Mold Awareness Month Part 4 of 4

As the month is coming to an end and the leaves begin to change as well, we remind ourselves of all the things to prepare for with the upcoming months ahead. Having a fall inspection done should be one of the first things to consider as the winter months will make you eventually turn on your furnace possible blowing up any airborne particles that could be in the basement. You may want to start looking at the foundation of your home as well to make sure water can not enter once the upcoming snow begins to melt. Here are some helpful tips to prepare for the upcoming winter months.

Three Reasons To Have a Fall Mold Inspection
Fall is here, soon temperatures will begin to drop and you will need to turn on your furnace. Here are three reasons to have a professional mold inspection:
1. Prevent Mold Spores From Getting In Your HVAC System
In most homes, the furnace is located in the basement, usually in the storage area. The basement is also one of the most common areas for mold to thrive and grow because it is a dark, moist area. You will know you have mold issues if you smell a musty, earthy odour. This past summer, many homes were flooded and if they were not dried properly, the prevalence of mold issues is highly likely.
If mold is prevalent in the basement, one of the major concerns is to prevent air borne spores from spreading throughout the rest of the home. In other words, turning on your furnace when there is mold in the basement could spread the spores throughout the home contaminating more areas.
The number one reason to get a Fall mold inspection is to prevent the spread of mold into other areas of your home when you turn on your furnace. If the mold inspector finds mold in the basement, then potential cross contamination can be prevented with a remediation plan.
2. Better Health
Unfortunately, when Fall and Winter arrive, many blame health issues on colds and the flu. However, what most people do not realize is that mold spores can cause many of the symptoms we experience when we think we have a cold or flu:
  1. The sudden onset of allergic symptoms involving the respiratory system such as cough, congestion, sinusinfection, asthma, and bronchitis.
  2. Unexplained headaches, decrease in attention span or memory, difficulty concentrating, or dizziness.
  3. Other physical symptoms of mold could include skin rash, itchy eyes, fatigue, and a general unwell feeling that disappears when leaving the house.
Many of the symptoms above would be diagnosed as cold or flu symptoms by a Doctor. As our toxic mold survivor interviews show, this is a common occurrence simply because most Doctors are not trained to identify sickness caused by mold.
If you experience these symptoms soon after turning on your furnace, then you likely have mold spores circulating in your home.
To verify that you have mold issues, you can check the furnace for black, gray-brown, gray-green, or white-and-orange spots. The insulation, condensers, cooling coils, and drip pans of furnaces and air conditioners, as well as the ducts are all potential areas where mold growth can occur. If you get mold in your HVAC system, you can get your ducts cleaned by a professional. Duct cleaning is only recommended, however, if the core problem causing the mold issues and the primary source of the mold contamination is properly cleaned.
3. Peace of Mind
Trained mold inspectors follow a step by step protocol to determine if there is a mold problem. They will do visual inspections; ask questions to get a better idea of the building history to find out about leaks, floods, etc. any indication of past moisture issues; measure the moisture levels; and may recommend that tape, swab, or air quality tests be done to determine the type of mold and the spore count in the home.
The relative cost of a mold inspection compared to the potential health issues and eventual structural issues that mold can cause in a property is minor and should give you a significant amount of peace of mind knowing that you have had a professional inspection done.
Bottom line, if you suspect that you have any mold concerns, particularly in your basement, we strongly recommend that you have a professional examine the problem so that you can prevent the spread of the mold throughout your home when you turn on your furnace.

Another thing to watch for in the upcoming months, once freezing starts you will want to watch for Ice Damming on the sides of your home, this is a very common occurrence once the weather starts to change it begins to freeze and then thaw and then freeze again causing many hazards for your walk-ways, driveway and other areas depending on where your eavestroughs are pointing. Keeping them clear of ice can potentially keep your home safe from water leaking in the side of the home.

