Level 4 Hoarding Explained

How to know if your Hoarding Situation has reached Level 4

The National Study on Compulsive Disorganization created a scale to help categorize hoarding behavior into 5 stages. This scale helps those in the periphery of the hoarder’s life to step in, recognize the severity of the hoarding disorder, and seek the appropriate help for the person who is hoarding.

Stage 4 hoarding is the second most severe level of hoarding. People who have reached this stage with their hoard are usually suffering from a mental health crisis of some kind.

They almost always cannot see how dangerous their situation is nor do they recognize extremely unsanitary conditions.  

Hoarding level 4 behavior has the following characteristics:

  • Multiple Unusable Rooms
  • Multiple Exits are Blocked
  • Sewage Issues
  • The Hoarder Has Not Bathed in Weeks
  • An Overpowering Odor
  • Large Quantities of Mold and Mildew Throughout the Home
  • Structural Damage to the Hoarder House that is At Least 6 Years Old
  • A Large Quantity of Rotting Food in the Kitchen and Refrigerator
  • Bed Bugs, Lice, Fleas, Cockroaches, and Rodent Infestations
  • Excessive and Aging Animal Waste

Multiple Unusable Rooms

Multiple rooms are so full in a stage 4 hoarding situation that they are completely unusable. Hallways and doorways are inaccessible due to the height and breadth of the hoard because the encroaching clutter has overtaken liminal spaces like staircases.  

Multiple Exits are Blocked

More than one major exit into and out of the hoarder house is blocked by items. The state of their hoarded home now poses a real danger in the face of a fire or an emergency that requires getting out of the house quickly. Pathways exist between towering levels of clutter. It is impossible for the hoarder to move through their home quickly due to the excessive amount of items they have collected.  

Sewage Issues

Bathrooms have become unusable in the hoarder’s home. The toilet no longer flushes, and sinks are often backed up to the point that they are not functioning. These items have been neglected because they are too hard to reach through the hoard that exists on the floors, around the toilet, in the tub, and on all other surfaces available.  

The bathtub is usually so full of objects it is not used. Pipes and other plumbing in disrepair may be causing water damage. While the water may not have been shut off yet, the running water situation within the hoarder house is already compromised.  

The Hoarder Has Not Bathed in Weeks

Due to sewage issues, nonfunctioning bathroom fixtures, and/or a lack of space, the hoarder cannot maintain their hygiene. Their clothes will be soiled, and areas designed for bathing within the home are too full to use. At this point, the hoarder usually develops strange bathing habits like using a bucket in the backyard to avoid defunct bathrooms.  

An Overpowering Odor

This odor usually permeates the entire property and becomes surprisingly stronger when someone enters the hoarder’s house. Once inside, the hoard has many displeasing odors. This is usually caused by urine, feces, and rotten food.  

Large Quantities of Mold and Mildew Throughout the Home

There’s irreversible damage occurring from mold and mildew. The quantities of mold in the house make it unsafe to enter without PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) since mold spores can make you sick. No amount of cleaning will lift off certain mildew stains in a hoarded bathroom or kitchen.    

Mold and mildew exist near water damage, on windowsills, and other portions of the hoarded house. If the house is in a humid area, the mildew and mold will be on objects throughout the hoard. It may be contributing to structural damage by weakening things like beams and roofing.  

Structural Damage to the Hoarded House that is At Least 6 Months Old

There is structural damage that threatens the viability of the hoarded home, and that damage has existed for more than six months. Windows may be broken, floorboards are rotting, the roof is leaking, or walls could be crumbling. Moisture, mold, and the weight of the hoard will be contributing to this structural damage.    

The house can still be salvaged once a thorough decluttering and sanitization have taken place. However, the damage will be extensive, and some areas of the home may not be repairable.  

