Issues From High Indoor Humidity Levels.

When the humidity levels soar outdoors, it’s natural to seek sanctuary indoors, thanks to the marvels of modern air conditioning. If you move fast enough between the house, the car, and buildings, you hardly have to feel humidity levels that make you feel like you’re breathing a wet sponge. But just because that cool air is enclosed inside four walls doesn’t mean it’s protected from high humidity. It doesn’t just make you feel hotter; humidity in your house causes all kinds of trouble, ranging from mild discomfort to damage to your home and possessions, and even your health.

Related image

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Even with the benefits of air conditioning, air quality suffers with excess humidity levels. Modern construction techniques and better building materials mean that there are fewer gaps to let air leak in or out. While it’s important to keep the hot, humid air out and keep the nice, cool air in, these tightly sealed buildings also seal in dust mites and mold spores that are commonly found in the air. All the spores need to grow are food sources, which are in building materials and textiles, and humidity. While air purifiers and plants can help clean the air somewhat, the best way to manage the quality of the air inside your home is to control the humidity levels.

Mold and Mildew Growth

If your home or business has a problem with high humidity levels, it’s not a matter of if there’s going to be a problem with mold and mildew, but when. Mold spores occur naturally in the air and are microscopic, so there’s no way to eliminate them completely. Spores begin growing into mold within 48 hours of exposure to high humidity levels because they find plenty of food sources in drywall, paper, fabric, and other materials. Left untreated, mold will continue to grow, quickly moving into hidden areas like walls where it can travel through a building undetected, spreading into areas that weren’t affected by the initial infestation.

Lower Quality Sleep

Anyone who’s gone camping in the middle of summer or lived without air conditioning knows the challenges of trying to sleep when the humidity is high. When the air is humid, water can’t evaporate from your skin and cool your body. When your body is too hot, it’s difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, so the quality of your sleep suffers. Poor sleep quality affects so much of your everyday life, so it’s worth investing in a window air conditioner or a dehumidifier for the bedroom if excess humidity is a problem.

Increased Asthma & Allergy Symptoms

Besides damaging your home or business and its contents, mold caused by high humidity impacts your health. If you already have asthma or allergies, mold growth will only make them worse. Worsening symptoms means more visits to the doctor, which means more lost time from work or school, and more money spent on medications. Even if you don’t have asthma or allergies, mold growth irritates eyes and respiratory systems, so reactions feel more like a cold that just won’t go away, no matter what over the counter medications you try.

Warped Wood

Long-term exposure to high levels of humidity can warp hardwoods and wood furniture in your home. Often the damage is irreversible, especially if the damage is wide spread or affects a large area, such as a hardwood floor. Wood furniture and floors are expensive investments that need protection from high humidity.

Strained HVAC Systems

High humidity levels make the air feel hotter, so it’s natural to turn on the air conditioning. This puts an added strain on your HVAC system, which may already be struggling due to age, dirty filters, or a lack of preventative maintenance. The extra work may even shorten the lifespan of the system.

Higher Utility Bills

The other nasty by-product of turning on the air conditioning more often is an increase in the utility bill. Obviously, the more the air is on, the more electricity is used. There are plenty of cost of living increases that are beyond our control, like gas and medical expenses. However, by keeping the humidity in your home or business under control, you can keep your air conditioner on less often and keep the utility bills down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke Armstrong. “Issues From High Indoor Humidity Levels.” Web blog post. Restoration guides, Restoration Master Finder. 30 Aug 2017. 17 Nov 2017

Issues From High Indoor Humidity Levels

When the humidity levels soar outdoors, it’s natural to seek sanctuary indoors, thanks to the marvels of modern air conditioning. If you move fast enough between the house, the car, and buildings, you hardly have to feel humidity levels that make you feel like you’re breathing a wet sponge. But just because that cool air is enclosed inside four walls doesn’t mean it’s protected from high humidity. It doesn’t just make you feel hotter; humidity in your house causes all kinds of trouble, ranging from mild discomfort to damage to your home and possessions, and even your health.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

Even with the benefits of air conditioning, air quality suffers with excess humidity levels. Modern construction techniques and better building materials mean that there are fewer gaps to let air leak in or out. While it’s important to keep the hot, humid air out and keep the nice, cool air in, these tightly sealed buildings also seal in dust mites and mold spores that are commonly found in the air. All the spores need to grow are food sources, which are in building materials and textiles, and humidity. While air purifiers and plants can help clean the air somewhat, the best way to manage the quality of the air inside your home is to control the humidity levels.

Mold And Mildew Growth

If your home or business has a problem with high humidity levels, it’s not a matter of if there’s going to be a problem with mold and mildew, but when. Mold spores occur naturally in the air and are microscopic, so there’s no way to eliminate them completely. Spores begin growing into mold within 48 hours of exposure to high humidity levels because they find plenty of food sources in drywall, paper, fabric, and other materials. Left untreated, mold will continue to grow, quickly moving into hidden areas like walls where it can travel through a building undetected, spreading into areas that weren’t affected by the initial infestation.

