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Published on Nov 19, 2015
Approximately every two to seven years, an unusually warm area of water develops in the central and east-central equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean. The condition is known as El Niño and it not only impacts the ocean, but can also change weather patterns on land across the globe.
In the United States, El Niño is typically associated with warm conditions in the northern states and cooler weather in the much of the southern region of the country during the winter months. Likewise, precipitation patterns are also impacted. Drier than average winter conditions often form over the northern tier of the country while the South can often expect wetter than average conditions.
A strong El Niño may bring heavy precipitation that can result in devastating floods and widespread property damage to some areas. These flood waters may contain chemicals and harmful microorganisms. If rain water or melting snow enters a property it can not only damage or destroy building materials and personal belongings, it can also allow for the growth of mold in less than 48 hours in many circumstances if the materials are allowed to remain wet or moist.
Fortunately, there are steps that property managers and owners can take to prepare for El Niño’s heavy precipitation to minimize or prevent water damage to their home or commercial building. These steps include the following:
• Check roofing materials, shingles or roof tiles to make sure they are in good condition to handle the extra rain or snow. • Remove leaves and obstructions from gutters and downspouts and ensure that water is draining away from the building. • Check chimneys, sky lights and roof exhaust pipes to ensure they are properly sealed. • Make sure the building’s exterior, siding, doors and windows are weather tight.
In addition to issues associated with moisture and mold, water damage in older properties could also result in indoor environmental concerns due to the possible presence of lead-based paints and asbestos-containing materials. These materials may create exposure risks during cleanup, demolition and rebuilding activities if proper procedures are not followed.
These are just a few things to know about El Niño and ways to prevent property damage caused by water and mold. To learn more about this or other property damage, indoor air quality, health and safety, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown below.