Is it Mildew or Mold? Read This to Diagnose the Problem

Though most home warranty agreements do not cover mold or mildew damage, they do cover plumbing and appliance such as washers and dryers that may cause the problem.

Image by 👀 Mabel Amber 👀, Messianic Mystery Guest from Pixabay

Keeping the plumbing repaired and appliances that use water in good condition will reduce the chances of mold or mildew developing in the home. The best way to avoid the costs of mold or mildew mitigation is to take preventative measures, such as having good ventilation in areas where water is present, including bathrooms and laundry rooms. Fix basement leaks and eliminate dampness to avoid the damp atmosphere that encourages mold and mildew.

Image by Rebecca Matthews from Pixabay

Home Warranties Have Limits to Their Coverage

Most home warranties will not cover mold or mildew removal, so it is important to read those warranties for coverage limits. The home warranty costs are determined by the amount of coverage offered. If the homeowner asks for additional coverage for home systems like roofs and foundations, the home warranty cost will go up. If a customer requests coverage of mold and mildew damage, the warranty company might add it with additional home warranty costs.

Image by CreatureSH from Pixabay

A home warranty is meant to cover major home systems such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. Some home warranty companies will add in roofs and foundations for extra fees. The warranty covers major appliances such as refrigerators, ranges, ovens, dishwashers, washers, and dryers.

How to Tell Mold and Mildew Apart

Since mold and mildew damage is hard to get covered by homeowner insurance or home warranties, it is important to know a little about them and to avoid getting damage from them. Some insurance companies offer a special mold and mildew insurance rider at a cost.

Mold is a fungus that grows in the form of multicellular filaments known as hypha. Mold is heterotrophic, absorbing food or nourishment from its environment. It needs moisture and oxygen to survive. The danger from the mold is its airborne spores that can be inhaled and cause serious health problems. Mold needs a moist environment with adequate food to thrive. Areas that are clean, dry, and well-lit will not play host to mold.

Image by 👀 Mabel Amber 👀, Messianic Mystery Guest from Pixabay

Mildew is also a fungus and it can grow on many surfaces including paper, wood, leather, walls, ceilings, and fabrics. Mildew grows in grey or white patches in moist, dark places. Mildew can spread quickly, so if any is spotted, it should be treated and removed as soon as possible. It has a powdery appearance rather than the filaments mold has. Mildew will grow in damp bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and basements, on shelves, and in drawers.

The differences in mold and mildew are in appearance, removal methods, and health risks. Both mold and mildew present health risks with their spores, but mold is the more dangerous. Mildew is powdery looking and mold is fuzzier or slimy-looking because of its filaments. Mildew is white, gray, or pale yellow but can turn darker with age. Mold is darker and includes shades of black and deep green.

Image by 李 跃 from Pixabay

Removing mildew with a mildew cleaner, water, and a scrub brush is not that hard. But, mold is more difficult to remove. It may also represent more serious problems like moisture in the walls. Some types of mold can be removed with an antimicrobial spray treatment or bleach. But, black mold can be very dangerous and needs to be removed by professional mold remediation professionals.

Preventing Mold and Mildew

Preventing mold and mildew is a lot less expensive than getting rid of them and repairing the damages they cause. Mold and mildew stain surfaces, smell bad, and cause health issues. Some prevention strategies include the following.

1. Keep all the surfaces in the home as clean and dry as possible.

2. Dampness breeds mold and mildew, so take steps to alleviate dampness in the home with good air circulation.

3. Dry and circulate the air with dehumidifiers, fans, and open windows.

4. Closets and drawers can be dried out with the use of special chemicals like silica gel, rock salt, activated alumina, or anhydrous calcium sulfate that absorb moisture but do not harm fabrics.

5. Consider using mildew-resistant paint or paint with mildewcide in damp places.

6. Make sure there are no roof leaks or plumbing leaks causing moisture build-up in walls and ceilings. Take steps to dry out damp basements by fixing foundation leaks and waterproofing the walls and floor.

Image by Aliko Sunawang from Pixabay

Preventing Mold or Mildew Damage After a Flooding Event

Homes can suffer flooding events from severe weather, roof leaks, broken pipes, or overrunning toilets, sinks, or bathtubs. The most important thing is to get rid of any standing water and dry the home out as soon as possible. Hiring a water damage control company is well worth the investment. They have the pumps, fans, and other equipment and chemicals to provide very effective water damage remediation.

The water damage may cause the worst mold infestations in crawl spaces, attics, walls, closets, and basements. The water must be removed and the cause of the water leaks must be found and fixed. Fans may be needed to dry the damp areas out.