Lower Quality Sleep

Anyone who’s gone camping in the middle of summer or lived without air conditioning knows the challenges of trying to sleep when the humidity is high. When the air is humid, water can’t evaporate from your skin and cool your body. When your body is too hot, it’s difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, so the quality of your sleep suffers. Poor sleep quality affects so much of your everyday life, so it’s worth investing in a window air conditioner or a dehumidifier for the bedroom if excess humidity is a problem.

Increased Asthma & Allergy Symptoms

Besides damaging your home or business and its contents, mold caused by high humidity impacts your health. If you already have asthma or allergies, mold growth will only make them worse. Worsening symptoms means more visits to the doctor, which means more lost time from work or school, and more money spent on medications. Even if you don’t have asthma or allergies, mold growth irritates eyes and respiratory systems, so reactions feel more like a cold that just won’t go away, no matter what over the counter medications you try.

Warped Wood

Long-term exposure to high levels of humidity can warp hardwoods and wood furniture in your home. Often the damage is irreversible, especially if the damage is wide spread or affects a large area, such as a hardwood floor. Wood furniture and floors are expensive investments that need protection from high humidity.

Strained HVAC Systems

High humidity levels make the air feel hotter, so it’s natural to turn on the air conditioning. This puts an added strain on your HVAC system, which may already be struggling due to age, dirty filters, or a lack of preventative maintenance. The extra work may even shorten the lifespan of the system.

Higher Utility Bills

The other nasty by-product of turning on the air conditioning more often is an increase in the utility bill. Obviously, the more the air is on, the more electricity is used. There are plenty of cost of living increases that are beyond our control, like gas and medical expenses. However, by keeping the humidity in your home or business under control, you can keep your air conditioner on less often and keep the utility bills down.

Restoration costs vary, depending on the extent of the flooding and the presence of mold. According to HomeAdvisor.com, the national average to remove standing water is $2,779. The national average to repair water damage is $2,436. The national average to test for mold is $719 and the national average to remove mold and toxic materials is $2,241.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Luke Armstrong. “Issues From High Indoor Humidity Levels” Web blog post. Restoration Guides. Restoration master finder. 30 Aug 2017. 12 Oct 2017

 

The Difference Between Mold & Mildew.

Mold and mildew are both types of fungi that are commonly found in the home. They thrive in moist environments, spread easily, and live on various surfaces which makes them very difficult to get rid of. If left unattended, however, the harmful microorganisms can quickly affect large areas of your property and may even result in health problems and structural damage. While the two types of fungi share many common features, they pose different risks and respond to different treatment.

So, in order to come up with an efficient cleaning strategy and ensure the safety of your living environment, you need to understand the difference between mold and mildew.

Mold removal for bridge city and west lake

What Is The Difference Between Mold And Mildew?

Mildew can be described as a specific type of mold. Mold is a fungus that contains multiple identical nuclei and grows in the form of black or green patches which penetrate beneath the surface of the affected material. Mildew, on the other hand, has flat growth that remains on the surface where it can be easily removed. While mold usually grows on food or inside permanent structures, such as walls and crawl spaces, mildew is to be found on damp surfaces, paper, fabrics, and various organic materials in your home.

Common Mildew Types

Primarily, mildew is a plant disease that causes great damage to crops and plants. It is classified as powdery and downy:

  • Powdery mildew mainly affects flowering plants and first appears as white or gray patterned splotches that gradually become yellowish brown or black as the fungus grows;
  • Downy mildew is commonly found in agricultural products, such as grapes and potatoes. Its appearance varies depending on the type of surface it grows on, but usually downy mildew starts as yellow spots that eventually turn brown.

Common Mold Types

Although the number of mold species that can live indoors exceeds 10,000 according to the latest CDC estimates, most household molds belong to one of the following five types:

  • Alternaria grows on walls, in showers, around windows, under sinks and in various other damp places. It is often found in buildings that have suffered some kind of water damage. Alternaria mold can appear black, grey, or dark brown and has a wooly or down-like texture. Prolonged exposure to this kind of fungi can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks;
  • Aspergillus is the most common type of mold found indoors. It can look grey, brown, yellow, green, white, or black. Aspergillus mold usually grows on walls, insulation, paper products, and clothing. It can causes allergic reactions and respiratory infections, as well as inflammation of the lungs in people with weak immune systems;
  • Unlike many other molds, Cladosporium can grow in cool areas. It usually appears on fabrics, such as carpets or curtains, and on wood surfaces, like cabinets and floorboards. It has a characteristic black or olive-green color and can cause a variety of respiratory problems;
  • Penicillium can be found on various materials that have been in contact with water, including carpeting, wallpaper, insulation, and mattresses. It looks blue or green and produces strong musty odors. Penicillium spores spread very easily and often result in allergic reactions;
  • Stachybotrys chartarum, often referred to as “black mold” because of its color, is the most dangerous kind of household mold – it produces toxic compounds called mycotoxins that can cause severe health problems, such as allergic symptoms, breathing problems, asthma attacks, chronic sinus infections, fatigue, and depression. The toxic black mold has a characteristic musty odor and usually grows in areas that are constantly damp – around leaky pipes, inside air conditioning ducts where there is a lot of condensation, etc.

