Discovering a moisture or fungal-based issue in a property can be a distressing event. Oftentimes the repairs are costly and some property owners will defer the repair or avoid detailed inspection that might uncover greater scope of damage than is visible to the naked eye. Under scoping or delaying remediation can lead to a variety of risks including adverse health effects, structural impacts, and litigation. It is imperative to mitigate the problem before it evolves into a severe situation.
How Mold Problems Begin
Mold requires two basic necessities to grow, which are water and a nutrient source. Once moisture is introduced into an indoor environment, the nutrient sources are often building materials. These moisture sources can be from condensation, exterior moisture intrusions, broken plumbing, flooding, and roof leaks.
Mold growth can appear on some materials in 24-48 hours. If action is not promptly taken, this could lead to a substantial loss in building materials. For example, carpet padding is typically needed to be removed if the carpeting was not professionally dried in the first day.
Impact on Building Materials
The first consequence of delaying remediation would be the destruction of additional building materials. For example, if there was a cracked foundation slowly leaking, the moisture intrusion will continuously impact materials such as drywall and flooring. If not addressed, areas adjacent to the origin will be impacted.
The second consequence of delaying remediation is structural impacts. Some fungi such as Chaetomium and Ulocladium have enzymes that can cause the deterioration of wood. This could lead to potential structural issues if wood rot were to occur. If wall systems are impacted by moisture, their durability can be compromised.
A third consequence of delaying remediation is the difficulty in determining the source of moisture intrusion as there can be multiple infiltration points that are difficult to discover with hidden fungal growth in wall cavities.
Impact on Occupant Health & Litigation
Mold is a well-known allergen and some types of mold are also toxigenic. Exposures to elevated concentrations of mold can lead to mixed responses from individuals. Some may feel allergic like responses such as sneezing, coughing, or skin reactions. Mold exposure can lead to asthma attacks to those who are allergic to mold.
If a property owner has a property with chronic moisture or mold issues, they may open to legal liability. The US even has a precedence for litigation for hidden mold in commercial buildings.
What is the Proper Approach?
The correct approach should involve
- Identifying the source(s) of moisture before remediation work begins.
- A consultation and subsequent testing using a reputable environmental professional to verify the full moisture intrusion was properly addressed and the scope of remediation is developed
- Once the scope is determined the remediation process will take place with affected areas under containment
- Once complete, the consultant will return to conduct post-remediation verification testing and issue a clearance letter indicating the property achieves pre-loss conditions
- Finally, the restoration process can begin
In conclusion, delaying remediation can lead to unintended consequences such as litigation, health impacts, and property damage. Responding promptly can result in cost savings if the problem is caught quickly. If you have any a mold issue, reach out to an environmental consultant such as Indoor Science.