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Can You Kill Mold By Drying It Out?

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020
mold issues

No moisture, no mold. It sounds like a simple solution to mold issues in a home. Since mold is a fungus that requires moisture to grow, just drying out mold growth ought to eradicate it in short order. Right?

Like many easy answers to complex problems, it ain’t necessarily so. While moisture is the key factor that triggers the active growth mode that causes mold issues, ironically, the absence of moisture alone doesn’t make mold go away. Here are two reasons why:

  • Mold can exist in more than one living state. Active or viable mold triggered by moisture grows and releases microscopic airborne reproductive spores that spread that growth to other locations in the house. These spores contain mycotoxins that cause allergic reactions or other symptoms when inhaled by certain individuals.
  • In the inactive state, an absence of moisture causes mold to be dormant and cease growth—yet not be technically dead. Inert spores from dormant, dried-up mold can be just as allergenic as active spores from living growth if inhaled. Moreover, moisture from any source such as water damage or leakage—or even simply sustained high humidity—quickly reactivates dry, dormant mold growth and triggers the release of reproductive spores once again. Mold issues then recur throughout the house.

Successful mold remediation isn’t a one-step solution. It requires multi-faceted treatment to ensure comprehensive decontamination.  

  • All mold growth must be tracked down and physically removed from wherever it exists in the house. No existing mold—active or inactive—can be left behind, as any remaining growth may likely reactivate at some later point under certain conditions.
  • After removal, areas of contamination must be directly treated with EPA-approved fungicides to sterilize surfaces and prevent regrowth.  
  • The source of water which triggered active mold growth must be identified and permanently eliminated.
  • If mold growth occurs as a result of a water damage incident, prompt professional water damage remediation includes standardized mold prevention methods like air sampling to detect the presence of spores and proven techniques to locate and remove mold growth and sterilize affected surfaces. 

Is Indoor Mold Causing Your Allergy Symptoms?

Thursday, June 11th, 2020
allergy symptoms

What are the facts about the connection between indoor mold growth and allergy symptoms? Mold and the microscopic airborne spores it releases are ubiquitous on planet Earth. In fact, you’re probably inhaling mold spores at this moment. Of the nearly 100,000 mold species in nature, however, only about 12 types are typically found inside houses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health issues due to mold growth are primarily related to:

  • The extent of exposure. The concentration of mold spores in outdoor air is very dilute. However, airborne spores released by active, growing mold inside the enclosed environment of a house may accumulate to very high levels. This elevated daily exposure may cause allergy symptoms in susceptible persons.  
  • Mold type. Individual sensitivity to mold varies widely, as do potential symptoms. Spores released by certain mold types such as Stachybotrys chartarum carry mycotoxins which may trigger allergic reactions in some individuals. However, a specific person may be uniquely sensitive to spores from any particular type of mold—or experience no reaction at all.

How Mold Thrives

Certain conditions must exist for mold growth to gain a foothold and expose residents to possible ill effects:

  • Indoor temperature. The most conducive range for mold growth is 70 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  • Food supply. Mold growth thrives on cellulose present in wood and building materials like drywall, paper, fabrics, and even household dust.
  • Moisture. Contact with moisture triggers long-dormant spores into an active mode in just 48 hours. Active growth releases airborne microscopic reproductive spores. Inhalation of reproductive spores is a proven cause of allergic symptoms in individuals with a sensitivity to mold mycotoxins.

Moisture = Mold

Moisture is the most critical factor in mold growth, particularly immediately following a water damage incident. Professional mold remediation includes these strategies:

  • Rapid response with research-proven measures to inhibit activation of dormant mold and release of allergenic spores.
  • Where mold is already established inside a house, professional remediation methods include determining the extent of contamination with air samples, tracking locations of active growth, and utilizing proven mold removal and decontamination methods, including EPA-recommended antimicrobial solutions, to permanently eliminate mold.

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.

How Does Household Mold Affect Asthma?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020
household mold

Household mold and asthma frequently develop under the same roof.  Asthma is a sensitivity in the air passages leading to the lungs. By itself, the asthmatic condition is frequently silent until some specific “trigger” is inhaled. Typically beginning with shortness of breath and tightness in the chest, an asthma attack can result in a variety of acute symptoms, including wheezing, coughing, a sensation of straining for air and excess congestion in the lungs.

It’s In The Air

Indoors, asthma may be triggered by a variety of airborne irritants: dust, pollen, lint, pet dander, cigarette smoke, and air pollution. A common asthma trigger is spores released by household mold. Airborne mold spores contain mycotoxins that are a known respiratory allergen. In outdoor air, the concentration of mold spores is usually very diluted and does not cause symptoms in humans. Inside an enclosed structure, however, levels of these toxic microscopic particulates may become elevated to an extent sufficient to trigger a reaction in individuals with a predisposition to asthma.

Finding Mold And Fixing It

Effective asthma prevention includes reducing exposure to triggers in the indoor environment. An elevated spore count is one indicator of active mold growing somewhere inside the house that may be responsible for asthma reactions in occupants. The presence of chronic moisture that promotes mold growth is another red flag.