How To Tell The Difference Between Mold And Mildew?

There are several crucial differences in the appearance and properties of mold and mildew that will help you recognize the type of indoor fungi you have discovered in your home:

Differences between Mold and Mildew in Appearance

Typically, mold appears black or green while mildew looks gray or white. Yet, there are some more detailed specifics in the appearance of the fungi:

  • Mildew usually grows in a flat pattern and appears either powdery or fluffy. It can be easily identified as a patch of white, gray, or yellowish fungus that is lying on the surface of a moist area. Mildew usually turns black or brown over time;
  • Mold is usually fuzzy or slimy in appearance. It appears as irregularly shaped spots that can have different colors – blue, green, yellow, brown, gray, black, or white. Oftentimes, surfaces that are covered in mold begin to rot.

Differences in the Effects of Mold and Mildew

Both mold and mildew need to be taken care of in a quick and efficient manner as they can cause a lot of trouble over time:

  • Mildew usually affects plants and crops. If it develops indoors, however, it can also pose health risks. When inhaled, mildew spores cause coughing, headache, sore throat, and respiratory problems;
  • Mold can result in considerable structural damage when left unattended for a long time. Prolonged exposure can cause a variety of health problems, depending on the strain of mold. Common health effects of mold include various allergic reactions (sneezing, skin irritations, irritation of the eyes and throat, nasal congestion, etc.), respiratory problems (difficulty breathing, coughing, pneumonia, asthma attacks), heart problems, migraines, inflammation and pain in the joints, dizziness, depression, and extreme fatigue. The mycotoxins produced by black mold are particularly harmful and may have severe long-term health effects, especially in younger kids and individuals with weak immune systems.

Mold and Mildew Testing

If you are not sure what type of fungi you are dealing with, you can have them tested:

  • Home testing – the easiest way to identify the kind of microorganisms in your home is to drip a few drops of household bleach on the affected area. Wait for about five minutes and inspect the spot:

– if it has become lighter, you are dealing with mildew;

– if it remains dark, it is mold that has developed in your home.

You can also use various mold and mildew testing kits that are available on the market;

  • Professional testing – if you suspect considerable mold growth in your property or if you aren’t sure about the best course of action to take, your best bet is to ask for professional assistance. Contact a trustworthy mold removal company in your area for inspection, testing, evaluation, and efficient mold removal services that will help you get rid of the harmful fungi in your home.

How To Get Rid Of Mold And Mildew?

If you can prevent mold and mildew in the first place, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle and headaches.

How to Prevent Mold and Mildew

The most efficient way to prevent mold and mildew in your home is to keep all the areas dry and moisture-free. Maintain a humidity level of about 40-50% inside the house (a dehumidifier provides the most advantageous solution for ensuring appropriate indoor humidity), have your heating and cooling systems regularly inspected, keep air ducts clean and in good condition, ensure good air circulation inside the premises, fix any leaks in the bathroom, kitchen or other areas, etc. Remove any mildew-affected plants and weeds as soon as you notice them in order to prevent mildew infestation.

How to Clean Mold and Mildew

Mildew is a surface fungus that can be efficiently treated with a commercially available cleaner and a scrubbing brush. Just make sure you work in a well-ventilated area and wear a facial mask to prevent inhaling mildew spores, as well as to avoid breathing in fumes given off by the cleaning product you use. It is also advisable to put on rubber gloves in order to protect your hands both from the mildew and from the cleaning agent. Clean all the surrounding areas carefully as well, to ensure that all the fungi have been successfully removed.

Mold, on the other hand, attaches to the affected materials with microscopic filaments that penetrate beneath the surface. The mold spores spread very easily and can survive in extreme conditions, so they can quickly affect large areas of your property and result in permanent damage. Moreover, despite its characteristic musty smell, mold is only visible to the eye when the colonies start growing, so early detection and prevention is very difficult. Worst of all, mold can have a very negative impact on your health, so DIY removal attempts are not recommendable. Besides, DIY remedies are rarely efficient because the fungus usually grows in areas that are very difficult to access and to treat.

