You are positive that there is mold, what do you do?
Do not panic. There is a lot of hype about mold but the reality of mold is that in most cases, it does not result in permanent side effects. Have you ever watched the weather segment on your local news channel and they are talking about different allergen levels such as dander, pollen, or MOLD? Its important to realize that mold is an allergen and your body reacts to it just like any other type of allergen. Some people are more sensitive than others and some types of mold affect a higher percentage of the population. Fortunately, in most cases once you remove yourself from the environment, your body will typically recover rather quickly. In fact, you may not have had any side effects at all. Of course if you have a strong reaction, symptoms persist, or you are just unsure about the impact the exposure to mold is having, its always recommended to see your physician.
The first step is to contact your landlord or property manager. They will typically respond by either sending out a mold inspector or a mold remediator. An inspector is certified to test the area in order to determine the type of mold, the level of exposure, and recommend the steps needed to treat the mold. A remediator is certified to treat and remove mold. Pros to having an inspector go out first is they will create a treatment plan but this also creates a delay because it will take some time to schedule the inspector in order to perform the test and then an additional several days for the results to come back.
The benefit of hiring an experienced remediator and having them go out right away is that they will generally know how to treat the mold which can help streamline the repairs. Once the mold has been remediated, a mold test is usually performed to verify that it has been removed. If the results come back showing that there are no elevated levels of hazardous mold, then the remediation was successful. Therefore they may be an added benefit to have the mold remediated and then tested instead of having it tested first. The obvious drawback to this is that if its not remediated properly and the test results come back indicating that there are elevated levels of mold still present at the property, then they will have to revisit the remediation process.
Since mold is all around us, when conducting a mold test, the inspector takes a sample outside known as the control sample, and then one or several samples in the area that is suspected to be contaminated. The findings will then show the results of the outside control sample to compare to the other sample(s) taken. From this, they can determine whether or not there are elevated levels of mold. In addition, the results will also identify the different types or mold species. Some are common while others can potentially be more hazardous. Many paints or other products used in regular home maintenance contain mold which can be detected during a mold test. While these types of mold levels may be elevated, these may not be a concern and in fact they could be a result of the remediation process. For example, if the home was painted or treated with another product that is commonly associated with mold, then this could result in elevated levels of mold from the use of those products.
Is it time to run?
In some cases, you may need to move out of the property depending on the severity of the problem. If this is the case, your landlord may not be responsible for the costs to put you up in a hotel of to completely move out of the property. The laws in every city can very on this subject and in most cases it depends on the terms of the lease agreement. Renters insurance may cover the cost for you to stay in a hotel or to move, but you need to discuss this with your insurance provider in order to ensure that you have proper coverage. There only a few insurance companies that offer mold coverage, so if your insurance provider does not offer this, then its best to shop around. Some of the more well-known companies that may offer mold coverage is Travelers, Hartford, AAA, and USAA.
Additionally, most landlords are not responsible for any damage to your personal belongings. This is another area where its important to have renters insurance and to verify that you have coverage for mold. Unfortunately, many tenants do not take renters insurance seriously. Some tenants do not have it at all, while others purchase it but they don’t bother to read the policy or ask specific questions. The reality is that most tenants do not get proper coverage until after something bad happens to them. Be proactive and speak to your insurance representative right away.
Disclaimer: Always seek the professional advice of a doctor or physician if you feel your health or the health of your family is at risk.
August 21, 2013