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3 Hidden Places Mold Spores Can Thrive In Your Home

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

A typical individual mold spore is as small as 3 microns. By comparison, a human hair is over 100 microns wide. Mold is ubiquitous in nature and dormant mold spores pervade the environment, both outdoors and indoors. Once specific conditions of moisture, temperature and food supply are met, dormant spores can quickly become active and start to multiply. Live reproductive spores are released into indoor air, spreading contamination. Inhaling these living spores is a known cause of allergic reactions and even chronic illness in certain individuals.  

Here are three hidden locations where conditions are favorable for mold growth inside your house:

Down in the Basement

Damp basements are common due to lack of ventilation. Persistent dampness provides moisture for growing mold. Also, since household plumbing is often routed through the basement, small leaks and condensation on pipes contribute to the dampness. Mold dislikes natural sunlight and grows best in cool temperatures, so a darkened basement is a preferred location. The pungent musty odor often associated with basements is usually a giveaway that mold is growing there.

Up in the Attic

Mold spores lying dormant in a dark attic are waiting to be activated by contact with water. In enclosed attics, humidity often accumulates to high levels, providing sufficient water vapor to activate dormant spores. These spores grow well in porous material such as beds of insulation.  Minor roof leaks which may not be evident in living spaces below are another water source in the attic. Insulation material itself doesn’t provide mold food. However, the dust that accumulates within insulation fibers often contains nourishment and the paper backing attached to roll-out insulation batts provides cellulose, as well.

Inside the HVAC System

The condensate drip pan beneath the indoor air handler diverts condensation from the A/C evaporator coil into a household drain. If the pan drains sluggishly due to a clog, however, the continuous presence of warm stagnant water in the pan provides a perfect environment for mold. Spores pulled through the system airflow infect the water. Active mold growth may thrive in the drip pan and/or the system evaporator coil above.

3 Potential Harmful Effects of a Damp Home

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

mold growthA damp home is a house at risk. Chronic dampness issues can affect both the structure as well as the health of the indoor environment. Excessive moisture also makes indoor comfort control problematic and can raise monthly heating/cooling costs. Here are three specific complications of a damp home.

Mold Growth

Damp conditions inside a house elevate indoor humidity. Once humidity exceeds 60%, dormant mold spores may be triggered to become active growing mold that releases airborne reproductive spores. Persons sensitive to mycotoxins carried by spores may experience ill effects, ranging from allergies to chronic illness.

Effective mold control involves removing active mold as well as identifying ongoing sources of dampness that support mold growth and correcting them.

Structural Deterioration

Certain zones prone to chronic dampness—primarily the attic and crawl space—also contain exposed wooden structure vulnerable to moisture.

  • When condensation forms as humid attic air cools overnight, or roof leakage occurs during rain, chronic attic moisture can cause wood rot and warping in rafters, roof sheathing and other wooden components.
  • In the crawl space, dampness often persists as soil moisture due to high ground water exudes from the dirt floor. Wooden floor joists and subflooring may decay in these wet conditions. Certain types of termites also thrive on damp wood.

Effective attic ventilation to reduce humidity controls attic condensation. Annual roof inspections catch leaks before they become a threat to the structure. In the crawl space, installation of a vapor barrier keeps soil moisture out.

Temperature Issues

A chronically damp home environment is difficult to heat and cool consistently. Clammy, cold indoor conditions in winter can exacerbate a variety of illnesses and degrade comfort overall. In summer, high indoor humidity makes the house feel hotter than it actually is and reduces the effectiveness of air conditioning.

A whole-house dehumidifier maintains indoor humidity in the recommended range in all seasons and promotes a healthier, more stable and comfortable home environment.

 

3 Common Basement Water Issues and How to Handle Them

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

basement water issuesIn your home, the basement is where destructive water damage can occur. In many cases, the basement is either the origin of unwanted moisture or its ultimate destination. Water infiltrating from almost any source typically affects the basement of the house first. An enclosed basement can quickly become an unhealthy environment for moisture formation due to high humidity and condensation.

Here are three common basement water issues:

Condensation

Moisture condensing from clammy basement air creates chronic dampness that spawns basement mold growth. It also deteriorates exposed wooden structural components. To eliminate condensation, reduce your basement’s humidity level:

  • Ventilate with fans or by opening basement windows. A basement ventilation fan permanently installed in the rim joist or upper segment of the basement wall exhausts damp air directly to the outdoors.
  • Install a dehumidifier. For continuous humidity removal, a basement dehumidifier with an integrated humidistat maintains basement humidity to specific settings.
  • Vent the dryer. If a clothes dryer is installed, make sure it exhausts through a duct that extends outside the house’s exterior.
  • Insulate plumbing. Uninsulated water pipes routed through the basement form a cold surface that condenses water from the air, dripping and saturating the pipe’s surroundings.

