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Selling Your Home? Resolve Mold Issues First

Thursday, May 7th, 2020
mold problems

If you’re considering putting your home on the market and the house has an ongoing mold problem, what’s the preferred strategy? Should you offer the house at a discounted “as is” price—mold contamination included? Or is it a better idea to take control of the issue and get professional mold remediation now, before trying to attract prospective buyers? Here are some facts to take into consideration when you’re selling a house with a mold problem.

  • You can’t keep it secret. A known mold issue—or even knowledge of conditions that would likely trigger contamination such as water damage—are facts that, in most states, must be divulged to prospective buyers in a pre-sale disclosure. If existing mold not mentioned in the disclosure is discovered after the sale, the seller may be liable for civil damages.
  • In the real estate industry today, the presence of mold is considered a substantial liability. Neglected mold contamination is often a deal-breaker or at least a substantial negative impact on market value.
  • Many qualified buyers won’t make an offer on a house with existing mold issues—at any price. There’s simply less risk and headaches by offering fair market value on an uncontaminated property, versus dealing with potential issues that accompany the moldy house down the street.

Before You Sell

Mold issues resolved by a qualified mold remediation service eliminate the stigma that drags down a home’s value. In fact, proof that a house has been certified mold-free by trained professionals is a positive selling point.

  • If you know or even suspect mold contamination, get testing and inspection by an IICRC-certified mold remediation provider. This includes in-depth visual inspection in areas where mold is likely to occur, air samples to detect mold spores, and attention to secondary factors associated with mold, such as ongoing moisture issues or water damage.
  • If the presence of mold is confirmed, have the problem professionally resolved before listing the house for sale. Once the home is declared mold-free, you’ll have written certification to substantiate that fact as an extra inducement to attract qualified buyers and the most favorable offers.

Is Green Mold in My Home Toxic or Dangerous to My Family?

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

green moldGreen is among the rainbow of colors that growing mold may display, depending on the type and the environment where it grows. However, color alone is not a reliable indicator to identify mold. Experts say that literally thousands of mold species may exhibit greenish coloration. Most often, greens tend to be among the Cladosporium or Penicillium genus. White mold types are somewhat more likely to be found growing on paper products or raw wood in a moist environment, while green mold requires less moisture to thrive.

Is It Toxic?

Green mold shares a trait common with virtually all forms of indoor and outdoor mold, regardless of color: it spreads by releasing spores. These microscopic airborne particles carry mycotoxins that are proven to cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals, including chronic illness.

Because airborne spores can accumulate to very high levels within an enclosed environment, symptoms are more likely to result from prolonged exposure to indoor mold versus outdoors.

Does Color Matter?

The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all verified mold should be removed from a residence. The color of the mold—be it green, black or blue—isn’t a deciding factor.

Professional mold remediation relies on established procedures such as analysis of airborne spore samples and active mold growth. Testing is utilized to determine the genus of the mold as well as estimate extent of contamination in the house. These facts—not the color—inform proper techniques to remove the mold and sterilize the environment to prevent recurrence.

Is My Home Infected?

Any unexplained allergic symptoms should always be brought to the attention of a physician first. If other potential factors are eliminated, mold contamination may be suspected if:

  • Water damage has occurred inside the house or chronic moisture from any source is affecting some part of the structure.
  • Musty odors persist in susceptible areas—basement, attic, crawl space, etc—and can’t be attributed to some other cause.
  • You notice fungal-like growth—of any color—occurring anywhere inside the house.

Why Mold is Enemy #1 After Your Home Has Water Damage

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

mold and water damageDon’t worry about keeping mold out of your home. It’s already there. Microscopic airborne mold spores exist everywhere in nature. Even in a house certified to be free of active mold growth, a spore count of 500-1,000 spores per cubic meter of air is considered normal. Exposure to dormant spores at low concentration seldom causes physical symptoms. When water damage enters the picture, however, everything changes. Here’s a typical sequence of contamination:

  • Whether from a ruptured plumbing pipe, outdoor floodwater entering the house, basement seepage, roof leaks or some other source, water is the triggering event. Dormant mold spores settling into moisture activate into growth mode.
  • Active mold growth releases reproductive spores. As little as 48 hours after exposure to moisture, the airborne spore count indoors begins to soar, up to 100,000+ spores per cubic meter. At this point a previously normal home is officially contaminated and professional remediation is required.
  • When inhaled at high concentration, toxic mycotoxins contained in reproductive spores of certain mold types can cause allergic reactions and illness in many people. Symptoms vary from respiratory illness to flu-like symptoms, vision problems, chronic fatigue and mental depression.
  • As active mold grows, airborne spores circulate on air currents and in the HVAC system, spawning contamination wherever contact with moisture occurs. Spore count in a house with chronic mold contamination may reach one half million per cubic meter of air.

