With a flooded house you've got to get rid of the water first, then prop up furniture so it can dry out. Then it's time to find and dry wet and soggy things that oops, got wet because they were sitting on the floor. You have to do this in the first day or two, to avoid mold growing in your house after a flood.
My mistake was to trust the experts. What they proved was, they couldn't be trusted. That's because I didn't hire them and they're taking direction from the insurance company. The “in-house” insurance adjuster's goal is company profits, achieved by paying out as little as possible and he told them … “don't touch anything”!
The very people you'd expect to help you deal with a home emergency like my flooded house, provided very limited help. You would think they'd do everything possible to avoid mold growth as that will make repairs much more expensive?
- Insurance company direction to the water mitigation teams was … do not touch anything? What did the insurance company hope to accomplish by leaving wet things (see the toilet paper below with black, mold spots) in the house to support mold growth?
In fact, one of the public adjusters I talked to said that RyTech is known in the industry for doing only what they are told to do, and no more. Insurance companies like this because they're able to control their costs.
- Water mitigation people ignored … everything in my house except water on the floor, the cabinets and the furniture. They set up lots of fans and dehumidifiers but their effectiveness was limited when they didn't remove toe kicks (read: How to Dry Out Kitchen Cabinets) or remove the baseboard (learn: How to Replace Baseboard After a Flood) … both things they told me they were doing!
- Water mitigation people told my son (I was 1,400 miles away in Maine) he could take the wet, soggy things on the floor in the house … out to the garage. They said the heat in the garage would dry things out? They ignored the garage and what it would take to avoid mold growth there, until I complained. Doing the field adjuster walkthough via Skype showed me there was mold. It took several phone calls about the mold growing on my personal belongings, before they set up a dehumidifier.
How to Avoid Mold Growth – Get Rid of Standing Water
Mold needs moderate temperatures, food and moisture to grow. Food in your home isn't the kind we eat. The food (organic nutrients) mold needs to grow can be the wood used to build furniture and your house, the paper wrapping on drywall or the materials your personal property are made from.
In your home there are two types of materials (will have an article on how to clean each type in a week or 2):
- Porous materials like paper, fabric and wood (shown above) are very good at retaining water. This increases the chance that mold will grow on them, to the point where they can't be repaired. You must dry them out quickly to save them. That's why the water mitigation team was wrong telling my son to put things in the garage … and then did nothing to accelerate the drying process there.
- Non-porous like metal, granite and tile, can usually be restored as there's no way that mold can take root in them. The real problem with tile floors is that the grout is porous and the chlorine in most water eats away at the grout, letting water get underneath the tile.
If your belongings remain wet for too long, it makes it more difficult to bring it back to its normal state. Porous materials most often need to be replaced including MDF (medium-density fiberboard) furniture that wicks up water and swells. Non-porous materials like wooden furniture take more time to become water logged. If you get your personal belongings out of the standing water and begin the drying process right away, repairs are more viable.
The water mitigation team knew they couldn't save any of the MDF furniture in my quilt room, so they didn't try to place drying blocks under it. But what about all the stuff that was on the floor because I hadn't finished unpacking my belongings?
Here are examples of standing water found in the house. Mold will start to grow after two days, so there's very little time to remove the water and avoid mold growth. So why after two weekswo to four weeks after the water mitigation team arrived for the first time, to remove all water from the house.
- Rug pad (brown cylinder in left garage photo above) moved from the front hall to the garage. Water was still inside the plastic packaging after four weeks, so I dragged it out to the driveway for bulk trash pickup.
- Black, gray and white makeup bag (below) was sitting on the shower floor opposite the vanity where the leak occurred. Looking around after I removed the soggy toilet paper from the vanity, I picked up the bag and found it sitting in a large pool of water.
- Brown paper and cardboard (below) next to the makeup bag still wet two weeks after the flood was discovered … but why?
- Sewing machine (1 of 2) that was moved to the garage, when opened during the field adjuster survey (4 days after emergency reported), was full of water that gushed out when the cover was removed.
- Protective floor mat under desk chair still had water under it four weeks after the house flooded.
Note: When my house flooded I had just arrived in Maine to care for my sister when she came home from rehab following a motorcycle accident. It took me a few days to absorb what had/had not been done … and then take action to get rid of standing water, reach out for help and more.
How to Avoid Mold Growth – Get Rid of Soggy & Wet Things
Soggy things lying around your house can also support mold growth. While I've got hundreds of photos showing all the wet soggy things lying around my house and garage when I got home, here are the worst offenders.