Avoid Cold Weather Water Damage that Leads to Mold in Homes

(SUFFIELD, CONN) – December 11, 2023 – The leaves have fallen, and soon will the snow. Every winter, thousands of homeowners throughout the Northeast experience the wrath of water damage inside their homes caused by ice and freezing temps. According to a local home expert, now is the time to prevent a flood of problems.

“Burst pipes are the most common culprit of home water leaks in the winter,” said Laura Champagne, co-founder of Natural Home Solutions LLC, a mold remediation company serving the Northeast region. “When the water in the pipe freezes, it expands and ruptures.”

Simple steps to ward off water in the home include:

• Install pipe insulation made of foam or fiberglass on all pipes, particularly those in unheated spaces, such as attics and crawl spaces.
• Shut off the water to outside faucets. Add extra protection with an insulated spigot cover.
• Disconnect any exterior lines like garden hoses.
• Shut off water to appliances if going out of town.
• Install water sensors that alert home or business owners quickly in the event of a water leak.
• Maintain an average home temperature of 68 degrees.

“Pipes with running water increase the risk of potential damage because when the water becomes frozen within a pipe, there is the possibility that it will burst,” said Champagne, “However, when the source is cut off, the water that is trapped inside will drain out.”

Additionally, check the water heater for any faulty pipes, unusual noises, and leaks, or schedule maintenance to drain sediment. Since the temperature of the cold water drops about 25 degrees during the winter, water heaters have to work harder to heat up. When an aged heater is constantly running and working extra hard, it’s only a matter of time before it starts to leak or worse, burst.

Preventative steps need to be taken outside the home as well. Champagne notes that ice dams are formed from melting snow and water that run down the roof and freeze along the roof line and into the gutter. This then causes water to back up and go under the roof shingles allowing water to leak into the home.

“Use a snow removal rake after it snows to safely get the snow off your roof as soon as possible, or install heated roof coils,” advises Champagne. “When the snow accumulated around the perimeter of your house begins to melt, it can seep far down into the soil and leak through your basement walls. To prevent this, look out for any cracks in your basement and seal them now. Be sure to shovel away any snow throughout the winter.”

Champagne warns that beyond soaking the carpets and furniture, mold will quickly take hold after any water leak. If left untreated, a thriving mold colony can rot wooden flooring, damage drywall, generate cosmetic and structural damage, and ruin interior furnishings. In fact, she notes that sofas are the #1 source of mold in one’s home.

“As people travel throughout the day, their clothing picks up mold spores and then they unknowingly deposit them on their couch, which will then breed and cause a quick infestation when becoming wet or moist.”

Mold also produces allergens, irritants, and mycotoxins which sometimes cause sickness and adverse reactions. Some people experience asthma symptoms, headaches, dermatitis, and other hay fever-like symptoms. Ongoing exposure to mold may also irritate the eyes, nose, throat, skin, and lungs.

“At the first sign of water, immediately engage a remediation company to fix the damaged area and dry out any moisture,” said Champagne’s partner Jim Oliver “Your insurance advisor should be consulted to determine if it makes sense to submit a formal claim and make sure you are taking the necessary steps post loss.”

Natural Home Solutions starts by inspecting areas of concern for signs of contamination, performing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to detect signs of microorganisms, and well as Air Quality or Tape tests to collect air and/or surface samples. An independent laboratory then analyzes the samples and if mold is confirmed, they determine the source and the type of mold.

“Drying out a water-damaged home in cold weather is a challenge,” adds Oliver. “If you require mold remediation, we eliminate contaminants with EnzyCleanseTM, an effective organic solution that is non-toxic, and safe around humans or pets. We also perform optional services such as encapsulation, HEPA vacuuming, and air scrubbing.”

Oliver explains the EnzyCleanseTM fogger produces micro-droplets small enough to penetrate contaminated surfaces and reach areas like wall cavities to break down mold roots and spores, thus eliminating contamination. EnzyCleanseTM also continues working to prevent mold growth long after the treatment.

“It’s often not enough to just replace drywall, flooring and roofing,” concludes Oliver. “Air quality needs to be monitored to ensure that the home is truly restored and healthy for those who live there.”

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