Breaking The Contamination Cycle

The first priorities are removal of water and drying all wet areas. Where moisture persists, mold growth will continue to thrive. From that point, the remediation process follows these general steps:

  • Air samples are taken to confirm the type of mold as well as estimate extent of contamination.
  • Once active growing mold is located, containment is used to prevent further spread while the mold is physically removed and disposed. Disinfection of surfaces where mold occurred follows, using EPA-approved antimicrobial agents.
  • Monitoring spore count helps track the progress of remediation until results meet industry-standard goals that indicate full decontamination. One or more follow-up visits will include air sampling again to verify that there is no recurrence.

 

Why Summer Can Mean More Indoor Mold and What to do About It

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

indoor moldMold doesn’t take a summer vacation. In fact, it’s the time of year that provides ideal conditions to trigger dormant mold spores into active mode. Daily summer high temperatures in more than half the U.S. are within the mold-preferred range of 77 to 86 degrees, Fahrenheit. In about 40 states, relative humidity readings exceed 60%, the EPA-recommended upper limit to inhibit mold, for at least some portion of a typical day during June, July and August.

You can’t do much about the outdoor climate that nurtures mold. However, it’s possible to control the indoor environment to reduce the likelihood that mold will gain a foothold and contaminate your house. Here are some season-specific suggestions to prevent mold growth during a long, hot summer.

Your HVAC System Is Your Friend

A fully-functional, efficient HVAC system not only keeps you comfortable all summer, it’s a vital ally to inhibit indoor mold growth.

  • Hot weather outdoors tends to push indoor temps up, too. Set your A/C thermostat to maintain temperatures in the low- to mid-70s to suppress mold growth. Keep indoor conditions consistently cool, even if you leave home for a few days.
  • Water vapor extracted by the A/C evaporator coil reduces indoor humidity that feeds mold. Make sure the air conditioner is operating up to specs by getting manufacturer-recommended annual preventive maintenance to support optimum humidity extraction.
  • Mold prefers stagnant conditions. Maximize cool HVAC airflow throughout the house by changing the system air filter every month all summer long. A fresh, high-quality pleated filter also helps reduce the airborne mold spore count.

Eliminate Other Moisture Sources

  • Indoor humidity equals the outdoor relative humidity plus the amount of extra water vapor added by activities such as cooking and bathing. Vent humid rooms such as the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room with powered vent fans that exhaust moist air outdoors.
  • Keep up with home maintenance. Leakage into the attic during summer storms provides a perfect environment for mold growth. Make sure the roof is professionally inspected for leaks every three years. Also have any plumbing leaks or seepage repaired promptly.

Musty Carpet Smells? Ban Them Forever!

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

clean carpet with no smellA clean carpet generally produces no noticeable odor. A carpet with a “history” however—namely, exposure to moisture during a water damage incident—often becomes a source of pungent, musty odors that pervade the entire house.

Ground Zero For Odors

Carpet is a magnet that attracts and retains microscopic airborne mold and mildew spores common in any environment. Carpet also functions as a highly-efficient sponge that absorbs any moisture that occurs. This combo provides almost laboratory conditions for odor-producing microbial growth. Once a carpet becomes wet, active mold and mildew is a fait accompli in less than 48 hours. During that time window, intervention by professionals with specialized water extraction and decontamination equipment can avert growth that causes odors before it happens. If effective water damage and mold remediation techniques aren’t applied, however, persistent carpet odor may be considered inevitable.

Here are some facts about professional techniques to remove musty smells:

  • Utilizing a consumer-grade carpet cleaning machine rarely eliminates established mold or mildew growth nor the odors produced by these microbes. Masking the source of odor with superficial topical deodorants is of little long-term value.
  • High-pressure hot water extraction with deep-flushing tools to remove contamination where it occurs is required for an acceptable, permanent outcome. However, this procedure is usually not sufficient by itself.
  • Effective odor removal also requires injection of an odor neutralizer specifically formulated to remove the type of odor—whether mold, mildew or some other contaminant. Technicians performing the work must be trained and qualified to identify the source of odor in order to select an effective neutralizer. One formula doesn’t work for all types.
  • Carpet may need to be detached from tacking strips and lifted to flush and apply odor neutralizers to the underside of the carpet, the padding, as well as the surface of the sub-floor.
  • In some cases, mold- or mildew-contaminated carpeting does not respond to professional odor removal techniques. In that event, the most economically viable option is removal of the affected carpeting from the house and replacement with new carpeting.

