The Common Sense Approach to Solving Mold and Water Damage Problems: Removing the Veil of Confusion
Do I need a mold inspector or a mold remediation company?
There is a common misconception in the industry that it is a conflict of interest for a company to perform multiple services such as testing and removal. There are companies that offer testing only, while others provide remediation (removal) services. Typically the larger, full service companies will offer a wide variety of services. This is true not only in the mold industry, but in many other industries such as plumbing, electrical, automotive, just to name a few. As an example, if you had or suspected a plumbing problem, you would contact a plumber to evaluate the issue and more than likely pay a fee or get a free estimate for that service and for his professional evaluation. You would also expect some sort of bid or estimate for repairs. If you agreed with the contractor’s assessment and price to repair, you would hire them; but only after you have performed your due diligence by getting the customary two or three bids, 2nd opinions and checked references of the contractors you are considering hiring. The question of a conflict of interest will ultimately be decided by the customer. If they have done their homework, checked licensure, etc., conflict of interest should not be a concern. It comes down to whether you trust your service provider. Ultimately, you have to go with your gut instinct.
The unpredictable nature of mold removal lies mainly in the fact that a lot of mold contamination is actually hidden behind walls, floors, ceilings, etc. and is unseen by the human eye. Costs of corrective actions will of course vary from job to job, but even the smallest remediation project will not usually be less than $1,000 – because there are basic procedures, set-up and mobilization that have to take place with every project. Then there are standard overhead cost factors to keep in mind, such as contractor liability and workers comp insurance. The EPA’s website offers instruction on do-it-yourself mold removal projects that affect less than 10 square feet and should only be done if the homeowner is comfortable with the process and adheres to the recommendations
Mold Removal Techniques
The ultimate objective of mold removal is to physically remove the contamination, not to simply “treat” it. There is a common misconception that certain chemicals i.e. bleach will “kill” mold and solve the problem. The reality is that even “dead” mold spores can be allergenic if left on a surface. Its not recommended to use bleach or harsh chemicals as they tend to create an even more toxic environment than already exists. Therefore, mold abatement efforts should focus on safely removing building materials that harbor mold, and when physical removal is not possible or feasible, treating the surfaces in such a way that little or no spores are left behind, such as encapsulation (sealing) the area. Companies should use only EPA-approved green anti-microbial products that are effective in aiding the remediation process and follow the guidelines set forth in the EPA’s Mold Removal for Schools and Commercial Buildings, as well as our current industry standard known as The IICRC S520 Guideline for Professional Mold Remediation.
Biggest Causes of Mold
Besides excessive moisture being the obvious culprit and usual suspect, deferred property maintenance is the leading cause of mold and water damage. It is very common to see buildings and homes that are fifty, sixty and seventy years plus with the same plumbing systems in place as when the structure was built! We see roofing and window systems in complete disrepair and sprinkler systems that water the building more than the landscape.
The list goes on and on but the result is the same: expensive repairs. We advise homeowners and landlords to inspect their properties a few times a year for defects and issues that can become major problems down the road. Often these small inspections cost very little and can save thousands. When it comes to mold, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
Weather Related Mold Issues
Since we live in a very dry climate, mold problems as a result of weather related issues are the exception rather than the rule. Again, the problem usually stems back to poor or deferred maintenance, even when bad weather is involved. As an example, a poorly maintained roof or incorrectly installed window is more likely to leak under the stress of a severe storm. Prevention is key.
Due to the age and condition of many buildings and homes today, much of the existing plumbing is in extreme disrepair. In many cases the owners and occupants are completely unaware of the condition of their plumbing system. As a result, plumbing leaks remain the biggest cause of sudden flooding and subsequent mold problems. To make matters worse, when the flood water is from a sewer source such as a broken drain pipe in or under the building, the water is considered grossly contaminated and must be treated immediately due to the potential for bacterial content in the water. This type of water loss is known as a “Category 3” or “blackwater” loss. This type of water damage is very serious and must be handled in a certain manner so as to not increase the potential for bacterial contamination of the area.