The safest and most efficient way to get rid of a mold problem is to call a mold remediation company. An experienced professional will come to your home to assess the situation and determine the type of mold or mildew in your property, as well as the extent of the damage. Then, the most appropriate actions will be taken to remove the harmful fungi and prevent its appearance in the near future. The experts will help ensure not only the safety of your living environment, but also your peace of mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Luke Armstrong. “Mold Vs Mildew: The Main Differences Between Mold And Mildew” Web blog post. Mold Removal, Restoration Master. 12 April 2016. 28 Sep 2017. 

Is Mold Covered In Homeowners Insurance.

Like any other organism, mold needs food and water. It loves to eat wood, and that’s one reason why homes and other structures sustain mold damage. When it begins depleting its food source, damage occurs. Mold is easily identified by how it looks and its odor.

Any type of water damage can result in mold. How the water gets into your home determines whether your homeowners insurance will cover the mold damage and remediation. All homeowners policies declare their covered perils along with their exclusions from coverage. An occurrence that’s typically covered in the context of water damage is a pipe burst. That’s because the actual pipe burst is the cause of the claim as opposed to the mold itself. If a mold claim arises from Florida weather activity like a hurricane or flood, it’s not likely to be covered without special coverage. You’ll want to review your policy or talk to us to learn whether you have flood coverage.

Most homeowners insurers do provide mold coverage within their covered risks, but the policy limits are relatively low unless an additional premium is paid. If you do have some mold damage, you’ll want to do whatever you can to mitigate your damages. You should also make periodic checks for possible water leaks in these common problem spots:

·         The HVAC system lines and drains

·         Hoses for appliances

·         Tub, shower and sink seals

·         Any visible pipes

·         Weatherproofing of windows and doors

·         Wet spots in the attic and missing roofing material

·         Landscaping around your home

If you don’t have mold damage coverage, it’s recommended that you get it, particularly because mold thrives in Florida’s warm and humid climate. An average mold claim ranges between $15,000 and $30,000. Mold coverage is available as optional coverage with most homeowners insurers.

Take a look at this water guide (to learn a little more about homeowners insurance mold coverage. Much is going to depend on how the mold got there and the specific wording of your homeowners insurance policy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepared Insurance. Does my homeowners insurance policy cover mold damage? Web blog post. Living Prepared. Prepared Insurance. 27 May 2016. 10 Aug 2017

 

Signs Of Hidden Water Leak In Your Bathroom.

You may need to poke around to find the not-so-obvious bathroom plumbing leak.

 

If left untreated, though, a water leak in your bathroom can cost you, especially if it leads to serious water damage to walls, flooring and paint.

Look for these somewhat subtle signs to determine whether you need to hire a plumber to fix those leaking pipes or plumbing fixtures before things get worse.

Mildew or mold

No matter how well and how often you clean your bathroom, mold or mildew can spring up if you have a hidden water leak. Mold thrives on moist, dark areas, and a pipe, which is typically hidden in a wall or under flooring, provides the perfect starting point for mold or mildew if the pipe springs a leak.

info graphic showing costs of water leak over 5 years

While it’s normal for a little mildew to occur wherever water accumulates, such as in the corner of a shower, mold or mildew on non shower walls or in corners of the bathroom is a clear sign that water is leaking somewhere and finding its way to those areas. A leaking pipe provides plenty of moisture, so the longer it takes you to detect and fix the leak, the easier and faster mold will grow.

Damaged paint or wallpaper

A wall with blistering paint or wallpaper is another sign of bathroom leaks.

In most cases, steam from the occasional hot shower shouldn’t cause paint or wallpaper to come loose. When water and moisture get between the wall and paint, they eliminate the bond and begin to separate the two, causing the paint to rise from the wall and fall off in pieces. The same goes for wallpaper: The adhesive used to bond the paper to the wall becomes less sticky and the paper begins to come loose.

Damaged walls

A wall that is warped or stained for no reason is a clear sign that you have a plumbing leak in your bathroom.

When drywall is exposed to moisture, it becomes soft and begins to bubble, ultimately warping and breaking into pieces. If the leak reaches the ceiling, it causes it to sag and possibly leak some of the water that has accumulated.

To fix the leak, a plumber often must tear out the drywall, requiring someone to patch and paint when the plumber is finished.

Damaged flooring

Unless you purposely let water sit on it, a bathroom floor rarely suffers water damage unless there is a leak. If your bathroom floor is buckling, cracking or beginning to stain for no obvious reason, chances are hidden water is the culprit. The water could be from a pipe directly underneath the floor, or it could have traveled there from another area.

Depending on the type of flooring in your bathroom, moisture can make it feel spongy or soft. Tile may lose its adhesion and become loose, allowing you to easily remove a piece and possibly expose water or moisture underneath it. You will also often find a damp subfloor.

