Mold and Mildew

There is no such thing as a mold free world – mold is present everywhere, indoors and out. It is always in the air and can be found on plants, foods, dry leaves and other organic matter, as well as in homes and buildings, since it naturally grows indoors. Mold spores enter the buildings through doorways, windows and heating and air conditioning systems, but also on many insects, animals, clothing, shoes, bags and people. When mold spores drop in places with excessive moisture they will start to grow very fast. Mold problem sites include humidifiers, leaky roofs and pipes, overflowing sinks, bath tubs and plant pots, areas steamed from cooking, wet clothes drying indoors, dryers exhausting indoors and anywhere the flooding occurred.

Many building materials provide suitable nutrients for mold that help it grow rapidly. These include paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood and wood products, drywall, dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, carpet, fabric and upholstery.

Mold and real estate market

Indoor mold received a lot of publicity in advertising and the media, and it became a real concern for homeowners and new home buyers. It is not unusual to find mold even in new homes. It is vital to get a mold inspection if you are selling your home or planning to buy a new home. Presence of active mold can drastically impact the resale value of any home. Professional mold inspection is a signed “Bill of Health” report for your home, which shows your attention to details and commitment to the quality of care you give to your home. It assures potential buyers that they will not face any surprising and costly cleanup of serious health hazards. If you discover that mold is present and active in your home, call us right away for a professional inspection and a free repair estimate.

Should I worry about mold in my home?

If indoor mold is extensive everyone in your home is exposed to very high and persistent airborne mold spores and can develop allergies or other health issues. If left unchecked, mold growth can cause structural damage to your home and permanent damage to furnishings, carpets, drapes and clothes. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) it does not matter what type of mold you have. All mold types should be immediately treated to eliminate potential health risks and safe removal.”

How do I test my home for mold?

Go to http://www.homemoldtestkit.com/ to buy a simple home test kit. We provide a more thorough mold inspection that includes detailed visual examination of the most likely areas to contain mold, and we also take air samples indoors and outdoors to determine whether spores concentration in your home is significantly higher. If the indoor level is much higher it usually means that a mold is growing inside your home.

How do I remove mold from my home?

First eliminate the source of moisture that caused the mold growth, then take the steps to clean up the existing contamination. To learn more about how to clean up mold in your home visit:

A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home, EPA

Repairing Your Flooded Home, FEMA

Controlling Mold Growth in the Home

*Sources: California Department of Health Services Indoor Air Quality Info Sheet, “Mold in My Home: What Do I Do?” revised July 2001

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Questions and Answers on Stachybotrys chartarum and other molds” last reviewed November 30, 2002.

Hidden water damage

Water is an extremely powerful force as evidenced by the 3/11/2011 tsunami inJapan, the 8/28/2005 hurricane Katrina, theGrand Canyon, and other unbelievable events. But major water damage can come from much smaller sources: rain storms, flash floods, burst pipes, leaking roofs, seepage, etc.

Obvious water damage is quickly visible, but even if you can’t see the water damage right away, a slow water flow is often worse than visible leaks. Left uncontrolled water can cause a lot of damage:

  • Pipe corrosion
  • Foundation damage
  • Foul odors and rot
  • Mold and mildew

Repairing hidden water damage is usually an even greater challenge. Depending upon the source of the damage, it may or may not be covered by homeowner’s insurance. Getting rid of mold is often a monumental undertaking.

If you will attempt to treat the mold yourself, make sure you wear a special suit and chemical gloves and goggles to prevent mold skin irritation. When all the mold is removed use a natural mold fighting cleaner like MOLDSSHIELD to prevent mold from re-occurring.

Basement mold

If you have severe basement mold you must first thoroughly treat the entire basement. Check all carpet and furniture for water damage, and they were soaked with water it is safer to discard them. Wet items may cause black mold to accumulate very rapidly. If there is only minor water damage, you may be able to simply air out the carpet and furniture and spray it with a mold fighting product.

If you see mold on the walls and/or the ceilings you are facing a major challenge. Basement mold often first appears behind the drywall and works its way out until it eventually becomes visible on the walls, which is why most experts recommend cutting out all damaged drywall and replacing it immediately. The studs behind the drywall should then be inspected for any water damage and mold. Any wood that is damaged needs to be removed and replaced. Simple surface mold on the wood can be thoroughly cleaned removed with soapy water and clean thoroughly until the mold is gone.

