Mold and mildew?

A good friend of mine had a water leak and (to no surprise of mine) State Farm has rejected her claim. Im trying to help her.. guide her the best I can and i fear she is being taken advantage of by Mold & Mildew Specialists. Leak is at the kitchen sink with damage to the subfloor and wall board .. with minimal on the floor joists. Based on an inspection taken from the crawl space below. It is being estimated the leak has not gone on for that long. Only in the last month did it show in the end cabinet.
The area of cabinet removal is only 3'x10' which consists of 3 cabinets and a dishwasher. See photos.
The "specialists" want anywhere from $2500-5000 to remove the cabinets, the damaged subfloor and wall board behind the cabinets. Thereafter.. treat it. From my experiences.. this sounds ... exaggerated to say the least. They are playing on her fears because she has a child with allergies.
While the details are a little vague here... anyone have experience to justify this? My advice? removal .. treatment of this area could be done by an experienced handy man. Even treated with bleach and/or peroxide.
Open ears... thanks in advance for sharing your opinion!
q mold and mildew, cleaning tips, home maintenance repairs
q mold and mildew, cleaning tips, home maintenance repairs
q mold and mildew, cleaning tips, home maintenance repairs
  52 answers
  • Terri J Terri J on May 07, 2012
    400 sq. feet of finished basement flooded. I called a "Fire Restoration" company to come out. They romove two feet of drywall all around, chemically treated eveything, including the wooden stairs as a precaution, hauled all the debris away, and my bill was $650.00. The company explaned that bleach doesn't always kill all the different kinds of mold and how it could spread, taking over the house. If your friend can find a "Fire Restoration" company or something along those lines, I would call them for another estimate.
  • Pam Pam on May 07, 2012
    Last year my hot water heater started leaking in my attic, which is over my bathroom ceiling. It served it's time as it was original to my condo. I made a claim with State Farm. They only paid $400 for the hole in my ceiling which fell due to being saturated but they did pay to have a company come in with heaters and dehumidifiers for three days to dry it out so that mold would not develope. However, they and most other insurance companies deny mold claims. But they paid $2500 to this company to prevent the mold. I have a $500 deductilbe so I only paid out or pocket that much and State Farm paid the rest after I turned in the bid for the carpenter and painter to repair my ceiling. They called the company and set it up for me. It's one of those that do clean up after fire and water damage. Hope this helps.
  • Debi M Debi M on May 07, 2012
    I agree with you, bleach is a great way to treat mildew. Just take the normal precautions, ventilated space, lots of fresh air, dilute and use a spray bottle to apply. We had an issue like this in a rental property. We replaced the cabinet :flooring", repaired the leak and have not had any further issues
  • Lora S Lora S on May 07, 2012
    In tx in the house we bought two yrs ago, we found mold inside the walls and it was more than 10 sq feet (I think that's the minimum) so it had to be reported to the state and we had to have it removed by a special company that removes mold - they removed parts of 5 walls and almost all of the master bath - cupboards, counter, etc. AllStates said no coverage because it was a "drip" instead of a "gush" - somehow insurance has manuveured the law to protect them from any lawsuits. So we have at least 10,000 in damage in our house. The drip must have gone on for years for that much mold to grow. Worst experience I've ever had with the rudest personnel I have ever met. Changed carriers and added mold for coverage. Bleach doesn't remove all the spores in the air. Six months later I got sick for over a month and was checked for lung ca. I didn't have it and it cleared up after several weeks but I think it had something to do with the mold. I'm so sorry you are going thru this - best of luck!! p.s. It's been several months and we are very overwhlemed and not sure where to start first in rebuilding.
  • Plumber26 Plumber26 on May 07, 2012
    just a wild guess but, this was not a water leak, was it? Looks like a drain leak! Alot of times, for some reason, insurance companies will not pay for a slow leak that causes damage over a long period of time. I believe the reasoning behind this is that these problems could have been found a lot sooner if folks pay attention to the condition of things like plumbing, caulking around doors and windows, etc. If this house had galvanized steel drain lines they likely get sluggish from time to time causing the customer to run out and get the Draino..... not knowing that the Draino (whether it reads 'safe for all pipes' or not) will eat a hole in metal piping. It's understandable with all the advertising out there that one's first instinct would be to spend 14 dollars on a bottle of this garbage rather than call a plumber to assess the situation but, if I had been called to this home, I would have; 1st.... Determined the type of material 2nd.... checked the area below (if basement or crawl) or on the adjacent wall (if on a slab) 3rd.... cleaned the drain as long as those areas were free of problems or 4th... suggested lines be replaced if there were any problems Of coarse I could be wrong about your friends situation altogether and I'm rambling about nothing (as always)
  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on May 07, 2012
    drain.. not supply. its the drain from the sink - which is in the wall. because they have crawl space below, they did not know there was a problem until it showed signs on the cabinets. I dont suspect this has been going on a LONG time because otherwise it would show in their floors,etc - which are hardwood
  • Plumber26 Plumber26 on May 07, 2012
    Well, not always. The drain, like you said, is in the wall. The line turns from horizontal to vertical to the right of that window, behind the microwave. With it being that far away from that end cabinet, it had to have been leaking for a while as it is not pressurized water and is only going to fall straight down. Did you ever notice a weird smell in your friends house (especially in the kitchen)? The kitchen sink drain is THE WORSE smelling drain in the house. Very distinct smell (kinda like letting vomit rot). That being said, the signs almost had to have been there. Just another good reason to have your crawlspace checked out ever now and then, especially if you have metal drains in an older home.
  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on May 08, 2012
    How about the demo fee and mold/mildew specialist.. doesnt almost $3k sound out of line? why not pay a handyman .. and pay $500-1000 at best?
  • No the price is right in line with the standards. Here is why. Mold can have several ill health effects. We will not get into that here, but you understand what I mean. Then you have the person that comes in and tests. They have special insurance call E&O very expensive. Then they have costs for lab fees. Now your looking at the cleanup. Depending upon the type amount and area effected. This can become a costly issue. Special negative air scrubbing machines are use. Then you need to bring in someone who is not only insured to do this, but has the knowledge on how to take the cabinets apart without damaging them. to remove the cabinet they need to remove the counter. Then the sink and plumbing. Now you have three trades doing the work. Then its just a guess on how bad it is where you cannot see it. They need to cover themselves for that as well. Lots of folks seem to think your average handy person can do this. And for the most part they are correct. If your willing to take the chance with your and your families health. Do not care if this person gets sick if they just tear it out and breaths in these spores. Way to many people have non-professionals do this type of work for them. And most not all have a successful outcome. But your insurance company is not going to take that risk and with all that is involved and with the chance that you might get sick or have other issues, they go the proper route and have professionals do the work, and that is what it really should cost. So what to do? Check your policy. Many now have a mold clause. And many have a statement that says that if this was an on going issue they will not cover it. And any issue that was the result of a small leak, that you did not even see until it was too late is considered an one going issue. Now if you had a pipe break and you called the plumber right away, And the resulting leak ended up flooding the room, and the cleanup did not happen right away because you were away that day, and mold developed as a result, then perhaps you would be covered. But in your case, I doubt you will have any luck with them paying for this loss. As far as people saying bleach it! No way, bleach does very little to many types of molds other then to change their color. The bleach you purchase at the local hardware store is not nearly strong enough to do the job. You need proper disinfectants designed not only to kill the mold but to create an environment that will not allow for the mold to redevelop should moisture occur again. If your still leaning towards a handy person to do this job. You at least need to get a professional to take air and surface samples, before and after and have them write up a remediation requirement report so the contractor who you hire does the job correctly. Its not really an issue who removes and puts things back, its the issue that they understand how to control the mold once they reach it and begin to remove it. That is when the issue begins.
  • Plumber26 Plumber26 on May 08, 2012
    And again, adding to what Woodbridge said.... Places like crawlspaces and basements NEED to be checked out on a regular basis.... whether it be a pest control company doing termite inspections, HVAC maintenance companies, etc. Our company (I'm a plumber, obviously) has a yearly plumbing maintenance where we check for issues before they become major issues. Alot of people in the trades have given us all a bad image in that they take advantage of customers and rip them off or charge too much for substandard work but, not all of us are like that. I deeply care about what I do and I treat every customers' home as if it's my own. And nothing against "handymen" because I feel that they are really needed alot of times for certain things but, the reason they are handy men is that they have learned a little bit about alot in order to get by. As opposed to a professional who has been trained and studied his trade well enough to properly diagnose and execute any task related to a particular field. So, to keep cost down in your situation, I would let the pros remove, remediate, and resolve the mold problem. Then have the handyman put it back together. (never hurts to pull a permit on things either just to make sure things are done correctly)
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on May 08, 2012
    I had a neighbor have some frozen pipes, in Feb of 2011. long story short...lots of water damage, then in an effort to Warm and dry the place out...heaters were brought in. The heat was applied with all of wall covering in place, so the wet, now warm... insulation become a huge mold Farm. Here is it 15 months later and they are still dealing with insurance and renovation work
  • Plumbrite Plumbrite on May 08, 2012
    I would get a second opinion,call me and I will give you some referrals.
