ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Members of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania chapters of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Inc. (PHCC) met at the Donald Trump Taj Mahal Casino & Hotel to discuss current business topics and view products and services from local suppliers during the groups' second annual "state-in-state" trade show.

One of the featured seminars was a discussion on "Water Mitigation & Mold." The presenter was Michael McCullough, president of County Action Restoration/County Carpet Care, West Chester, Pa. ( McCullough spoke about the causes of mold, the types of mold, and how contractors can protect themselves from mold litigation.

In his company brochure, McCullough answers some basic questions about mold. He defines mold as a "microorganism that is a subset of the fungi, but it is neither a plant nor an animal." He added that mold colonies can be formed if the mold spores are deposited in a location with sufficient moisture and an adequate food source, such as building materials like sheet rock, wood, and wallpaper.

Some types of mold can affect the health of building occupants. These molds include aspergillus, penicillium, and stachybotrys. "There are certain types of mold you need to be aware of," McCullough told his audience. "You can live with some molds, they are in every building. But you need to be aware of others. For example, stachybotrys mold is actually three different molds. Only one, black mold, is considered toxic."

McCullough, whose business conducts a visual assessment of accessible building surfaces and contents for the presence of mold and water damage, said that Pennsylvania contractors can make instant friends with customers by suggesting how they can protect their buildings and belongings from water damages and, subsequently, the effects of mold.

"Suggest a $20 rider on their homeowner's insurance policy [Sump Pump Overflow Endorsement]," he said. "This protects homeowners from damages caused by sump pump failure."

He noted that contractors can create a relationship with customers by offering money-saving tips on insurance as well as mold protection.

McCullough said that if contractors are in a home and suspect a problem, they should do a 10-minute walk around. Many times a problem can be spotted visually, like a leaking pipe. He also suggested another relationship-building idea.

"Offer to check your customer's home for relative humidity levels during your routine maintenance checks," he said.

Publication date: 06/13/2005