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Corroded Hot Water Valves create Hidden Danger

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"We had water down the hallway, in the kitchen, and the living room flooded. Everything was ruined. And it gets worse," says Carla Biffle. "This corroded hot water valve has created more of a disaster than most people realize."

Mold starts to grow instantly. The Biffle family now suffers health problems because of it.

Thirty mold colonies growing in our house: allowable number is nineCarla Biffle, Apache, Oklahoma: "We first noticed that the floor was wet around the hot water heater's valves and then the tank started to leak. This was in January, 2006. The carpet in the hall closet was wet and when my husband looked he noticed that the valve was corroded and that it had to be replaced. The hot water heater was only six years old. I put a pan under the heater and all day long I had to replace it because nothing any deeper would fit under the heater. About every half hour the pan would fill up with water.

I was sitting in the living room with the kids, just before my husband got home from work, and we heard a hissing sound, like steam being released. We looked at each other and said 'oh-my-god - I bet it's leaking more.' When we opened the closet door the water was pouring out of the heater like a fire hydrant.

We didn't know what to do. My husband Bobbi was still half an hour away from coming home. We called him on his cell phone and he told my eldest son to get a pipe wrench and shut off the heater from the top. My other son helped and in all the confusion it was difficult but they finally managed to shut it off.

We are still fighting this nightmare. Insurance won't cover anything because we live on Indian trust land; I am native American. So we have to pay for the whole mess. We got a carpet cleaner to try and extract the water, and we mopped for days. Then we borrowed space heaters to try and dry it out. The odor was - is - unbearable.

Now we are dealing with mold. If it wasn't for the fact that my son had to go to the doctor because he was having problems breathing, we wouldn't have known about it. Or maybe when it had done even more damage to our health.

I took my son to an allergy clinic because his nostrils were all clogged up. Right away, the doctor asked if I had noticed any mold in the house. I'm a pretty good housekeeper and hadn't seen any. I cleaned all around the tub and there definitely wasn't any mold. I didn't even think about the carpet, until I was told that this kind of mold occurs when you have a flood in your house. We got some clear white plates from the allergy clinic and I was told to let them sit in a room for a while and then return them to the allergy clinic. They emailed our results - we have 30 colonies of mold growing and the allowable amount is nine!

Now we have to rip out the carpet and treat all the floors with a special sealant. And we have to rent a meter that tells you when all the mold is out of the house before we can install new carpeting. The kitchen tiles have to be taken out and replaced. We were told that we shouldn't even be living in the house, but where can we go?

The expense is mind boggling and we just don't have the money right now. We have priced carpets and laminated flooring. I got a floor plan of the house and a 600 sq. ft area has to be replaced, not including the kitchen. It is going to cost approximately $5,000. Now that may not seem like a lot, but when you aren't expecting it, and I have four kids, that is a lot.

But what is worse than the cost is our health. We never had these health problems before and all of us have sore throats. We got antibiotic shots, but even now my nose is all stuffy. I think a lot of people out there may not know the danger that something like this can create."

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