Mold is never a good thing. Spores reproducing on counters, walls, and wood trim can take flight and aggravate allergies and respiratory ailments, as well as ruin drywall, carpet, and woodwork. But in everyday life a little mold will form, and not every patch is a reason to be alarmed.
Let’s differentiate the types of mold – the kind you can take care of yourself and the kind that requires a mold remediation expert.
Spores thrive on moisture so common places you’ll find mold is in:
- Bathrooms with poor ventilation, especially shower ceilings and tile grout lines.
- Around kitchens, mudroom sinks and utility sinks.
- Along thresholds of exterior doors.
- Basements near hot water heaters and sump pumps.
If you can see it, you probably can get rid of it with soap and water. More stubborn forms usually require a solution of 1:9 bleach-to-water.
To help prevent the growth of this common mold, ventilation is key. Open a window or turn on the bathroom fan after you shower or bathe. Thoroughly dry sinks and surrounding tile after washing dishes. Periodically clean and dry moisture-prone basement areas.
If you find spores growing on drywall, studs, and subflooring — especially if the area exceeds 10 sq. ft. — then you have a mold problem that the average home owner does not have the expertise to address.
To get rid of mold that you suspect is serious, your best bet is to call a mold inspector.
Call a Mold Inspector First
They will find the root and extent of the problem.
The mold industry is largely unregulated, but there are guidelines to help you know when you’re hiring a true professional:
- They should bear respected industry credentials, such as CIH (Certified Industrial Hygienist) or CIEC (Council-certified Indoor Environmental Consultant).
- They should provide a customized report that includes lab results of air or surface samples taken.
- They shouldn’t hype one species of mold as more dangerous than another.
- They should tell you whether a mold problem has a DIY solution, or whether you must hire a professional mold remediation expert.
What A Mold Remediation Professional Will Do
Mold remediation companies will clean up your mold in a few days if just some washing and removing carpet is involved, or in a few weeks if demolition and rebuilding is required.
Generally, the cleanup process entails:
- Removing water-damaged, mold-infested materials.
- Cleaning and disinfecting walls, carpet, and personal belongings.
- Removing drywall and studs if mold damage is extensive.
- Vacuuming with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration.
If mold infestation is severe and you are mold-sensitive, you may have to relocate during cleanup.
Remediation costs vary depending on how much and where mold exists. For a more accurate cost, call to discuss your needs with a qualified technician.
Mold strikes fear into the hearts of those who’ve heard horror stories about toxic mold, expensive mold remediation, and denied home owners insurance claims. Yet mold can be found anywhere, including in most homes. It’s usually harmless.
Mold needs moisture to thrive. Problems can arise for home owners when the presence of persistent moisture goes undetected or unresolved, leading to widespread mold growth. Moisture can result from high indoor humidity, flooding, or a leaky roof or dishwasher.
Whether mold damage is covered by home owners insurance often comes down to the source of that moisture. Take an hour or two to review the language of your policy, especially as it pertains to water damage. Look for mold exclusions or limitations. Call your agent if the wording is unclear.
Mold and Home Owners Insurance
Most basic home owners insurance policies exclude coverage of damage caused by mold, fungi, and bacteria. Yet that doesn’t mean a mold claim will be denied automatically.
In most cases, if mold results from a sudden and accidental covered peril, such as a pipe bursting, the cost of remediation should be covered. The pipe burst is the reason for the claim, not the mold itself, so in this instance, it would most likely be covered. Claims are more likely to be rejected if mold is caused by neglected home maintenance: long-term exposure to humidity, or repeated water leaks and seepage.
It’s hard to put a precise dollar figure on mold damage because most insurers don’t separate mold claims from water-damage claims, says Claire Wilkinson of the Insurance Information Institute.
After a rush of mold claims in the early 2000s, most states adopted limitations on mold coverage. Amounts vary, but a typical home owners policy might cover between $1,000 and $10,000 in mold remediation and repair, says Celia Santana of Personal Risk Management Solutions in New York. Most policies won’t cover mold related to flood damage. For that, home owners need separate flood insurance, which averages $540 per year through the National Flood Insurance Program.