Stains on ceilings

If you have a bathroom on a second floor, you might spot a leak in the ceiling under bathroom. Check the patch of ceiling in the room directly beneath the bathroom for stains and signs of water damage. However, because water can travel a long distance, it’s possible to find water stains on the ceiling farther away.

An occasional wet floor in a second-story bathroom won’t cause enough seepage to damage anything underneath it. Any brown, copper or dark stain on the ceiling is a sign of a pernicious water leak in the ceiling. A sagging ceiling is a sign that water from a leak is reaching the area.

 

 

 

 

 
J.T. Gonzales. Signs Of Hidden Water Leak In Your Bathroom. Web blog post. Solution Center: Plumbing. Angie’s List.  2 June 2015, 13 July 2017

Why You Should Clean Your Air Ducts

If you’re a homeowner, it might be easy to forget to take care of your air ducts. However, you should make an effort to make it a part of your regular home maintenance. Keep in mind that air duct cleaning is still in its early stages, so it is difficult to pinpoint when exactly to clean your ducts. For these systems, it is best to consult a professional before jumping into the cleaning practice. Regardless, here are some tips to help you get your bearings in the process.

Before you begin, you should note that duct cleaning has not actually been proven to prevent health issues. No study has conclusively demonstrated that a home’s internal particle levels increase due to dirty air ducts. Much of the dirt and dust adheres to the system’s surfaces and isn’t guaranteed to enter any particular living space. Pollutants from cooking, smoking, cleaning and moving from outdoors to inside may cause greater exposure to harmful contaminants than your home’s air ducts. Additionally, there is not legitimate evidence that suggests that light household dust poses any health risk. That being said, keeping clean ducts as a potential preventative measure couldn’t hurt.

What Exactly is Air Duct Cleaning?

In general, duct cleaning involves the cleaning of the components of forced air systems. This extends to both heating and cooling elements. Possible parts can be:

  • Heat exchangers
  • Cooling/heating coils
  • Fan motors
  • Air handling unit housing
  • Condensate drain pans or drip pans
  • Grillers
  • Diffusers
  • Supply/return ducts and registers

Your chosen service provider will use tools to dislodge debris and dirt and then vacuum away the particles. He or she may want to apply chemical biocides or other chemical treatments to combat microbiological contaminants.

Air Duct Cleaning Benefits

There is no evidence to suggest that clean ducts leads to better overall health. However, it should be noted that some homeowners report feeling less congested or stuffy. Other individuals have also stated that their homes smelled better and there was visibly less dust within the household. Regular maintenance will help elongate the life of the system as service providers can make repairs to leaks and catch any mold growth early on. It might also be a good idea to check for excessive moisture as this can lead to other air system problems.

Air Duct Health Concerns

There are four major reasons to clean your ducts:

  • Vermin infestation prevention (insects or rodents)
  • Preventing clogging due to dust or debris
  • Avoiding substantial mold growth
  • Regular maintenance practice

Much of your heating and cooling system is probably inaccessible for visual examination, so you may need to consult a professional for a proper inspection. Insulated ducts are at risk for moisture and mold and will need to be replaced if the insulating material has been compromised. If you have mold, you must take care to fix the conditions that allowed for mold growth or the problem will reoccur.

Frequency of Air Duct Cleanings

Because your HVAC system is integral to your home’s overall health and functionality, you should call and consult with a professional on a yearly basis. Depending on your household’s conditions, you may need to perform maintenance with more or less regularity. Take into account your home’s age, air quality, climate and type of HVAC system. Be sure to share this information with your service provider. This annual visit will not eliminate all day-to-day concerns, but you can take care of the basics in between visits.

Air Duct Contamination Prevention

First, you should guard against the build up of dirt and debris by:

  • Changing the filters periodically
  • Vacuuming your home regularly
  • Using high efficiency filters
  • Sealing HVAC systems during home construction until you’ve cleaned the dust and debris

Second, keep your vents and ducts dry by:

  • Fixing leaks promptly
  • Checking insulation near cooling coils for moisture
  • Properly sealing and insulating ducts in spaces without air conditioning
  • Making sure your HVAC unit is an appropriate size for your home

Stay on top of these points in between professional maintenance sessions.

Repairman

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is a top concern for many homeowners. In the average six-room home, up to 40 pounds of debris and dust is circulated annually. Throughout normal home use, you and your family will generate plenty of dust, chemicals and other air pollutants. These substances are re-circulated anywhere from five to seven times a day. This can cause a build up of particles in your ductwork. Dirty ducts don’t necessarily mean poor air composition, but they likely make some contribution to your indoor air quality.

Energy Savings

Build up from contaminants, dirt and debris can cause an HVAC system to work harder than it should. Over time, this will shorten the life of your system. While filters are expected to get dirty and should be replaced regularly, ducts should not have significant obstructions if you want them to work properly. The United States Department of Energy states that 25 to 40 percent of energy used in household forced air systems is wasted. Keeping ducts clean will help you reduce your monthly energy expenses.

