I was recently contacted by a homeowner who was seeking direction and advice on maintaining his home. He was in a quandary over suggestions he had received related to preventing ice damming. His concern stemmed not from the snow and ice damming that occurred around the area in the winter of 2010 - 2011, but instead from some hired "experts". His story from my perspective is one that demonstrates how fear and ignorance can be used to swindle unsuspecting homeowners.
This homeowner, will call him Mr. D, clearly meticulously maintains his house. It is very clean. Mr. D being someone who likes to keep his home updated realized his windows were older and it may be time to think about changing them. Mr. D found a window company with a booth at a local fair. He set up an appointment for them to come over and give him an estimate on new windows.
This window company also happened to do energy audits. So when they came to Mr. D's house they not only checked his windows, they also checked his attic insulation. While looking in Mr. D's attic, the energy auditor - window guy saw....mold. Mr. D said he was surprised by this revelation. Being a diligent homeowner he regularly inspected his attic and had never seen mold. The window guy - energy auditor - mold expert said mold was definitely there, probably due to the ice damming from the hard winter of 2010.
This information sent Mr. D into a panic. He then, on the guidance from this window - energy auditor - mold expert guy began to work toward resolving his until now unknown issues of mold and ice damming.
Mr D contacted an environmental testing company. They did extensive testing advising Mr. D that he should remove all his insulation and remediate the entire attic. Mr. D was freaked out by this information. He set about having his roof removed down to the rafters since there was mold on the wood roof sheathing, then having the entire roof covering replaced. He added more ventilation on the advice of the window - energy auditor - mold expert guy. One piece of advice that was sound. He had the mold remediation company then treat the attic. They sprayed all the wood with a "mold inhibitor". Looks like thinly applied paint. Finally Mr. D had all his attic insulation replaced.
Sounds extensive. Sounds monumentally expensive. Sounds like a bunch of snake oil salesmen found themselves a sucker.
Mold is common to find in attics as well as other parts of a house. It is important to keep in mind that mold is and always will be an indicator of a moisture issue. It should not be viewed as a scourge needing to be eradicated with extreme measures.
Mr. D's story demonstrates the advantage that fear and misinformation can have for those companies out there waiting for the right fish to take their bait. It's too bad Mr. D hadn't found a home inspector or another disinterested company for advice first. His fears could have been quelled.
Fear is an unfair advantage.