With its warm, humid climate and frequently stormy weather, water damage can be a common problem for property owners in Florida.
Water can damage homes in many ways. Drywall easily absorbs water, causing it to swell, bulge, sag and eventually fall apart. Plus, wet housing materials can create ideal conditions for mold growth, especially in Florida, where “black mold” can be ugly and potentially dangerous. Because mold can easily grow after water damage in Florida’s weather conditions, it can be a challenge for homeowners to tackle water damage cleanup on their own.
Where does water damage usually occur?
Water damage is most common in walls, ceiling and floors, especially if there are pipes, drains or appliances near the area. Water damaged drywall can warp and buckle a wall, which can be dangerous if it is used to support the structure of the home. If the wall fails, part of the house could collapse. Drywall is also used in ceilings, which will sag and potentially fall if exposed to water damage. Most building materials can grow mold after water damage, but drywall is especially susceptible to mold after it becomes wet.
Is water damage covered by insurance?
Water damage is usually, but not always, covered by homeowner's insurance. For most ordinary leaks, spills, or strong storms, water damage repair is covered up to the amount to replace the home, especially if structural repairs are needed. However, if it is a major storm, flood or other large weather event, then the damage may be classified as “flooding,” requiring separate flood insurance. In Florida, this issue often comes up in hurricane season, as most damage during from these storms are consider flooding by insurance companies.
What does water damage cost?
Most water damage repair costs are assessed in rates measured by the square foot of damage. A small corner may not cost much, but water damage that has spread out over floors and walls can add up. Other factors can also influence cost. For instance, if water damage comes from a sewer leak or other unsanitary source, or if the water mixed with potentially hazardous chemicals, then the repair costs can jump. In some cases, homeowners may have a cap on repairs for mold damage, so expensive repair costs could exceed their insurance coverage.
What are the costs of unseen water damage?
Water damage can occur without the homeowner being aware. Slight leaks in roofing, pipes or hoses can slowly spread water damage that could become a major problem. Water damage can occur after a leak or spill is cleaned up, as leftover moisture weakens the material and creates mold growth. In fact, the after affects of unseen water damage is why a certified water damage remediation and repair service is so crucial for any significant leak, spill or flooding that occurs in or near the home.
How is water damage detected?
There are signs that can be evidence of hidden water damage. Blotchy or round stains are usually the result of water damage spreading through the wall boards or ceiling. Mold growth often indicates unseen water damage, which shows as a fuzzy discoloration in dark corners and spaces. Unseen water damage can also be sniffed out, as mold and bacteria growth release a musty smell. If the paint or wallpaper is peeling, or the wall is buckling, that can be another sign that unseen water leaks have damaged the wall behind it. Wood floors may also reveal hidden water damage by buckling and warping.
Why does water damage create mold?
To grow, mold needs moisture or high humidity, warm temperatures and something to eat. Unfortunately, most building materials act as a food source for mold. Mold can grow 24 to 48 hours after water damage has occurred. Drywall is generally constructed with a type of paper, which makes an ideal food for mold. It can also grow in insulation and carpeting. Walls and ceilings in older buildings can be made from plaster, which can also foster mold growth, but not as consistently as drywall, wood and other modern common building materials.
How does mold affect people?
Mold isn’t just unsightly, it’s also unhealthy. People can have allergies to mold that can produce reactions that range from uncomfortable to severe. Such reactions can include bronchitis, sinus infections, pneumonia, sore throats, migraines, joint pain and inflammation, digestive problems, exhaustion and in some cases, even depression. Too much exposure to mold can even lead to lung infections, potentially requiring treatment from a pulmonary physician.
Most common in Florida is Stachybotrys chartarum, or “black mold”, which holds the highest potential to do both structural damage and release its spores into the air, endangering those who could inhale them. Businesses that have potentially high exposure to mold include antique shops, construction areas, flower shops, farms, mills, greenhouses and saunas.
How to test for mold?
There are home tests that can indicate whether mold is present. However, because mold spreads quickly and can hide in hard-to-find places, it’s best to get testing from a certified water damage restoration service, which will use sensitive mold testing methods to preserve samples and get accurate results for mold detection. Professional restoration services can find mold and water damage that can easily be missed with home testing.
Does my insurance cover mold?
While homeowners insurance policies generally cover water damage, in some cases, mold damage may fall under an exemption for “fungi”, allowing for as little as $10,000 in coverage. Additionally, that payment could be even less, since the costs of investigating the damage are included in the coverage payout. For this reason, it's good to have a certified water restoration service examine any potential water damage or mold, as they can assist homeowners in the insurance process.
What are the solutions for mold and water damage?
For houses and structures that show evidence of water damage, hiring a professional water cleanup and restoration team is crucial. Assessing the full extent of water damage can require precise detection, especially for mold, which can linger if the cleanup is not done correctly. Additionally, any damaged area must be remodeled correctly to prevent any future damage from occurring, which can include inspection of load-bearing walls and foundations. For both safety and appearance, a certified water damage restoration service provides the best results for mold and water damage cleanup.
Contact us for an evaluation, or call us at (800) 554-7850 if you suspect you have water damage in the home.