COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC) — Colonial Heights resident Fay Grissom says a contractor’s mistake cost her thousands of dollars as well as her health. Now, she wants them to pay up.
“As I come out, the tubing is flopping and sending insulation all over the room,” Grissom says describing the mishap that has this breast cancer survivor now in a fight with Contractor Michael & Son Services.
Grissom hired the contractor a year ago to pump insulation into the attic of her home when suddenly the hose dropped.
“The hose fell from the attic into the hallway and into my bedroom and shot insulation all over the place,” Grissom recalled.
Crews cut off the machine, but the damage was already done. The fiberglass insulation had sprayed all over her bedroom.
“They did get a vacuum cleaner and vacuum it up, or I thought,” Grissom told 8News.
She paid for the work, but just a couple weeks after the accident she developed a skin rash and irritation in her chest.
“I started having respiratory problems, I was itching constantly,” Grissom said.
After months of trips to and from the doctor, which included several prescriptions, Grissom still wasn’t getting any better. It wasn’t until doctors learned of the insulation mishap that Grissom finally learned what was causing her pain.
“It would certainly be irritating to your eyes and nose and throat if you breathed in those fibers,” Ruddy Rose, Director of the Virginia Poison Center at VCU told 8News
Rose told 8News that exposure to what is basically a mix of glass and sand particles can easily cause skin and respiratory problems. Rose says if those fine particles aren’t thoroughly cleaned up, they can become airborne and continue to irritate.
“You have to stop the exposure, and to stop the exposure you have to remove the contaminate from living space,” Rose explained.
Now, four months after the mishap, Grissom was advised the only way to stop the exposure was to deep clean, get a new mattress and pull up her carpet. So, she hired a crew. When they moved the furniture to pull up the rug, they found puffs of insulation sitting behind a bookcase, apparently missed by Michael & Son Services
“He said, ‘oh, there is still insulation under here.’ So I was still breathing that insulation,”Grissom said.
She complained to Michael & Son and they agreed to have her bedding professionally cleaned but refused to pick up the tab for pulling up the carpet, the new mattress and all the medical bills.
“There were two antibiotics and two steroid creams and an inhaler that I ended up on,” said Grissom, who saved all over her receipts and medical records.
Between the cost of the insulation, prescriptions, allergy testing, a new mattress and flooring to replace the rugs, Grissom is out $12,000.
This spring, she filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.
Over the summer, Michael & Son responded, saying they followed “industry standards” and used a HEPA filtered vacuum to clean up the insulation. They added that the ducts in the room and hall were cleaned by a technician and that “the remediation efforts would more than create a clean and safe environment.”
Grissom’s rash stopped with the deep cleaning and carpet removal, but she doesn’t feel she should have to pay for a mistake that she claims someone else made.
“They said nothing about compensation, they didn’t even apologize for the incident happening,” Grissom said.
8News reached out to SERVPRO experts and insurance adjusters to see how they would have cleaned up the insulation. We were told they would have advised using an air scrubber to remediate the fine particles. We tried to ask Michael and Son about that, but they refused our numerous requests for an interview and told us they felt their response to the AG was adequate.
Michael & Son Services gets an A-plus rating with the BBB.
For anyone having an issue with a contractor, consider not making final payment until you are satisfied the issue is resolved.
Grissom was smart in documenting everything. She kept all her receipts, bills and medical records and she took photos of the issue. She also filed a complaint with the AG that is now on record with the state.
Unfortunately, the AG’s office couldn’t resolve the matter and says Grissom’s only recourse may be through the courts. Grissom is hoping Michael & Son reconsiders and works with her.