Water Damage Prevention
Q: How can I know if I have water damage in the kitchen?
A: The following are typical signs of water damage in the kitchen:
Leaks under the sink, slow draining pipes, cracked tile or missing grout, soft or stained walls and floors, leaks under and around the base of the dishwasher, and moisture behind the refrigerator.
Q: Where do I need to look for water damage in the bathroom while inspecting?
A: Start with the toilet; check the water lines, the floor around the toilet, the tank, and the toilet rim. Make sure no leaks are visible. Then inspect the shower and bathtub. Inspect the tiles, the grout, drain, and visible plumbing. Confirm that all seals are tight and dry. Be attentive to discolorations or soft areas around the bathtub walls.
Q: Can the attic vents be a water damage “threat”?
A: Yes, but do not uninstall them. Vents are vital for proper attic ventilation and help circulate air and keep low humidity in the attic. However, inspect your vents regularly.
Q: I checked my attic insulation, and it seems wet. How can I dry it and make sure it is still in good condition?
A: After being wet, most insulation is ineffective. However, it is hard to dry out insulation; therefore, it will hold moisture for a while, creating high moisture conditions. It is strongly recommended to find and fix the leak source and replace all wet insulation.
Q: I can see discoloration on the wall near my utility sink, and the wall is getting softer. Does that mean a problem?
A: Stained or discolored walls around the utility sink probably indicate an internal leak in the pipes behind the stained wall. Fixing these pipes usually requires professional help. To verify the problem, consider hiring a professional for an infrared inspection.
Q: How can I safely inspect my house after water damage?
A: Dangers are not over when the water goes down. Do not endanger yourself or your family after a water event. Keep children and pets away. Try to protect yourself and your family from stress, fatigue, and water-related health hazards.
Follow these basic safety rules:
- Determine structural stability
- Cut off the power supply
- Turn off the water supply
- Turn off the gas supply
- Beware of animals
- Use protective gear
Q: What are the best ways to secure my property after water-related damage?
A: Lock and secure your property when not occupied to prevent looting. Keep in mind alarms may malfunction if the electricity or telephone service has been interrupted.
Q: How can I estimate the extent of the damage?
A: Start with a close inspection of the property to assess the damage to the exterior. Only if determined safe, walk around the building and lot to observe and gather information. Mark the water levels on the walls for reference. Now enter the structure. Taking extreme precautions; start from the top and document the damage.
Q: What are the electricity-related safety rules after water damage?
A: There three basic safety rules:
- Turn off the power to your home or business by disabling the main circuit breaker panel. Even if the neighborhood power grid is down, assume all power lines are active and functioning.
- Do not use regular household vacuums to remove excess water.
- Do not use electrical appliances while standing on a wet floor.
Q: What is so dangerous about mold?
A: Mold is mainly dangerous to your health as it may cause allergic reactions and serious illness. It is more dangerous to infants, children, elderly, pregnant women, and people with respiratory diseases, a weakened immune system, and those who suffer from allergies. The common reactions to mold are nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, shortness of breath, wheezing, and in rare cases, mold infections.
Q: Will cleaning moldy areas stop the growth?
A: Cleaning is a crucial step when attempting to eliminate mold, but it is not enough and will not stop mold growth. To stop mold you must remove the moisture source that promotes the growth. It is most recommended to keep the affected area dry and moisture-free.
Q: How can I tell if I have mold?
A: Active mold growth is slimy or fuzzy and is usually green, black, orange, or purple. Inactive mold is dry and powdery and is usually white. In its early stages, mold may look like a web; while in full bloom, it looks bushy. Another indicator of mold presence is an odor. Mold has a musty, earthy smell that can indicate its presence even if unseen.
Q: Where does mold grow?
A: Mold can be found everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. Usually, mold is found in damp areas, such as the basement or bathroom, as well as in the outdoor environment in grasses, leaf piles, hay, and mulch.
Q: What are the basic steps to mold prevention?
A: To prevent mold from growing, you will need to keep humidity levels below 40-45 percent. Start with measuring air moisture using a humidity meter (hygrometer). To maintain adequate moisture levels, allow good air circulation, and use dehumidifiers and your AC system.
Q: What are the techniques for mold prevention in the bathroom?
A: The most crucial technique for mold prevention is keeping low humidity levels. This effort can be achieved by:
- Allowing good air circulation by opening windows and doors and by turning the exhaust fan whenever using the bathroom.
- Cleaning the bathroom frequently, maintaining good conditions, and keeping it as dry as possible.
What is Mold?
To better understand the risks and hazards of mold, you must have a better understanding of what exactly is mold and how you can recognize it. Mold is a type of fungus that grows from spores and is essential for the breakdown of dead plant and animal matter. Usually, these spores are inactive, but they develop when the humidity exceeds 70 percent or when the temperature goes above 65 degrees.
Mold can be found everywhere in our environment, both indoors and outdoors. Usually, mold is found in damp areas, such as the basement or bathroom, as well as in the outdoor environment in the grass, leaf piles, hay, and mulch.
Mold is encountered daily and by everyone. It causes food to spoil, wood to rot, paper to smell musty, etc.
That fuzzy black growth on wet window sills is mold. Paper or fabrics stored in a damp place get a musty smell.
Active mold growth is slimy or fuzzy and is usually green, black, orange, or purple. Inactive mold is dry and powdery and is typically white. In early stages, mold may look like a web and while in full bloom it looks bushy.
Even when unseen, wet spots, dampness, or evidence of water damage will indicate a moisture problem and mold will probably follow.
You can perform a simple test to detect if a suspected spot is moldy. Lightly touch the spot with a drop of household bleach. If the stain loses its color or disappears, it may be mold. If there is no change, it is probably not mold.
Another indicator of mold presence is an odor. Mold has a musty, earthy smell that can indicate its presence even if it cannot be seen.
“Small” to “Moderate” to “Extensive” Area Mold
"Small" Area Mold: Up to 3 patches of mold, each smaller than 10 square feet, is considered a “small” area mold. However, keep in mind that small moldy areas will become larger over time, if neglected, so clean up and remove even small areas of mold.
“Moderate” Area Mold: If there are more than three patches but each patch is smaller than 10 square feet, it is considered moderate area mold. It is also considered moderate area mold, if there is one patch, larger than 10 square feet but smaller than 32 square feet.
“Extensive” Area Mold: A mold area is considered “extensive” if a single patch of mold is larger than 32 square feet.