5 On Your Side

Mold Grows When Lowe's Home Improvement Project Goes Awry

Posted February 14, 2008
Updated February 15, 2008

— Most installations done by big home-improvement stores go as planned. But when a Raleigh woman discovered an alarming problem with her cabinets and Lowe's Home Improvement would not fix it, she called 5 on Your Side.

Pull out the stove in Jean Coley's home, and the wall behind it is covered in mold.

Coley was unknowingly living in what she calls a "cesspool in the kitchen." The mold had been spreading for years before she found it.

In 2004, Coley paid Lowe's $5,100 to install cabinets when the house was built. Everything about the project seemed to be fine until last August.

"I was in the bottom of the cabinet, and I felt wetness, and I said to myself, 'That's not water,'" Coley said.

A friend found the source: a major cabinet installation error.

A worker had put a cabinet screw into a sewage pipe in the wall behind it. That sewage pipe slowly leaked for more than three years. Coley's friend documented evidence of damage to the floor and joists.

"It is gross, looking at it there. And that's what I've been living with, that mold," Coley said.

When Coley called Lowe's last August, a representative came to her house, assessed the damage and submitted a claim. When she called Lowe's to follow up, she said, the company blamed the sub-contractor. The sub-contractor said he was not responsible, Coley said.

"I look at it this way: Lowe's is supposed to fix it and deal with their sub-contractors after, instead of putting me through the stress of waiting all this time, with the inconvenience of not being able to use my bathroom and toilet upstairs," Coley said.

After months of back-and-forth with no resolution, Coley called 5 on Your Side, and we called Lowe's.

The company immediately sent Coley a letter offering $1,800 for the visible damage and to work out additional payment once she gets estimates. Coley is in the process of getting those estimates.

A Lowe's spokeswoman would not talk about why Coley's complaint got held up for so long in the first place.

Coley said she won't be relieved until the mold and mildew mess in her kitchen is finally fixed.

"It hurts my heart. It's painful going through it (the experience). Very painful," Coley said.


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  • OSX Feb 18, 2008

    I have had good luck with Lowe's. I bought a gas cooktop from them that went all wrong. It was mistakes made on their part but they made good on the deal. They knew this was their mistake and I got a $1200 cooktop for $650. I think GE had to eat it too because it was REALLY their fault. I like Lowe's and will continue to shop there.

  • hdsoftail Feb 18, 2008

    Man this story sounds like the way State Farm Ins. treats their customers.

  • blackdog Feb 18, 2008

    ...Six months is enough time to build a couple of houses.

  • blackdog Feb 18, 2008

    ...OK here goes the cause... The plumber put the drain pipe through a stud as usual, but forgot to cover the stud with a metal plate where the pipe was, or the screw was strong enough to go through it. Either the plumber forgot the stud plate or the cabinet person forced the screw.

  • happy Feb 15, 2008

    Huey - my father and I were estranged for over a year. Not my choice, by any means. We have just recently reconciled and I contact him on a very regular basis.

  • DurhamDude Feb 15, 2008

    Hy-Grade... that's against the American way. Buy cheap cheap cheap. Why do you think we have so many Chinese made goods and everything is outsourced overseas?

  • Huey Feb 15, 2008

    Happy, you say your elderly father called you and said he had no
    water or stove in his kitchen for 6 months? Sounds to me like
    you have not been doing a very good job of looking out for him.
    I would hope for more contact with your father than this. As for
    Lowes, I wouldn't know. I love their products but have not used
    their services yet.

  • happy Feb 15, 2008

    My father had cabinets installed by Lowe's. He is elderly and doesn't live close where I can check on him. He called one day and I asked him how his kitchen was. He started crying on the phone. He had been without running water and a stove for 6 months waiting for Lowe's to finish installing the cabinets. I called customer service and got every manager's name from the local store's cabinet dept up to the CEO. Then my sister went into the local store and raised cane. Within 2 weeks, my father's cabinets were installed and he was given a full refund. I will NEVER use them ever again. How do you let an elderly man go without water in his kitchen and without a stove for 6 months and think that it's ok.

  • Hy-Grade Feb 15, 2008

    We have had such bad service from lowes home inprovement in the past(carpet install), we're in the process of redoing our countertops now, we look for ideas at lowes but refuse to deal with them. Pay a little more, shop around and get quality workmanship, it's out there.