Finding a Good Air Duct Cleaner

Stay away from air duct cleaners who boast about the health benefits of their service. These claims are not supported by any studies or scientific evidence. Consult customer reviews and make sure the company holds the relevant state licenses. Additionally, check with your local consumer affairs office or the Better Business Bureau for any complaints lodged against your prospective service provider.

What to Expect From a Professional Duct Cleaner

A professional cleaner will preform an inspection before the actual cleaning. They will bring their own specialized equipment including a vacuum. They will follow NADCA standards and NAIMA practices for ducts with fiberglass linings. Plus, they will know how and make an effort to protect your carpet and furnishings.

Cleaning your air ducts can get a little tricky as you navigate the various aspects of the service. Be extra careful when choosing a service provider and always check licenses. Keep track of filters in between professional inspections and you will be able to get the most out of your HVAC system. With proper maintenance, you can keep unwanted dust, chemicals and debris out of your household and away from your vents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allergy & Air. Why You Should Clean Your Air Ducts. Web blog post. Indoor Air Quality. Allergy & Air. 20 July 2015, 11 July 2017

9 Ways To Prevent Mold.

Mold. The very word is enough to make a person cringe.

Yes, mold can be good — it’s essential in making brie and penicillin, for example, and necessary for the decomposition of organic matter in nature — but it can also be very, very bad, especially when it grows undetected in your home.

Mold spores spread easily and cannot be completely eradicated.

Mold can grow anywhere: on carpet, clothing, food, paper, and even in places you can’t see, such as the backside of drywall, areas inside walls around leaking or condensing pipes, and above ceiling tiles.

Not only is a mold problem difficult and costly to fix, but mold can also produce allergens and irritants (and, rarely, toxins) that may compromise your health.

So what can you do if you’re concerned about mold growing in your home?

The best approach is preventing mold before it becomes a problem. The key to mold prevention is simple: moisture control.

Here are nine ways to curb moisture indoors, and the mold that thrives on it.

1. Identify problem areas in your home and correct them. You can’t mold-proof your home, but you can make it mold-resistant. Do an audit of your home: where are the problem areas? Does the basement flood? Do you notice frequent condensation on an upstairs window? Is there a water stain on the ceiling from a persistent leak? Preventing mold from growing or spreading might be as simple as ripping up carpet in a damp basement, installing mold-resistant products, or repairing damaged gutters. Or it may be a matter of major excavation and waterproofing. Whatever the case, address the problem now. It might cost some money up front, but it will surely be more costly down the road if mold continues to grow unchecked.

2. Dry wet areas immediately. Mold can’t grow without moisture, so tackle wet areas right away. Seepage into the basement after a heavy rainfall, accumulation from a leaky pipe, even a spill on the carpet should be dried within 24 to 48 hours. If you’ve experienced a flood, remove water-damaged carpets, bedding, and furniture if they can’t be completely dried. Even everyday occurrences need attention: don’t leave wet items lying around the house, and make sure to dry the floor and walls after a shower. Don’t leave wet clothes in the washing machine, where mold can spread quickly. Hang them to dry — preferably outside or in areas with good air circulation.

3. Prevent moisture with proper ventilation. It may be that your routine domestic activities are encouraging the growth of mold in your home. Make sure an activity as simple as cooking dinner, taking a shower, or doing a load of laundry doesn’t invite mold by providing proper ventilation in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and any other high-moisture area. Vent appliances that produce moisture — clothes dryers, stoves — to the outside (not the attic). Use AC units and dehumidifiers (especially in humid climates), but make sure they don’t produce moisture themselves by checking them periodically and cleaning them as directed by the manufacturer. Your energy-efficient home may be holding moisture inside, so open a window when cooking or washing dishes or showering, or run an exhaust fan.

4. Equip your home with mold-resistant products. Building a new home or renovating an old one? Use mold-resistant products like mold-resistant drywall or mold-resistant Sheetrock, and mold inhibitors for paints. Traditional drywall is composed of a gypsum plaster core pressed between plies of paper. Mold-resistant drywall is paperless — the gypsum core is covered in fiberglass, making the surface highly water-resistant. Moisture-resistant drywall is especially valuable in areas prone to wetness, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and kitchens. Not only is traditional drywall more susceptible to mold than the paperless kind, but it is also difficult to rid of mold, and removal and replacement can be expensive. Mold-resistant gypsum board is also available; the core of the drywall is developed in such a way to prevent moisture absorption, and thus prevent mold growth.

5. Monitor humidity indoors. The EPA recommends keeping indoor humidity between 30 and 60 percent. You can measure humidity with a moisture meter purchased from your local hardware store. You’ll also be able to detect high humidity by simply paying attention to potential problem areas in your home. Telltale signs of excessive humidity include condensation on windows, pipes, and walls. If you notice condensation, dry the surface immediately and address the source of moisture (for example, turn off a humidifier if water appears on the inside of nearby windows).

