Ah, the joys of homeownership! An unexpected puddle in the crawl space beneath our house led us to a leak in the pipe for our showerhead. This meant we got to spend a totally unrelaxing weekend tangling with the plumbing inside our bathroom wall and trying to assess the damage the renegade water had done.
We’re hardly the only ones forced to deal with the trouble water can cause when it gets into places it doesn’t belong. According to the Insurance Information Institute, roughly one out of every 20 insured homes will put in a claim on their homeowners insurance each year. Out of those claims, approximately one in 55 will be due to water damage or freezing.
Types of Damage Done By Water
Whether flooding is caused by a burst pipe or a natural disaster, it does a lot of damage. Furnishing, appliances and electronics are often ruined. Floors, subfloors, walls and the structural bones of a house can be damaged or destroyed. And then there’s mold. Thriving in warm, moist conditions, it seems to consider water damage an invitation.
When Mold Moves In
If water damage isn’t caught and repaired quickly and correctly, mold moves in. Growing on surfaces like wood, drywall, insulation, carpets, ceiling tiles, paint and wallpaper, it releases chemicals and spores that aren’t so good for human health. Breathing in the stuff molds put out can cause allergic reactions that affect the respiratory system, causing runny nose, wheezing and coughing, according to Medicine Net. People with chronic lung diseases like asthma or COPD are most likely to be effected, but anyone can be vulnerable to mold related health problems.
Showing Mold the Door
The first step in getting rid of mold is fixing the source of the moisture problem. Fix any leaks or ventilation problems, and then dry everything thoroughly. Next, clean any visible mold on hard surfaces. If it can’t be cleaned, consider getting rid of it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests using a bleach solution, commercial cleaners, or plain old soap and water to scrub away the mold.
Don’t Put Off Dealing With Mold
Dealing with water damage and mold sooner rather than later limits the damage to your home and your health. Your insurance policy may present another excellent reason to be proactive. In most states, your insurance company only has to cover mold damage that is a direct result of a peril covered by your policy. As the AARP explains, damage from a burst pipe is generally covered. Damage from a known problem that you never got around to fixing may not be. Of course, flood damage is a different matter; most homeowners policies don’t cover that at all.
While there are more entertaining ways to spend a weekend, we were fortunate. Our pipe had a fairly small crack and the damage was just in one spot. Even better, we seem to have caught the problem fairly quickly because there was no sign of mold when I peeked inside the wall. We got the leak fixed, pulled out the soggy insulation and sprayed everything down with a bleach solution as a precaution. We’ll watch it closely, just to make sure nothing develops, but I’m hopeful that being proactive will keep mold from being an uninvited houseguest.
Looking for more information on protecting your home? Check out “Protect Your Family with Homeowners Insurance” and “Disaster Preparedness: Protect Your Possessions with a Home Inventory.”