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The Cost of Mold Damage: Why Early Detection is Key

The Cost of Mold Damage: Why Early Detection is Key

November 30, 2023

There are two reasons that you should never tolerate mold growth in your home; the damage to the building materials of the structure or contents, and the medical costs associated with the health effects from the mycotoxins that the microbial colonies produce. The way to reduce these financial and physical effects is by early detection of elevated moisture.

Microbial colonies feed on the surfaces they grow on by secreting enzymes that break down lignin (the component of wood that makes it hard) into carbohydrates and sugars. The term "wood rot" is where the lignin has been completely dismantled into materials that the microbial growth can consume. When it grows on glass, plastic, or steel, it feeds on the airborne dust.

Microbial Growth and Health Effects

The easiest way to prevent microbial growth and the associated health effects is by understanding that microbial growth is a symptom, but the presence of water is the problem. Moisture can exist in the form of elevated humidity or liquid water. The three most common areas where microbial colonies are found are the basement, attic, and adjacent to sources of water such as a sink, shower, or toilet. The timeline for spores to germinate and a colony to mature is that it only takes 48 hours for a spore on a wet surface to germinate. Nine days after germination, the colony will mature enough to produce its own spores. Thus, eleven days after germination, there will be a large production of spores released into the environment and the growth of new colonies will magnify. Early detection of moisture is by observing staining, moldy-type odors, or a humidity monitor.

It has been widely reported that the number one cause of bankruptcies in America is the high cost of medical bills. We have met many families that have spent over $30,000 on indoor air quality evaluations, remediation of their homes, and medical treatment as a result of mold (and mycotoxin) exposure. The most common symptoms of exposure are flu-like symptoms, fatigue, brain fog, and respiratory distress. We often receive calls simply because the family has a constant cough or respiratory issues that they cannot get over. The earlier the health symptoms are identified by a person that is a result of environmental factors, the sooner the process begins to develop a course of action. The overall costs are always less if the process can begin quickly.

Damage to Building Materials

Damage to a structure can be from swelling (and splitting) of wood-based components and contents by the absorption of water, and microbial colonies being established that break down the strength of the materials. On the inside of a home, these costs are extremely high when floor joists or wall framing collapse from long-term exposure to water or humidity. On the outside of a home, it is estimated that 34% of homes with brick or stone exteriors allow water to penetrate the envelope. This is not because of the quality of building materials, but because of the poor-quality skills of the contractors installing the materials. The most common early detection of elevated moisture penetrating the wall cavities is a strong odor when you enter the building. Hiring a consultant to assess the wall cavities is a good course of action since they should know to build a chamber before opening a wall cavity so the mold growth in the cavity does not escape into the building. Repairing this construction mistake is very expensive because the brick or stone must be removed to gain access to the building materials that are behind the wall.

Wet wood attracts wood-boring bugs such as termites and black ants. The most common areas where these bugs are found are in the rim joists on top of the foundation wall, the overhead floor joists in the basement or crawl space, and under windows; unless there is a source of water that provides a chronic elevated moisture within the building itself. The best method of early detection is a strong odor and inspections by an insect inspection professional.

The contents in a home are often a victim of elevated moisture. Microbial growth on furniture that has a hard surface (varnished wood) can often be removed with soap and water. Microbial growth on soft fabric (upholstered furniture) cannot be saved and should either be reupholstered or disposed of because the growth is often under the fabric and cannot be cleaned. If the fabric furniture is simply in a room with mold growth, it can be cleaned for continued use. The early detection of growth on furniture is by observing growth in other areas of the building and monitoring the relative humidity of the airspace. We have disposed of living room furniture costing over $20,000 simply because the homeowner did not monitor the conditions of their home.

The best way to avoid financial losses and health issues is to monitor your home for elevated humidity and moisture. Situational awareness and quick actions by asking for advice by a professional will save you money, your health, and significant stress.

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At Farsight Management we understand that not all indoor air quality companies are created equal.

We feel that it is imperative to educate ourselves, our employees, and our customers. You can trust that we follow all the national standards in regards to indoor air quality. This includes mold remediation, lead abatement, asbestos removal, and everything that we do.