Soil Water Infiltration

Water in soil surrounding the basement may seep in through cracks and gaps. Sealing basement walls is usually only a partial solution. Reducing soil moisture content is also required. Make sure clogged roof gutters aren’t overflowing and contributing to the saturation of soil adjacent to the basement. Grade landscape around the foundation so rain water flows away from the house instead of soaking in. For persistent soil water issues, a drain tile system can be installed in the ground surrounding the foundation to collect and carry away excess water.

Rising Ground Water

In locations with a naturally high water table, rising ground water may penetrate the basement floor. A sump pump installed in the basement floor collects ground water and automatically pumps the water through a pipe to discharge outdoors. A sump pump performs double duty and prevents flooding in case a pipe ruptures in the basement and causes flooding.

How To Detect Basement And Crawl Space Water Damage Before It’s Too Late!

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

basement water damage
Basement and crawl space water damage can continue unnoticed for some time. In many homes, these areas are infrequently visited and even less frequently carefully inspected. However, because household water supply lines as well as drain pipes are often routed through that part of the structure, basement and crawl space water damage is an all too common event.

Even minor seepage from water supply lines is important to know about and correct. No amount of leakage from these pipes is acceptable because it’s often an early warning of internal corrosion that may cause a major pipe rupture at any time, releasing hundreds of gallons of water per hour. However, you don’t need a catastrophic event to experience problems: even small drips can create an environment that supports growth of toxic mold. When this occurs in a remote part of the house like a basement or crawl space, mold contamination may be extensive.

To avoid basement and crawl space water damage, here are some steps you can take:

  • Visually inspect the area a few times per year. Look for any signs of leakage from plumbing pipes. If you notice any suspicious areas, contact a professional plumbing service for repair ASAP.
  • Utilize your sense of smell, too. A persistent pungent musty odor in a basement or crawl space often means mold growth. Mold is usually the result of undetected water leakage or other moisture infiltrating the zone.
  • In the basement, also look for ground water seepage through walls or floor. Sealing cracks and gaps in walls can help reduce ground water intrusion. If seepage up through the floor is noted, consider having a sump pump installed in the basement floor to reduce hydrostatic pressure and automatically remove water from the basement.
  • Water leak detectors strategically placed near water supply lines in the crawl space or basement can alert you with a loud alarm if a major pipe rupture occurs. These devices are battery-powered or plug into an AC outlet.

 

4 Most Common Causes of Home Water Damage

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

A few very common causes of home water damage account for most cases. Instead of an exceptional, one-of-a-kind event, the overwhelming majority are something an experienced water damage recovery specialist deals with on a daily basis. Unless you live in a high-risk zone for flooding, most home water damage originates inside the house itself.  Here are four common causes of home water damage and how to make them less common:

  1. common causes of home water damageRuptured water pipes: Pay attention to warning signs of deteriorating water supply lines including seemingly insignificant pinhole leaks or seepage around pipe joints. These may mask internal corrosion that could trigger a major pipe rupture, flooding the home. Take action to repair faulty plumbing before it becomes a bigger problem. Also, take measures to prevent frozen pipes in winter by installing pipe insulation on any spans that are exposed to frigid temperatures.
  2. Overflowing or leaky fixtures: A clogged toilet can quickly flood an upstairs bathroom and send water cascading through the downstairs ceiling. Know how to turn off the water supply to each toilet at the valve on the wall and test annually to make sure it turns freely. Rubber supply hoses that feed hot and cold water to the washing machine grow brittle and rupture over time. Replace them with more durable braided steel stainless lines now, before it happens.
  3. Sewer clogs: Until raw sewage backs up into your house, your underground sewer line may give few signs that it’s gradually becoming obstructed by tree roots, sludge accumulation or deterioration. An inspection by a qualified plumber every three to five years is the only way to ensure that sewage flows freely through the pipe.
  4. Chronic dampness: You don’t need a dramatic pipe rupture to suffer water damage. Ongoing moisture sources like a perpetually damp crawl space or basement, or a frequently wet attic due to a leaky roof, can cause severe structural damage and trigger toxic mold growth. Inspect these seldom-visited areas of the home regularly and take steps to resolve moisture issues.

Ask the professionals at Rytech, Inc. about more ways to address the most common causes of home water damage.