Natural Ways To Prevent Mold In The Bathroom

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

bathroom moldDoes your home include a space suitable for conducting scientific mold experiments? As it turns out, most residential bathrooms provide the perfect controlled environment for mold contamination: high humidity, chronically moist surfaces, warm temperatures, limited air circulation and little natural sunlight. Airborne mold spores circulate everywhere, outdoors and indoors. Without positive intervention, the ideal conditions present in a typical bathroom will trigger dormant spores into active mode that spawns mold growth.

Here are some natural methods that interrupt the cycle of bathroom mold contamination:

Fresh Air Treatment

Bathroom humidity from showering or bathing rises well above the 50% level that triggers active mold growth. Ample air circulation lowers humidity as well as rapidly drying surfaces where mold-friendly condensation forms. Open a bathroom window to let in fresh air and sunlight. If a ventilation fan is installed, ideally it should be timer-actuated. This allows the fan to continue running for several minutes after bathroom use in order to completely remove residual humidity and moisture. Fully extend the wet shower curtain—a mold magnet—to quick-dry in circulating air.

The Vinegar Approach

Mold is acid-averse. Common vinegar is a natural, non-toxic source of acid you probably already have in your home. Vinegar is known to kill over 80 percent of mold species when topically applied. Spray it full-strength on any suspect spots of mold (or its second cousin, mildew) on bathroom surfaces or infecting grout between tiles. For mold prevention, routine vinegar application about once a week to bathroom surfaces helps keeps the environment acidic and mold-resistant.

Vodka. Yes, Vodka

Naturally-occurring ethanol in fermented alcoholic beverages is known to be particularly toxic to mold and mildew. A readily available source of purified ethanol is vodka. Budget-priced brands of 80 proof vodka—containing 40% ethanol and 60% water—are cost-efficient for spot-treating incipient mold contamination. Pour it (straight) into a spray bottle and spritz it directly on signs of developing mold or mildew. Wait about 10 minutes, then wipe away the residue with a wet sponge or cloth.

Mold Exposure Dangers – Get The Facts!

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

mold factsClarity is critical when evaluating potential health concerns like mold exposure. A study by the World Health Organization finds “sufficient epidemiological evidence” that occupants of buildings infected by mold are at increased risk of respiratory infections, asthma, and allergic symptoms. Furthermore, the WHO confirms that proper remediation of mold and conditions that trigger it “can reduce adverse health outcomes.”

How do these facts apply to the day-to-day risks inside the typical home? Here are common questions and answers about mold exposure dangers.

Can I avoid all mold exposure?

Mold is naturally occurring. There is no practical way to prevent microscopic airborne mold spores from infiltrating a structure. When dispersed in open air outdoors, mold spores typically cause no symptoms. Concentrated within the enclosed environment of a house, however, active spores released by growing mold may reach potentially toxic levels in daily exposure.

Is all mold toxic?

Only mold types that release spores containing mycotoxins are linked to ill effects in some humans. Common indoor varieties are Cladosporium, Penicilium and Fusarium. One type, Stachybotrys chartarum, is known generically as “Black Mold.” In an enclosed environment, Black Mold is most likely to trigger adverse reactions in susceptible persons. Mold testing and sampling by a professional can identify the type of contamination and help locate active growth. The World Health Organization recommends remediation of all indoor mold contamination, regardless of specific type.

How do I prevent indoor exposure to toxic mold?

Moisture triggers dormant mold spores into active growth mode. To inhibit mold growth, control household relative humidity—the EPA recommends the range between 30% and 50%. Also, repair plumbing leaks, seal the basement to prevent water intrusion, keep the crawl space dry and have roof leaks fixed. Should water inundation occur inside the house, active mold growth will begin within 48 hours. Water damage recovery must include prompt professional mold remediation to avert chronic contamination.

Are my symptoms mold-related?

Many illnesses mimic symptoms of mold exposure. Always discuss any suspect symptoms with your physician, first.

