Did You know that many have water come into their home from the outside?
It is important to pay attention to the height of the soil grade outside your house. General code recommends that the dirt (soil grade) height be from 4 to 6 inches below the weep screed of the stucco (which roughly corresponds to the top of your foundations). The weep screed is this metal at the bottom of your stucco allowing water to drip down. If you don't have stucco then this would normally be the bottom edge of the wood siding above the dirt.
The reason has to do with helping to prevent water intrusion into your home. If the dirt level (soil grade) is too high, say about the same level as the top of your foundation then when rain comes, or sprinklers are used regularly this allows easy water penetration into your home without you being aware of it.
When this happens then the wood sill plate (which is the horizontal 2x4 on the concrete foundation) gets wet then the drywall inside your home can get wet along with any flooring that is present. This can often happen slowly over a period of time growing mold and causing water damage to the home without it being readily noticed for a while.
In extreme cases during heavy rain the water can come straight into your home like a slow flood.
So by keeping your soil grade well below the top of the house foundation the safer your home will be from this type of water intrusion and water damage and, of course, mold growth.
OK folks. It has been a good while since I posted, mainly because I have been busy with other stuff. I want to at least give people a good warning on a particular point.
WET DRYWALL or WET WALLS or Ceiling.
If you are concerned there may be mold behind wet walls or ceilings don't worry, there IS. It is a scientific biological fact that if there is moisture there will be mold whether you see it or not.
The reason is that mold starts to grow about 24 hours after getting a water source. And the longer the moisture has been there the more mold will grow. In the case of wet walls most of the mold is likely inside the wall where you may not see it. But the mold will still grow on the outside of it at some point.
Some people will want to cut open the drywall or have someone else do it to see if they can see mold. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS! If this is done then you will release the accumulated mold spores from inside the wall or ceiling and you will not see them and expose your family to this. Not a good idea.
There is also bacteria that is present due to the moisture being there for a good many days or longer. That is a health hazard per the CDC. I'm purposely trying not to get technical. But please be aware of this.
Mold in CA Senate Bill 655
Or CA SB 655 went into effect January 2016.
A person can contact the Fair Housing Foundation in California. They can assist if there is a moisture or mold issue in the home. By law in CA a landlord has to maintain the property free of dampness and mold per the CA SB 655 that went into effect about 3 years ago. Of course this refers to items that are their responsibility and not the tenants. If the landlord tries to force a person to move due to this type of event, that is viewed as 'retaliation' and basically can nullify any vacate notice. The landlord is obligated to fix a problem that is their responsibility.
An example of what is not the landlord's responsibility is: a tenant fails to clean the tub for a period of time (say a month) and mold starts growing as a result. This is not the landlord's responsibility.
Say on the other hand one notices what appears to be visible mold growing on the drywall under a sink or mushrooms growing out of the wall due to moisture or water having leaked into the wall, this would be the landlord's responsibility.
If a person wants to confirm that there may be a moisture/mold issue then a company like mine can be hired to inspect (and take samples if needed). If the inspection reveals the issue is the landlord's responsibility then the tenant (by law) can get credited the expense of the inspection and sampling as the tenant is allowed to 'repair and deduct' twice per year if the landlord fails to take action.
Since this type of event is a 'health issue' you have every right to hire an inspector for mold/moisture issues without the landlord's permission or consultation. Contact me for further information if needed.
Here are a few tips to help minimize mold growth in your home and how to address some of that issue.
1. Maintain regular house hygiene.
2. Promptly address any spills or leaks. The longer water sits or is present the longer mold will grow. Remember that mold starts growing about 24 hours after getting a water source.
3. Get at least one (if not several) air cleaning machines equipped with a hepa filter. The key is 'hepa' filter as this is what will remove up to 99.97% of air contaminants including mold spores. This can make a big difference in air quality in the home. There are many brands out there and with extra bells and whistles if you can afford them. A basic model can be purchased for a $100 or possibly less.
4. If one suspects moisture being present or recently experienced a leak then have the area(s) inspected as soon as possible by a professional such as My Company and follow the recommendations provided.
5. If a person is experiencing adverse health symptoms and want to rule out mold or confirm it consider having air quality and other samples taken. These can provide valuable information on what the family is being exposed to. The lab report can be taken to your doctor who can test to see if the molds found are affecting a person.
6. Keep in mind it is normally best to have an inspection done for potential moisture or mold issues in the home in conjunction with mold sampling/testing. The reason is this. The mold sampling/testing can provide information as to whether there is excess mold in the home. However, the samples cannot tell why there is excess mold in the home. The inspection can help determine why this is the case and also provide how to address the issue(s) found.
Check back for more later!
One example of a mold 'Unfriendly' to people is a genus called Stachybotrys which is in the family of Stachybotryaceae. Because of the color normally being black this particular mold type is what has become known as toxic black mold. However, it is important to know that not all species in this genus of Stachybotrys are considered unfriendly or harmful to people.
At any rate the ones that can be toxic depends on how contact is made with the mold and a person's immune system. One person can have an allergic reaction when this touches their skin and a rash may occur depending on the sensitivity of the person.
