Monthly Archives: February 2014

When Do I Need an Indoor Environmental Professional?

Perhaps you’ve had a pipe break or a roof leak, or maybe have noticed something that looks like mold growing on your basement furniture. The next step is often an important one in determining the outcome of your moisture issue. Most of the time, a property owner will contact their insurance carrier, who will typically arrange for an adjustor to visit the property. The adjustor will usually be making a decision as to the validity of a claim to be covered under the property’s insurance policy.

From there, you may be advised to contact a moisture or mold mitigation contractor. This is where the process can become a challenge. First, it is important to know that, as the property owner, you have the right to use the contractor of your choice. You do not have to work with a contractor recommended (or seemingly required) by the adjustor. Second, the contractors may offer up vastly different opinions on what needs to occur and the cost to follow their opinion. If your property claim has been approved by the insurance company, the latter may not seem to matter but my advice is that you consider the quotes as if you were going to be paying for them out of pocket.

What happens if your claim is denied or you don’t involve an insurance company for some reason. You may be tempted to opt for a ‘free’ assessment from a contractor. While this is not a bad idea, keep in mind that the contractor is providing a no-cost assessment with the goal of selling you one of their services, many of which are costly.

This is one of the times when an independent assessment from an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) can be very important. I like to explain that an independent assessment will keep the contractor honest….not that they are not honest, but it’s like having a mechanic not associated with the car dealer there to advise you when being told by the dealer that you need a new transmission. While the dealer may be providing good advice, it provides peace of mind to know that you really need to spend thousands of dollars on your vehicle.

An important point to remember is that no fewer than 30% of people who contact our office for a mold assessment end up needing to hire a mold contractor. We have saved property owners a lot of money when there is a simple and inexpensive solution to their issue. While there is no substitute for a quality mold mitigation contractor when one is required, the independent IEP will guide you so that your resources are used in the best way possible.

One last word of advice – be sure your IEP is truly independent with no ties to the contractor(s) they recommend.

Having a water loss or mold problem is enough of a challenge for any property owner. The suggestions above will hopefully help you understand the process of getting your issue resolved in an affordable and safe manner.

Mold in Your Shower – Is it Normal?

Our office gets a lot of calls from people concerned about mold growing on the caulk or grout in their shower. Most people want to know if the mold could hurt their family, while some just want to know if it’s normal to have some mold in their shower.

The short answers to the questions above are ‘no’ and ‘yes’. Shower mold is not likely to impact health and, yes, it is normal for mold to grow in damp environments. The truth is, mold is likely to grow in the shower and sink drain in a bathroom that is used every day and even in the showerhead in a guest bathroom.

Some molds thrive in damp environments such as showers, commodes and drain lines. The good news is that these molds are typically not the variety that will be harmful to a healthy person. The molds that tend to be a health concern usually grow on materials containing cellulose, such as paper or wood.

Does this mean we can let our showers and toilets become science experiments where the mold literally takes over by growing on the shower curtain and toilet lid?  It is not a good idea to have that much mold growing in a home, therefore, we need to have some way of controlling the growth before it gets to that point.

We tend to find the bathroom mold issue to be more prevalent in smaller homes and apartments, especially those without bathroom exhaust fans. Bathrooms where moisture is more likely to build up are going to be happy places for mold. Thus, the best prevention is keeping the bathroom dry by running the exhaust fan while showering and for a few minutes afterward. If your bathroom does not have an exhaust fan, you may need to open the bathroom window to let the steam out or dry off the shower enclosure with a towel.

If mold in the commode is an issue, try keeping the lid open when the commode is not in use. The water in the bowl is always evaporating, and a closed lid will hold the moisture which can lead to mold growth.

One final thought on controlling mold in the bathroom is the use of bleach-based products such as Tilex. These products provide a temporary ‘fix’ but have to be used frequently in order to keep the mold under control. It’s better to avoid bleach, which is probably more unhealthy than the mold you are trying to eradicate, and clean off the mold with some very hot, soapy water.

We welcome your questions and comments about what has worked for you in the quest to control bathroom mold.