Scott Mulholland Talks About the Cost of Hidden Water Leaks

Scott “Spiderman” Mulholland

July 21, 2021

Scott "Spiderman" Mulholland

Even small spots of water damage can be dangerous, Scott Mulholland says.

Every year, insurance companies pay out over $13 billion to handle water damage claims. While large water damage claims have doubled since 2013, there are also millions of smaller claims that are either uninsured or costly without passing the threshold of an insurance claim. Scott Mulholland is CEO of US Building Consultants, Building Envelope Science Institute. His advice is to take even the smallest signs of water intrusion very seriously.

As an expert in water intrusion and forensic investigations, Scott Mulholland has been diagnosing building envelope failures in buildings for over 35, participating in over 4,000 building investigations. He also worked as a state-certified general contractor, which included tearing apart and putting back together over 250 buildings that were suffering from mold, rot, or other building-related construction defects.

His recent challenge to building owners, property managers, and homeowners is to take every sign of water intrusion very seriously. “Hidden water damage can have some of the worst impacts to buildings,” he says. “You might not really notice it at first and it may seem small, but it could be causing significant damage behind walls, under floors, or roofing systems. Water will destroy materials quickly and can even cause dangerous mold growth.”

“Mold poses serious health risks for people,” Mulholland noted. “At USBCI, we use advanced protocols, mobilized laboratory equipment for specimen collection and analysis, and work along with nationally accredited laboratories for testing.”

Mold might be a slow-moving and anticlimactic form of damage, but it is serious. In a given year, mold will destroy more wood than all fires and termites combined. Water damage can lead to mold growth within 24-48 hours. As much as a quarter of the population has a genetic predisposition that makes them susceptible to illness in the presence of mold.

“People are afraid of what they might find when they start to address water damage,” says Mulholland. “They are worried that mold remediation is expensive—and it can be in many situations. But, allowing the damage to worsen and affect the health of those inhabiting the building is going to be even more costly. It’s best to address water damage and potential mold cases as early as possible.”

According to a 2017 report by Moldy, at least 45 million buildings in the US are filled with unhealthy levels of mold. “This isn’t a rare issue,” remarks Mulholland. “I deal with this every day in my line of work as an inspector and investigator for residential, commercial and industrial facilities.”

Aside from mold growth, water leaks can also cause cross-water contamination, increased utility bills, electrical hazards and structural damage.

Plus, not all water leaks are the same. Contaminated water (gray or black water) is more expensive to clean up and can pose additional health risks. Detecting and correcting leaks on time are the best way to mitigate damages and expenses, says Mulholland.