your home. Floridians are no strangers to rain and wind. If you own a home or other property, you should be aware of the dangers of mold growing in places you can’t see.

Mold is a tricky problem because it can spread undetected for years. Areas prone to high moisture include:

  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms
  • Crawlspaces
  • Basements

Aside from these high moisture areas, leaking ceilings, drainage systems and in between walls are perfect environments for mold to grow and multiply. One of the most difficult areas to get rid of mold is in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Mold and mold spores in the HVAC system spreads through the air that is circulated proliferating to other areas of the house.[1]

Apart from the obvious health hazard that mold causes, mold is damaging to the home itself, especially if it’s left unattended for years. Homes in areas such as Florida are prone to developing mold issues because of the frequent weather disasters and the humid, hot temperatures.[2]

Getting ahead of the problem before it grows too large is the only way to save your home and your health. This guide will provide essential information to homeowners and renters in Florida who want to protect their homes from mold. We will also discuss the importance of engaging a public adjuster if you need to claim mold damage from your insurance.

How can water get inside your home to cause mold?

Water can enter your home from various sources. Catastrophic events like floods and heavy winds are some of the major ways water can get inside your home and cause mold. Any area of your home can be prone to developing mold if it gets wet.

Leaky roofs or plumbing systems can lead to a very nasty mold problem. Mold can hide under carpets and in between walls, making it hard for you to spot it. At times, the only sign you might have is a musty smell when you enter a certain area in your home.

Aside from these clear sources, there are more subtle ways that water can cause mold in your home. If you have a large family, it is quite likely that your home will develop mold. This is because there are many people in the house releasing moisture with every breath.

Although Floridians don’t have to worry about basement mold, most all other states do. If your basement is prone to flooding from the rain, moisture can seep through the concrete foundation. This can saturate your carpets and walls over time. In addition to this, every hot shower you take, every meal you cook, when you use a humidifier or when you water your plants, even the clothes you hang out to dry, contribute to the moisture levels in your home.

Can mold damage your home?

We all know that mold can cause significant health challenges for children and adults alike. The damage that mold can do to your home is just as dangerous as the damage it can inflict on your health.

Around your home, there are plenty of materials and surfaces that exacerbate the growth of mold. Fabrics, wood, and paper are some materials that mold feeds on and destroys. Your wallpaper, carpet, floorboards, drywall and ceiling tiles are just some of the materials that can fall apart when mold is involved.

If left untreated for a long time, these structures in your home will eventually collapse or crack. You might need to throw away some of the mold infected stuff because the mold can grow back, filling in the empty spaces and cracks in porous materials like paper, wood, sponges and rubber.[3]

Does property insurance in Florida cover mold damage?

Insurance claims can be tricky, but if you are a homeowner in Florida, it can be a downright nightmare.[4] There is so much fine print that if you are not careful, you will end up paying out of pocket for mold damage that you might have been covered for. That is why engaging the help of a public adjuster is in your best interest.

That said, let’s look at which type of mold damage insurance covers in Florida.

Home insurance in Florida covers mold damage that stems from the following perils:

  • Windstorms and hail
  • Lightning
  • Explosions
  • Fire and smoke
  • Theft or vandalism
  • Accidental discharge or water overflow from HVAC, household appliances or plumbing systems

If the mold results from long-term preventable issues that regular maintenance could solve, then your homeowner’s insurance policy won’t cover it. Most insurance companies consider old homes with old plumbing or wiring high risk. You might have to pay a higher premium or get no coverage at all.

How is mold typically remediated in Florida homes?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mold that covers areas less than 10 square feet can be remediated by the homeowner.[5] Any area larger than this will have to be dealt with by professionals.

Remediation has become an essential component of buying or selling a house. Remediation in Florida is a process that goes beyond removing the mold. It involves several steps that will either reduce or eradicate the mold.

Whether or not you need to hire a professional, the steps to remediate mold in your home are:

  1. Inspection. This is the first step towards diagnosing the extent of the mold problem. An expert will look around your home and take samples for testing to identify the type of mold you are dealing with.
  2. Air circulation and containment. The second step is to contain the affected area and properly ventilate it so that mold spores do not float off and contaminate the clean areas in your home. The proper use of filtration devices is important to keep the mold where it is.
  3. Clean and sterilize. This next step involves remediation and discarding of the infected porous materials after the cleaning and disinfection procedures have been done. The contractor uses antifungal solutions to kill the mold colonies. Hard porous materials like the sink or bathtub are wiped with the solution to remove the mold. The contractor will also sanitize your entire house to ensure that any escaped or unseen mold spores are killed off before they form another colony.

How can public adjusters help with mold insurance claims?

As we have mentioned before, insurance claims for mold can be difficult to navigate. The best method to ensure that you are covered is to contact a public adjuster like CORE Public Adjusters the moment you discover mold in your home.

A public adjuster will help document and assess the extent of mold damage in your home. If your insurance policy indeed covered you, the public adjuster will proceed to file the claim on your behalf.

Most insurance companies require evidence that the mold damage stems from a covered peril and not from your own negligence. Gathering up this documentation by yourself can be overwhelming. A public adjuster will manage all the things your insurance company needs from you in order to claim.

Don’t try to go at it alone. A simple error can lead to your claim being rejected or to a lower payout. Hire a public adjuster as soon as you realize you have mold damage.

 

Article References

[1] Goodway https://www.goodway.com/hvac-blog/2009/10/mold-a-common-hvac-complaint-that-is-easy-to-deal-with/

[2] South Florida Reporter https://southfloridareporter.com/mold-loves-living-in-florida/

[3] United States Environmental Protection Agency https://www.epa.gov/mold/brief-guide-mold-moisture-and-your-home#tab-6

[4] Forbes Advisor https://www.forbes.com/advisor/homeowners-insurance/why-is-homeowners-insurance-in-florida-such-a-disaster/

[5] United States Environmental Protection Agency https://www.epa.gov/mold/brief-guide-mold-moisture-and-your-home#tab-6

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