Storm damage and mold are topics nobody really cares to talk about, until it happens to them. When nature does decide to pay you a visit, it can sometimes arrive with such suddenness and ferocity, that you don’t have much time to prepare.
And this ferocity became very apparent to me a few weeks back, shortly after a long stint of particularly nasty spring weather.
(I don’t usually mind storms; actually enjoy a good thunderstorm. But this was something else!)
These storms dragged on for days, and it seemed like they might never end. And as a recent transplant to East Tennessee, I wondered when the all the rain, wind and thunder would stop so I could step outside and feel the warm rays of the sun on my face. Luckily, after nearly two weeks of gusty gloominess, the sun came out, and all was right in the world again.
Unfortunately, despite my new sunny disposition at the perfect weather and blue skies, I would soon find out that the recent storms had left many people feeling blue themselves…
When the Storm Hits
I’d just joined CrawlSpaceNinja.com and it must have been my third or fourth day on the job when the owner and head-ninja, Michael Church walked over to my desk and explained that we needed to go and take a look at a house that had been damaged by the storms. And more specifically, that a massive tree had been blown over by the storms, and fell right smack onto the roof.
That sounded serious enough to me, however the reality of actually seeing just how massive that tree was, and just how bad the damage, was sobering.
So we arrived on site and took a look at the exterior damage, of which there was plenty.
The Very Obvious Damage
Now, eleven days had elapsed from the date of the tree fall. By the time we arrived, the tree had been cut up and removed from the roof. However, it was still very clear to see where the tree had fallen and crushed part of the roof. There was also a part of the tree that fell onto the back steps and pretty much crushed part of the wooden deck at the top of them. Of the visible damage, it was obvious that the cost would definitely be in the thousands of dollars.
The Not-So-Obvious Damage…
I then followed Michael into the interior of the home too see what sort of other damage there might be. And just as he had feared, it was evident that water had indeed permeated the home through the damage to the structure caused by the tree. This water had entered into many parts of the structure, and had flowed down into the lower parts of the home, even underneath the floors! Michael took some moisture readings and saw right away that there was a serious moisture problem that needed to be dealt with right away — by removing the insulation, and getting everything dry ASAP.
Never Wait. Dry Immediately!
Michael emphasized that it was of the utmost importance to get the drying process started as soon as possible in cases in which moisture has entered the home due to storm damage. DO NOT WAIT for the insurance adjusters to arrive because what can happen is that if you put off drying for too long, a more serious or sinister problem can develop: mold. And once you’ve got mold, it can be very expensive to remove as mold remediation is definitely not a simple or cheap ordeal.
Mold Can Turn Into a Very Bad Problem
What’s the big deal about mold? Can’t you just put on some rubber gloves, throw some bleach on a sponge, do a bit of scrubbing, and then be done with the problem? Well you might succeed in cleaning up the mold at first. But it will probably come back. You see, the thing is that mold is a very tough organism to eradicate once it has put its roots down and become established. Often, it takes a team of professionals using serious industrial equipment and processes to permanently remove. Putting off a mold infestation for too long and letting it get settled and all comfy-like can turn into a very expensive problem in the long run. Whether your mold is the very toxic black mold, or a less-harmful variety, make sure you’re treating the problem with the seriousness it deserves.
Serious Drying Required
In cases such as these, it is often expedient to employ industrial strength dehumidifiers which are good at sucking the moisture right out of the air, and eventually any wet materials. But before any of that happens, what we do is remove all of the wet insulation (because did you know that the R-value of insulation is permanently degraded when the insulation becomes wet?). Finally, once all the wet insulation has been removed, and the structure has been properly dried, we insert brand new insulation.
So to wrap up, if you have serious storm damage where water has permeated your structure and insulation, all of the above mentioned steps are required if you want to avoid a serious mold problem moving forward. Don’t wait for the insurance adjusters (who may be busy and not able to come immediately) get the drying started ASAP!
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. So here’s 10,000 words worth of the external damage:
You can also check out the video below: