Mold vs Mildew: What’s the difference?

Many people don’t know that there is actually a difference between mold and mildew. A fungi is a fungi right? Well, although that may be typically accurate, there are more then a million species in the mold families. All of which are different sources of organic compounds found in our every day environments.

Mold and mildew are types of fungi; typically, mold is black or green, and mildew is gray or white (but not always). Mold tends to grow on organic surfaces, whereas mildew is an issue on damp surfaces, like bathroom walls, basement walls, or fabrics. Mold grows in the form of multicellular filaments or hyphae, while mildew has flat growth. Mildew is often referred to as a kind of mold that is in one general area and isn’t growing or spreading. Mold can contaminate your indoor environment and spread rapidly though spores in the air.

Appearance & Identification:

Without a proper sample it is hard to determine the species of fungi you are dealing with and is best left to the professionals. Visual inspections of the fungi can vary and be hard to determine without proper examination.
Mildew: could be downy or powdery: Downy mildew starts as yellow spots that first become brighter in appearance and then the color changes to brown. Powdery mildew is whitish in color and that slowly turn yellowish brown and then black. This is why it is important to remember that not all black molds are a toxic black mold. Analysis is needed to determine this, and hiring a professional to take the samples so you don’t disrupt the surface and the spores is best.
Mold: has a fuzzy appearance and can be an orange, green, black, brown, pink or purple in color. Can be found in several shapes. Mold tends to grow and spread through out the damp surfaces and will find other damp or wet areas in the home. Mold can travel through the air and contaminate adjacent areas of your home from moving furniture, furnaces, air conditioners, fans and dehumidifiers. If your home has mold or mildew in it, it is best to get everything sampled before preparing the removal process.

Prevention

To prevent mildew at home, keep all the areas moisture-free. There are mildew removers available at stores to eliminate mildew. To protect crops from mildew use mildew-resistant seeds, remove infested plants, avoid overhead heating.

To prevent mold in your home, you need to keep all the areas dry and moisture-free. Check the humidity levels inside the house and take measures to control it. Finish perishable food within 3-4 days.

Prolonged exposure to mold spores can cause health problems such as allergic reactions and respiratory problems, due to the toxins (mycotoxins) it produces.

Mildew can cause damage to crops and other plants it infests. Inhalation of mildew can cause coughing, headache, scratchy throat and lung problems. Mildew can also start growing in lungs and cause other serious health problems.

If you’re concerned about mold in your home, fill out the form to the right or call 1-888-909-6653 to talk to one of our mold experts!

Twelve Things You Must Know About Mold

Having an understanding of indoor mold is critical when one is faced with mold problems. Here we bring you 12 things you must know about mold.

12 Things You Must Know About Mold

flooded carpet

Flooded carpet: Mold develops within 48 hrs.

  1. All molds are potentially a health hazard. Mold exposure symptoms include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints. Some of the indoor molds that have the potential to cause health problems including Alternaria, Aspergillus, Chaetomium, Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys (black mold).
  2. Reaction to mold varies from individual to individual. However, those most susceptible to mold exposure include young children, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and persons with pre-existing respiratory problems.
  3. Mold spores are everywhere and it’s practically impossible to eliminate all of them from indoors. The only way to control mold growth in the indoor environment is to control moisture.
  4. Mold can cause health problems even if it is dead. That is why mold removal is recommended instead of just killing it using chemicals and leaving it indoors.
  5. If mold is a problem in your home or office, you must have it removed and the moisture problem fixed.
  6. Reducing indoor humidity controls mold growth. EPA recommends reducing humidity by:
    • Venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside
    • Using air conditioners and de-humidifiers
    • Increasing ventilation
    • Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning
  7. Drying water damaged building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours prevents mold growth.
  8. Porous moldy materials such as ceiling tiles, drywall, and carpets cannot be effectively cleaned and therefore should be replaced after fixing the moisture problem. If the moisture problem is not resolved, the mold growth will return.
  9. Condensation on cold surfaces is a major cause of mold growth. Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
  10. Molds can grow on virtually any organic substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, fabrics, leather and foods.
  11. Molds can grow undetected inside wall spaces, under carpet, and inside HVAC systems. Air sampling may help detect hidden mold.
  12. Cleanup of large areas of mold contamination can cause airborne spores to increase to levels resulting in acute mold exposure. Hiring a qualified mold removal company is recommended since they have the tools and experience required to prevent the spread of airborne mold spores throughout the house.

