Why Mold Remediation Companies Have to Battle a Bad Industry Reputation…

If you’re a business owner within the restoration industry, like myself, there isn’t a day that goes by when you find yourself having to prove that you aren’t one of those “corrupt restoration companies”. Does it bother me that I have to play the roll of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, nearly 5 days a week? Not at all! Would I prefer to walk into my office, slap a big red easy button and focus on other tasks at hand - for sure!

Alright, so enough with the silly references above. So, why do Mold Remediation Companies have such a bad industry reputation? Well, it’s phone calls similar to the one I received on Thursday, that pretty much summarize the events that lead to the stigma that all Mold Remediation Companies are only in the business for self gain. A lovely woman called our office, informing me that she came across our company name a few weeks back - at 1:30am to be specific. Why is this time frame important? Because she wasn’t getting sleep, staying up at night wondering if the company she had working in her home locked up after they left, employed workers with malicious tendencies, were doing what they said they were going to do, etc.

For the sake of time here, I’ll spare you the small talk throughout our conversation. Some of the big takeaways was her perception of the insurance claim process, following damages that she suffered to her home. For one reason or another, this woman decided to hire a PA (Public Adjuster). Don’t get ahead of me here, as there is absolutely nothing wrong with hiring a PA to assist with an insurance claim. In fact, I often recommend it, with the shift that I’ve personally seen with the tactics that some (not all) insurance carriers employ. With hiring the public adjuster, a Mold Remediation Contractor was recommended (nothing wrong with this process thus far).

Flash forward to the commencement of the Mold Remediation Service and the company used begins tearing apart just about everything in this woman’s home, according to her. Upon completion of the work, a licensed Mold Assessment Company came in to confirm that the Mold Remediation Service was successfully performed. They were there to make sure the home was returned back to a satisfactory or better state. This is where the process gets out of hand, as it took 5 instances of the Mold Remediation Company coming back to perform further work, in order to successfully complete the service. As a result of the additional expenses incurred for assessments by the Mold Remediation Contractor, they had the audacity to ask the homeowner to pay a portion of her invoice - despite engaging in an Assignment of Benefits, whereby the service company will wait to collect from an insurance carrier. Fun fact: All reputable Mold Remediation Contractors should incur the costs for re-testing (additional assessments) until the service is successfully completed. There are instances in which this is not the case, but these are rare.

As I wrapped up my phone conversation with this woman, she mentioned that she looked into the Mold Remediation Company after the fact to find that they did not have stellar reviews. She also mentioned that there were numerous instances in which the company left her property unlocked - occasionally leaving doors and windows opened to the outdoor elements. Absolutely no regard for the homeowner and her belongings! If you’re a homeowner reading this blog post, the point that I would like to get across is to trust, but verify. The Mold Remediation Industry, is a major referral business - as is much of the construction industry. While there are still companies, such as ourselves, that refer business with the best of client intentions in mind, not everyone shares the same interests. Do your homework. Check online resources for company information. Establish communication with referred contractors before you simply invite them into your home. I will include a couple of links to reputable websites, where you can verify contractor licensing and reputation, as well as file complaints below.

Verify a license: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp?mode=0&SID=

Verify reputation/ File a complaint: https://www.bbb.org/

Black Toxic Mold! Why All The Hype by Contractors, And Should You be Concerned?

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Oh, the ole’ “black toxic mold is inhabiting your home and will slowly eat away at your family’s health”… As if! So, what exactly is “black toxic mold”? Well, I don’t recommend performing an extensive Google search about this - unless you’d like to have nightmares. In the simplest explanation, the terms black mold and toxic mold, sometimes used together, are utilized to describe specific species of mold. Stachybotrys is the most notorious species of mold that ties to the toxicity that is this overly-used scare tactic of words. One in fact that restoration professionals have created to drive consumers to hire a remediation Company out of sheer panic

Is all Black Mold Toxic?

Good gracious, no! Mold comes in all colors, shapes, patterns and sizes. More often than not, multiple species of mold will inhabit a space. Stachybotrys is a mold that scares many, as the health effects are something not to mess around with. Because this is a species of mold attributed with long term water damage, it’s color often has many shades of black. That said, Penicillium Aspergillus are species of mold that are much more common - as their growth is often the result of excess humidity within the air. Why does that matter? Well, these specifies of mold are also black in color in many instances. The black spotting that typically develops on walls is very often Penicillium Aspergillus.

What Mold Can Affect My Health?

Great question! Short answer is that you should be concerned with all species of mold equally. No, this doesn’t mean to drop everything and run out of your house at the first sight of mold. This does, however, mean that you should not put greater importance on one species of mold over another - unless of course you know that you have allergies toward something specific. Many individuals now-a-days are having allergy tests performed at their doctor’s office, when they begin to develop cold-like and flu-like symptoms more frequently.

What Should I do When I Discover Black Mold, Green Mold or any other Color Mold?

