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Moldy Vortex: ServiceMaster Restore Warns Winter Storm ’21 May Have Lingering, Unhealthy Effects


February 26, 2021


An image explaining how cold can lead to mold. Cold weather can burst pipes leading to dampness when it gets warmer resulting in mold.

MEMPHIS, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The polar vortex that recently walloped middle America has passed. The damage that remains may be largely unseen. 

Burst water pipes and ice dam-soaked homes and businesses throughout the Midwest and South mean moisture in crawlspaces, attics, walls, insulation, furniture and carpets. Temperatures have rebounded significantly, which is great for a shivering nation, but bad for buildings and structures. The aftermath of the polar vortex creates the perfect conditions for mold growth, and disaster restoration experts are warning about what may be in store. 

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen the number of burst water pipes that we had during the recent polar vortex,” said Peter Duncanson of ServiceMaster Restore and a disaster remediation expert with 35 years of experience. “Indoor water damage is very destructive and will continue to cause problems unless the moisture in the structure is completely removed.” 

The circumstances in Texas and throughout much of the Southeast are particularly troublesome for mold growth. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the presence of moisture, mold spores and warm weather 

create a breeding ground for Stachybotrys chartarum, the black-green mold that can grow on any material with a high cellulose content such as wallboard, wood, paper and even dust. Mold is not only unsightly and destructive, it also can cause irritation and health issues, especially for people with allergies and asthma. 

Consider the situation in Texas. Thousands of homes and businesses suffered burst pipes during the record low temperatures in mid-February. Hundreds of millions of gallons of water leaked into structures causing billions in damages. It will take weeks, perhaps months, for all the water damage to be repaired. Meanwhile, temperatures have rebounded 50 degrees or more in some places. It’s a perfect situation for mold growth and much of it is out of sight, requiring help from professionals with the experience in mold inspection and removal. 

The best way to avoid mold is to remove the moisture, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. 

“Disaster recovery professionals have the knowledge, experience and tools that most homeowners don’t have,” said Duncanson. “We have technology to locate moisture in attics, walls and crawlspaces – places you can’t get to or can’t see. We also have the equipment to effectively dry a space and repair damages and we can help prevent mold growth. Mold is extremely resilient and it takes special EPA registered products to deal with it.” 

Most homeowners’ policies will pay to remove mold if it’s necessary to repair damaged property. Insurance companies typically won’t pay to remove mold caused by something other than a disaster event. Read your policy carefully to find out if mold removal is covered. 

About ServiceMaster Restore 

With more than 800 locations around the world, ServiceMaster Restore serves customers through a global network of franchises available 24/7/365 to provide residential and commercial restoration services resulting from damage caused by water, fire, smoke or mold. ServiceMaster Restore is a business unit of Memphis-based ServiceMaster Brands, a leading provider of essential residential and commercial services. More information can be found at


Lucy Harrison
[email protected]