In the fields of Mold Remediation and Water Damage Restoration there are people who do the work and there are professionals. Some of these people who do the work are earnest hard working people who are sometimes just getting into the field but others are straight con men. How do you tell the difference? There are some ways to tell when you have someone who knows and has the right equipment to do the job and someone who makes future work for us. By spotting the difference you can save yourself a lot of time and money.
Most companies will pay to have their technicians certified in how to do the job. An IICRC certified technician or company means that they know the standards that must be followed and the ones that are more based on judgement. If they know and use the standards this makes communicating with insurance much easier. A deviation from the standard that your insurance company doesn’t agree with and won’t pay for leaves you with an additional out of pocket expense. However if they did something that the insurance won’t pay for that was per the standard the contractor can help guide you to set things straight and get you paid. While some insurance won’t pay for the standard actions if the contractor doesn’t know the standard actions you will never know which is right.
- Using scare tactics and lying
If you have water, sewage or mold in your basement then you have a problem and don’t need someone telling you that it is going to be the death of you. I want your business, but I will not lie to you.
Are there toxic molds? Yes. Are they common? No. Will they kill you in days or weeks? Absolutely not.
Nobody can tell you what kind of mold it is without a laboratory test. If they say something like, “I know the smell of black mold” they are lying or delusional. The killer black mold the media speaks of is a myth, Stachybotrys, Chaetomium and Fusarium can be toxic but less people die from these than on a yearly basis than lightning. If you look online for actual documented deaths where mold was the proven cause you will find one or two ever.
- Not using or intending to use a dehumidifier or moisture reading equipment
By evaporating water out of a carpet or walls in to the air without removing it you make a prime environment for mold growth. If you spray chemicals into a basement to kill mold without running a dehumidifier to dry it back out you also promote mold growth at the same time. If you have someone working on one or the other of these without a dehumidifier they are doing something wrong. The only exception to this is when there is a low humidity outside and they are moving air into the building from outside and exhausting the moist air from the area they are working.
The other thing to watch for is lack of use of any meters on drying out a building. Moisture meters and thermal hygrometers (meters to detect temperature and humidity) are expensive but vital. Drying a building is a technical, not magic, process and has finite results that can be demonstrated on a meter. Not using these is leaving it up to chance.
- Leaving contaminated materials in place or taking materials that should be dried
Carpet, drywall and other porous materials cannot be cleaned or decontaminated if you have sewage, mold or flood water in them. Wiping mold off of drywall is the trademark of someone who is not trained in, understands or applies industry standards. This is so true that a true professional not only won’t leave a carpet in sewage soaked carpet in place but will stop the job and walk before leaving it.
The bottom line is that water from a sewer or flood will have gross contaminates in it, even if they are microscopic. There is no way to remove these and it is irresponsible for a “professional” to do so.
The opposite of this is the “cut it out cures all” approach. Removing drywall that got wet from a clean water supply line today is usually not correct. If the there is insulation behind it that is different but a real pro will tell you when you must, when you can and when you shouldn’t remove or dry different parts of your building.
- Lacking knowledge of questions you have
True professionals do this kind of work for a living. You should be able to get answers to your questions readily based on this person’s training and experience. If you ask what the affects the flooding or mold in your basement will have on the bedroom upstairs and they can’t answer even with a nothing then it is a pretty safe bet that they can’t tell you what the water in the basement is going to do in the basement either. Certainty is what you are looking for here plain and simple. Allow them to examine what is going on but don’t put up with indecisiveness. They won’t always be 100% right but this is usually due to lack of data about your home.
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To stop flooding or keep as much water out of your home or business before it starts, see our previous article for steps you can take in advance to reduce damage. You can also contact us for a free estimate on ways to prevent flooding around your home or business.