When mold spreads in your home, it can be both a health hazard and a financial strain. That’s because the cost of removing it and fixing the damage it has caused is not cheap.
That’s especially true during the winter, when you risk the potential for burst pipes, increased condensation, and a greater accumulation of moisture from rain and snow. Regular home maintenance and monitoring can significantly reduce the likelihood of mold-related problems. Still, if you encounter trouble this winter, your homeowners insurance may be able to help with the high cost of removal and repair.
Why is Mold Such a Problem?
Mold is all around us but tends to grow in areas that are warm and moist, and most houses have several areas that are ideal for such growth, such as bathrooms and basements.
Mold not only looks gross, but can also eat away at critical parts of your property, such as walls, ceilings, and floors. If the mold spreads widely enough, sections of your house can become unsafe to live in and the overall property will lose value. In addition, mold can cause a variety of health issues, such as irritating the eyes, lungs, and skin, even for people who aren’t sensitive to it.
Stopping Winter Mold
To prevent mold from becoming an uninvited guest in your home this winter, here are several steps you should take:
Clean out the gutters. Because mold grows in moist areas, regularly cleaning the gutters will reduce the standing water in which it can grow. In addition, if gutters overflow or water can’t drain properly, sections of your house can become damp. Therefore, make sure all water is draining properly, away from your house.
Check all seals. Houses are meant to withstand a certain amount of water coming from the outdoors and have certain places sealed to keep it out. However, if those seals are worn down, they stop being effective. Windows are particularly prone to losing their tight seal, which allows rain and moisture from snow to seep in. Similarly, seals inside your house (such as those around sinks and bathtubs) should be checked regularly for leaks as well.
Keep your roof clean and in proper order. When snow and ice build up too heavily on your roof, or heavy items drop on it (such as a tree branch falling from the weight of snow), it can cause a leak. If your roof is prone to a buildup of snow and ice, you may want to talk to a contractor about how to fix it. And if anything falls on your house, make sure the roof is checked thoroughly for damage and repaired as soon as possible.
Reduce humidity inside your home. While you want to stay cozy in winter, a warm house surrounded by cold air can cause condensation and moisture to build up. Though there are structural elements of your home that should moderate this, you can take some simple steps, such as using a dehumidifier and exhaust fans, that can help to keep excess moisture out. Also, make sure to clean up any wet items around the house, such as damp towels and bathmats.
If you’ve tested for mold, or simply seen it growing, you should contact your homeowners insurance company about fixing the problem because the damage can be extensive. Whether your policy will cover mold removal and the associated repairs is mostly dependent upon the reason mold developed in the first place. Essentially, if the mold was a byproduct of a covered peril, such as a burst pipe, your homeowners insurance policy should cover damages. But if your mold problems were caused by a lack of maintenance or failing to fix known problem, you’re probably out of luck. Your home insurance also won’t cover you if the mold was caused by a flood; you would need a separate flood insurance policy for that.
Even if your insurance covers just a portion of the cost to remove mold and repair any damages, it’s generally best to take whatever steps are necessary to eliminate the problem. Given the health and safety hazards of mold, it’s in the best interest of keeping you safe and protecting the value of your property.