First, relax… There’s no reason to panic. If you or anyone else within the property are experiencing health issues, it would be advantageous to separate yourself from the environment - or minimize being in these areas at the very least. The next step would be to take advantage of the offering that most professional mold remediation companies promote - “free inspections” or “free estimates”. The benefit of having a remediation professional visit your home is through the acquisition of information from someone with industry knowledge. Mind you, if the professional you bring in is a pushy salesman, you want to find another company. Now, if you’re looking for something a little more concrete, and often without bias, you may want to entertain the thought of hiring a mold assessor. A mold assessor is an individual capable of performing testing (known as sampling) for mold - in addition to the same thorough visual and metered inspection that remediation contractors perform on a first visit. These individuals have the advantage of providing objective data, indicating definitively if mold is present.

Reform is Here For Florida Assignment of Benefits (AOB) Regarding Property Claims

For those of us who are restoration contractors, we had a feeling that this day may come. If you’re not in the mold remediation and water damage repair industry, there are some changes that you need to know about the assignment of benefits - as this will change the insurance claims process that you may have been used to in the past.

Before we get into the AOB Reform Bill that was passed yesterday (04/24/2019), let’s make sure we’re all on the same page - as to what the assignment of benefits actually is. According to the Florida Division of Consumer Services, “An AOB gives the third party authority to file a claim, make repair decisions and collect insurance payments without your involvement“. So, what does this mean in the restoration industry? Well, if you have a pipe leak and proceed to hire a remediation professional by signing an AOB, that company now has the right to file a claim on your behalf and even be paid directly. Sound scary to you? It shouldn’t, but it could have been when greed is the motivational factor behind having you sign such a document.

Before we go any further, you may be wondering where I stand on the use of the assignment of benefits within our industry. Well… my company has utilized an AOB only twice in nearly a decade of operation. Does this mean I’m against it? Absolutely not! Like anything in life, I feel there is value when used properly. An example of this would be when a homeowner is not in a position to afford an emergency service. What I am against is the selection of contractors that have abused the AOB, and required homeowners to sign over their rights to work that was yet to be performed. The leverage that a contractor then possesses is unfair to the homeowner - as they lose the right to hire other contractors for upcoming services that are part of the claim.

Ok, so now that you know that myself and our company is split down the middle with the usage of the Assignment of benefits, here’s what changes you need to be aware of, according to the Restoration Association of Florida…

Changes to Florida’s Assignment of Benefits (AOB) for Property Claims:

  • $3,000 or 1% of coverage A: Cap on emergency repairs

  • Allows for 14 day rescission period of AOB.

  • Allows for policies to be sold that do not allow an assignment, at a lower cost.

  • Provides that you must turn in your AOB within 3 days with a detailed estimate of costs.

  • Lastly, the attorney fee structure has been amended, no longer allowing Restoration contractors the ability to recoup attorney’s fees.

Overall, I don’t think there are very many contractors, consumers or insurance professionals out there that would disagree that the AOB required some level of reform - but this extent of revision will certainly change the way in which the contractor and consumer work together. There will no longer be a simple “sign and move forward” process. More discussions will have to be had relating to proposed services, following water and mold damage. While not necessarily a bad thing, homeowners will need to understand that contractors now have their hands tied the second an estimate reaches the $3,000 mark with emergency services. Financial plans on how to handle the workload beyond this point will be a topic of interest for both the contractor and consumer

Assignment of Benefits (AOB) Sources:

Division of Consumer Services: https://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/Consumers/AssignmentofBenefits.htm

Restoration Association of Florida: https://raflorida.org

Mold Contamination During The New Construction Phase

With South Florida’s climate, it’s no wonder that mold will bloom at the first sight of moisture. Over the past year, I’ve had the luxury of working closely with one of my builder colleagues. It was at one of his properties that I witnessed first-hand a rapid humidity bloom (mold growth developing on surfaces as a result of excess moisture within the air). I’m talking overnight blooming of microbial growth along the entire bottom of walls within a part of the home that was not well ventilated.

So, what does this tell us about mold development within new construction homes? Well, for starters, better ventilation and even air movement is needed in some areas of these newly built properties. Also, it was no surprise to me that self leveling concrete was recently poured in the home - adding excess moisture to the air, as the concrete evaporated the water content. If creating air movement proves to be a difficult task during the construction phase, it’s certainly worthwhile to entertain the thought of operating dehumidifiers within areas reading higher humidity.

Not only does our company offer consulting services during the construction phase of properties, but we are also an advocate for widespread of valuable information. This blog post is one way in which I personally work to spread information on how we as professionals can minimize, and possibly eliminate the potential for mold and moisture hazards within new construction homes.

Here are a couple of pointers to recap for our builder friends:

  • Allow for ample ventilation or air movement to all larger areas of a property.

  • If there are no pedestrian doors to the outside and windows are fixed pane, consider implementing a dehumidifier in these areas of a property.

