Signs of Hoarding
Hoarding is most common in older adults, but can affect people of all ages, races, nationalities, educational and socio-economic levels.
- Excessive accumulation and storage of items, both inside and outside the home
- Limited access to get around inside the home
- Fully or partially blocked windows and doorways
- Insect and rat infestations
- Storage of rotting food or used food containers
- Neglect of home maintenance or non-working utilities (such as heat, running water, sewer, refrigeration)
- Animal hoarding, indicated by waste accumulation, or inadequate care.
Animal overpopulation in a home can lead to waste accumulation, as well as inadequate food, water, and veterinary care for the pets. If you observe animal hoarding, please contact Animal Services at 703-777-0406 or submit a suspected hoarding case on Loudoun Express Request. Learn more about what to do about hoarding.
Public Health & Safety Risks
Increased Risk of Fire
Collecting combustible materials, such as newspapers, cardboard boxes, clothing, and garbage can pose a severe fire hazard. When ignited, these materials can create an extremely hot, fast-spreading fire that is difficult to suppress. This can result in more extensive damage during a fire emergency. Resident's escape from the home and public safety access to the home can be hampered by blocked hallways, doors, and windows.
Increased Risk of Structural Damage
When the volume of hoarded items becomes extremely heavy, structural damage can threaten occupants, public safety personnel, and adjacent buildings. Overloaded homes can cause permanent structural damage, or in extreme cases, partial collapse of the structure. Examples of structural damage may include:
- Sagging floors and ceilings
- Cracked floor joists or roof trusses,
- Compromised walls
Increased Risk of Disease, Injury & Infestation
Storage of hoarded items and lack of regular home maintenance and cleaning can lead to unsanitary living conditions and increases the risk of disease. Toilets and sinks may be blocked by accumulated items, making them unusable or inaccessible. Accumulated garbage can lead to rat and insect infestations that affect the home and the community.