We can provide lab results within 24 hours

When customers call got mold? to have a mold or asbestos inspections and sampling, we take great pride in giving our customers fast and accurate reports so they can get the work done ASAP. The health of our customers is our number one priority and we want our customers to know that your health is important to us! We thrive on having happy and healthy customers that have healthy indoor air for their families or business. When you call got mold? our environmental professionals will assist you with the best coarse of action to take when it comes to the removal process, and what should happen with the contents surrounding the effected areas.

Sometimes circumstances require that results of sampling is an urgent matter. This is why we deal with only accredited laboratories that have microbiologists analyze the samples. If there are any questions or clarification is required we are in direct contact with the Principal Microbiologist Dr. Jackson Kung’u.

The basic problem with mold is that it can be hidden. Home inspectors are not mold remediation specialists and do not have the expertise required to identify potential mold issues. Home buyers are well advised to invest in both a home inspection and mold inspection before purchasing a home, particularly if there is any indication that there are potential moisture issues.
 (Buyer Beware! How Reliable is Your Home Inspection?)
Mold occurs normally in outdoor environments, serving as nature’s recycling center and breaking down the dead organic matter from animals or plants. Humans encounter mold and even inhale mold spores every day with no ill effects whatsoever. When mold occurs in an indoor environment, however, things change. Suddenly, mold and its accompanying spores (through which it reproduces) are encountered (and inhaled) in large concentrations. When you consider the job that mold is designed to do on organic matter, it becomes easy to see how it could become a serious health hazard. (No Shame In Mold)
Since mold can cause serious health and structural issues, and even negatively impact the health of your pets, then you should invest in a mold inspection and you may even want to consider a Thermal Imaging inspection as well.
A mold inspection is vitally important if you are planning to buy a home for three key reasons:
1. REAL ESTATE AGENTS DO NOT LIKE MOLD
Real estate agents know that the presence of mold can end a real estate transaction. Since legal requirements for disclosing mold problems is not universally mandatory, then it really is up to the seller to disclose such information. If this is not done, the buyer may never know a problem even exists.
2. MOLD REMEDIATION IS COSTLY
Mold remediation is the removal of mold from a home to make it safe and liveable. This process is costlybecause the materials contaminated with mold need to be removed. You can not simply spray mold with chemicals. The cost of remediation will depend on the area that is affected and the kind of materials. In addition, mold remediation specialists take special training and follow specific procedures to prevent mold from spreading. Their goal is not only to remove the mold, but to contain it and clean it.
3. HOME INSPECTORS ARE NOT MOLD EXPERTS
The problem with mold is that it can be hidden under baseboards, beneath carpet, and under a new paint job. Home inspectors will look for visual problems with the home, but may not necessarily be able to identify a mold problem. A credible home inspector may provide you with some warning signs that conditions exist to encourage mold growth:
1. Water stains
2.  Smelly basement
3.  Water seepage
4. Leaky roof
That being said, a home inspector will not verify the existence of mold and may not specify this in their report. It is also important to understand that many home inspectors rely on referals from real estate agents, which could cause potential conflict of interest issues.
According to CMHC and Health Canada:
“Asbestos poses health risks only when fibres are in the air that people breathe. Asbestos fibres lodge in the lungs, causing scarring that can ultimately lead to severely impaired lung function (asbestosis) and cancers of the lungs or lung cavity.”
If your home or commercial building was built prior to or during the 1980s, you may need to determine if you have asbestos and/or vermiculite insulation.
The environmental and financial risks associated with asbestos abatement requires expertise and commitment.
If you have asbestos, our professional teams will remove it.
To ensure “Peace of Mind”, we will ask a third party environmental consulting firm to take air quality samples that will be sent to an independent lab for analysis.
Our job will not be complete until the environmental consultant says that the property is fully cleared of the asbestos.
Further Reading about mold removal, health concerns and the inspection processes:
Flooded…But Denied Insurance? Don’t Lose Hope!Hurricane Sandy Causes Mold Risk for Flooded AreasSandy Leaves Behind the Threat of Asbestos Exposure, Flood Alert: Key Action Steps & Information!What Should I do if I Find Mold?Attention Saskatchewan Residents: PDAP Can Help!Don’t Spray Mold!What Causes a Basement to Smell Bad?Mold, Not Just a Health Problem, But a Structural One Too!Sewer Backups Part 1: Causes and PreventionSewer Backups Part 2: Action Steps Why Do We Need Sump Pumps? Flooded…But Denied Insurance? Don’t Lose Hope!What to Expect From a Mold InspectionMold Emerges As Problem From FloodingWhy is Mold a Growing Concern?Seven Tips To Detecting MoldMold in Your BasementDo You Know Where Your Water Main Valve Is Located?What to do when you’ve identified a mold concern?The Longer You Wait…The Worse It Gets!How Does Mold Get Indoors?What’s In Your Flood Water?What causes Mold growth?
Further Reading about asbestos removal, health concerns and the inspection processes:
Mandatory Saskatchewan Registry for Asbestos PassesWhy is Asbestos a Health Hazard?Can You Get Mesothelioma from Attending School?Why is a Shower Essential to Asbestos Abatement?What Percentage of Lung Cancers are Caused by Asbestos?Canadian Asbestos RegulationsHow Many People Die From Asbestos Each Year?10 Interesting Facts About Asbestos in the USA [Infographic]Renovating? Read This Message From Our President!10 Interesting Historical Facts About Asbestos [Infographic]ADAO – Asbestos Disease Awareness OrganizationBanAsbestos.usThe Asbestos Epidemic in AmericaWHO | Asbestos: elimination of asbestos-related diseasesThe Jig Is Up For The Asbestos Industry!Canada’s Asbestos Industry Could End!Elliot Lake, Ontario Residents Exposed to Asbestos DustShould I Be Concerned About Asbestos?The Politics of Asbestos: Canada’s Ugly SecretQuebec Pumps $58 Million into Certain DeathThe Asbestos Abatement ProcessWhy is Asbestos so Scary?Got Asbestos?Asbestos Removal and AbatementAsbestos Is The “Ideal Carcinogen”
 