6. Direct water away from your home. If the ground around your home isn’t sufficiently sloped away from the foundation, water may collect there and seep into your crawlspace or basement.

7. Clean or repair roof gutters. A mold problem might be a simple matter of a roof that is leaking because of full or damaged gutters. Have your roof gutters cleaned regularly and inspected for damage. Repair them as necessary, and keep an eye out for water stains after storms that may indicate a leak.

8. Improve air flow in your home. According to the EPA, as temperatures drop, the air is able to hold less moisture. Without good air flow in your home, that excess moisture may appear on your walls, windows and floors. To increase circulation, open doors between rooms, move furniture away from walls, and open doors to closets that may be colder than the rooms they’re in. Let fresh air in to reduce moisture and keep mold at bay.

9. Keep mold off household plants. They’re beautiful and help keep your indoor air clean — and mold loves them. The moist soil in indoor plants is a perfect breeding ground for mold, which may then spread to other areas of your house. Instead of getting rid of your plants, try adding a bit of Taheebo tea to the water you give to your houseplants. The oil of this tree, which withstands fungi even in rain forests, helps hinder mold growth in plant soil and can be found at natural food stores.

Finally, educate yourself on your region’s climate — be it the cold and wet Northeast, the hot and wet South, the hot and dry Southwest, or the cold and dry West — and how it responds to moisture. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mold prevention. Knowing what works for your climate and your home is an important first step.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heidi Hill. How to prevent mold: 9 Tips. web blog post. Your home. Mother Nature Network. 16 April 2010, 14 June 2017.

Hidden Places Mold Can Be Found.

Information about how hidden mold in our homes can make us sick has been well documented by the media and contractors who make a living removing mold from buildings. We all expect that mold might be lurking in the moist and dark places in our homes, such as in basements or crawl spaces. But there are many other places mold could be growing in your house that you might never find out about unless you do a little exploration. Let’s take a look at some of the places mold spores can thrive so you know what to look for.

1. Window Sills

We don’t often spend a lot of time examining our window sills, but they are a prime place for mold to start and spread. Window sills are frequently exposed to moisture from condensation, and they only get decent air flow during the summer months if the windows are open. The dirt that accumulates in the grooves of the sills supply valuable food to spores and they can grow quickly.

To prevent mold in your window sills, be sure to wipe down windows when you see a lot of condensation and clean out the window tracks periodically to remove the mold’s food source.

2. Refrigerator Drip Pans

The pans used to collect condensation for our refrigerators are rarely seen, so they are easy to forget about. There is not a lot of air circulation under the fridge in most homes, and what is out of sight usually is out of mind. Sometimes, food from spills collects in there as well. This creates a perfect breeding ground for mold spores.

Make a yearly appointment to clean out the drip pan using water and white vinegar. If you notice a lot of mold growth, increase the cleanings to twice per year. Also, use this vinegar and water solution on the flooring below the pan, just in case the mold wants to grow here as well.

3. Wallpaper

Unless you are removing paper from your walls, you are unlikely to know if mold spores are growing behind it. If the paper is older or has peeling edges, it’s possible mold has begun spreading where you can’t see. If you suspect you might have a mold problem, it’s best to just get the paper removed and replaced. If you know for a fact that there is a great deal of mold behind the paper, don’t remove it yourself. Instead, hire a trained professional to get rid of it and sterilize the area. Only a pro will know how to prevent huge amounts of spores from launching into the air when the paper is removed.

If you want to have decorative paper on your walls, treat the surface first with a mold-resistant primer. Use a high-quality paste to adhere the wallpaper, and be sure to remove all the air bubbles from behind it. Do not use wallpaper in moist areas such as bathrooms or basements.

4. Attic

If you have any sort of water leak in your room, chances are good that mold could be growing in your attic. The dust that accumulates in attics paired with little air flow makes a perfect environment for spores to thrive.

Check your attic periodically for mold, and make sure there are air vents to aid circulation to the area. If you have any roof leaks, get them repaired immediately. It is best to regularly have your roof inspected to catch any leaks before they cause a serious problem, and especially after a heavy rainstorm or other harsh weather.

5. Air Conditioners

Again, condensation is the culprit here. In addition, the air that AC units suck in from the outside contains dirt and pollen–attractive materials for mold. Machines that sit without use for long periods are likely to contain mold spores.

Prevent mold by running your air conditioner every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. When the unit is not in use, remove it and store it in a dry place, if possible. If you know your AC has mold, either remove it from the window or hire a professional to do so and have the interior carefully cleaned with a water-and-bleach solution. If your whole-house air conditioner has mold, it’s best to call in a professional to clean it.