After you have started repairing your basement, you should be running a dehumidifier at all times. A dehumidifier will take moisture out of the air, which is vital for mold to develop and spread. Make sure that you check the dehumidifier often, and that you remove the water from the tray as needed.

Remember you can only re-paint the walls after the basement is completely dry. Depending on the amount of water in the basement, it may take a few days to even a week or so. If you paint the walls before they are completely dry, the paint will peel in time and the mold may return.

Attic mold

Attic mold is usually caused by water dripping into the attic from a damaged area of the roof. The roof can be damaged by falling tree branches, careless roof repair, or even an animal that found its way into your home. Make sure to inspect areas around the chimneys and all vents for signs of leaks. Attic mold is often caused by poor ventilation which allows high moisture levels to remain for long periods of time.

Stachybotris mold

Proper ventilation prevents mold from growing in your attic where moisture and humidity buildup is very common. Every home should have a ridge vent running the length of the house as well as appropriately sized side and roof vents. High humidity areas may require electric attic fans that are triggered by temperature and humidity levels. Dampness and moisture build up on the plywood or planks inside the attic is a clear sign that you will need a new roof.

It is extremely important to eliminate any attic mold because mold damage travels fast. Water leak will travel through the inside wall cavities to other parts of the home, causing major mold problems from the roof all the way to the basement. Moisture and water will also build up on and behind the insulation. With so many variables involved we recommend that you contact us to assist you with any mold problem.

Bathroom mold

Bathroom is another place where mold will grow, because the steam from the shower often sticks to the walls after you shower, and even if you turn on a fan, all the moisture will never be removed from the walls. After mold slowly builds up it will quickly spread throughout the bathroom and adjacent rooms. Mold will also accumulate in the bathroom because water that drips from you after you exit the shower will easily penetrate the cracks and grout of the tiling or the carpet floor. If it is not wiped off this water slowly works its way under the floor, and eventually mold will start growing supported by a repeated stream of moisture.

Cleaning up and removing bathroom mold is relatively easy:

  • Mix bleach with very hot water in a bucket and get a piece of cloth that you will throw away. Wear gloves and thoroughly wipe the mold away with the cloth dipped in the bleach mix.
  • Always wear a sealed mask and protective goggles to avoid inhaling any mold spores. After you thoroughly wipe the mold off the walls and ceilings, open all windows and turn on all fans to force out the moisture from the bathroom.

If you suspect mold is under the tiling or carpet, these will have to be removed and replaced. If you have carpet the only safe way is to discard it, otherwise you will constantly fight a recurring mold. If you have tiling, you can easily clean up the mold by scrubbing it and replacing it the same way you handled the walls. In most cases you can easily clean up mold in your bathrooms. If the mold is severe a professional contractor will be needed.

How can you protect yourself from mold menace? Our professional inspection with advanced moisture detection devices, coupled with our years of experience, will often detect water damage long before it becomes a problem. Proper mold removal is important because black mold is a serious health hazard that is known to cause health conditions ranging from minor coughs and nausea to severe asthma, pulmonary hemorrhage and even memory loss. It is extremely toxic to young children and could be lethal to infants. Prolonged exposure to toxic mold will present serious health risks to people of any age. Many people that suffer from symptoms associated with mold were unknowingly exposed to mold hidden in their homes for years.

Toxic black mold is not something you want to play with! It must always be taken seriously and it should be removed from your home or office by a professional contractor as soon as it is discovered. Mold grows very rapidly if conditions are right, so it is important to remove mold as soon as you spot it. If you let it grow it will quickly take over your home and can cause severe structural damage. Since mold is such as common problem every homeowner should know how to get rid of it. Here is one way to handle the mold in your home.

Mold Removal

Small mold problem is relatively easy to handle. Clean up small spots by mixing up bleach and hot water and scrubbing the affected areas. Next scrub all areas again with soap and hot water. The reason is that although the bleach killed the mold, it did not remove it! Dead mold can still cause allergic reactions, but if you scrub the affected areas again with soapy water, you will wash away the mold.

Mold & Mildew

Call us for an inspection and free estimate to remove the mold and mildew and to handle all the repairs that are needed.

Toxic black mold is dangerous – it is not something to play with!

How do you recognize toxic black mold?

