Mold Remediation FAQ.
Finding answers to typical concerns.
Not likely. According to the Center for Disease Control: "There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions ...". The term "toxic" tends to refer to the mycotoxins that certain molds emit when they find an ideal place to grow... these mycotoxins are mostly a form of microbial warfare meant to try to kill other molds or other microbial growth from setting up shop right next to them. So, yes, they emit these toxins, but they are normally only “toxic” to other micro-organisms, not necessarily to humans. However, that doesn’t mean mold issues in your home are OK – see next question.
Yes, it can. Prolonged exposure (or one significant exposure) to mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma, respiratory issues, and sinus infections. However, it affects each of us differently. Mold is particularly hard on those with compromised or weakened immune systems or respiratory disease. Think of young children who still have developing immune systems, or elderly people whose immune systems have been diminished. Think of people in your home who may have respiratory illness. Those are the people who will normally notice symptoms first. In addition, many of the symptoms associated with mold exposure are very similar to cold and flu symptoms, so most family doctors quickly dismiss health problems associated with mold and treat the patient with chicken noodle soup or antibiotics. It is important to share any information you may have on mold exposures with your family doctor.
"Black mold" is little more than a media term, most often associated with the strain stachybotrus. Molds capable of producing toxins and allergens occur in many different species, each of which can grow in a variety of colors. It is true, however, that some of the most harmful mold species (including stachybotrus) require a substantial amount of moisture to flourish. For this reason, we don't typically find stachybotrus in cases where mold has started to grow from high-humidity or neglect. If there is stachybotrus in your house, it is a key indicator that there is some sort of engineering problem in your home: a significant water leak, roof leak, etc. Stachybotrus and other of the more harmful mold strains are not the end of the world, however. They can be removed and cleaned up if handled properly.
No, not in Michigan nor in most states. There is no federal governing authority regarding mold. To our knowledge, only FL and TX have mold statutes for mold remediators at the state level, New York City at the municipal level. This may have something to do with the fact that mold exposures affect people differently, while other known public enemy substances such as asbestos affect ALL people pretty much the same. So, while there may not be a license required to perform mold remediation in the state of Michigan, that doesn’t mean that professional mold remediators can just make it up as they go along . . . If we advertise that we are professional mold remediators, it is incumbent upon us to attain the proper training and certification for industry best practices. Responsible mold contractors will also need a special type of liability insurance, called “pollution” insurance, which covers you the homeowner if we happen to make a mistake during the remediation process (standard contractor general liability policies will not cover it). At Flagship Restoration, we have all the industry credentials to inspect and remediate mold in homes and businesses, and we carry pollution insurance.
It depends (of course). If you have a significant, “runaway” mold problem, typically, your insurance will not cover it. Mold takes time to develop, and most insurance carriers believe that if you are maintaining your property reasonably, you should catch any mold issues in their infancy and normally they are happy to come to the rescue in those cases. An example would be, you leave for a two week vacation and when you return you find that the water heater leaked and you have some mold starting to grow on the walls – that should be covered. But, if you own a home with a leaky roof and leaky windows, and after several years of ignoring the problem you decide to make a claim and ask for full mold remediation and all new windows and roof, you are probably out of luck – your insurance would probably cite poor maintenance and neglect. Some national carriers have specifically excluded mold from coverage. Some of the better regional carriers will cover proper mold remediation as long as it is the result of a covered water loss (not a maintenance item). Talk to us, we have performed many mold remediation projects that have been covered by insurance, and we may be able to help inform you how to proceed.
In our experience, if dealt with properly, buyers are relatively comfortable purchasing a home with a prior mold problem, as long as proper remediation protocol was followed and proper documentation made available. There is a lot of mis-information out there on mold. Opening up a search engine and typing "mold contamination" will open up a wide variety of end-of-the-world scenarios to the reader. We tell people, it's mold, not spent plutonium! Mold is a serious concern, but it is also manageable. If removed and cleaned to industry best practices, mold can be removed for good from any property. Don’t let your real estate transaction falter at the eleventh hour due to emotional reactions to bad information – call us and schedule a real estate mold inspection, and we will meet with all interested parties to talk through a remediation plan that everyone is comfortable with.
What to do until we arrive?
Some tips of what to do and what not to do after a flooding / water leak occurs.