Owners of Fire-Damaged Houses: How Concerned Should You Be About Mold?

Something that a lot of owners of fire-damaged houses don’t spend a lot of time thinking about, but definitely should, is mold.

Mold that arises from water damage resulting from a house fire is much more common than you may think. It can also have more of a negative impact on a family’s health than you may think as well.

For instance, Melinda B. of Texas didn’t think much about mold.  She thought her home was her sanctuary, her your place of safety – that was until her 11,000-square-foot Texas dream home was quarantined due to mold. At that time, her 3-year-old son, Reese, was on daily medication to treat scarred, asthmatic lungs; her husband, Ron, had lost his memory along with his job as an investment banker; and the family had bloody runny noses and were also coughing up blood.

It was all due to mold. If your home was recently damaged in a fire and water was used to put out the fire that water could have caused damage that leads to mold growth.

In other words, to add “insult to injury” not only did you suffer loss in the fire but your health may also be in jeopardy now.

Mold is Alive & Thriving Inside U.S. Homes

In fact, according to a recent study, even if your home looks clean, chances are good you’ve got mold, often at levels high enough to trigger allergy and asthma attacks.

Researcher Kelly A. Reynolds recently surveyed 160 homes in seven U.S. cities and discovered that 100 percent of the homes tested positive for mold! That’s right, 100 percent. Now look at these facts from an article in the New York Times:

  • About 24,000 homeowners across the nation – including 1,600 in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – had mold-related insurance claims, according to a Texas-based homeowners advocacy group called Policyholders of America.
  • According to Robert P. Hartwig, the chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute, insurance companies recently paid out $2.5 billion in mold-related claims. 
  • Several experts say widespread mold anxiety got its start in the mid-90’s after 10 babies in neighboring buildings in Cleveland suffered severe bleeding in the lungs, including one who died. …….Stachybotrys has since been seized upon by some lawyers as “killer mold.”
  • According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 35 million Americans suffer from reactions to mold – that’s 12 percent of the nation’s population.

 

And if your home was damaged by fire, your chances of having mold have increased.

The Dangers of Mold

Molds are part of the natural environment.  Outdoors, molds play a part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees, but indoors, mold growth should be avoided.  Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air.  Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet.  There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.

Stachybotrys atra is an especially lethal mold. It’s part of a family of molds that produce airborne toxins, called mycotoxins, that can cause serious breathing difficulties, memory and hearing loss, dizziness, flulike symptoms, and bleeding in the lungs.

Studies by Eckardt Johanning, M.D., of the Eastern New York Occupational and Environmental Health Center, found that people with prolonged exposure to mycotoxins from Stachybotrys and other fungi experienced chronic fatigue, loss of balance, irritability, memory loss and difficulty speaking.

A Mayo Clinic study pegged nearly all the chronic sinus infections afflicting 37 million Americans to molds. Recent studies also have linked molds to the tripling of the asthma rate over the past 20 years.

When molds grow, it’s usually in damp places, behind walls and under floors, above ceiling tiles or behind shower walls – wherever there are wet cellulose materials they can feed on, such as wood, ceiling tiles, plasterboard, or accumulations of organic material inside air-conditioning and heating systems.

Again, if your house was damaged by fire and water was used to put out the fire your home could now have mold!

Molds can cause a variety of health problems

Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins).  Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis).

Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed.  Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold.

In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.

Symptoms other than the allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold. Often families exposed to mold can go for months, even years, without knowing where their symptoms are coming from.

What Can Do to Protect Yourself and Your Family?

Have a professional mold-removal company examine your home

The first step to defeating mold is to determine if your fire-damaged house has it. In particular, you’ll want to look at areas that sustained water damage or that are near water-damaged areas. To ease your mind even further, have a professional come out and examine your home. You can’t be too careful when it comes to mold.

Control moisture inside your home

It is impossible to get rid of all mold and mold spores indoors; some mold spores will be found floating through the air and in house dust.  The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present.  Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors.  If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem.  If you clean up the mold, but don’t fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.

Purchase an air purifier

Certain air purifiers not only kill mold spores in the air but can also kill molds that are visibly exposed on walls, ceilings and others areas of your home. How? By producing negative/positive ions and ozone and blowing them into the breathing space. Ozone is a powerful oxidizing (killing) agent. It oxidizes mold spores on direct contact.

Want to Sell Your Fire-Damaged House?

If you want to avoid having to deal with mold and other issues that arise from a fire-damaged house, you may be able to sell your home directly to We Buy Fire Damaged Houses.

We buy houses “as is.” That means you don’t have to worry about making any repairs. Just fill out the form below to see if your home qualifies for a free quote.

 

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