Simple Ways To Prevent Laundry Room Mold and Mildew

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

laundry room mildewYour laundry room rates high priority for mold and mildew prevention. In terms of fungal growth factors, it offers everything: excess humidity, warmth, condensation and the potential for water leakage. Once triggered, mold and mildew are unsightly and destructive to surfaces where they grow. They’re also a source of airborne spores which may cause allergic reactions and chronic illness in some individuals. Preventing contamination is preferable to eliminating it after it’s gained a foothold. Here are some laundry room-specific tips for mold and mildew prevention:

  • Use hot water only when necessary. Hot water and high spin speed settings increase the volume of water vapor emitted by a washing machine. This may raise room humidity into the mold-friendly range as well as forming mildew.
  • Remove clothes and begin drying as soon as the washing machine finishes. An idle washer full of wet clothes contributes humidity to the air. Mildew can actually begin forming on wet clothes while they’re waiting in the washer.
  • Inspect washer water supply hoses. Look for leaks or seepage as well as cracked or suspect hoses. No amount of leakage or hose deterioration is acceptable as a ruptured washer hose can release hundreds of gallons of water and trigger widespread mold contamination. Consider replacing rubber hoses with more reliable braided stainless steel lines.
  • Maintain the dryer. A dryer vents water vapor equivalent to two to three gallons of water during each drying cycle. Clean the lint filter before every use. Dryers should exhaust to the exterior of the house through intact vent pipe, preferably metal.  Check the dryer vent pipe twice a year for lint accumulation that inhibits exhaust, as well as leaks that allow water vapor and heat to escape indoors.
  • Consider installing a powered vent fan. To reduce accumulating humidity and heat in the laundry room, a vent fan installed in the wall vents moist, warm air directly outside. Ceiling vent fans utilize a dedicated duct and vent to the roof.

Stay on top of mold and mildew prevention in the laundry room with these simple tips.

Diagnosing Mold And Mildew Problems

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

mold and mildewBesides making your home smell, mold and mildew can do a lot of damage before you realize it. If you spot signs of mold, diagnosing and dealing with the problem early will protect your home and your health. Understanding the difference between mold and mildew is a good place to start.

Know What You’re Dealing with

Around 12 genera of fungi commonly grow in homes. Both mold and mildew are fungi, but mildew is a type of mold. The most obvious difference between mold and mildew is appearance. Mold is thick and fuzzy, and grows in a variety of colors on many different materials. Mildew grows in a thin, powdery layer and is typically grey, white or light yellow. True mildew is usually found on plants, so what’s growing in your house is most likely mold.

The health effects of household mold varies. Alternaria, the dark brown mold often found in showers, and Aspergillus, the orange, brown and white molds that grow in walls, can both trigger allergies, but are largely harmless in small amounts. On the other hand, Stachybotrys, the dark green or black mold known simply as “black mold” is so toxic it can cause severe health problems in otherwise healthy people. This mold typically grows on cellulose materials, such as wood, fiberboard, and wallpaper.

Assess the Damage

Before you start cleaning any mold you find, inspect your home to determine how far it’s spread. Pay special attention to the corners of ceilings, surfaces behind and under furniture or under rugs, and the undersides of shelves. The location of the mold can also help you determine the type you’re dealing with. For small areas of most types of mold growth, wearing gloves, a hair cover, and an N-95 respirator mask is enough to protect you while you clean. If the mold covers more than around 10 sq. ft. or you suspect your home has black mold, contact a mold remediation specialist.

 

 

Causes of Attic Mold

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

attic moldA visit to your attic may be an uncomfortable experience for you. For attic mold growth, however, the darkened, stuffy confines just the other side of your ceiling offer the perfect environment. Moreover, since most homeowners spend as little time as possible up there, mold may gain a substantial foothold before it’s discovered. A mold-contaminated attic can become an ongoing source of microscopic airborne spores that spread active mold growth throughout the house, triggering chronic allergic reactions and illness in many people.

Why are attics often ground zero for mold growth and what can be done to prevent it? Since dormant mold spores exist virtually everywhere, active mold growth generally requires just three more elements:

  • A dark area shielded from sunlight.
  • Some source of cellulose-based food.
  • A little moisture such as dripping water or even just chronic high humidity.

Attic spaces generally receive no sunlight whatsoever. The food supply is often abundant as exposed wooden structure provides cellulose (mold will even eat the paper backing on attic insulation.) Finally, roof leaks, as well as water vapor rising up from the living spaces below, create the moist, humid environment vital to thriving mold growth.

To make your attic less mold-friendly, here are some suggestions:

  • Have the roof inspected and repair any leaks.
  • Ensure the attic gets adequate outdoor ventilation to reduce accumulation of humidity and heat that promote mold growth. Check attic vents at the soffits and up at the roof peak to verify they are open and unobstructed by insulation or items stored in the attic.
  • Seal any cracks or gaps in the ceiling of rooms below with caulking to stop migration of water vapor and heat into the attic. Look for cracks along the joint between the walls and ceiling. Light fixtures recessed into the ceiling may also include gaps that allow air exchange with the attic. Make sure weatherstripping around pull-down attic stairs or access hatch is intact.