There are two types of mold – the less harmful green mold and the more dangerous toxic black mold. While both require professional remediation, black mold must be destroyed immediately because it is extremely harmful, especially to children, people with asthma and those with a weaker immune system. To remove mold permanently you must eliminate its causes and not just its symptoms. When dealing with black mold (aka Strachybotrys Atra) you must know what it looks like. Black mold will appear on walls, ceiling and other areas in circular shapes that usually excrete from the drywall or other surfaces. When the mold spores are active they will have greenish-black appearance and slightly fuzzy or slimy texture. This moldy fungus is usually odorless, but the areas will have a musty smell due to the humidity. Dried black mold spores will lose their shapes and appear chalkier on the walls. Strachybotrys Atra typically hides behind walls, in rafters and in air conditioning ducts. Compare our photos to your situation to determine if you have black mold.

Where does black mold come from

Black Mold or Strachybotrys Atra is found indoors in areas with poor ventilation, poor lighting and/or slow hidden water leaks. It’s also possible to have foundation leaks in the basement which cause moisture and dampness. Attic black mold can be caused by roof leaks, clogged or obstructed air conditioning or heating drain pipes or ventilation malfunctions. Even a constantly sweating pipe may create humidity inside a wall. Poorly ventilated bathrooms with no fan to move out the humidity will show signs of black mold. This is usually less serious than other types of mold, but it still must be remediated and removed immediately. Major mold issues come from roof leaks or broken pipes inside the walls. If a home is left vacant and not properly winterized, the pipes inside the home can freeze and break, eventually causing major water leaks and flooding. This is very common in foreclosed or un-occupied homes, where warmer weather builds up the humidity inside the home and creates mold spores on the surface of the drywall.

In commercial buildings Strachybotrys Atra can be found in areas people don’t generally use every day. Office and industrial buildings usually have electrical rooms, boiler rooms and storage areas that people don’t enter for long periods of time. Air ducts and vents is another place mold can grow unnoticed, so it is a good policy to have these areas regularly checked and periodically cleaned.

Black mold should always be removed only by licensed professionals with adequate protection and with extreme care. Small amounts of black mold (shown on this bathroom ceiling) may be cleaned up with bleach and water solution, which kills the mold, spores and prevents the growth. After the infected area is remediated be sure to find and remove the cause of the excess humidity.

Mold inspection and professional cleanup

Larger areas of black mold can only be removed by licensed professionals. You may also want to hire a licensed inspector to analyze your situation and recommend the best method to remove and to prevent the reoccurrence of black mold. Qualified inspector will assess mold level, and test the humidity and air quality. Your insurance may cover this expensive work. Expert will remove all affected drywall, determine what caused the mold and properly remediate it. All infected insulation must be replaced. Special suit protects the specialists from breathing in, or coming in contact with, the toxic black mold spores. Extreme care must be taken when removing black mold to prevent it from growing back. We use special chemicals and special equipment that most homeowners do not have access to. Once the black mold removal process is finished, repairs to the damaged areas can be done.

Toxic black mold removal must never be taken lightly. You spend most of your time in your home or office, so you don’t want to take any risk with your and your family’s health! We understand that mold removal is very expensive, and if your insurance doesn’t cover it, the payment comes out of your pocket. Some homeowners will try a DIY mold testing kit that doesn’t guarantee a permanent remedy. You need to kill the mold the first time and not just try to clean it up with bleach, because chances are if it is strong it will come back.

Black mold health effects

Thousands of people are exposed to black mold every year, and most of the time this exposure does not cause severe health effects. However, prolonged exposure to black mold can cause permanent damage to your body. Most people when exposed to black mold will experience only mild health effects associated with a common cold or flu, including:

  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Nasal and throat congestion
  • Minor headaches
  • Itchy or watery Eyes
  • Skin irritations (of areas in direct contact with black mold)

Most of these are nothing more then a nuisance in your daily life. But if you are not properly treated and your exposure to black mold continues, you can experience very damaging or even permanent health effects, including:

  • Brain damage
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Permanent lung damage or bleeding lungs
  • Asthma
  • Constant migraines
  • Death

While death is highly unlikely, there are documented cases of individuals dying from complications associated with mold exposure. If a person has a pre-existing health condition, he or she is more likely to experience severe health effects.

Risk factors

Several risk factors can increase the chance of developing a severe black mold health effect:

  • Age: Seniors and young children
  • Persons with asthma, respiratory conditions or other pre-existing health conditions

If you are not sure whether or not you have been exposed to mold, contact your family physician and describe the symptoms you are experiencing. If you primary care professional is unable to determine whether or not you have been exposed to mold, you will be referred to a specialist who should make the diagnosis and prescribe an appropriate treatment.

The worst thing you can do if you believe you have been exposed to black mold is to do nothing. If you do not consult with a physician you increase your chances for having permanent health issues. Even if you find out you have not been exposed to mold, it is better to be safe then sorry.