The most extreme example can be this: A person fresh out of a lung transplant who inhales one or two spores from this genus (of the ones that are considered potentially harmful) can die. This is the extreme case where the average person inhaling a couple of spores from this genus will not be affected at all. But affects will vary from person to person based on their individual immune response and the amount of mold spores and type the person is exposed to.
Mycotoxins from mold can also play a part. These are produced by molds to 'combat' other molds in the area which I like to refer to Mold Warfare. Notice some affects below.
Long-term mold exposure, even if it doesn't cause immediate symptoms, may also lead to:
I said I would talk more about mold spores. I want to put this in a balanced context as much as possible. However, due to many people having sensitivities to various molds and other health factors it is a challenge.
Keep in mind mold spores are always in the air we breath since these grow outside and will naturally be inside our homes since the air outside will come inside the home.
We all breath in mold spores of various types every day. Our lungs will naturally dispose of these like it does other intruders. If we breath in too many then our aveoli (air sacs in the lungs) can be overwhelmed and it will cause us problems. Much of this depends on the person and their immune system.
I like to compare this to cooking over a grill where on occasion we may breath in a puff of smoke and be briefly affected by it. But if we are surrounded by smoke, that will naturally overwhelm our system. It is similar with mold spores. We just can't see them unless there is a large number of them. Depending on the person over time sensitivities/allergies to certain molds can develop such as breathing difficulties and more.
Most of the time we go through our day and think little to nothing of this. And many people may be affected very little by this if seemingly at all. As you may realize at this point it is important to be aware of the possible dangers involved. More on the next post
The Size of Mold Spores: Did you know the size of mold spores range from about 2 microns to about 20 microns and can be as large as 100 microns. To give you an idea how big (or small) that is it takes about 25,000 microns to equal an inch.
This is an important point. For example: Mold spores are inside the walls of your home back when it was built. They generally just stay there doing nothing until some type of moisture or water comes along.
At that point, within some 24 hours, they start to germinate or grow. The longer the moisture is present the more they grow.
This is especially important for people that are more susceptible or sensitive to various molds.
Consider this scenario: Drywall is often removed to fix a leak or to help dry an area when a leak is found. However, it is important to do this under containment so as not to let potential mold spores sitting in the walls 'out' to roam your home. Because at 2 to 20 microns they are microscopic and can't be seen with the unaided eye.
Water damage technicians may often say 'we did not find any mold'. They mean 'visible mold'. It can take several days before mold growth becomes visible.
In the mean time your home can be flooded with a large number of mold spores which can affect people adversely depending on their health.
I'll talk more about this on the next post. Stay tuned!
This can seem a little complicated the first time you go through it. Some of this I may have covered on a previous blog. But because I keep running into this when I go on inspections I want to help people understand what they need to do in this process of a potential insurance claim especially if mold may be involved.
Each insurance company has a policy on mold coverage and it it is important for you to know what that coverage is for your particular insurance company and your particular policy. Realistically, most people don't know what their coverage is until they actually have a potential claim and then they have to call their agent and investigate to find out what their coverage actually is. Keep in mind when calling your agent they are not an employee of the insurance company. Their primary job is to sell you or provide you with coverage options for your insurance. And they cannot make a decision whether you have coverage on a particular issue or not. That would be the adjuster's job.
Many times insurance companies, through their agents, will discourage making a claim so they can keep their payouts lower. They may say things like 'if you file this claim then the risk of your policy being cancelled goes up'. Although, this might be true, it does not always reflect what will actually happen. It is true the more claims that are made in a short period, say in 3 years time, will likely result in your policy being cancelled so you need to decide which claims are more important to file. Normally you want to have a larger claim filed as opposed to filing claims for smaller amounts say like 2 or $3000 depending on your particular situation.
In my experience of handling insurance claims in water damage since 2005 it is usually best to report that you have found a leak of some sort as opposed to saying 'I have mold in my house'. Insurance companies that cover mold will normally have a cap on the mold coverage. For example, State Farm has a cap of $5000 to cover anything related to mold Including repairs related to mold. Where the insurance company Farmers does not cover mold, yet they will cover any repairs related to mold after the mold remediation has been completed.
However, that is not the same as water mitigation or dry out services. Anything to do with water mitigation or dry out services is handled separately as a different expense although it may be in the same claim. And the cap on water damage services is normally the policy limit whatever that limit may be. Say, up to the value of the house.
One more point I want to make is this:
Sometimes using an approved vendor or a vendor Of a particular insurance company is not always the best way to go. There are several reasons for this to consider In your particular situation.
Going to Court over a mold issue requires proper evidence. You need an inspector who is certified for mold and can do mold testing or sampling. In addition to the written report you will receive from the inspector the inspector will need to be in court to validate the report. This basically means that he is telling the court that he/she did the inspection and wrote the report. The inspector will also be deposed or questioned to confirm his/her credentials and the experience the inspector has by the lawyers present. Without the inspector being present in court then the written report will be of no value as the court can dismiss it.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.