How Not to Botch Mold Remediation
Arlene wakes to burning eyes. She has a pungent mold smell in her home but its worse in the kitchen. She had mold remediation done 6 months ago in her Delray Beach, Florida home but now the problem is back. Neither the remediator nor the insurance company will return calls. She’s stuck with a stinky house and a raging mold allergy.
My heart went out to her. It was an all too familiar story of a bungled mold remediation that started with the contractor not finding the cause of the water damage and ending with the homeowner right back where she started.
In Arlene’s case, the insurance company steered her to one of their vendors saying they would guarantee the work for 5 years. Now, wouldn’t that give you peace of mind? Wouldn’t it be a relief to believe that the insurance company had vetted their contractors and was so confident in their work that they, your insurance company, would guarantee the work was done right? Whew!
And they lived happily ever after…Not!
They Missed 3 Vital Steps
Unfortunately, some guys are in too big a hurry to get to the payday that they skip this first and most critical step: find the cause of the problem otherwise you’ll just be wasting your time and money. Since they didn’t find the problem, they also skipped the second essential step: fix the cause of the problem. At that point, the remediation was likely doomed.
Insurance companies are often in such a hurry to “mitigate the damage” (read: minimize their payout) that they approve ridiculous amounts of drying equipment before the source of the damage is identified. (This can eat up the homeowner’s policy money so the homeowner pays more out of pocket.) Frankly, I’m surprised they paid the claim with no confirmed cause of damage.
Homeowners, too, bare responsibility here. Namely, to do whatever you can to stop the spread of damage. This includes hiring professionals to assess damage and make repairs…even if your policy covers it. (Reporting damage then doing nothing while waiting for insurance to determine coverage is a dangerous game, but that’s a topic for another post.)
Get a Clearance Test
The remediator also skipped his validation: the clearance test. This is the test done after remediation to confirm the home is “mold normal”. It is done by a mold assessor, not the remediator, to assure all parties that the work was done correctly. It boggles my mind why a licensed, professional who makes his living doing remediation would skip the chance to prove he did a good job. Everybody craves an “atta boy” don’t they?
The customer relinquished her power to the insurance company and the remediator. She requested the clearance test but stopped short of buying it herself. Since the insurance company paid the claim, they likely would have reimbursed her for cost of the test. After all, they want to make sure work was done correctly since they are guaranteeing for 5 years!
Mold is one of those disclosures required in a real estate contract. So, if you plan to rent or sell your home any time in the future, it’s a good idea to get a clearance test. By law you must disclose that you had a mold problem, but the clearance test proves that you had it taken care of so the buyer/tenant doesn’t worry about it. So, follow your instinct: Get an independent clearance test and be willing to pay for it. A few bucks now could save you thousands later.
The Moral of the Story
Use common sense: find the problem then fix it. Follow your gut instinct. If you want a clearance test, get it. In the grand scheme of things, it does not matter if you tick off the contractor or the insurance company. It’s your house and you will be living there.
BTW, we do not do clearance testing. the Real mold guy! is a mold remediation and water damage restoration firm. We get rid of the mold. The mold assessor confirms that remediation was done right. We want you to be safe. That’s just one of the reasons we’ve been in business 20 years and counting.
If you have questions or think you have water damage or a mold in South Florida, feel free to call us 561-693-8955. We’re here to help!