Water Damage Mold

Water damage is already enough of a problem itself without worrying about mold too.  But water damage mold occurs regularly along with the irritation of the water damage itself.

The first thing to do is inspect and treat your home for even subtle signs of water damage. Whereas dramatic water damage (such as you might get from a tub, toilet, or other plumbing problem) is quite noticeable, other water damage is subtle. Look for peeling wallpaper or faint brown spots (especially on your ceiling or the highest part of a wall).  A slight bubbling in latex paint, or a shiny appearance may also be a clue.  If the problem appears to be spreading, you may want to hire a contractor to examine it further (or do it yourself if you know your way around home repairs.) You’ll need to fix the troubled patch of drywall, and removing a small section may also give you insight into the root cause behind the damage. Also, check your house’s siding where the damage appears (and above, since water can flow down before it appears as visible damage).

Once you’ve identified the root cause of the water damage mold can be prevented.  Wherever the water damage occurred, use a mold-killing primer on the surface before you paint.  Wear a mask and latex gloves when you apply primer, as the fumes can be quite strong and the primer difficult to remove from skin.

If water damage mold has already appeared, it’s not too late. You can swab the moldy area with a diluted bleach solution (again, use gloves and a mask).  You can also remove the drywall (which you may need to do anyway, depending on the degree of water damage.

Be sure to dehumidify your house to prevent future mold growth.  Mold adores humidity, so don’t let conditions in your house be a mold haven.

If the mold reappears or seems particularly aggressive, get a mold testing kit to determine the type and potential toxicity of the mold. Be sure to keep an eye out for less evident types of mold (pale or pinkish molds).

Mold Prevention

Several varieties of mold can be quite aggravating those with allergies or labored breathing, but any issues can be avoided by following a few mold prevention techniques. The key ingredient in the growth life of mold is moisture, and there are several steps that can be taken to reduce the amount of moisture in a home.

During months in which the indoor air becomes humid, removing moisture from the air is a very helpful step in mold prevention. Both dehumidifiers and air conditioners are cable of extracting water vapor from the air, which will prevent mold from growing on interior walls. In the bathroom, a circulation fan with a system of ducts, venting to the outside of the living area, will remove the very humid air that is produced when the shower is used. In addition, a properly ventilated stove hood in the kitchen will take care of the vapors created while preparing meals.

Proper maintenance of the home itself is also a necessary step in mold prevention. Any time a large amount of water penetrates the structure of the house, a serious mold problem can occur. Water intrusion can happen when the roof leaks, when water supply and drain lines start to age, or when windows or siding are improperly installed or need replacement. Even if a minor problem is detected, it should be fixed as soon as possible.

When water does enter the home, more immediate mold prevention techniques will be needed. The source of the leak must be immediately fixed, and then any wet areas must be dried as quickly as possible. Wood, drywall, insulation, and other porous materials that have become soaked with water should be replaced. Any other materials should be dried with fans or other equipment. If the area is extremely large, it may be best to call in a professional service help with mold prevention, especially if one suspects there may be hidden damage.

Mold Insurance

In the year 2001, insurance companies spent over 1.2 billion dollars in black mold cases. The cost included the inspection and testing, remediation, attorney fees and punitive damages. Since this time the number of cases against black mold has continued to rise. Billions of dollars is paid out every year in lawsuits. Therefore, as a landlord, builder or property owner it is best to looking into the mold insurance option and know specifically what you are covered against.

As a result of the increase in cases many insurance policies now have a mold exclusion clause. If you find that your insurance does not have this policy then it would be a good idea to hold onto it. Because of these newer clauses it is becoming increasingly difficult to get mold coverage. Often mold insurance is a stand-alone policy or one that has higher premiums. You can even choose to have mold insurance added on to your existing policy, but the cost is often high.

It is a good idea to invest in mold insurance if you live in a humid area such as the Pacific Northwest. If is even more important to get mold insurance if you have an old property since older buildings have a strict guideline to follow when it comes to toxic black mold removal. Often you can reduce the cost of mold coverage by developing your own Operation and Maintenance plan. These plans often include a schedule for inspection and training for employees to deal with mold remediation.

The best then that any building owner can do is to take care of all mold problems when they occur either inside or outside your building. You need to keep an eye on any properties that have a history of mold. Communicate with any tenants and employees. Make sure everyone in the building knows how to check for mold and that they will notify you when they do find mold.

Mold Preventing

Mold preventing strategies should be on the top of the list for home owners, but often times mold isn’t recognized as a major health threat. Fortunately there are several ways to prevent mold so that you don’t have to worry about it becoming a problem. If you use a couple simple mold preventing ideas you can minimize the threat. Some of these strategies include things like monitoring your home humidity and heat levels, or using an air filtration system or dehumidifier. It’s best to get on top of a possible mold problem before it happens to avoid the hassle later.

