Torrential rains, plumbing problems, foundation damage, or drainage issuesall can lead to flooding in a home. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declares flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. The Pew Charitable Trusts cited that federal flood insurance claims averaged $1.9 billion each year from 2006 to 2015. If you haven’t already, at some point you may deal with mold in a customer’s home.
Mold is a microorganism that lives all around us. It can make its way inside the home via windows, doors, vents, shoes, clothes, or the family pet. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that mold is usually only problematic if the spores begin growing indoors where there is moisture. These places can include paper, wood, carpet, cardboard, ceiling tiles, insulation, dry wall, upholstery, and food. Indoor locations with high humidity levels, such as bathrooms and basements, are the prime breeding grounds.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that mold may look like spots and have a strong, musty smell. They estimate there could be any where from tens of thousands to more than three hundred thousand species of fungi. Most of the time, the EPA does not find sampling to be necessary if visible growth is present.
It’s important to remove mold when it is growing inside. The CDC recommends repairing leaks to prevent mold growth, keeping humidity levels low, and cleaning up within 24 to 48 hours after a flood. Dry out the house, open windows and doors, and use fans and dehumidifiers to remove moisture.
Further, the Asthma and A llergy Foundation of America (A A FA) notes that reactions to mold may either happen immediately or can show up later with nasal congestion or worsening asthma over time. Outside of a disaster scenario, they suggest preventing mold in the home by using an exhaust fan in the bathroom during showers, checking windows for condensation, making sure water drains away from a house, and keeping gutters clean to avoid leaks in the roof.
See below for additional resources, and if you have any existing health issues that have the potential to be complicated by mold, discuss them with your health care provider.