Mold

Considering all the rain that fell in Maine in 2009 it should come as no surprise that there has been some water damage this summer and with water damage there usually comes some degree of mold damage. What may be surprising however is that the State’s property insurance policy as well as most homeowners policies, specifically exclude mold claims.

D. EXCLUSIONS
1. The Company will not pay for loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by any of the following. Such loss or damage is excluded regardless of any other cause or event that contributes concurrently or in any sequence to the loss.

2. The Company will not pay for loss or damage caused by or resulting from any of the following:
c. (2) Rust, corrosion, erosion, fungus, decay, deterioration, wet or dry rot, mold, hidden or latent defect or any quality in the property that causes it to damage or destroy itself;

The following information is offered in an attempt to provide you with some basic cost effective methods for identifying, preventing and the remediation of mold damage.

The air we breathe both indoors and outdoors contain tiny spores usually invisible to the naked eye. When these spores come in contact with moisture and organic matter mold can occur. Mold plays a beneficial role in decomposing leaves, wood and other plant debris in an outdoor setting but can be an unwelcome guest when it shows itself indoors.

The most obvious way to identify mold in your building is by visually examining surface areas especially where moisture is known or expected. Secondarily there may simply be a musty smell indicating the presence of mold but it may not be immediately visible without further investigation.

Prevention

To permanently address mold hazards you not only have to remove the mold but remove the source of moisture.

Look for water seepage from leaky roofs and plumbing
Keep water away from concrete slabs & basement walls
Clean and repair roof gutters regularly
Install exhaust fans in bathrooms, kitchens & laundry rooms
Ventilate and insulate attics & crawl spaces
Check around windows & plumbing fixtures for condensation
Keep indoor humidity low (ideally between 30-50 percent)

Containment

Once mold has been identified, it is a good idea to seal off the area from the rest of your home or office to prevent the spread of mold spores while cleaning. Mold clean up can usually be contained with simple 6-mil fire retardant polyethylene in areas involving less than 100 square feet. The sheeting can be affixed to floors and ceiling with simple duct tape. Be sure to seal air vents to prevent the spread of disturbed mold. The containment area must also be kept under a slight negative pressure and that is easily accomplished by placing an exhaust fan in the area to be cleaned and ducting it to the outdoors.

Removal

Identify anything that can be thrown out, place it in a garbage bag and tie off the top before disposing of it. Porous materials like papers, books, ceiling tiles, insulation and carpets may have to be thrown away. More durable and less porous items can first be washed with a mild detergent solution (such as laundry detergent and warm water). With caution, a solution of one gallon of water to one cup of bleach may also be used provided that the item to be cleaned can withstand bleaching. After the damaged property has been cleaned, an application of borate based detergent will assist in the prevention of additional mold growth. It is important that all mold be properly removed and surfaces be properly dried before refinishing or reusing any mold damaged items.

Personal Protection

When removing any amount of mold it is suggested that you use a respirator with an N-95 rating which will fit over the nose and mouth and filter out 95% of the particulates in the air; these respirators are available in most hardware stores.

Likewise you should take steps to protect your skin and eyes. Use of long neoprene gloves and disposable protective clothing is recommended. The use of properly fitted goggles that prevent the entry of dust and small particles through your eyes is also recommended.

Concern about the effects of indoor mold issues has increased over the years and the long term effects of these molds on human beings are still largely unknown. These suggestions and recommendations should only be considered if damage appears modest in nature. If there are concerns about the extent and scope of the mold infestation it is recommended that you consult with a professional.