The simplest way to work on preventing mold is to keep an eye on your living space. If you monitor certain aspects of your home’s climate control you can eradicate a mold problem before it ever becomes an issue. For example, take a tour of your home and try to note the difference in humidity levels between rooms. Sometimes a certain bedroom or family room is more humid than the other areas of the house. Be sure to note the difference in heat between the rooms, especially during the summer months. If you use these two pieces of information you can pick out the most humid and hot rooms as those to target with mold preventing devices.

What devices work best to prevent mold? Using a dehumidifier is always a safe bet. Although dehumidifiers can be loud they remove water from the air to dramatically reduce humidity in a room. There are various kinds of dehumidifiers and each kind is made for a different sized room. Some humidifiers are great for small rooms while others are especially powerful and can handle a whole entire basement. Make sure you use a humidifier that is powerful enough for the room you are targeting. Another strategy for mold preventing is the use of an air purifier. Air purifiers reduce pollutants and dust in the air so that you can be sure your home’s breathing space is safe. All of these techniques can beat mold before it starts.

Mold Assessment

You or a professional inspector have gone though your entire home and have found that your home may have a significant mold problem.  What could this possibly mean for you as a homeowner and your home’s profitability if you decided to sell?  How will this affect the health and wellness of your family?  Before you start to panic, you should first consider your options and your need for a professional mold assessment. 

A mold assessment is a service in which certified mold inspectors are specially trained in identification and removal of mold and mold friendly conditions.  These inspectors will investigate the whereabouts and causes of the mold in your home for a fee.  When considering a mold assessment for your home, it is always a good idea to check the credentials of the individual and company the inspector works for as fraud has been a problem in recent years and thousands of dollars were lost with no resolution to any mold issues in the homes.  A mold assessment should only be performed by a specially trained and certified inspector whose main focus is molds and not as a side project or odd job.  Remember, this is your family’s health and your home’s structural well being, don’t just trust it to anyone.

During a mold assessment, the inspector will first make a visual inspection to identify a possible contamination problem.  When a potential problem has been found, the inspector will perform bulk or surface sampling of the contaminated area.  The inspector will then monitor the air through a complex collection process in order to determine the types of fungi in the air.  Air monitoring is also useful in determining the concentration of the fungal spores in the air relative to health problems the occupants may be experiencing at the time of the inspection.

Stop Mold

With all that’s been in the news in recent years about mold and its potential effects on health, many are seeking information on how to stop mold. In principle, it is fairly easy to stop mold. However in practice, given the changes in how we use fuel and design and construct home today, it can be a bit more complex to stop mold from growing in your home.

The bottom line about mold is that it likes to grow in places that are moist, damp, and while it does grow in places that have light, it really flourishes well in dimmer places. It doesn’t take a whole lot of moisture for mold to appear, just a bit of condensation will the trick, as mold spores are everywhere, and nearly impossible to avoid.

Influenced by price and availability, we tend to be more conservative with heating fuels these days, and that desire to conserve has let to changes in the way homes are being built. Homes are much more airtight than they were in the past. Quality windows designed with new manufacturing techniques and materials prevent the drafts that used to keep a bit of fresh air moving through the home, drying up moisture and condensation. There have been many similar home building advancements that have reduced the amount of air coming out of and moving into houses and other buildings. This air-tightness, while good for the fuel bill, can make it a little challenging to stop mold.

Despite being a bit challenging, it is possible to stop mold. Cleaning the area of the mold with bleach will kill it most of the time. However, to prevent it from returning, the matter of the hospitable environment must be addressed. That may entail fixing a leaky pipe, finding a way to eliminate condensation in a particular area, or a solution geared to the specifics of a given location or mold situation.

The way to stop mold is to deal with the environment that enables its spores to flourish. Moisture is the primary culprit when it comes to making a particular site welcoming to mold spores. With the way homes are constructed today, eliminating condensation and other types of dampness may be challenging, but usually can be successfully accomplished.

Mold Lab

The health risks associated with airborne mold are well known to the public and the statistics revolving around the dangers of bread mold and toxic black mold are absolutely alarming.  With new types of molds being discovered every day and new symptoms developing due to allergies and ailments produced by inhaling mold spores, science must always strive to stay one step ahead of the game in preventing and treating the adverse effects of mold related ailments and in the identification of new species.  For answers and insight, we turn to the professionals in the mold lab.

A mold lab can perform any number of functions such as educational, legal, and research consultations, analytical services in the identification and examination of fungal and bacterial cultures.  A mold lab can also examine microscopic bioaerosol spore trap, tape-lift, swab, mushroom / macrofungus, and bulk/miscellaneous samples. 24-hour or 48-hour rush services are sometimes available for an additional fee.  Depending on which mold lab you choose, you may also be afforded an explanation of the test results, diagnosing the source of your problem, to developing a cost effective remediation plan for removal of the mold in your home. 