A Large Quantity of Rotting Food in the Kitchen and Refrigerator

Fresh foods are rotting in various places around the hoarded home, and there is an excessive amount of expired canned and bottled food stored around the house. There are no dishes or silverware that are clean, and most that are not buried under clutter have spoiled food on them.  

Bed Bugs, Lice, Fleas, Cockroaches, and Rodent Infestations

All the furniture and beds in the house have lice or bedbug infestations. Rodents have chewed on objects around the house and cockroaches are easily seen throughout the hoard. There may be bats living in the attic and spider webs are spread across most objects and walls.  

The infestations are so bad that most of the items that may have been valuable are now worthless because they are soiled. Some hoarders, when confronted with the level of pest infestation in their home, start to realize how dirty the things they are trying to keep really are.  

Excessive and Aging Animal Waste

The hoarder may have also hoarded animals on their property. A stage 4 hoarder usually has more animals than allowed by local regulations. There are at least 3 spots of excessive animal waste accumulation. This failure to dispose of excrement properly has created unsanitary conditions for the animals, and the hoarded pets are often ill.  

How to Help a Level 4 Hoarder

Cleaning up a stage 4 hoarding situation will need PPE and a group of trained professionals that specialize in helping hoarders and cleaning up hoarded spaces. When you have recognized the above signs and symptoms in your loved one’s hoarded home, it is time to seek help.    

At Spaulding Decon, our trained biohazard remediation professionals know how to clean up a hoarder’s home and we understand the emotional attachment that exists to the belongings.

Our teams can create custom cleanup plans while working with mental health professionals to ensure that your loved ones get the help and support they need during the difficult cleanup process.  

To find a Spaulding Decon team nearest to your location: Spaulding Decon Locations | Professional Cleanup Company

Free Ebook – Dealing with Hoarding Around You

Learn from our 15+ Years Experience with Hoarding Assistance. Hoarding is destructive to your property values as well as theirs. There are many ways to go about working with a harder to get them to clean up the mess. In this free eBook download, Spaulding Decon teaches you lessons learned from dealing with Hoarding Cleanup and the psychology behind hoarding disorders.

Download Ebook

The 5 Levels of Hoarding: Understanding Hoarding Disorder

Overview: All 5 Levels of Hoarding Explained

Level 1 Hoarding

Level 2 Hoarding

Level 3 Hoarding

Level 4 Hoarding

Level 5 Hoarding


Read More Articles about

Hoarding Cleanup

Hoarder Houses - An Issue for the Whole Neighborhood

While it’s believed that one in 50 people suffer from compulsive hoarding, one in every 20 might be impacted by it.If not addressed, a hoarding disorder can have adverse effects on multiple areas of their lives. Even if you aren’t personally affected by the hoarding disorder, you may live near someone who is. Hoarder houses can be a blight on the neighborhood, but, more importantly, they pose a danger to the individual living in the home and the entire neighborhood.

Read More
Discreet Hoarding Cleanup Services

Hoarding is basically a phenomenon to collect the goods regardless useful or useless due to some psychological conditions among the people. Most of the aged people start hoarding goods from different sources just by making others strongly believed that they would need such things in near future. Sometimes, the people also start hoarding from their aggressive hobbies like collecting coins, newspapers and books. Hoarders always love to their collection and no one is generally allowed to touch their precious goods. They are willing to protect and keep these hoarded goods with them till their death. That is why; the clean up companies need to develop some discreet and very tactful services that can accomplish the cleaning assignments easily.

Read More
The Ins and Outs of Hoarding Cleanup

Hoarding is something that most people approach with fascination, wondering how people could let their homes get so out of control. There are even reality TV shows that treat hoarding and hoarders as a source of entertainment, to be marveled at from the comfort of our clean, organized homes.Hoarding isn’t funny or even entertaining; it’s the result of a severe mental illness called hoarding disorder. While hoarders might recognize the problems, they find it impossible to get things under control. The reality is that hoarding cleanup is far more involved than simply grabbing some trash bags and getting to work.

Read More