Image by 👀 Mabel Amber 👀, Messianic Mystery Guest from Pixabay

The faster water damage is cleaned up the less damage will be done. But, in the case of flooded areas, act safely and do not go in water that is in contact with electricity. Have an electrician or local utility turn off the power to the flooded house. Floodwater can contain dangerous chemicals and other health threats. Get the water out of the house safely and immediately start the clean-up.

In serious flooding instances, all the furniture, flooring, wallboard, insulation, and wood elements that have been soaked with dirty water need to be removed from the area, cleaned, and dried or disposed of. This can be a very time-consuming and expensive process. Hopefully, the homeowner’s insurance will cover the cost.

How To Remove Mold And Mildew 

When mildew or mold becomes noticeable, it means that it’s beginning to spread. So, it pays off to know how to remove mildew from outdoor cushions, upholstery, walls, and other parts of your home.  

Bleach is a common home remedy for removing mold in pillows, cushions, and linens. However, it’s important to be careful with the bleaching method as it causes discolouration. Add two teaspoons of bleach product to ¼ cup water, and then apply a drop of the solution to a less visible area of the cushion. Wait for the blot to dry (about a minute). If the cushion or upholstery hasn’t changed color, it’s safe to bleach it. 

Another home remedy to remove mold is spraying the surface with undiluted vinegar. Let the vinegar sit for an hour, and then use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the moldy surface until the mildew or mold comes off. 

If you have a moldy corner in the house, you can remove the mold by cleaning the surface with water and detergent or a commercial mold remover. Use a brush or sponge, and let the surface dry thoroughly. Next, apply a water and bleach solution. Let it sit for five minutes, and then scrub, rinse, and dry the area.

Will Insurance Cover Flooding and Mold Damage?

Though a home warranty does not cover flooding events and mold damage caused by them, there will still be help. Homeowner’s insurance covers many flooding events such as broken pipes and storm damage to roofs. Other flood damage will be covered by a flood damage policy or rider to the main homeowner’s insurance. When a person is in the process of purchasing a home, they should check out what type of insurance they need. Homes located in flood plains need special flood insurance. The home loan company will require this insurance.

It is important for the homeowner to carefully read both the homeowner’s insurance policy and the home warranty agreement to make sure they’re getting as much coverage as possible for water damage and for mold and mildew. Look in the fine print for an exclusion of mold coverage.

The mold and mildew coverage should cover the costs of testing indoor air and surfaces, developing a mold remediation treatment plan, and acting on the plan to remove, contain, and dispose of the mold.

Making an Insurance Claim for Mold

If you discover a mold problem, act quickly to claim coverage. First, read your policy to make sure there is mold remediation coverage listed. If the coverage is there, understand what it involves. Make a claim that falls within your insurance coverage. Start by making a call to the insurance agent describing your problem and the probable cause. Broken pipes, roof leaks, storm damage, an overrunning toilet or other appliance, and more may be covered.

Keep a detailed log of all calls with the insurance company and be prepared to advocate for yourself. Insurance companies might try to deny your claim at first. Be prepared to read them the section of the policy that describes mold coverage. Ask for an investigation to pinpoint the cause of mold. In the meantime, try to prevent additional damage. This might include covering holes in the roof.

Ask the insurance company what you can do before their adjuster comes to your home to assess the damage. This might include getting the water shut off and burst pipes replaced. Draining a flooded basement safely will limit the damage. Before any steps are taken, take lots of photographs or videos of the rooms involved and the extent of the damage that is immediately visible. Then, take a complete inventory of all the damaged property and belongings to back up the insurance claim.

Not all Mold and Mildew Damage Will be Covered

One thing to keep in mind is that neither the homeowner’s insurance nor a home warranty will cover mold or mildew damage that is caused by homeowner neglect or failure to take preventative measures in damp areas. This might include failure to provide ventilation with bathroom fans or dehumidifiers. It might be determined that the homeowner has failed to properly maintain the area suffering the damage. This can be true with mold infestations that are not caused by flooding instances, broken pipes, or appliances overrunning.

The best way to avoid mold and mildew damage and the need to make insurance claims is to take the aforementioned prevention tips. Keep the home surfaces clean and provide adequate ventilation for damp areas. Use dehumidifiers in damp areas and wipe down showers after use. If you spot small areas of mold or mildew, treat them immediately before they spread. Get any water leaks, damp basements, roof leaks, or other moisture problems prepared quickly.

Exit mobile version