Though use of a mold lab may not be the most cost effective way to identify the mold you may have in your home, if you can afford the service, it may well save you much more money in future renovations, health care costs, and lost revenue from missed work days or depreciated property values.  If mold is left untreated for several years it has been found to eat though sheetrock, wood, and other surfaces and will constantly be in the air to be breathed in by your family.  If a mold lab is not a viable option then perhaps a home testing kit may be in which the samples are collected by the homeowner and sent to the lab in the mail.

Mold Protection

Although you can certainly have mold removed if you find it, it’s far better to avoid a mold problem in the first place. Here are a few tips and strategies for mold protection and prevention.

First of all, mold adores damp, humid conditions.  Basements and bathrooms are the most likely mold habitats. Having adequate heating and cooling in your house is a good way to make it harder for mold to grow.  Ensure that your air ducts are clean, that your house is well-ventilated, and that your heating and air conditioning systems are working efficiently for the best mold protection possible. If your house has severe problems with humidity, you can move to a different climate zone. If that seems too drastic, you can get dehumidifiers for every room, or at least for the most mold-vulnerable places, like your basement and bathroom.  Always leave the fan on while you shower or bathe, and be vigilant about conditions that favor mold. 

If you have mold and you are working to remove it, mold protection also includes the right respiratory gear.  Prevent mold spores from being inhaled by wearing a good face mask with a filter.  A small face mask (such as surgeons wear in the OR) is probably fine for most mold removal, but with more toxic varieties, more serious mold protection is necessary.  If the mold requires more than a small face mask, it is best to have a professional remove it and take care of all cleanup procedures. 

For mold removal with a diluted bleach solution (as with light cases of mold in bathrooms or basements) it’s a good idea to use gloves as part of your mold protection system to keep your skin safe from the bleach itself.  Mold itself can also cause skin irritation, so that’s another good reason to wear gloves and other forms of mold protection.   Professional mold cleaning and prevention services are the best protection, of course. 

Mold Experts

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve noticed a mold problem in your  home.  You may be wondering if the mold is toxic, like certain varieties of black mold that you’ve read about.  You may not be aware that some harmful molds are nearly invisible because they are pale or pinkish in color and may blend in better with their surroundings than the more evident black mold.  You may smell mold in your home and not be able to actually locate it; it could be in your ducts, behind your walls, or in your crawl space. 

A mold expert will be able to locate mold even if it is hidden, and will be able to sample the mold with a variety of methods to determine if it is of a harmful variety or not. Mold may be collected for biochemical analysis or physical examination with a microscope, and mold experts are able to tell what kind of mold is infesting your house with these methods.  Remember that not all mold is harmful; however, different individuals can have different reactions depending on the mold varieties that are present.
When hiring mold experts, use caution.  Some “certifications” are very easy to obtain and require little knowledge or experience.

Look for mold experts who have successfully identified and alleviated mold problems in your neighborhood.  It might be embarrassing to ask around to your neighbors and thereby reveal that you have a potentially serious mold problem, but you can ask for references from the mold experts instead. Talk to at least a few mold experts and get reference information and estimates in advance; this will enable you to choose the right mold expert for  your needs.   The right mold experts will be able to efficiently and correctly identify the type of molds that are present, and provide mold remediation as well as advice on preventing further mold issues.

Mold Inspections

Have you ever gone looking for a new home and notice that there is mold growing in corners of rooms and on ceilings?  Well, it might be worse than it seems.  Mold is a somewhat harmful organic substance that is produced in the wild to dissolve and help disintegrate old leaves and trees.  Once the spores of the mold travel into a home, they attach themselves to a wet or moist surface and begin to grow quiet fast. 

Many people choose to have mold inspections done on their potential new homes so that they are not faces with a large amount of clean up once they purchase the home.  Many people are thankful that they have had  mold inspections done because they know the potential health risks caused by mold growth.  Mold in the home can cause several health problems such as respiratory problems like asthma, nasal infections, lung infections, depression, and even irritable bowel syndrome.  Because of these potential health risks, it is important for people to have mold inspections done on homes they plan on purchasing.

Mold inspections are done very thoroughly and the inspectors are trained to look for mold in places other than where the potential homeowners would look for the mold.  For example, mold commonly grows on garage walls where things tend to be damp, but the home inspectors also check hard to reach air ducks, crawl spaces, and attics.  It is important for home inspectors to check these places because not only are they hard places for the homeowners to see, they are also the places where mold is most likely to grow and can spread rapidly if not found at an early stage. While mild can look like a nuisance to clean, it is actually a fairly simple process, as long as the right health measures such as wearing a mask or disposing the materials in a safe manner are taken.