Hoarding Situations Cause Water, Fire and Mold Risks to Connecticut Homes
A few decades ago, when we first got into this business, hoarding existed however it seemed uncommon. The extent to which how many Americans are affected by this problem was not known to the average person. Thanks to reality TV shows and the internet, many people now understand why hoarding exists and how difficult it can be to manage.
Hoarding is a mental health disorder in which a person has a difficult time discarding possessions.
A home affected by hoarding can be a physical danger as well as a health risk. Hoarding might also affect your ability to renew your homeowners insurance policy. If your insurance company becomes aware that a home is not being properly maintained when they do their traditional drive by at renewal time, they may cancel your policy. The potential for water, mold and fire damage as well as insect and rodent infestations in the home of a hoarder are too much of a risk. We have even seen homes in which the structural integrity is compromised (floors bowing in from the weight of the contents of the home) because of hoarding.
We are sometimes called to a home to treat a water or mold damage in which the number of contents in the home make restoration difficult. Hoarders often do not have clear access throughout their homes and windows and doors might be blocked by piles of items. This creates a fire hazard as there might not be a safe way to exit the home in case of fire. Emergency personnel may have difficulty responding to a health call because hoarding has made the home inaccessible.
Items that are stored and not used become a breeding ground for dust and dirt, which causes poor air quality in a home. Vents are often blocked in the homes of hoarders, reducing air circulation. Puddles, water damage and leaks go unnoticed and are left untreated. Combined with an endless food source from the boxes, fabric and paper that often accompanies hoarding, mold easily grows unnoticed in these homes.
Unstable piles of household goods can cause tripping, slipping and head injuries from falling objects. Flammable items can easily catch fire if they are too close to a heating source or stove. Clutter, garbage, animal or human feces can also cause respiratory and other health problems.
There is no simple solution to hoarding.
Often the hoarder does not acknowledge a problem and it is only when there is an emergency that the problem is addressed. We approach the restoration of homes with hoarding with sensitivity and an understanding that the removal of items may be difficult for the homeowner. Our crew uses their training and equipment to remove debris, including biohazardous substances. We are able to clean contents to ensure that items being returned to the home are not contaminated. We may need to remove carpets and walls if they contain water or mold damage. We leave the home sanitized, deodorized and safe to live in.