Professional mold remediation utilizes a proven treatment sequence to eliminate contamination:

  • Air sampling to determine spore count and estimate the extent of mold growth inside the house.
  • Locating all active mold growth and testing to establish the specific type.
  • Removal of active mold and sterilizing surfaces where mold growth occurred with EPA-approved fungicides.
  • Identifying and resolving ancillary causes inside the house that promote mold growth, including prior water damage and ongoing moisture issues such as plumbing or roof leaks.
  • Controlling indoor humidity to maintain safe levels that do not support mold growth.
  • Conducting one or more follow-up air samples inside the house to ensure that remediation is effective and mold growth has not recurred.

4 Reasons to Avoid DIY Mold Removal

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

Mold growth can occur almost anywhere under the right conditions. Dormant microscopic mold spores are ubiquitous in nature, both outdoors and indoors. In fact, you’re probably inhaling a small concentration of spores right now. So, if mold is such a common event, why not just handle it yourself?

Actually, small outbreaks of mold growth in common spots like a shower stall or underneath a kitchen sink aren’t a big deal and respond well to a DIY approach with off-the-shelf disinfectants. However, when more widespread contamination—or the conditions that inevitably trigger it—exist, professional mold remediation is usually necessary.

Here are four examples of why you shouldn’t handle mold removal yourself.  

  • Contamination is time-critical. When mold growth conditions are present, such as indoor water damage, the consequences become dire in a very short time. Mold activates and begins releasing airborne reproductive spores within 24 to 48 hours after exposure to water. Confronted by the aftermath of water damage, few homeowners are prepared to take the steps required to interrupt the sequence of contamination in that short time frame. Rapid professional intervention is vital.
  • You don’t know how much there is. Mold spreads and active growth is often not limited to a single occurrence. Every house is different. To evaluate the extent of contamination, mold remediation specialists take air samples and count the captured spores. This important calculation provides a basis for a treatment plan to deal with the specific circumstances in each home.  
  • Mold type matters. “Mold” is a generic term applied to a wide range of fungal growth. Some things that look like mold, actually aren’t. Certain types of mold growth are more likely to be toxic to some persons while other types are relatively benign. Because it’s important to know what kind of mold is present, mold remediation specialists physically sample active growth and have it laboratory-tested for positive identification.
  • It could be harmful to your health. Contacting and removing mold without protective measures could cause allergic reactions or illness in certain individuals, particularly those with specific fungus sensitivities. Leaving the job to properly equipped professionals is a safer approach. 

When Mold is Hiding in Your A/C Ducts…

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Under certain conditions, your HVAC ductwork may be the perfect habitat for mold. Active mold growth thriving inside ducts can serve as a focal point of contamination as the system airflow disperses toxic spores throughout the house. This may trigger allergic symptoms as well as chronic illness in persons with a sensitivity to these pathogens.

How does this happen?

Ductwork is dark and dusty. Mold avoids sunlight and household dust usually contains the sort of microscopic food that mold feeds on. In this fungus-friendly environment, the only missing ingredient is moisture. Ductwork conveying cooled or heated air ought to be dry. In some cases, however, moisture can form:

  • If the air conditioner evaporator coil that extracts water vapor from the airflow isn’t performing up to specs, condensation may form on surfaces inside ductwork.
  • If ductwork is leaky, it may pull in humid outdoor air from the attic, crawl space or other unconditioned zone. Ducts become dank and mold growth may be activated.

How Will I Know?

If you suspect ductwork mold contamination—unexplained musty odors when the HVAC system is running are just one giveaway—an inspection should be performed. Most segments of the system are inaccessible to the average homeowner. A mold-remediation professional with specialized equipment is required to check all spans of ductwork.

Not everything that looks like mold is mold. If suspicious growth is discovered, it must be lab-tested to confirm active mold growth and to determine the type of mold.

What’s The Next Step?

  • A thorough duct cleaning procedure is required to remove active mold. This includes physical removal of growing mold as well as vacuuming the entire span to remove accumulated spore residue.
  • Affected duct surfaces must be sterilized with EPA-approved fungicides, as well as the system components like the evaporator coil and the condensate drain pan in the indoor air handler. A new air filter is also installed.
  • Conditions that promote mold contamination inside ducts must be addressed. Evaporator coil issues that allow excess humidity into the airflow, as well as leaks that pulled humid, unconditioned air into ductwork should be resolved to prevent a recurrence.

How to Stop Mold Growth in its Tracks

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Mold growth inside a home is a dynamic process that requires very specific conditions to thrive. Dormant mold spores exist everywhere in nature, including inside your house. However, if the spores are deprived of mold-friendly conditions, mold growth will not activate and gain a foothold. Taking early measures to inhibit active mold growth may prevent contamination from reaching an advanced state.

