The unleashed destructive power of Harvey has left many of us heartbroken and wondering how and where to begin to put our lives back together and secure the safety of our homes. Besides the obvious visible issues that we need to address, there is another one, many times unseen, but extremely dangerous- mold.
The unprecedented amounts of water that poured over us for the past few days created a perfect environment for mold. There are a few facts that everybody, and especially homeowners, should know about molds.
Molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. No one knows how many species of fungi exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions- so our Houston climate is perfect for their proliferation, and spread and reproduce by making spores.
Molds are found in virtually every environment and can be detected, both indoors and outdoors, year round. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions. Outdoors they can be found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Many times, if the installation isn’t done correctly, they can be found behind siding. Roof water leaks can also lead to rapidly growing mold colonies in your attic or walls. Indoors they can be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements, attics, or showers.
Mold is a major-league nuisance. It blackens the grout lines in your shower, discolors drywall, shows up as black spots on siding, darkens decks, and grows on and rots damp wood everywhere. Even worse, it can be bad for your health. It releases microscopic spores that cause allergic reactions, runny noses and sneezing, as well as irritating, even injurious, odors. Some people are more sensitive to molds than others. For these people, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.
I have had customers that argued that mold can’t be prevented from landing on the exterior of their house, therefore they will not worry about it. I have politely disagreed because outside mold doesn’t always stay outside. For instance, mold on your roof may soon find its way into your attic. Mold can damage your home if starts growing under your siding. Some materials are more easily damaged by mold than others. Mold will literally eat away wood over time. Almost all materials will be damaged by mold to some extent given enough time, however, causing them to rot and fall apart.
Left unchecked, mold can cause damage great enough to lead to the collapse of ceilings, caving in of floorboards, and falling down of walls. Of course, it takes a while to reach that point. Your house is not going to fall down around you as soon as mold begins to grow in it. Many materials in the home quickly become damaged beyond the point of repair, though, and in time, a home can be completely destroyed by mold growth.
Children love to play outside, therefore they are particularly susceptible to mold-related health problems because their immune system is still developing. So mold around the areas they play is especially hazardous.
After a storm or flood, mold can be a serious problem. I will focus on mold concerns outside the house since this is our specialty.
The starting point is to inspect the windows, siding, and roof to check if any of them became compromised. You can do the preliminary verification yourself, even though I do not recommend it because many times homeowners don’t know where or what to look for. Companies like Everest Siding and Windows will do a free inspection to analyze your situation and advise you if any mold concerns are real and you need to take further action. We will provide you with a written report documenting our findings and recommended course of action.