Leaky Roof and Your Health: Can Your Roof Make Your Family Sick?

roofing health moldEveryone knows that leaky roof is bad news. It means hassles, expensive repairs, and having to deal with roofing contractors. Even when they’re as nice and helpful as folks at ATJ’s Home Improvement, lots homeowners are a little apprehensive when it comes to screening and hiring a roofing contractor. So what do we all do? Procrastinate, of course!

It’s not a secret that most homeowners treat seemingly minor roofing problems as “Service your engine soon” light on their car’s dashboard: as a nuisance that will, hopefully, soon go away…

All jokes aside, why leaky roof is such a bad thing? Can’t the leak just be patched using inexpensive do-it-yourself materials and techniques? Can’t it wait? Finally, what constitutes a leak in a residential home’s roof and does it even take a visible leak for moisture to get inside your home and cause thousands of dollars worth of damage? Can your roof make you and your family sick?

In this blog, we’re going to answer all of the above questions and more. This is our mid-year resolution: invest time and money in educating the consumer. While we’re going to post about other roofing-related topics as well, roofing and health issues are going to be a recurring theme, starting with this post.

While learning ins-and-outs of the structure of their home, including their roof, may not be something that interests every homeowner, health issues are important to most residents. It turns out that many serious health issues can be caused by a leaky roof, a roof that is not properly sealed or a roof that is simply too old. Health problems caused by having a damaged roof range from respiratory diseases, allergies, and headaches to nosebleeds, seizures, and even memory loss.

Mold, as a result of a leaky roof, is the best known cause of health issues related to old or damage roofing. According to a survey ordered by CertainTeed Corporation and conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, 55 percent of the 1,040 respondents expressed concerned about mold in the home.

When asked about their largest concern regarding mold in the home, 65 percent of respondents cited a health risk to themselves or their families as their first choice. Thirty-one percent of respondents selected the expense of repairing their homes as their second choice and 27 percent of respondents said structural damage to their homes was their third largest concern.

So what is mold anyway? Mold is a type of fungus that can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present… which is, pretty much, anywhere on the planet Earth, right?
There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, and insulation. When excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on building materials, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed. It is impossible to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment.

So how does mold affect our health? Molds can produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. Some mycotoxins cling to the surface of mold spores; others may be found within spores. More than 200 mycotoxins have been identified from common molds, and many more remain to be identified. Some of the molds that are known to produce mycotoxins are commonly found in moisture-damaged buildings.

Exposure pathways for mycotoxins can include inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact. Although some mycotoxins are well known to affect humans and have been shown to be responsible for human health effects, for many mycotoxins, little information is available. Also, people react differently to exposure to different molds, so chances are if you all of the sudden you’re having respiratory problems, unexplained allergies, headaches or nosebleeds, it’s very possible that there’s mold growing somewhere in your home.

In the next posts we’re going to talk about certain types of molds in detail as well as provide some tips on how to prevent mold from growing in your house and what to do in case you suspect that there might be some mold in your home already.