Thursday, February 12, 2009

US Economical Problems, Weather, Oil Costs Lead to Increase in Mold & Water Damage in Buildings

September 2010: Recent Flooding & Water Damage in the U.S.
Photograph of a moldy flooded basement.
Building water damage and mold remediation companies are reporting record levels of homes damaged by water, burst pipes, ice dam leaks, and fires as homeowners try to cope with high heating costs, unemployment, and cold weather.

The principal causes of this surge in fire and water damage in private homes during the winter of 2008-2009, but continuing due to extreme weather conditions during the spring, summer, and fall of 2010 in the U.S. are probably a perfect storm of financial troubles, increased heating costs, home foreclosures, and winter weather that included ice storms and severe cold snaps.

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High Prices for Home Heating Oil during 2008 and early 2009 Led to Increased Home Leaks

A one-two-three punch of the Great Recession, skyrocketing unemployment, and galloping home heating costs has led many homeowners across the U.S. to turn down the heat in their house.

But in many homes the result of that savings on heating cost has led to an enormous cost to clean up water damage and mold resulting from frozen and burst water piping.

A combination of setting the thermostat lower than ever before, a pipe passing through a cold or drafty building corner, and perhaps homes being empty or even running out of heating oil leads to catastrophe for some homeowners.

In the articles listed below we provide detailed free advice to help building owners avoid these problems.

Unsafe Chimneys, Wood Stoves & Auxiliary Heaters Cause More Fires during 2008-2009
Photograph of a damaged masonry chimney.
High home heating costs combined with unemployment or reduced income for many families also led to an increase in the use of auxiliary heaters, kerosene heaters, wood stoves, coal stoves, and other heating appliances. Our file photo shows a home badly damaged by a creosote fire in a metal chimney that had been venting a wood burning stove.

Improper installation, inadequate clearances between the heater and combustibles, and failure to inspect and clean chimneys has led to an increase in house fires during the winter of 2008-2009.

CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR - advice on inspecting and repairing chimneys.

Wood Burning Heaters Fireplaces Stoves -important safety advice for these appliances.

Ice Dam Leaks in Buildings Add to Winter Water & Mold Damage

Ice dams on a slate roof (C) Daniel Friedman
In addition to the heating and winterizing SNAFU's cited above as sources of increased leaks and mold damage to homes during the winter of 2008 and 2009, a combination of very cold periods of winter weather and inadequate attic ventilation led to formation of ice at building roof edges.

Melting snow backs up over the warmer roof surface areas and leaks into the building causing ice dam leaks.

See Ice Dams & Attic Condensation & Prevent Ice Dam Leaks in Buildings for an explanation of what causes ice dams and leaks and how they can be prevented.

Empty Homes Especially at Risk of Leaks, Water Damage, & Mold Damage

Flooded home, Jasper TX (C) Daniel Friedman
The combination of the Great Recession economic collapse, high unemployment, and bank foreclosures has left many homes standing empty during the winter of 2008-2009.

Many empty homes were improperly winterized or were not winterized at all, while at others the fact that the home was unattended meant that the heating system could fail without anyone taking notice.

The result was a higher than usual number of homes suffering leaks and water damage from frozen, then burst water piping.

At the top of this article we listed resources at® that can help homeowners, banks, and other property owners avoid further costly damage to their properties. is an independent publisher of building, environmental, and forensic inspection, diagnosis, and repair information for the public - we have no business nor financial connection with any manufacturer or service provider discussed at our website.

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