When is it okay to buy chemical spray made to kill mold?

When is it okay to buy chemical spray made to kill mold?

As you may have seen in many department stores there are many different brands and types of sprays designated for killing mold. These products may not always be as they claim to be as they tend to only make the mold disappear for a short period of time but in most cases it has been reported that the mold returns. Why is this? A lot of the department store brands that you can purchase contain bleach which does what it does to your clothes – bleaches it… it doesn’t exactly kill it, but it removes the color making it seemingly impossible to see anymore but will return. The store brand sprays are typically recommended to purchase if you are wiping off mildew from your patio furniture, or pulling out a tent that wasn’t properly dried before being stored. These aren’t products that you should use in your home for large areas of mold. When it comes to your indoor environment the consumer should know what they should and shouldn’t be spraying in the air and what you may be breathing in.

There are reasons that you aren’t supposed to spray mold to begin with, When  you spray the mold… the pressure from the spray and the oxygen can release the spores from being contained to one area to multiple areas in your home. The spores are invisible to the human eye so you won’t be able to see them floating through the air but they will… in fact there is a great chance that as you sit and read this mold spores are floating near by. All homes have mold spores, you need to know that it all depends on what kind of mold is in your home and how much. If mold spores are abundant in the built environment there must be a source that needs to be removed and controlled. This is why it is important to have a serious situation evaluated by an environmental professional especially if you believe  your mold problem is causing you or anyone in your home health issues. Keep in mind, if a mold problem is not currently causing health issues long term exposure can and most likely will cause health concerns.

Ask Dr. Jackson Kung’u, Principal Microbiologist at MBL laboratories and he will inform you that dead mold spores are just as harmful to the human lung as the living and as a matter of fact the spore will still carry a toxin. To eliminate mold from growing you need to remove the source if it’s a leak, condensation or high humidity, you will continue to spray the problem but not eliminate it.

In some cases the wording on the labels of mold killing products are misleading. Consumers may have seen the same thing on food label products or cosmetic products. The chemicals render the mold colorless so they aren’t visible but keep coming back! Some consumers will continue to purchase the product thinking that they just need to apply more. If you are out to kill the mold we only recommend this for small cleanup projects like window sills and the best product to use is vinegar.

Indoor molds cause two key problems.

