How Water Damage Can Lead to Toxic Black Mold

Posted by Matt Buchanan

For us, there is nothing worse than getting a call from someone that has mold damage. Why? There are a lot of reasons that we’ll discuss in this article, but it boils down to the fact that it didn’t have to happen. But because there is mold damage, it becomes a very expensive process to fix and insurers will not cover any of the expenses. So let’s talk about water damage and mold, so that you can understand how it happens and what to do to make sure it never happens to you!


Gradual water damage vs. a sudden water loss


When it comes to water getting into your home, it usually falls into one of two buckets. Either it’s a sudden loss where a large amount of water spills into your home or it’s a gradual leak that isn’t immediately event but causes problems over time. It’s important to distinguish between the two simply because your insurance policy will usually cover sudden water damage but they do not typically cover gradual water losses.


Gradual leaks or moisture intrusions can lead to black mold

black-mold-gradual-water-damageUsually these types of losses occur due to a small leak in a pipe behind a wall or a window well in a basement. They’re small enough to not be noticeable for some time, but over time can do a considerable amount of water damage. If the problem isn’t caught quickly enough, the moisture will lead to black mold, at which point you’ve got a massive problem that will need to be remediated by a certified water damage company that also performs mold remediation. The best thing you can do to keep a pulse on any potential slow leaks is to monitor your water bill. If you’ve never done so, you can request a historical summary of your account so you have a baseline for what you should expect. If you start to see your bill spike (without purposefully using more water), it could be a sign you have a leak. At that point, you’ll want to call out a plumbing contractor that specializes in leak detection.


How sudden water damage can lead to black mold

When confronted with sudden water damage in their home, people tend to do one of 3 things:


() clean up the water themselves and attempt the dryout process by plugging in some fans or renting drying equipment.

() call their adjuster and wait for professional water mitigation services be performed
immediately call an emergency water damage cleanup company to begin getting the moisture out.


While some of the options above are better than others, none guarantee a successful outcome (and by success, we mean the water loss was contained and the structure was dried out and repaired properly such that no future mold damage will occur).

water-damage-moisture-readings-wet-carpetWhen it comes to making sure water damage does not lead to toxic mold damage, the recipe is simple (yet difficult to actually do): return the home to its ‘dry standard’ before mold has a chance to grow. The dry standard refers to the amount of moisture in the surfaces of your home that are ‘dry’? Huh? We’ll explain…every surface has moisture in it. Your wood floors, your drywall, your concrete subfloor…when ‘dry’, it has some moisture in it. That’s normal and harmless. So when we’re tasked with drying out water damage in homes, one of the first things we do is determine what the dry standard is for the home, so we know what moisture levels we need to aim for during the drying process.


What can go wrong?


There are 3 primary things that can go wrong for anyone attempting to mitigate a water loss. That includes professional water restoration services and DIYers!


Not initially locating all of the moisture. Water can travel to weird places, and it’s never easy to find all of it. If you try to cleanup water damage on your own, you’re pretty much assured that you’re not going to find all of the places the water has traveled. And if you hire a professional and they don’t perform the initial moisture assessment correctly, they won’t focus their drying efforts on all of the wet areas.


wood-floor-cuppingNot drying to completion (reaching the dry standard). We see this all of the time with customers that hired a water damage company to help them recover from a flood only to start to see their wood floors cup or their drywall start to bubble, warp or stain. Whether it’s incompetence on their part or a conscious decision to wrap up the job before it’s been completed, the result is you end up with black mold and your insurer has already paid out the claim. Where does that leave you? Up duck creek without a paddle.


Drying improperly and causing secondary water damage. This happens when evaporated moisture isn’t properly collected and disposed of using dehumidifiers. You see this when someone tries to dry out their property on their own and just uses fans. The water evaporates into the air, but then just travels to another part of the room and gets that area wet.


In all of the scenarios above, you’re left with moisture problems and over time that excess moisture will turn to black mold. If you’ve previously had water damage in your property that wasn’t mitigated properly and you have black mold, we can help! Not only can we remediate the mold issue, we can also permanently address the underlying moisture problem that has caused mold damage!

About Matt Buchanan

I grew up in Irving, TX and left for Nashville, TN for college. After college I lived in Washington, DC and then in Cairo, Egypt. After coming back to the states, I spent a couple of years back in Dallas before moving with my wife to Denver!
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