This article, from the Hartford (CT) Courant, gives good advice, we think. However, most insurers do NOT cover mold at all, and if they do, it may be $3,000 - $5,000 maximum. (SMH)
In Rainy Weather, Beware Of Mold Growth
By ELIZABETH SILE | The Hartford Courant
June 20, 2009
Homeowners beware: The rain that is saturating the ground and moistening the air has to go somewhere. It's probably going to your basement.
"With the rain we've had in the last two to three months, we're seeing a number of people calling up saying they've got water in their basement that they haven't had before," says Gene Burch, senior project manager at RTK Environmental Group in Hartford.
The wet weather pattern also is causing a buildup of humidity in homes, which can lead to bad smells, and, worse, mold growth that can be destructive.
According to Burch, water from the ground seeps into homes through cracks in foundations, spouts and other passageways.
Flooding isn't a problem just for older homes. Newer homes have their own set of problems, Burch says, because they are constructed to be air-tight. If any moisture gets in, it has nowhere to go and the house cannot breathe.
And the water accumulation isn't always visible. Humidity in the air that gets in the home is just as damaging as having standing water because it promotes the growth of mold, which can rot wall boards, wood and floors, and cause a number of respiratory concerns, including asthma and allergic reactions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
"Molds gradually destroy the things they grow on," Dave Ryan, a spokesman for the EPA, writes in an e-mail.
Mold spores are in every house and building and in the air we breathe, but they need a food source and moisture to grow, Burch says. They can find both in a flooded or humid home.
But homeowners can take several precautions to minimize any damage.
•Burch recommends a thorough visual inspection of the house to make sure water can escape: Gutters are not clogged, water lines are properly sealed and the roof is in good condition.Water should be able to leave the home's foundation through drainage or a sloped ground around the foundation of the house. Water stains and condensation can indicate a problem, Ryan says.
•Because moisture control is the most effective way to prevent problems, Burch recommends homeowners use both a barometer and a dehumidifier to regulate moisture to keep a safe humidity level at about 50 percent. Anything above 60 percent is enough for mold to start growing.
•While musty odors may seem normal when it rains, they're likely an indication of moisture and possible mold growth. Call a remediation service to investigate whether there is a serious issue.
According to Chris Fox, general manager of American Integrity Restoration, an insurance restoration firm in Glastonbury, homeowners should check their policies because most insurance companies do not cover flooding by ground water. The cost of cleanup for flooding or mold varies drastically depending on the amount of damage, but mold cleanup is typically covered by insurance companies up to $10,000, he says.
•In an incidence of mold or flooding, Ryan says areas should be cleaned within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold. "Clean and dry hard surfaces," he says. "Throw away anything that was wet with flood water and can't be cleaned."
Be sure to wear an N-95 respirator (found in most hardware stores) and goggles, long-sleeved shirts, pants and gloves when cleaning up any flood.
In these situations it is most important to act quickly, Fox says.
"Time is of the essence when you're dealing with water like this," he says.