Categories
Mold

5 Tips to Survive a Basement Flood & Prevent Mold

You don’t have to be a meteorologist to know that this summer, rivers in the Northeast have had their fill, and then some. Unfortunately, road closures and downed trees because of waterlogged soil and flooding are not the only issues. The combination of steady rains and soaked soil have left many basements flooded. Combine that with the hot weather, and suddenly mold rears its ugly head.

When the rain falls at such a rate, the ground cannot handle the volume and rather than being absorbed, water pools near our homes. This causes many of our basements to flood, which can lead to problems very quickly. Damp and wet areas are prime locations for mold growth, which can blossom within 24 hours. Drying out the affected areas as soon as possible is very important.

Here’s what you can do right away:

1. Mop, vacuum, or pump the water from the area. But be careful if the outside soil is saturated – If you pump out the area too fast, the pressure from the exterior water could damage your basement wall or possibly collapse it.

2. Remove all wet materials from the area.

Get the water out quickly.
Get the water out quickly.

3. Dry out residual moisture that is left in the concrete, wood, and other materials. When the rain stops, if you have windows that open to the outside, mount fans in them.

4. Use a dehumidifier and ventilate the area well.

5. Remove carpeting and dry outside, if possible. If you can’t remove the carpeting, remove as much moisture as possible by using a wet vacuum. Then use fans to circulate air both over and preferably under the carpet. The carpet must be dried within 12 to 24 hours, or it will become infested with mold and need to be discarded.

Remove wet items immediately. Use a dehumidifier or fan to help dry out the area.
Remove wet items immediately. Use a dehumidifier or fan to help dry out the area.

If you are unable to take these steps quickly or are unsure as to whether you already have a mold problem, the best thing to do for the health of your family and your home is to call in a professional to conduct a mold test. To learn more about what you can do to prepare for future storms, click here.

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Healthy Home Video

The Danger of Cutting Costs on Home Maintenance

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Health Mold

Container Gardens – Are You Growing Something Gross?

Summer is in full swing – and so are our flourishing gardens. But where you planted your herbs and vegetables can make all the difference between a healthy harvest and a moldy mess.

Mold may not harm your petunias, but if you plan to consume your fresh herbs or vegetables, you may have a problem. It is important to check your container gardens for signs of mold growth. Many molds and mold spores can be detrimental to human health.

The growth of mold usually starts on the stems of plants near the soil, where it is dark and damp, and then travels to the leaves. It can look fuzzy, slimy – even crumbly. The color can vary tremendously – black, green, brown, or even white.

The most likely culprit for mold growth in container gardens is over-watering. People are so concerned with making sure their plants are getting enough water that they don’t consider the possibility that the plants are getting too much. More sun can help counter this problem. Another mistake is not having proper drainage at the bottom of your container. If there are no holes for the excess water to drain through, it collects and rots the organic material inside the pot.

If over-watering is not the problem, there are natural methods for fighting mold, like garlic or cinnamon. Check out some additional tips here. A last measure would be a chemical spray, although this should be avoided at all costs if you are planning to eat what you grow.

Container gardens are a wonderful option for gardeners. Be sure to keep yours mold free! And in order to be confident in the soil in which your garden is planted, choose a food-grade potting soil or consider a soil assessment from a reputable environmental testing service provider.

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage

Tips for Tackling that Flooded Basement

We did need the rain in the northeast – but not 2+ inches per hour! Unfortunately, when the rain falls at such a rate, the ground cannot handle the volume and rather than being absorbed, water pools near our homes. This causes many of our basements to flood, which can lead to problems very quickly. Damp and wet areas are prime locations for mold growth, which can blossom within 24 hours. Drying out the affected areas as soon as possible is very important.

Here’s what you can do right away:

1. Mop, vacuum, or pump the water from the area. But be careful if the outside soil is saturated – If you pump out the area too fast, the pressure from the exterior water could damage your basement wall or possibly collapse it.

2. Remove all wet materials from the area.

3. Dry out residual moisture that is left in the concrete, wood, and other materials. If you have windows that open to the outside, mount fans in them.

4. Use a dehumidifier and ventilate the area well.

5. Remove carpeting and dry outside, if possible. If you can’t remove the carpeting, remove as much moisture as possible by using a wet vacuum. Then use fans to circulate air both over and preferably under the carpet. The carpet must be dried within 12 to 24 hours, or it will become infested with mold and need to be discarded.

If you are unable to take these steps quickly or are unsure as to whether you already have a mold problem, the best thing to do for the health of your family and your home is to call in a professional and to conduct a mold test. To learn more about what you can do to prepare for future storms, click here.

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Mold Testing vs. Remediation

Why Home Mold Test Kits Don’t Work

An article on the affect of mold on health in the New York Times Topics section advised homeowners to use home-test kits to detect the presence of mold. But home-test kit results are unreliable. Here’s why:

– Mold is naturally occurring and present in almost every environment. Home mold test kits that use ‘settle plate applications’ (set the dish out for 24 – 48 hours and spores are supposed to fall into the dish) generally do not measure airborne particles accurately.

mold test kitSpores vary in size, shape, and most importantly weight. Heavier mold spores will fall out of the air more quickly, and therefore are represented in greater numbers in a home-test kit dish. Since most environments contains some amount of mold, it’s difficult to determine whether the mold spores you collect are from a dangerous indoor colony or just part of the outside environment.

– Do-it-yourself mold test kits often cause people to make uninformed decisions. The levels of spores that are analyzed by the lab are not accurate and they cannot detect hidden mold, so the homeowner cannot properly assess the situation. People often do either too little or too much based on these results.  Just because you have mold does not mean you will need costly remediation. When a professional takes a sample of spores, they forcefully draw air into a spore trap. Home-test kits rely on air currents in a room over a 24 – 48 hour period. Property owners need to be sure of the situation, and these home-test kits do not provide certainty.

