There are 1,000 types of molds present in today’s world, including mushrooms and penicillin, along with dangerous molds like Black Mold said DeSmet. “Too little time is being spent on prevention, only treatment afterward.”
He added that mold can form when moisture enters a building, either from outside weather through the building’s envelope, or from the inside through plumbing leaks such as leaky pipes or pipe failure.
According to Kemp, some typical plumbing failures include washing machine hoses, frozen waterlines, icemaker lines, water heaters, and any water supply line to the lavatory or toilet. He noted that a leaking icemaker line can spill out one gallon of water per minute, causing 180 gallons to be released in only 3 hours time.
“A broken hose or plumbing appliance failure will come to a homeowner’s attention quicker than a slow line leak, like an icemaker, where the water is absorbed by the floorboards up into the walls, carpets and subfloors,” DeSmet said. Once that happens, the source of the leak must be found and all the areas that are affected will have to be pulled out, translating to a large amount of money to fix the damage.
And don’t count on your insurance company to help with the costs, Kemp said, as claims are numerous these days and many insurance companies are putting a cap on their mold remediation claim amounts, leaving the homeowners with the remainder of these big bills.
So what are the options for detecting and shutting off leaks? Kemp said that up till now there was no way to guarantee the plumbing system wouldn’t fail, so owners would to have to turn the main shut-off valve off whenever they were leaving the house for extended periods of time, a cumbersome solution.
Or, Kemp noted, a single-appliance valve could be used that would be installed on a washing machine, for instance, allowing for the filling of the machine and then shutting off the water supply when the machine was full. This kind of single-appliance valve could also be used on a water heater to sense a failure and shut off the water supply before damage could occur. The drawback here is that these valves are for single appliances only, so they would have to be installed in several places, adding greatly to installation costs.
Moisture sensor switches are also available that could be installed near the floor in areas where flooding is expected to occur, Kemp said. These switches would have to be hardwired to a main control panel and a shut-off valve, however, resulting in increased costs, and the owner would have to guess where leakage might occur, taking the chance that they might be wrong.
Conversely, an option like the FloLogic System 2000 shut-off valve would offer the advantage of taking care of the whole house, Kemp said, as it is a highly sensitive, in-line shut-off valve installed on the main excess water flow.
FloLogic System 2000 works like “the circuit breaker for your home plumbing system,” DeSmet said, as it monitors all water flowing into the building with an adjustable timer. Thus, the valve can turn off the water supply in the event of a ruptured water line or an unusually long-running plumbing appliance, and will sound an alarm to alert the owner to the situation. The system is easily programmable, using a control panel that is similar to electronic thermostats and security systems, and it has both a “home” and “away” mode that can be set from six seconds up to 99 minutes of water flow before the alarm sounds and water is shut off.
With property damage in the U.S. resulting from home plumbing leaks second only to hurricanes as the most costly insurance claim, and insurance companies capping their mold remediation claim amounts, the logical answer to controlling mold growth today is prevention of plumbing water leakage at the source by controlling the main water supply.