  • Ensure that functional doors and windows without overhead coverings are closed, or only left open slightly when no one is on-site. We all know how Florida can go from Sunny to monsoon in a matter of minutes!

  • Monitor humidity during the construction phase - picking up an inexpensive hygrometer could be the difference between catching the conditions promoting mold growth before it even happens.

  • Work with a remediation consultant that you can trust. After all, not all of us are monetarily driven. Some of us are fueled on passion alone! My team and I additionally offer managed solutions for moisture oversight within pre and post construction properties. Shoot us a message for more information!

Is Mold Testing Before Remediation Services Needed?

Short answer - no, but don’t jump to conclusions just yet. First, there is a major difference between merely collecting mold samples (testing) and performing a mold assessment. When it comes to mold testing, often times air and/ or surface samples are collected by and indoor environmental professional (IEP) and submitted to a laboratory. The results of these samples are then passed on to the property occupants.

When it comes to a mold assessment, much more of an investigation is performed. Using a combination of the olfactory system, flashlight, hygrometer, moisture meters, thermal imaging camera, air quality particle counters, a borescope and good ole’ experience - a hypothesis can be rendered on what is occurring within a property, and a conclusion made. During a mold assessment, collecting mold samples (testing) is often performed. Pairing these samples with other information collected, such as particulate counts, an IEP now possesses objective data to either support or counter their hypothesis. After all, a mold assessment is made up of objective and subjective data - further distinguishing itself from simple mold testing.

Mold Assessment vs. Mold Testing Wrap-up

So, what does this all mean? Well, if you’re simply looking for a laboratory sheet discussing quantities of mold, with intentions on comparing pre-remediation results to post-remediation results - save your time and money; it’s just not needed! However, if you’d like to stand the best chance at successfully remediating a property on the first try, a pre-remediation mold assessment is highly recommended. An IEP and a remediation contractor working together to develop an accurate scope of work is something magical to see in this industry.

Mold Restoration Companies in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

So, I’m often asked why mold remediation and removal services within the South Florida area, specifically Fort Lauderdale and Miami, are so different than those in other areas. Well, for starters, South Florida has a much different climate - compared to other cities and states within the US. Beyond that, it’s definitely fair to say that this region of the United States is the Wild West - when it comes to restoration services.

So, what do I mean by calling this area the Wild West? It’s simple! This area is heavily saturated with remediation and restoration professionals, and as a result, there are so many varying approaches to removing and treating mold. While there are a number of approaches, one thing remains the same: The ANSI/IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification)’s S520-2015 Standard for Professional Mold Remediation is still the standard in which mold remediation professionals must abide by. While this standard does allow for professionals to deviate at times, it also makes note that these deviations need to be performed in a manner of which is in the best interest of all parties.

For more information pertaining to our standards as mold remediation contractors, as well as locating a certified professional, please head on over to the institutions page: https://www.iicrc.org/page/IICRCGlobalLocator

To learn more about our mold remediation services within the Ft. Lauderdale area, head on over to our local city page: https://www.discreetrestoration.com/fort-lauderdale-mold-removal-water-damage-services/

Addressing Mold in Homes With CIRS Patients

If you have CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome), or know someone who does, you understand first-hand the struggles that come along with it. Chronic fatigue, sensitivities to odors, cloudiness, and numerous other symptoms that could very easily fill a full paragraph here! What was once an unknown illness, in which many individuals were misdiagnosed, is now something that is not only known, but now better understood and being treated by a number of doctors.

Within the South Florida area alone, there are doctors treating CIRS patients from West Palm Beach to Broward and down into the Miami area. While there are more and more doctors/ physicians treating CIRS and similar chronic illnesses, there is still a shortage of remediation contractors to assist with the treatment process. What exactly is the treatment process? Well, it varies from doctor to doctor, however, one recommendation remains the same - a patient must live within a healthier environment. Acquiring a healthy home can range from seeking professional remediation to achieve this level of cleanliness, but may sometimes require moving to an entirely new property.

When it comes to remediation efforts in properties with chronically ill individuals, a traditional mold remediation service simply will not do. Small Particle Remediation, which is what patients with CIRS, Lyme disease and even severe cases of asthma often need, differs from the more common remediation service. For starters, products containing chemicals are not used during the cleaning process. Air-filtration devices, equipped with HEPA filters are utilized more closely to the water damaged areas, allowing for local exhaust - ultimately limited the spread of smaller particles during the demolition process.

The biggest difference between traditional remediation and small particle remediation is the meticulous cleaning process as the final step. Surfaces must be cleaned numerous times, ensuring that no visible debris transfers to the cleaning cloths being used. Due to the inhalation potential of such small fragments, it’s imperative that an environment be cleaned to the point where no visible dust remains. The best way to think of small particle remediation is the removal of dust and other fine particles - which of course may contain fragments of mold and other symptom-triggering allergens.