  • Leslie D Leslie D on May 08, 2012
    I have a rental house in Denver and our pipes froze at the same time as KMS mentioned. Long story, short....pipe froze, then burst under kitchen sink and flooded basement below the night the tenants moved out. Water was even with electrical outlets. The tenants had reduced the heat in the hous when they left, which created part of the problem.. Thankfully, our Landlord policy covered all but the deductible at a $16,000+ repair, but, of course, dropped us afterwards. The portion for removal of one bank of cabinets and floor dry/repair underneath was just over $4000 of that total. Ask your insurance company for a recommendation of a company to handle this. They should be able to give you several names of companies who have passed their test of fair pricing and knowledge. The first guys our rental management company called started with the heaters, but as soon as Allstate's guys came in, they did what needed to be done, or we would have had the same warm/mold problem KMS mentioned. You need someone who is used to handling this type of damage. If not handled properly, there could be real issues. Take the $3000+ and negotiate it down a bit. Tell them you have another bid for $2500, but they came highly recommended and you would like to use them, and ask if they would match that price. I have success in getting at least 20% off first proposals with no issue in almost all cases. Good luck.
  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on May 08, 2012
    This is a friend of mine... they have State Farm. They know it was a drain.. and they know it has mildew damage. They have rejected paying for anything :(
  • Pam Pam on May 08, 2012
    That's because it has brn leaking for a long time. If it had been a broken pipe that just occurred they would pay less the deductible. They will pay for mold prevention but once the mole is bad due to the length of time of the leak, they will not pay. Read the policy addendums. They changed a few years back.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on May 09, 2012
    Leslie that cold snap we had -40 up here in Ned...needless to say I had BOTH wood stoves stoked up for those few days.
  • Kim A Kim A on May 09, 2012
    You have to check out the "fine" print on the insurance... Many times they have a clause against paying for mold... We went through that with black mold at our old house!
  • As a Realtor I would advise you to call SERVE PRO and get them to get out their to do an estimate for remediation. Legally anytime you have a water leak you will have to disclose that when you list the home for sale. You will also need to prove it has been professionally treated and repaired. The above company I listed is a nationally recognized company that only deals with water damage. They will let you know if the MOLD is the type that needs further treatment or not, and will give you a receipt when the repairs are done. Even if your friend isn't selling her home in the near future, you never know what hand life will deal to her and to protect her investment which is her home is the most important thing! Get it done right by professionals, it will save her thousands of dollars in the future and prevent her from a disaster later...As for the insurance company let the experts handle the claim, wood rot would be an easier claim to repair than MOLD and if you find out it isn't the kind that is hazardous then it isn't the root of the issue and shouldn't be part of the claim. Proper inspection of the location will help. Again, call the professionals.
  • While Serve Pro is a national company. And may be real good where your located, I would not touch their service in my area. As with any franchise they area only as good as the people who run their independent office. I had last year to come in and re-do the clean up that the office in my area did as they surely removed the damage, they did nothing to solve the issue. Which is in my opinion much more important then the job itself. But your correct on everything else you said McCambell Team. As someone who works closely with Real Estate professionals. I cannot tell you how many times I have been back at the same house within a year or so with a new realtor, and no disclosure of the past work my company or someone else's company had done remediation work on. Oops they forgot to put that in the disclosure. Great comments in any case!
  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on May 10, 2012
    I have forwarded the advice to my friends - its all in their hands now!
  • Rhonda G Rhonda G on May 10, 2012
    We put in a claim for a roof and then a second one a year and a half later for a theft...they upped our insurance by about 200.00 a month. I feel violated a second time.
  • had an icemaker start leaking probably 10min after we left for the shore - 10d later, we faced buckled hardwood floors, bsmt mildew/mold w/standing water, & ruined kitchen base cabinets,,, h/o insurance covered it ( $ 25K ),,, last yr, hail got the roof - again, covered by ins ( $12K ),,, i didn't complain when our rates rose as its better than being dropped by the ins co.