Mildew

Mildew is a thin black (or sometimes white) growth produced by molds, which are simple plants in the fungi group. Although they are always present in the air, molds that cause mildew need moisture and warm temperature to grow. They usually start growing during humid summer weather, especially in closed homes. They grow on anything that provides enough food: cotton, linen, rayon, silk, wool, leather, wood and paper. Most synthetic fibers resist mildew growth.

While chemicals like bleach kill mildew and mold, tea tree oil and vinegar are the best natural solutions that easily treat both mildew and mold. Use any brush and remover to clean up mildew, but always wear protective gloves and eyewear and make sure mildew or mold doesn’t contact with your skin. Discard all items used in this process for safety. Once cleaned, you can spray essential oil solution over the area for a few days to ensure the removal is permanent.

Molds causing mildew flourish in warm, damp and poorly lighted areas, and especially in not well circulated spaces including closets, cellars, basements and crawl spaces under the homes. Mold also grows on drapes and rugs, window coverings, shower curtains and damp clothes rolled up for ironing. Molds can even grow in new homes when moisture is present in building materials. Molds cause significant damage as they grow, leaving bad musty odor, discoloring leather, paper and fabrics, and even turning fabrics into rot. To prevent mildew keep all rooms, closets, drawers, basements and other places where mildew is likely to grow clean, dry and well ventilated. Soil on dirty items can provide enough food for mildew to start growing if moisture and temperature are right.

Dry the air

Cool air contains much less moisture than warm air, and properly installed air conditioners remove moisture from the air by cooling the warm humid air (cooling process removes the moisture) and re-circulating the cooled and dried air back. In non air-conditioned rooms (like basements) mechanical dehumidifiers are used to remove humidity from the air. For better results humidistat can be used to keep the humidity at the desired level. However, mechanical dehumidifiers create heat that must be moved from the space.

Heat

Heating the home even for a short time will get rid of dampness. Open doors and windows to let out the moisture-laden air, or use an exhaust fan to force the air out. In closets and other small areas turn on an electric light bulb (60 watts to 100 watts) to dry the inside air which prevents mildew.

Eliminate dampness

Reduce or eliminate humidity to prevent mold spores in the air from getting onto the surfaces. Dampness in a basement or a room is usually created when the moisture in humid air condensates on cooler surfaces. Excessive moisture may indicate that repairs or additional wall and ceiling insulation are needed. Replace any cracked or defective mortar, check to see if any water is leaking through crevices in the wall and make sure you have adequate drainage. To waterproof concrete and masonry walls above ground apply two coats of cement paint. In wet areas special waterproof coatings to seal absorbent brick and other outside surfaces may be needed.

Spread a layer of moisture-barrier material over the soil in crawl spaces under the home. You can use plastic membrane, heavy roofing paper or polyethylene plastic film. Good ventilation is important, so whenever possible keep the crawl spaces open. In extremely wet places a fan or air blower may be required to move the humid air from under the building. If your clothes dryer is equipped with a vent, make sure the exhaust is vented to the outside to safely remove all humid air.

Moisture absorbing chemicals

Silica gel, activated alumina, anhydrous calcium sulfate and molecular sieves all may be used to absorb moisture. These chemicals are not harmful to fabrics and they feel dry even when they saturate the clothes. You can scatter the dry granules through layers of clothing and other cloth articles that are to be stored in tightly closed closets, drawers or cabinets.

All of these chemicals can be used repeatedly if you dry them between uses. Simply place the granules in a vented oven at 300 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (149 to 177 degrees Celsius) for several hours, then place the hot granules in an airtight container to cool. Silica gel and anhydrous calcium sulfate (specially treated with a color indicator) are pink when full of moisture, and they are blue when dry.

Another chemical that absorbs moisture from the air is anhydrous calcium chloride. The small white granules hold twice their weight of water, but they liquefy as the moisture is absorbed. Never allow this chemical to touch clothing or household textiles – it will burn holes.

Place anhydrous calcium chloride granules in a non-corroding screen or waxed carton (milk) perforated with small holes. Support the carton in an enameled pot so the liquid can drip away from it, allowing the calcium chloride to take up more moisture. Then place the pot in the closet, preferably on the shelf, and keep the door shut and sealed. One pound (454 grams) of calcium chloride will last from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the humidity. When only liquid is left, discard the liquid and start over.

