Cause Mold

What is the cause?  Mold in Florida

Why is mold such a big problem in Florida? As one of Florida’s long-serving water damage restoration and mold remediation companies, we hear this question a lot.

  • Florida’s rains and excess humidity make for a perfect mold storm when coupled with the heat. Mold is present in all natural environments, and mold thrives in warm, moist areas.
  • Many Florida homes are used only on a seasonal basis. Sometimes snowbirds leave their homes unattended for a large part of the year. Even if the AC system is set at an acceptable level, AC systems can break down or stop working efficiently. Many snowbirds return in November to find mold all over the walls, floors, and contents of their home.
  • Oftentimes, property owners do not operate their AC system properly. They may turn off the AC system for months, allowing the interior of the home to become saturated in humidity and moisture – a perfect environment for mold growth.
  • Problems with AC systems cause mold in Florida. Many AC systems do not operate to peak performance to keep up with humid climate in Florida. AC systems remove some moisture from the indoor environment, but no air conditioning system is designed to operate as a dehumidifier. Systems that are operating marginally may lull a property owner into a false sense of security that proper temperature and humidity levels are being maintained. Since the AC units in Florida run almost all year long, problems with HVAC systems are more prevalent in Florida.
  • Many property owners do not schedule preventative maintainance of the HVAC system. It’s difficult for a layperson to monitor moisture inside AC returns, plenums and ducts. Many times, it’s too late to prevent mold if a property owner is not aware the AC unit is not operating at peak capacity.
  • Quality of Construction.  Many Florida homes are frame houses built with crawl spaces underneath. If the crawl space IS vented properly, the crawl space can actually help prevent mold because air can move through the bottom of the home. On the other hand, if the crawl space is NOT vented properly, moisture becomes trapped under the home and mold begins to grow and can spread into the interior of the home. Special note to mobile home owners: Most mobile homes are built with a crawl space underneath. If your crawl space is not adequately ventilated, it is highly likely that excess humidity and moisture will be trapped in the crawl space and cause mold to grow and spread into the mobile home.
  • Building Material Selection.
    The Old Days:  Prior to the introduction of air conditioning in Florida in the 1950s, homes were built differently. Homes were built out of wood frame with wood siding, rather than with masonry block. Homes were built up off the ground. The space under the home was properly vented. The wood frame homes were not sealed tight. Walls were not sealed tightly and ventilation/air could move through the homes. The homes were built with tall ceilings and the windows were up high. Air could circulate through the rooms. Homes tended to have porches around them. Porches cool air before it enters the home. All these factors contributed to good ventilation. Even if some area of the home did get wet, air was circulating through the home, so mold growth was not as big of a problem.
    In the 50s, when builders started putting air conditioning systems in the home, there was a sudden need to install insulation to conserve energy. Builders started adding insulation to ceilings, floors, and walls. Insulation traps moisture. Trapped moisture leads to mold growth. Today’s Florida homes are sealed tightly, and if an AC system cannot adequately get rid of indoor trapped humidity, high humidity can promote mold growth.Builders have started building more homes out of masonry block, especially in Florida. Masonry block is a strong building material that stands up well to severe weather in Florida. However, if the exterior masonry block, especially around doors and windows, is not properly caulked, or if water proof paint is not kept in good shape on exterior of masonry block, then masonry block will start to act as a sponge, wicking moisture. The moisture gets in easily behind the interior drywall, and it takes a long time to evaporate out. Therefore, mold can grow behind the drywall.
  • Many properties are rentals, managed frugally with the goal of saving money on repairs in today’s tough economy. Some management companies gloss over water damage problems, thinking that if building materials don’t look wet, then everything must be okay. If water damage problems are not taken seriously by management or are treated by inexperienced staff, the property may not be dried out properly after the water damage occurs. This is a recipe for mold growth.
  • Florida is a transient state.The current real estate climate in the Tampa Bay area encourages quick flipping of homes by savvy investors who pass mold and water damage problems on to the new buyer. Ask any honest real estate agent and they will say that – more than ever – the state of affairs in our real estate market requires a vigilant “buyer beware” mentality because homes are definitely sold “As Is”. Many investors are covering up mold or hiring unlicensed and/or unethical contractors to perform mold remediation in order to save money and maximize their Return on Investment. While this arrangement is beneficial to investors, it leaves future home buyers at risk that the property has been shoddily remodeled. Buyer Beware. You don’t want to be stuck fixing issues that cause mold.
  • There’s no doubt about it. Water damage that is not treated properly is sure to cause a problem. The likelihood drastically increases in Tampa Bay and Clearwater because of the hot, humid climate. When excess moisture is left unchecked, naturally occurring spores, such as Stachybotrys, begin to grow. Some species, such as Aspergillus/Penicillium, begin to proliferate after only three days. The longer building materials are wet, the more species of fungi will grow. Untreated moisture intrusion, water damage and excess humidity almost always cause mold growth.

Water damage is not just caused by gushing water from pipe bursts, washer overflows, and floods. Small water leaks, long-term roof leaks, and high humidity conditions can also cause problems. Some conditions are invisible. Plumbing pipes are hidden under the slab, on the inside of stud walls, and in attic areas. Small pipe leaks, pin holes, may occur in these hidden areas without any visible warning or clues for the occupant to act on. These slow leaks can follow the length of stud walls and damage adjacent rooms while creating unsafe indoor air quality. Property owners have no idea there is a problem until indoor air quality starts to suffer. Wallpaper, cabinets, and heavy furniture near walls trap moisture and accelerate mold damage.

Because Coastal Disaster Recovery has been providing water damage restoration services for over 25 years, we understand how critical it is to perform regular moisture investigations with the goal of managing moisture, water and humidity.

Prevent water damage that will cause mold.

Call 727-725-8999 for expert treatment of your water damage incident