HOW IS AN ICE DAM CAUSED?
According to the Ice Dam Company ice dams result from the escape of heat into the attic which eventually builds up and melts snow on the roof. The ice dam is the ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof which prevents melting snow from draining as it should. The water that backs up behind the ice dam can leak into the home and cause damage to walls, floors, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. This graphic, courtesy of the Ice Dam Company, provides you with visual warning signs to look for.
Pictured below is an image of a house we inspected. Apparently this home was just renovated, but the builder failed to insulate the attic properly and the end result was a significant ice dam, which ultimately will cause problems for this homeowner. Ice dams are preventable!

icedam

WHY DO ICE DAMS CAUSE MOLD?
The key problem caused by ice dams is the water and moisture that leaks into the home. Mold thrives on moisture and grows because it feeds on the materials that most homes are made of: wood, drywall, wallpaper, carpet, ceiling tiles, etc. The final component required for mold growth is a temperature of 5 degrees to 38 degrees. As long as these three ingredients are present, mold will form and continue to grow provided it has food to feed on. This is the reason that the structural integrity of a home is compromised–mold is essentially feeding on the home.
As mentioned earlier, ice dams are caused by heat escaping into the attic. Temperature, as you know, is one of the key ingredients required for mold growth. Heat in the attic, which leads to ice dams is caused by everyday activities in the household, such as cooking, laundry, showering, washing dishes, etc. Normally, these activities should not cause problems, ie. excessive condensation and heat in the attic. However, problems will occur if the attic is not properly insulated. One of the major causes of condensation in the attic is the lack of proper ventilation in the kitchen and bathroom required to vent vapour out of the home. Another major reason excess heat may build up in the attic is a direct result of builder negligence that vent bathroom and dryer vents into attics, crawl spaces, or over hangs, and not onto the roof. This poor building practice will cause problems because moisture and heat will build up in the attic. The Ice Dam Company provides an excellent visual of why black mold begins forming in an attic…click here to view.
Here are some general tips to prevent ice dams.
1. Make sure you have proper ventilation in the attic. Keep your soffit vent clear and open. Have a roofing professional check your roof and calculate the proper ventilation requirements. A well ventilated cold roof prevents ice dams.
2. If you have gutters on the house – keep them clean and free from leaf debris.
3. Ensure that your bathroom exhaust is vented through the roof and insulated if necessary.
4. Ductwork in the attic should be well insulated and sealed from leaks.
5. Air bypass – where warm air leaks through small cracks and openings – should be sealed. Check attic access ports in closets and can lights in the ceiling as potential areas of concern.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE CONDENSATION ISSUES IN MY ATTIC?
In addition to the visual external clues of ice dams, here are some tips to help you determine if you have condensation issues.
1. Check your attic for visual mold.
2. Check all penetrations in your ceilings such as light fixtures and make sure there is no excessive gaps between the fixtures and ceiling.
3. Make certain all drywall is finished properly with no gaps or cracks for moisture to migrate through.
4. Look for visible stains such as mold on the surfaces of the ceiling, walls of the living areas, floors, carpets, attic plywood sheathing, attic sidewalls, floor joist, wet insulation.
5. Check for moisture or high relative humidity over 65% and higher.
6. Smelling unusual musty or moldy odors is an indication that you may have a problem. High relative humidity or moisture may be the culprit.
If you are concerned that you may have ice damming issues, we recommend that you hire a professional to assess the situation
We are here to help, so please do not hesitate to contact us. A mold inspection is a cost effective solution to determining if you have to worry about ice damming, and the potential moisture and mold issues it causes. Peace of Mind, just a phone call away! Toll Free: 1-888-909-MOLD (6653)
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got mold?™ is a locally owned and operated Canadian company with over 25 years of combined experience in the disaster restoration industry. A Message from the President Mold is a growing concern. To continue to thrive as a business over the next ten years and beyond, we must look far ahead, understand the ever changing world and power in order to structure our business in the future and maneuver in such a way that will allow us to anticipate challenges we face throughout our journey, enabling us to continue operating as a world class company employing great people for continued success. Our Mission Find & fix sources of unhealthy indoor air Our Vision Healthy indoor air Our Core Values Dependable - We make commitments and meet them Resourceful - We find a way or make one Knowledgeable - We are certified and constantly learning Productive - We get it done right ASAP Trustworthy - We have a great reputation Loyal - We are proud of our company and its values Ethical - We don’t compromise our values and we don’t cut corners Respectful - We care about people, property and good stewardship of money All this while maintaining the utmost in health & safety standards. Indoor air quality specialists, we are experts in mold testing, removal and remediation; fire and flood damage restoration; indoor air quality testing; asbestos surveying, asbestos testing, sampling and abatement.