Continuing air movement is the best way to remove moisture. When outside air is dryer than inside air, ventilation lets the dry air enter, take up excess moisture and then be carried outside. When natural breezes are insufficient, you can use electric fans placed in windows, set in walls or vented to the attic to move humid air from the home.

Poorly ventilated closets become damp and musty during wet weather, and articles stored in them are prone to grow mildew. Improve air circulation by opening closet doors or by installing a fan. Always hang all clothes loosely so that air can circulate around them. Dry all wet clothing (including clothes wet from rain or perspiration) before putting it in the closet. Remember – cooking, laundering and bathing may add 2 gallons (7.6 liters) or more of water a day to the house, unless air circulation is adequate.

Get rid of musty odors

Musty odors, which indicate mold growth, are sometimes noticeable in basements, wine cellars and shower stalls. Take special precautions to get rid of musty odors as soon as possible to prevent mildew and mold. Usually musty odors disappear if the area is well heated, ventilated and dried. If the odors remain, one of the following treatments may be necessary:

In basements, use chlorinated lime (commonly called chloride of lime or bleaching powder) to remove musty odors. Sprinkle it over the floors and leave in place until mustiness disappears.

On cement floors and on tiled walls and floors in bathrooms, eliminate musty odors by scrubbing with a dilute solution of sodium hypochlorite or other chlorine bleach available in grocery stores. Use 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid household bleach to a gallon (3.8 liters) of water. Rinse with clear water and wipe as dry as possible. Keep windows open until walls and floors are thoroughly dry. Use caution on plastic and asphalt tile to avoid spotting the surface.

Quaternary ammonium compounds (available in janitorial, dairy and poultry supply houses) may also be used on floors and walls. Select a product that is registered and labeled for the particular use you have in mind. Remember that not all compounds are equally effective.

From time to time on warm, dry days, sun and air all items stored in closets.

Prevent mildew on unpainted or painted wood

In damp, warm, poorly ventilated areas, surface mold often develops on wooden parts of buildings. Since all new, unseasoned lumber is particularly susceptible to mildew, avoid using it whenever possible. Indoor wood surfaces covered with enamel or oil-resin paint rarely grow mildew. Softer paints on outdoor surfaces will grow mildew more readily. Mildew and mold eat the oils and minerals in the paint and cause a dirty looking discoloration. They may penetrate the paint film very deeply, even to the underlying wood. Mildew resistant paints in all colors for outdoor wood surfaces are available at paint and hardware stores. Manufacturers have suitably formulated their products with fungicides to help prevent the growth of mildew and mold.

Use heat and increase the air circulation to get mildew covered wood as dry as possible. Badly infected wood may need to be replaced, preferably with a wood that has been treated or that is naturally resistant to decay. Thoroughly clean mildew covered surfaces, woodwork and all wood parts by scrubbing with a mild alkali, such as washing soda or trisodium phosphate (8 to 10 tablespoons to a gallon (3.8 liters) of water), or with disinfectants, such as a quaternary disinfectant or pentachlorophenate. Rinse the wood well with clear water, allow it to dry fully and apply mildew resistant paint.

If the mold has grown under the paint or varnish, remove all the paint or varnish from the stained areas. Then scrub with a solution containing 8 to 10 tablespoons of trisodium phosphate and 1 cup of household chlorine bleach to a gallon (3.8 liters) of water. Stronger solutions can be used if necessary. Always wear rubber gloves for protection.

If stain remains, apply oxalic acid (3 tablespoons to 1 pint (0.47 liters) of water). Caution: The acid is poisonous – handle it carefully. Finally, rinse the surface thoroughly with clear water and dry well before refinishing.

Find out more about mold and mildew at: http://extension.missouri.edu/p/GH5928

Mold Prevention

Mold prevention is just as important as mold removal. You can take simple steps to decrease the likelihood of mold developing in your home. Buy a de-humidifier for your basement and make sure to empty the bin when it is full. Also, if you can, open any windows in your basement or bathroom to allow moisture to escape and for mold spores to be removed outside.

Check out this video that shows a professional mold remediation company cleaning the surface of the floor joists in the basement. Keep in mind that the video was taken inside of a mold suite to protect the film maker from mold exposure.

Summary

Mold hits the majority of homes around the world at some point so you should not panic if you spot any mold. However, you should quickly take steps to remove it whether that means scrubbing it yourself or hiring a professional to get rid of mold. There are serious health risks, mold allergies and some cases of death that you don’t want to ignore. If the damage is extensive walls and floors may need to be torn out.

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