In “Life After People,” the History Channel presents a dramatic and fascinating illustration based on natural science. The series begins in the moments after people suddenly disappear (for an unnamed reason). As each day, month, and year passes, the destruction of all that man built is followed. This series is the embodiment of my personal nightmare and the source of my philosophy that constant vigilance is necessary to keep our homes standing. Moisture and water infiltration are one of the major routes of home destruction and need to be addressed before your home is consumed by the elements and nature. On a regular schedule, every month you should make a point of walking through you home looking up for water stains in the ceilings do not forget to look above cabinets, in closets and near HVAC units. Often this simple act can identify a problem before you have significant water damage. You should also include checking for moisture infiltration after all storms in your basement or lower level. Ignoring a problem will only let it grow, literally.
Water stains can be caused by roof leaks, or condensing moisture. There's a lot of moisture generated inside homes. Bathrooms without exhaust fans or fans not vented to the exterior, leaking dryer vents, damp basements, kitchens and crawlspaces and basements can be the source of moisture in the in the home or attic. Improper roof ventilation or uneven insulation can create "cold spots" in summer or winter where moisture condenses to the point of dripping onto the ceiling or wet areas on the underside of the roof sheathing. Air conditioning equipment or heat exchangers in the attic can result in condensate dripping out of the system or off of the refrigerant lines or ducts.
Too much moisture in a home can lead to mold, mildew, and other biological growth. The presence of these molds can lead to a variety of health problems including allergies, asthma and more serious respiratory problems. In addition to health problems, excess moisture can lead to problems such as rot, structural damage, and paint failure and create a hospitable environment for pests and mold. Correcting and preventing moisture problems is a first defense against termites, mold, and structural failure. Any water damaged areas should be carefully inspected for mold. Mold growth is often found underneath water-damaged surfaces (for example, wallpaper and carpeting) or behind walls, floors, or ceilings.
Mold inspection and cleanup usually is considered a housekeeping task that is the responsibility of a homeowner (or landlord), as are roof and plumbing repairs, house cleaning, and yard maintenance. Failure to properly care for your home is negligence (and not covered by homeowners insurance). Typically, mold is not covered by insurance unless the water damage was caused by what insurance people call a covered peril such as a storm. Homeowners insurance would not cover damages from a flood including resulting mold. Flood insurance is a separate policy that you need to purchase. It would also not cover damage caused by a leaking pipe in your home, but would cover damage from rain getting inside the house through a hole in the roof or a broken window if the hole or the broken window was a result of a storm or extreme weather conditions. Remember hurricane damage is only covered if you have hurricane coverage. If the water damage was due to your ignorance or negligence, home insurance would not cover it. Pretty much, when dealing with moisture and mold, insurance is unlikely to cover the damage. Maintaining your home is your responsibility. Small water leaks of all kinds can be ignored for a long time, don’t. You need to be cautious and keep a regular check on all aspects of your home. Your home is probably the biggest purchase you will ever make, protect it.
If the routine inspection of your home identifies a mold problem you need to address it immediately. Mold will ultimately destroy the materials it grows on because it grows by consuming the organic matter. A small leak and small area of mold impact is fairly straightforward to deal with. Ignoring it will not make it go away, but allow it to flourish and expand. Signs of mold are discolored patches or cottony or speckled growth on walls or furniture or an earthy or musty smell or odor. People who suffer from mold-allergies will experience hay fever like symptoms all year long when in the house. Any water damaged areas should be carefully inspected for mold. Mold growth is often found underneath water-damaged surfaces (for example, wallpaper and carpeting) or behind walls, floors, or ceilings. If you smell something musty in your home, do not grab the air freshener; find the source of the smell. Look for moisture and water stains; feel for damp carpeting especially in basements feel for damp or soft wall board. If you find these you will probably find the mold beneath or behind it.
The process of remediating the mold is likely to disturb mold and release spores and potentially toxins into the air. To prevent this isolation of the work area, proper techniques of removal and protective clothing are necessary to minimize the risk spreading the mold spores and of making the situation worse. Actions that are likely to stir up mold include: breakup of moldy porous materials such as wallboard; invasive procedures used to examine or remediate mold growth in a wall cavity; actively stripping or peeling wallpaper to remove it; and using fans to dry items. This is why a professional mold remediation firm should be used when there are large areas to remediate or the potential to release large quantities of mold spores or toxins to other areas of the home exists.