It is imperative that any building materials that have been subjected to water and water damage be dried or treated within 24 to 48 hours of a flood or leak incident. This critical time frame is important because mold can start to grow if the water is not addressed in a timely fashion. Mold Masters is capable of addressing the issue with immediate deployment of commercial grade dehumidifiers and other state of the art drying equipment so as to prevent the incidence of black mold occurring in a residence, thereby saving thousands of dollars in repairs.
Insurance and covered losses vary widely. Some insurers have limited coverage for mold and water damage, and yet others have no coverage for mold at all. However all insurers provide some sort or coverage for water damage or even mold if it is the result of a sudden, unexpected event such as a broken pipe or flooding that requires emergency service clean up. Since all insurance policies are different, it’s best that the owner check with their insurer and review their policy BEFORE a loss occurs.
Red Flags; Buyer Beware!
Unfortunately, every industry has a certain amount of unscrupulous individuals and dubious operators, with the mold abatement business being no exception. The customer should be aware of red flags such as “test only” companies that offer expensive inspections and unnecessary sampling (testing) to inflate the cost of an inspection, as well as mold abatement companies that are not licensed, bonded or insured. The diligent homeowner should make sure that service provider performing services has verifiable references and some type of industry certification such as from The Clean Trust (formally known as the IICRC) or others. Most importantly, service providers must possesses and show proof of liability and workers compensation insurance. That way if a service provider is injured at your property, or causes extensive damage to your property, you will not bear the financial burden of paying for the ensuing medical bills or damage done to your property. Lastly, homeowners should know that in California the law says that anyone who performs services valued in excess of $500 MUST possess a valid California State Contractors License. Checking a license is easy and can be done online in only a few minutes at the Contractors State License board website at www.cslb.ca.gov
Mold Prevention Tips
Owners and occupants should work together to identify, prevent and repair moisture intrusion problem(s) as soon as possible. Both parties are ultimately responsible for working together to keep moisture out of living spaces that could lead to mold growth once it has been removed, as well as promptly repairing any defects that led to the original mold problem. Always dry or remove wet or flooded building materials within 24-48 hours to prevent the spread of mold growth; therefore, it is a must that tenants notify owners of potential problems immediately!
Remember, the keys to Mold prevention and expensive repairs are moisture control and preventative maintenance. Always perform yearly property inspections on roofing, plumbing systems, exterior drainage, and interior ventilation to name a few. Every six months take a quick look under sinks in kitchens, baths and crawl spaces for leaks; always call a professional like Mold Masters if you’re not sure of what to look for. Always remember that water is the key. Preventing water damage or water condensation will prevent mold growth.
Water Damage Restoration
Water damage is one of the most common forms of damage to both residential and commercial properties. Damage is generally caused by flooding, fire suppression, or burst pipes. Whether 50 square feet, or 50,000, residential, commercial or industrial loss, Mold Masters has the knowledge and expertise to ensure drying is done quickly and efficiently. Mold Masters mobilizes immediately to assess the damage, accurately estimate time and materials needed to fix the problem, and use the proper procedures for a complete and lasting water damage restoration.
Mold and Mildew Removal
Mold Masters provides expert mold and mildew remediation (removal) services at some of the most competitive prices in the industry. Our 20 + years of experience in this field allow us to provide professional mold abatement services at reasonable costs.
When a mold problem is suspected or water damage has occurred, it should be dealt with immediately or at least within 24-48 hours of its occurrence. If not, mold can begin to grow almost instantly if the conditions are right. However, we realize that immediate detection is not always possible, and therefore if a mold problem does develop, Mold Masters can provide the quick response removal services needed to help keep a small issue from becoming a larger problem. Fast response leads to preservation of property and greatly reduces the costs commonly associated with mold contamination removal.
You can rest easy knowing that all of our mold remediation projects are guaranteed and come with a full warranty.
Mold Masters is a renowned leader in environmental remediation, including the remediation of mold and asbestos abatement services. Whether it is confined to a small area within a single room, or distributed throughout an entire structure, Mold Masters employs the most up to date industry standards to safeguard building inhabitants, and return the affected environment to a healthy condition as quickly and safely as possible.