Miss a step in the water damage cleanup process, and you could be dealing with an even bigger problem.
Anywhere you have water or excess moisture, there’s the potential for mold. Mold can grow on almost any surface and will thrive in warm or cold climates. Exposure to mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma attacks, or irritate the eyes, nose, or throat.* Without proper cleanup, mold can affect your employees and anyone else using your buildings, eventually forcing you to close and relocate.
Water Emergencies and Mold
In the immediate aftermath of a water emergency, it’s important to act fast to prevent mold growth. “Mold will grow anywhere, and it can grow behind cabinets, on wooden studs, insulation, or on the backside of drywall,” said Karla Dowden, a regional manager with ServiceMaster, a preferred vendor for Brotherhood Mutual. First, call your insurance agent or insurance company to begin the claim process. They can assist you with understanding your policy’s coverages and may direct you to contact a water clean-up company.
In an emergency, you could choose to call ServiceMaster at 1-800-RESPOND. The costs of such services would generally be paid for by insurance, up to available coverage limits, if the loss is covered by your policy.
If you have a company remove water from inside your building, workers will almost always set up commercial air movers and air dryers. These heavy-duty pieces of equipment are designed to run constantly, drying surfaces and removing humidity from the air. Unfortunately, they are also noisy and hot. While the dryers may be annoying, resist the temptation to turn off this equipment during the day when the building is occupied. Stopping the machines for several hours slows the drying process and increases the chance for mold growth.
Facilities Maintenance and Mold
Controlling indoor moisture is the best way to prevent mold. When you have a water issue, quickly drying out your building is the most important step to help keep mold from growing in your building.
Small, unnoticed leaks can lead to mold growth. A small roof leak, a dripping plumbing connection, and windows that aren’t maintained are just a few of the culprits that contribute to mold growth inside a building. Keeping a watchful eye on your facilities can catch these minor water leaks before they turn into a major mold menace.
Not all mold cleanup is covered by insurance. If you have mold that results from water damage covered by insurance, mold remediation is generally paid for as part of the claim. Before you have a loss, it’s important to check with your insurance agent and review your insurance policy to make sure you understand the selected coverages and limits for water damage and cleanup.
If you find mold in your building, it’s best to consult with experts. “A remediation specialist can perform the appropriate steps to clean, sanitize, and seal the area,” said Dowden. Mold remediation specialists will typically seal off areas where they are working to avoid spreading mold to other areas of the building. They will also monitor air quality to ensure the mold is contained.
It’s often tempting to use volunteers to help clean up mold. The risk is that they not only can expose themselves to mold and become ill, they can cause the mold to go airborne, creating an even worse problem. For additional information about mold remediation, visit the EPA website.