Do You Have HIDDEN Water Damage and/or Mold Problem?

How Do You Know for Sure You Don’t Have a Hidden Water Damage and/or Mold Problem?

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families that have been greatly impacted by hurricane Florence. Our team has been involved in helping to move people out of their homes that have been even moderately damaged. In some cases, the initial inspection revealed only minor damage. We have been doing our due diligence and our years of experience in looking and finding hidden moisture behind baseboards, window and door casings, and insulation. We are discovering microbial growth due to wind-driven rain.

The longer you wait to inspect your home or property after you have received water damage to the exposed surfaces of the drywall, it will often dry out. Does this mean the insulation and the wood is also dry? Absolutely not! The inside of the wall cavities are not exposed to air. The moist conditions are perfect breeding grounds for mold development and wood rot.

What if this is not discovered at the time of your inspection with your insurance adjuster? You only claim the obvious damage that you and the adjuster can see. Remember, the adjusters are expecting YOU to point out any damage. They are not going to open up walls, remove baseboards, crown moldings, hardwood flooring, etc. Why is this? For one, your adjuster already has an overloaded schedule due to all the claims being handled. This is the reason you need to have a restoration company with expertise to know how to look for and find hidden damage working on your behalf now.

I often advise my clients that water damage plays hide and seek. Another example is there is always dumb water and smart water after storm damage. You will clearly see the dumb water. Where is the smart water? It’s hiding behind cabinets, under flooring, behind baseboards, in the insulation, etc. How much effort did you and your adjuster make to find and identify hidden damage? I advise my clients to be proactive and submit your concerns to your insurance company and adjuster,

There are many experienced and knowledgeable insurance adjusters who do a great job and want to go above and beyond to help their insureds. They are seasoned veterans and often have experience in construction. They understand there may be hidden damage and want to make sure the restoration company that has been hired by the insured can properly document the damage. We have seen a large number of claims that have been denied by FEMA due to the property owner failing to act to prevent further damage such as putting a tarp on the roof.

If you already had a restoration company out to your property, does this mean they discovered all the damage? That depends on how much experience the company and technician have. I have been called to inspect homes and businesses that were already dried out by other restoration contractors. The property owners were having health issues, had musty odors, and elevated humidity. Obviously, more work needed to be done. Don’t risk your family’s health or additional property damage by not getting your inspection by experienced, professional experts!

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You and Your Home

When Hurricane Florence hit our area with record rainfall, 100+ mph winds, and spurned tornadoes, most of you had left the area. When you returned home you may have noticed a few shingles missing, maybe a piece of siding gone, etc., and you thought you had escaped serious damage. You possibly even filed a claim with your insurance company just to be sure. The adjuster came out to inspect your home and or business and maybe your insurance company has even sent you a check along with a breakdown of how much they determined you have in damage. All is good, right?  I’m sorry to say, not necessarily.

My wife and I just returned to the area on the first of November and rented the top half of a local beach house for a week. Before we booked, we asked the property manager if there was damage to the home. He said there were a few shingles missing, but the house was basically unharmed. He had actually found the shingles and had them put back on, and the place was in great shape. All was good.  

We walked in ready for a nice stay on the beach in a very cozy cottage and immediately knew this house had some serious issues. At first glance it looked great, but we are trained to notice the damage. I looked up, and there was separation above the windows, traces of mold around the air vent, and areas where the tape was separating from the drywall on the ceiling. These are all signs of hidden damage. These symptoms may not show up right away, but they start occurring after the water sits inside the walls and ceiling for a period of time. Unfortunately, it will only get worse.  

This house already has mold that is taking hold. There was only a tiny bit of mold showing on the ceiling next to this air vent. Twelve hours later, it was appearing on the front of the cover. I took out our thermo imaging camera and verified that there is hidden water throughout the house. The areas in blue indicate wet areas. The room looked normal, but there was definitely water sitting in the insulation. I took similar pictures in almost every room of this house. Did the property manager do anything wrong? No, but you don’t know what you don’t know.  

Unfortunately, this house is typical of what we are seeing in houses in the area. The wind driven rain came in at an angle, and water got into the structure of the homes. The problem is it can’t be seen by the naked eye, and you most likely aren’t trained to find the damage or have the tools to do so. Think of hidden water as a cancer in your home. It may look fine on the outside, but it is sick. NOW is the time to get it treated.    

Now is when you can file an insurance claim because the damage was caused by the storm. If you wait for months, the insurance company may question when the damage occurred, and that can seriously affect how you are covered. Insurance policies cover storm damage differently than they cover mold damage. Now is when we can bring your adjuster back out to see that the damage was more extensive than it first appeared. Now is when you can start the mitigation so the repairs can be started more quickly.    

If you suspect you may have hidden damage get it checked out by a qualified restoration professional with the tools and the experience to give you an accurate analysis of your home or building. Hopefully, they will tell you it is fine, but if not, they can help your home get on the road to recovery.