The bottom line is if you think you may have mold, contact a professional testing service – preferably one with a Certified Microbial Investigator (as certified by the American Council for Accredited Certification). With a professional environmental testing service, you will get interpretation and analysis of the mold, allowing you to make informed choices. Your decision can make all the difference between potential health problems for you, your family, or your tenants, and a very messy and expensive cleanup – let alone a potential lawsuit. The wisest course is to have the job handled professionally, properly, and quickly.

 

Categories
Flooding & Water Damage Mold

Tips for Tackling Basement Flooding

We did need the rain in the northeast – but not 2+ inches per hour! Unfortunately, when the rain falls at such a rate, the ground cannot handle the volume and rather than being absorbed, water pools near our homes. This causes many of our basements to flood, which can lead to problems very quickly. Damp and wet areas are prime locations for mold growth, which can blossom within 24 hours. Drying out the affected areas as soon as possible is very important. Here’s what you can do right away:

1. Mop, vacuum, or pump the water from the area. But be careful if the outside soil is saturated – If you pump out the area too fast, the pressure from the exterior water could damage your basement wall or possibly collapse it.

2. Remove all wet materials from the area.

3. Dry out residual moisture that is left in the concrete, wood, and other materials. If you have windows that open to the outside, mount fans in them.

4. Use a dehumidifier and ventilate the area well.

5. Remove carpeting and dry outside, if possible. If you can’t remove the carpeting, remove as much moisture as possible by using a wet vacuum. Then use fans to circulate air both over and preferably under the carpet. The carpet must be dried within 12 to 24 hours, or it will become infested with mold and need to be discarded.

If you are unable to take these steps quickly or are unsure as to whether you already have a mold problem, the best thing to do for the health of your family and your home is to call in a professional and to conduct a mold test. To learn more about what you can do to prepare for future storms, click here.

 

Categories
Mold Testing vs. Remediation

Do It Yourself Mold Kits Just Don’t Get The Job Done

Many do-it-yourselfers think that using an at-home mold testing kit will let them know whether they have to worry about that musty odor in the basement or discolored area after a leak. They are wrong. These kits generally contain a fungal growth medium in a Petri dish or some other type of container. The object is to expose this medium to viable spores, which then grow to form mold colonies. Unfortunately, the kits are unreliable and cause many DIYers to make bad decisions.

Here are some of the major flaws and challenges of home mold testing kits:

  • Home mold test kits that use ‘settle plate applications’ (set the dish out for 24 – 48 hours and spores are supposed to fall into the dish) generally do not measure airborne particles accurately. Spores vary in size, shape, and weight, so they grow at different rates. Also, every environment contains some amount of mold, and it’s difficult to determine whether the mold spores you collect are from a dangerous indoor colony or just part of the outside environment.
  • DIY mold kits cannot reach areas that are not visible to the eye. You may have mold behind your walls, which is the most dangerous place for it to be. It can spread quickly and infest a whole house before you realize the mold is there.
  • Even though you may be able to grow mold, you likely won’t be able to identify what type it is. There are over 100,000 different types of mold, and some are much more dangerous than others. If you don’t know what you are dealing with, your health could be at risk.
  • False negatives and false positives are a common problem with do-it-yourself mold test kits.

Same problem as above. Your HVAC system circulates air and spores are most likely in this air. Unless you have advanced filtering (i.e. HEPA-rated), you should expect to have mold spores being circulated as well. Even with advanced filtering, most HVAC systems suffer from filter by-pass problems, cabinet and duct leakage, etc. Like the settle plate test, if a gazillion colonies form, you may have an HVAC problem, but then again, maybe not. There are certain locations within an HVAC system where mold growth can be a problem. Remember, the main factors that are needed for mold growth are food and moisture so those are the areas to focus on. Mold won’t arbitrarily grow in your ductwork unless there is a significant problem.

Tip: Have the HVAC system inspected by someone who knows where the problem areas are located.

The bottom line is if you think you may have mold, contact a professional.  Your decision can make all the difference between potential health problems for you and your family, and a very messy and expensive cleanup, or a job handled professionally, properly and quickly.

 

 

Categories
Mold

Don’t Be Duped – All Black Mold is Not Toxic Mold!

The black mold in your basement or attic may look frightening, but it may just be unsightly, and not necessarily toxic mold. All black mold is not toxic mold.

black moldThat’s why it is so important to have mold testing done. It will determine what type you actually have so that you can take the proper course of action to remove it through mold remediation.

There are over 100,000 different types of mold.  Most cause upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing, and wheezing in otherwise healthy people. Those with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections caused by mold. However, if you have been exposed to toxic mold, however, such as Stachybotrys, Acremonium, Memnoniella or Chaetomium, you could suffer from a myriad of serious symptoms and illnesses such as:

  • chronic bronchitis
  • learning disabilities
  • mental deficiencies
  • heart problems
  • cancer
  • multiple sclerosis
  • chronic fatigue
  • lupus
  • fibromyalgia
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • multiple chemical sensitivity
  • bleeding lungs

how does mold growIn order to grow, toxic mold, like other molds, starts out when water soaks wood, paper, and cotton products or other products, usually as a result of water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. Constant moisture is required for its growth. When wet, toxic mold may appear slimy with white edges.

While toxic mold can bring on the most serious health problems, all mold can cause health issues in healthy people – especially those who suffer allergies. So the best course of action is to have it checked out by a professional to determine the severity of your problem through mold testing, then devise a mold remediation plan that suits your needs.