6. Washing Machines

The popular new front-load washing machines may be great for high efficiency, but they are notorious for off odors as a result of mold growth. The gasket around the door is wet all the time when the washer is running and doesn’t get to dry out because the door is usually closed when the machine is not in use. This creates a perfect atmosphere for mold to grow.

You can either leave the door open after running a load to let the gasket dry, or you can wipe the gasket with a cloth when you are done washing. If mold already exists in the gasket, kill it with a bleach solution and monitor the area to make sure the mold does not return.

7. Chimneys

Depending how well a chimney is capped off, it might take in a good amount of water from rain and snow. Plus, it’s likely leaves and other organic materials are entering the space, and this all combines to create perfect conditions for mold to grow. The porous surfaces of bricks and mortar only add to the problem.

To prevent mold growth in your chimney, first make sure the top is covered appropriately. Then it’s best to call in a professional chimney cleaner to remove mold and keep your chimney puffing along at its best.

8. Carpets and Pads

Moisture from concrete floors or wet crawl spaces can easily make its way into your carpet pad and, eventually, the carpet. If you have pets who occasionally have accidents on the carpet, this can increase the potential for mold spores to grow there. If your carpet starts to smell odd or seems damp, unfortunately it might be too late–mold is probably already growing.

It seems the simplest way to prevent mold growth on carpet or padding–regardless of moisture level–is to keep the carpet clean. Dirt, as we’ve discovered, encourages mold growth. By vacuuming at least once per week and having your carpets cleaned periodically, you can easily prevent spores from blooming in your carpet.

Mold is present in most places, and sometimes it can make people sick. If you would like to keep your home a healthy space to inhabit, these places should be monitored for potential problems. Fortunately, solutions are simple to achieve with a little diligence and education on what to look for and how to respond.

 

 

 

Allergy & Air. Top 8 Hidden Places You Might Find Mold. Web blog post. Indoor Air quality, Allergy and Air. 27 July 2015.

Humidity Inside Your Home.

High home humidity can be uncomfortable. Worse yet, it can pose a threat to your home’s structure and surfaces.

According to ENERGY STAR®, the U.S. EPA’s voluntary program for energy efficiency, the ideal indoor humidity level is between 30 – 50%. Proper management of indoor humidity levels has several positive effects. If you implement solutions to keep you home in the right range, you’ll have these benefits:

  • Improve personal comfort.
  • Control moisture that can damage your home’s wood, paint, and siding.
  • Prevent mildew growth and odors in clothing and belongings.
  • Improve indoor air quality by reducing dust mites, mold, and other allergens.
  • Reduce pest infestations.
  • Improve the energy efficiency of your air conditioner.

Here are some ways to maintain that healthy range and clear the air by reducing and controlling humidity at home:

How to reduce and control humidity.

Some Southern homeowners use their air conditioners year-round to combat humidity. Theo Etzel, CEO of Conditioned Air Corporation of Naples, Inc. in Naples, Florida, has these recommendations for more effective continuous use of your cooling system:

  • Set the fan to automatic. (Keeping it in the “on” position actually re-humidifies the space by blowing air over a wet coil when the condenser cycles off.)
  • Invest in a unit with a variable-speed air handler.
  • Consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier.
  • Don’t automatically lower the thermostat. Etzel says turning down the thermostat to reduce humidity can be a sign of an oversized air conditioning system. If you are using the thermostat, though, smart thermostats can be part of a humidity strategy.

 

Ways to cut excess humidity

Etzel notes that air-conditioning systems can only keep up with the moisture they’re designed to remove, whether the systems condition fresh incoming air, recirculating interior air, or both.

Here are ways to help keep additional moisture and humidity from infiltrating the home:

  • Vent clothes dryers to the outdoors.
  • Install vent fans in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Run a dehumidifier.
  • Cover dirt floors in crawl spaces with a plastic vapor barrier.
  • Seal air and duct leaks.
  • Select houseplants that absorb moisture from the air, such as Boston ferns.
  • Keep air-conditioning drip pans and drain lines clean and unobstructed.
  • Avoid activities that add moisture to the air on humid days, such as taking hot showers and boiling water on the stove.
  • Take measures outside. ENERGY STAR suggests keeping gutters and downspouts clean, extending downspouts further from the house, watering plants only when needed and sloping soil away from foundations to keep water from pooling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conquer Home Humidity Problems with These Tips. Web blog post. Home maintenance. State Farm 10 April 2017.

 

Keeping Your HVAC Unit Clean.

A central air conditioning and heating system must be properly maintained in order for it to operate at peak efficiency. This is particularly true in the Las Vegas area where extreme heat can cause an overworked, under-maintained system to break down. When the HVAC unit system fails completely, repair or replacement costs are far higher than what is charged for periodic maintenance.

Image result for hvac unit

 

[Read more...]