  • Angela G Angela G on May 10, 2012
    She needs to obtain a public adjuster. I had a similar problem with Liberty Mutual. I had a leak from my roof and they didn't want to pay either. But with the public adjuster they have to pay. If not you can take them to mediation. In mediation they generally side with the insured. it's a game the insurance companies play. Learn to play the game.
  • i would find a decent handy man to do the removal, she can treat it herself using one part water to one part peroxide, i always recomend peroxide bc un like bleach when it evaperates it leaves behind a white residue that continues to kill mildew/ mold,, then have the handy man replace ......
  • she can apply with a simple pump up garden sprayer!
  • Cathy B Cathy B on May 10, 2012
    what the hell ...don't let state farm get away with it.I didn't I told them to give me the claims manager and them I called my friend,(an attorney) and they got right to fixing it and paying for it.
  • BONNIE J BONNIE J on May 10, 2012
  • Few comments on this. I totally agree about the public adjuster. They go to bat for you on claims. Their payment is typically a % of the monies they receive. However I am not sure how they handle a claim that the insurance company says is not covered. You may need an attorney to help out with that. As far as Peroxide. Yes and no, There are all sorts of claims that this product works on mold removal. And perhaps it may on the surface. However from what I understand and have been schooled in is that this product only works well on the surface and only after the bulk of the fungi has been removed by other methods. i.e. sanding, vacuuming etc. The only proper method of removal of mold is to ideally remove and throw the material away, Or sand it down to clean wood then spray with chemicals, then encapsulate with a registered anti-microbial paint designed to prevent future mold re-occurrence. Peroxide is being used by some mold companies, but with mixed results. I had looked into using this chemical with my company. However I have found that If the material has been deeply effected this is simply not the method of choice. Therefor we only use EPA registered chemicals and products and we follow protocol as much as we can to be sure were not causing any harm to those that remain in the home. Ideally we request all owners to vacate until we know that the mold has been removed and its safe to return. We do use Ozone to help remove the odors and kill the living mold spores. Our bio-blaster unit creates very high levels of Ozone within the home so plants, animals and people must vacate when its in operations. As far as using a handy may, fine if they follow an outline on how to do the clean up, but It is not wise to simply say a handy person can do this without knowing all the facts about what is present, the amount of what has been effected and with all the law suites the contractor would be crazy to take on this type of repair without proper insurance or at least experience in doing this type of work.
  • Dee Dee on May 11, 2012
    Just a tip I got from a restoration pro. Bleach doesn't kill the mold. If you've ever used bleach on your bathroom ceilings and notice the black spots come back so you have to do an "annual" ceiling cleaning for the mold. He said "off the record" or it would put him out of business....Borax and hot water. This has been a tried and true remedy for us. Even for massive mold found behind basement cabinets. We used his tip once and it has never 3 yrs. Hope this is an easy non toxic way to help
  • Geoff Geoff on May 11, 2012
    Sounds like "Happy new kitchen" to me will solve all your problems cost less and improve the value of your house by more than you spend!
  • Karen Karen on May 12, 2012
    I had a mold problem in my kitchen, along the back of the cupboard walls. It had obviously been going on for a long time, so State Farm refused to pay (they also didn't pay for my sewer mainline obstruction--do I see a pattern emerging here?). I hired a firm that specializes in mold abatement. I was impressed with their work. Because my home was built in the 50s, there was asbestos in the walls, so they had an asbestos team remove the wall boards; those guys were very, very careful, suiting up and down in a special little cubicle they put together in my kitchen. A wall of cupboards (including drawers) had to be removed to reach the mold, and when everything was completed and tested out safe, they "rebuilt" the cupboards. From start to finish cost me around $5,000, but I feel confident that the issue was resolved in the best way possible. If anyone in the San Diego area needs this kind of work done, send me an email and I'll happily recommend this company.
  • Michele M Michele M on May 12, 2012
    We just had this happen and the insurance covered it. All that needed to be replaced was the sub flooring and the flooring. The problem is that the water traveled under the walls into the next rooms and those floors and flooring had to be replaced too. We had servpro do it but they just tore up the floor with crow bars and brought in large fans to dry out the rest of the floors. Was disappointed that they cut into an asbestos laden floor with circular saws and no protective gear for my child in the house or blocking off the house. In any event, had it not been for the old flooring with asbestos underneath it, it could have been done by my family.