Should You Test for Mold?
Recently, we discussed mold that can be found in unlikely places, such as in the bedroom, bathroom, and the kitchen. After all, most report mold in basements or crawlspaces, but mold can actually grow virtually anywhere.
There is one thing we can all agree on. You do not want hidden mold growing in your home. If there is mold somewhere, anywhere, with the potential of causing health issues with your family, you want to know about it so you can remove it and keep everyone safe.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has much to say about the need for mold testing. “In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary,” according to a statement on the EPA website. And what the EPA says makes sense. If you can see the mold, you do not need to take samples and run tests because you know the mold is there. The professional restoration company that removes the mold will figure out what type it is and proper procedures for your specific case.
But what if you can’t see the mold but you feel something is there?
Then it’s time to engage mold sampling and testing. According to the EPA, surface sampling may be useful to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated.
Who should do it?
Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations, says the EPA.
Regulations and guidelines
Standards or threshold limit values (TLVs) for airborne concentrations of mold, or mold spores, have not been set. Currently, there are no EPA regulations or standards for airborne mold contaminants.
But if you have mold, you no doubt aren’t driven by regulations or guidelines, or lack thereof. You want to know if there is mold and if there is, what you can do to remove it.
One option is to purchase a do-it-yourself mold testing kit, something that you test surfaces with and send in for testing at a laboratory.
Another is to contact an industrial hygienist who is an expert with issues such as this, and have professional testing conducted.
No matter what you do, if you do have mold growth, do the right thing. Turn the work over to your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Is It Your Decision?
No matter the time of year or the season, flooding can happen to any home or business. When it does, the immediate thought most have is, “Who is going to pay for all of this?”
Most then call their insurance company, since events like flooding is why insurance is purchased in the first place. For some reason, many flooding issues occur at night or on the weekend, when your local insurance company is closed, if you have a local agent. You call, leave a message, and wait. And wait. They may never call you, or at best call you when you are solidly in panic mode, and the reason may be because they aren’t the ones to handle your claim in the first place. They sell the insurance. They may not service the insurance claim. Most likely, you need to call a national emergency hotline number. You should always have that on file and ready just in case something happens to your home.
When you reach your insurance company, or at least the part of it that makes decisions on paying for the repairs, you may be told to use a specific contractor, a local firm the insurance company has a special relationship with. It may not be the company you want to use. But always remember this: It’s your decision who you use to work on your home. Of course, you may have to fight for your rights.
This being said, using the contractor recommended by the insurance company may not be a bad idea. That company may be completely qualified and know exactly what your home needs to get back to pre-flood condition. But no matter what, it’s your decision. Getting references and looking at reviews should always be a priority when hiring a contractor to work on your home.
Be sure to document everything, including the time you spend on cleaning up the mess. Take pictures. The more documentation and pictures you have, the better you can negotiate how much of the damage will be covered by your insurance policy. You will have to pay the deductible, but often the time you spend and the resources of your own you use to work on the flood is credited to you. It’s a conversation to have with your insurance company and your contractor.
No matter what, though, do the right thing. Call your restoration company immediately when a flood occurs. After all, it pays to call a pro!
Water Intrusion Precautions
When water finds its way into your home, in the form of a flood, plugged drain that backs up, or a pipe breaking, it takes just seconds for some serious damage to occur.
Water intrusion, especially over time, affects all types of building materials. It can quickly leave you with a big mess to clean up, and sometimes the damage is more significant than what you originally thought.
Some water intrusions you can handle yourself, such as water on a concrete floor in the basement. Many homeowners have simply pushed that type of water into floor drains or used wet/dry vacuums to suck it up.
But if there is significant flooding, or if it has affected building materials, that’s a different story. You want to first think about the type of water that has caused the damage.
Types of water
It could be “clean” water, such as from rain or leaky pipes, which is a type of water you can sometimes clean up yourself. It could be “gray” water, which might come from a dishwasher, a washing machine, or an overflowing sink, and may require professional cleanup. Or — worst case situation — it could be “black” water, which you should not attempt cleaning because that means it came from a sewer, a flood, or some other situation that could have heavily contamination and health hazards. With most gray and with all black water flooding situations, it’s best to call a disaster restoration company.
But no matter what, be sure to be safe. With any type of flooding, turn off the power to affected areas and unplug electronics and appliances, in that order. Never step into standing water if there is any danger of electricity being on. Nothing is worth a trip to the hospital — or worse.
Working in a structure with black water also can be a safety issue — to your health. The reason you should always call a pro with black water is because of the bacteria and contamination that can make you sick, really sick. Cleaning and restoration professionals have the personal protective equipment needed to do the job right and do it safety. We aren’t talking about gloves and goggles, but about complete body protection, respirators, and more.
Water damage is a stressful situation, for anyone affected, in any situation. But it can all be fixed. Do the right thing and reach out to your favorite restoration company when anything happens to your home. After all, it pays to call a pro!