Ten Things You Should Know About Mold

In days of old, royal hunters would lead a herd of pigs into the forests hunting for dark, moist areas that held truffles, an edible treasure that thrived in that atmosphere. Race ahead into current times and the scene changes. Lawyers are now leading homeowners into the courtroom seeking coverage for damage caused to their homes because of dark, moist areas of toxic mold–a litigious treasure trove.

If you are not familiar with the term “toxic mold,” you are part of a dwindling group. The subject reared its ugly head in Texas and is now the source of market restrictions and new exclusionary language and class action lawsuits. Most if not all insurers have specific exclusionary language that excludes mold from liability and first party property coverages.

Mold

Photo credit: Kristopha Hohn (seishin17 on Flickr)

Certain types of mold have been found to cause damage beyond wet or dry rot. Some types create air and waterborne spores that cause allergic reactions and serious illness in some people.

The Pool’s claims advocacy specialist has compiled the following information to help our member districts understand mold, and some basic clean-up suggestions.

  1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
  2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
  3. If mold is a problem in your home, school or business; you must clean up the mold and eliminate all sources of moisture.
  4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
  5. Reduce indoor humidity to 30 –60% to decrease mold growth. This can be done by: Venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, washing dishes, and cleaning.
  6. Clean up and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  7. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles that are moldy need to be replaced.
  8. Prevent and reduce condensation on cold surfaces (windows, piping, exterior walls, roofing or floors) by adding insulation.
  9. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
  10. Mold can be found almost anywhere and can grow on virtually any substance. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet and foods.

Basic Mold Cleanup

The easiest way to detect possible mold problems is to look for signs of water damage on the ceiling and for sources of standing or leaking water. Flat-roofed buildings and failed ventilation systems are the greatest sources of moisture. Mold identification can be done simply by following olfactory (sense of smell) cues.

The key to mold control is moisture control. It is important to dry water damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. If mold is a problem, clean up the mold and get rid of the excess water or moisture. Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. Wash mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Absorbent materials (such as ceiling tiles & carpet) that become moldy may have to be replaced.

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