With Halloween just around the corner, everybody is talking about their favorite horror stories. Many families are dressing up their homes with ghosts, witches, carved pumpkins, and other things that are meant to be scary (in a fun way). But could there be something else lurking in your home, something that’s actually scary in real life? Something that may have been hiding for weeks, months, or even years right under your nose?
We’re talking about residential mold, of course — and it really is one of the most frightful things out there, no matter what time of year it is. It would be one thing if mold were basically harmless, and did no real damage to your health or property. But this simply isn’t the case. Toxic mold can wreak havoc on health. The CDC (along with many other government organizations) has recognized a long list of health problems associated with toxic mold exposure. Many of them are respiratory in nature, and people who already have respiratory problems (children with asthma, for example) will see their condition worsened by exposure to toxic mold. But make no mistake — toxic mold is toxic for everybody, especially if the spore counts are high enough.
Then there are the threats posed to your property by mold. Did you know that in most states, it’s required to report any mold-related events (including cleanup or mold remediation) to potential buyers? What’s more, such events create a stigma around properties that has been clearly shown to erode property values. That means that even if you have a mold invasion and have it cleaned up by a professional, this will be reflected on your home’s record, and will affect its value on the market.
What’s the worst that can happen?
So in terms of mold horror stories, how bad does it get? In the most extreme cases, the mold colony will be so deeply rooted in the infrastructure of the home that there is no recourse but full-scale demolition. Whether or not your home insurance company would cover such a thing depends on the policy, but in many cases, such a thing wouldn’t be covered — at least not in its entirety.
In other severe cases, significant portions of the home may need to be torn out and replaced (e.g. sheetrock, insulation, and other materials that have been irreversibly infested with mold).
But the long-term exposure and health problems are where it really gets scary. People often live in moldy environments without realizing it, and the health effects can sneak up on you. In some cases, it’s not until people get out of the home and have the problem taken care of that they realize how much their health was suffering.
How to avoid mold horror stories
Preparation and strategy is key to beating mold before it grabs hold. Understanding the underlying conditions that allow mold to thrive is important, and having regular professional checkups to make sure your environment is mold free will give you further peace of mind. Happy Halloween!