Eliminate Moisture Sources

  • Repair any plumbing leaks and roof leaks and stop any infiltration of water through structural cracks such as the basement walls or foundation.
  • Dry out a wet crawl space, including installing a vapor barrier to prevent moisture rising up through the soil.
  • If incidental leakage or water spillage occurs anywhere in the house, dry out the area quickly and completely—mold growth can be triggered in only 48 hours after exposure to water.
  • Use mold-killing products to clean bathroom surfaces that are wet repeatedly.  
  • Make sure the central air conditioner drip pan in the air handler drains properly and does not retain water.

Lower Humidity

Water vapor in the air can trigger dormant mold spores into active growth mode. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends keeping indoor relative humidity between 30% to 50% to inhibit mold growth.

  • A basic moisture meter that displays humidity is an inexpensive investment and helps you keep indoor humidity levels in the mold-free zone.
  • Run exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms to vent humid air.
  • Make sure the clothes dryer is properly vented and the vent pipe is cleaned regularly.
  • In humid climates where indoor levels are difficult to control, consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier in your HVAC system.

Remove Contaminated Items

Signs of incipient mold contamination may be discovered in absorbent materials including building materials like ceiling tiles, as well as fabrics such as carpeting and carpet pads. These points of origin can become sources of spreading mold. Often, the simplest, most straightforward option is to immediately remove them from the house and dispose of them. Porous materials are extremely difficult to decontaminate even with fungicides. Eliminating contaminated items from the home environment permanently is the best mold-preventive course of action.

With Water Damage, What You See Is NOT What You Get

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

The visual effect of water damage inside your home can be shocking and discouraging enough: large pools of water where it doesn’t belong, saturated carpets, soaked furniture. But its real impact is often the consequence of what you can’t see. Water damage usually isn’t an isolated incident you can point one finger at. It’s an ongoing sequence of events that continues unabated until professional intervention with proven techniques interrupts the process.

Here are some results of water damage you may not see at first glance but may have to deal with eventually:

  • Extreme humidity. Water inundation causes humidity to soar within the enclosed confines of a house. Water vapor migrates invisibly into areas of the home apparently untouched by the water itself. The effect of extreme humidity can damage absorbent building materials as well as many valuable possessions such as photographs, books and sensitive electronics.
  • Hidden migration. Water flows through any tiny gap or opening, invasively spreading far and wide. By the time it’s even noticed, water may have seeped under baseboards and into wall cavities where the damage process proceeds sight unseen. It can penetrate flooring on an upper floor and begin slowly saturating the ceiling below (visible signs may not appear immediately). Metal components may not show evidence of contact with water until rusting appears much later.
  • Mold growth. Microscopic airborne mold spores pervade deep into the structure of any home. Until contacted by water—or even unusually high indoor humidity—these hidden spores remain dormant. When water damage occurs, however, mold growth is inevitably triggered, often in unseen locations within the house. Active mold growth becomes a concealed source of toxic airborne reproductive spores that may cause allergic reactions and illness in susceptible individuals.
  • HVAC damage. Water on the move may seep into ductwork routed through seldom visited areas like the attic and crawl space, causing hidden deterioration that leads to loss of heated and cooled air. Roof leaks can silently ruin attic insulation, degrading the effectiveness of the material and leading to unwanted heat gain or heat loss inside the living spaces of the house.

Are Your Houseplants Harboring Mold Spores?

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

Not all sources of mold inside your home are accidental. Some are brought into the house, fed and watered, then thrive right under your nose. This contamination frequently affects houseplants and/or the potting soil where they grow. Mold flourishes anywhere there’s food and moisture along with a hospitable temperature. Soil inside the pot often accumulates mold-friendly nutrients provided by decaying leaves and other organic matter. Meanwhile, the regular watering provided by homeowners typically makes the pot a hospitable environment for mold growth.

Active mold contamination spreads throughout a house by releasing microscopic airborne spores. When inhaled, spores may produce a range of allergic symptoms and even chronic illness in susceptible individuals. Here are some steps to eliminate mold from the houseplants.

  • Wipe it off. Use a moist paper towel and, while supporting the stems with your fingers so you don’t break them, gently wipe down the plant leaves to remove any surface mold. Also wipe the stalk of the plant.
  • Take the plant outdoors and spray it with a consumer-grade fungicide formulated to kill mold. You can get advice from a garden center about which type of fungicide should be utilized for specific plants. Manufacturer’s info on the product label also typically provides a list of plants that are safe to spray.
  • Before bringing the plant back into the house, scoop out the top layer of potting soil in the pot, going as deep as possible without damaging roots. Replace this soil with fresh potting soil that is labeled as “sterilized” to kill mold during production.
  • Don’t over-water houseplants as excess moisture triggers mold contamination. Consult reputable sources for information about how often and how much watering is sufficient for a particular plant type.
  • Ultraviolet light present in sunshine is an effective natural mold-killer. Make sure your plants receive the recommended adequate daily sun exposure per the specific type.
  • Mold prefers a stagnant environment to grow. Place plants in areas where air circulation is adequate.

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.