Most homeowners recognize the importance having snug, dry home. Now there’s a reason to put more emphasis on keeping it dry….toxic mold. A certain form of mold, called Stachybotrys (pronounced stakki-botris), is appearing in more headlines. Unfortunately, the mold, which is capable of causing illness in humans, is also becoming a familiar topic in courtrooms.
Toxic mold, like other more common molds (such as penicillin), is found indoors and can grow on nearly any type of damp or wet surface including wood floors, carpeting, tiles, drywall, paneling, insulation, etc. The only conditions necessary for its formation is moisture, food (organic material) and time. Besides mold’s ability to physically damage a home (staining, warping, deterioration), the spores from this type of mold can become airborne, making people susceptible to developing allergic or respiratory symptoms. Research is ongoing to determine whether mold exposure may also cause more serious health problems.
Damage to a home or its occupants that is caused by toxic mold is typically excluded. Insurance policies are designed to handle accidental causes of loss and items such as mold infestation, rusting and rotting are seen as home maintenance issues. However, in one notorious court case, a family in Texas was awarded several million dollars because its insurer allegedly mishandled a loss, creating a condition that allowed the growth and spread of toxic mold.
Rather than be concerned over the possibility of insurance coverage, prevention is the best course of action. Inspect in and around your home, looking for indications of moisture. Correct any conditions that could cause moisture build-up such as leaky roofs or plumbing, condensation, leaking appliances, etc. Keep your home snug and dry and avoid a moldy problem.