1. They destroy the material that they feed on, including bathroom walls, carpets, insulation, ceilings and any other cellulosic materials in the built environment.

2. Exposure to high concentrations of certain types of mold creates health problems for some individuals. For this reason, materials that are infected with mold need to be removed. In fact, mold is like a cancer, unless it is dealt with and removed, it will continue to grow. The only way to deal with mold is to eradicate it and fix the source.

Getting rid of mold by applying bleach or chemicals is NOT the answer to the problem because dead mold spores are just as harmful to the human lung as live spores. You may have read or heard about the myth of the“Mummy’s Curse” in which all of the Archaeologists that discovered King Tutankhamen’s Tomb eventually died. They, in fact, died from dead aspergillus mold spores that laid dormant for centuries!

In addition, mold spores like Aspergillus and Stachybotrys (black mold) are toxic in both a live form and a dead form. The key to proper mold removal is to remove as many of the mold spores as possible and completely eliminate the types of spores that aren’t typically found outside.

Some mold is toxic and can cause many health issues. In fact, some mold produces mycotoxins that are pathogenic to animals and humans. In 2011 we posted an article on the uses of mold as a biological weapon to illustrate just how toxic mold is.

So ask yourself this… is it really worth putting the risk of your families health into an $8.99 bottle of water/bleach that will not guarantee that it will eradicate the problem? Contact a professional today!

For peace of mind we are always just a phone call away! 1-888-909-6653

The importance of fixing a leak

The importance of fixing a leak

We’ve all been there… a leaky sink, bath tub, maybe even a pipe in the wall. Watching shows on TV about home renovations can give you many good ideas but sometimes they give you advise that you may not wish to live by. A certain popular TV program said that it’s okay to have a small leak in your bathroom as long as it leaks into your sink. This might be okay for a couple days until you can get to the project but leaving it will run up your water bill, eventually ruin your sink or tub if left for a really long time and most the time, the leak will go further through the drain and into the wall or cabinet if left for to long. There are many different set ups for bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms so to have an exact answer where to look for your leak would be a little hard. But, keeping a close eye on your regular water use is always a good start.

Leaks can cause major damage if left unfixed, leaking into your walls, subfloors, cabinets and it doesn’t take long for it to mold and deteriorate the home. It also will decrease your home value from the damage and can cause health issues if you don’t fix it soon. It could start with a cheap o-ring that is needed and if left could turn into something even more. If you have a leak in your home don’t hesitate to call us today to have it assessed and make sure it hasn’t leaked into any other areas. With thermal imaging we can see where moisture is hidden in the home that your eyes can’t!

You know you can save water indoors by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth, “letting it mellow” and taking care not to waste it while cooking and cleaning. But there’s a major water user in your home that you might not even be aware of – water leaks. Those leaks, on average, account for 14 percent of indoor water use. Proper inspection and maintenance of your appliances and plumbing fixtures can help prevent leaks, but sometimes leaks happen anyway, and sometimes they go unnoticed for years.

Bathrooms Leaks:

  • If you look up at the ceiling and see evidence of a leak from the bathroom above, this video will show you how to find the leak.
  • If your sink or bathtub faucets leak one drip per second you’ll waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. You could take 180 showers with all that water! Check for leaks by examining the washers and gaskets for wear and replacing them if necessary.
  • If you have to replace a faucet, look for one with the EPA WaterSense label.
  • showerhead that leaks 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That’s 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher! Grab some pipe tape and a wrench and make sure that connection is tight.
  • If you have to replace a showerhead, look for one that has earned the WaterSense label.
  • If you find that your shower is leaking behind the wall and you’re an ambitious do-it-yourself type, there are instructions for hunting down and fixing the leak part 1 and part 2.
  • If you suspect your toilet is leaking, place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak (make sure to flush immediately after this experiment to avoid staining the tank). You may not need to track down a plumber because there are several things you can do yourself to fix a leaking toilet.
  • If your toilet is leaking, you usually just need to replace the flapper. Over time, this inexpensive rubber part decays, or minerals build up on it. It’s usually best to replace the whole rubber flapper—a relatively easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project (see steps in the link immediately above) that pays for itself in no time.
  • If you need to replace the entire toilet, look for a WaterSense labeled model.
  • Here are a few more ways to find and fix leaks from shower doors and drains, bathroom tiles and toilet flanges.

Kitchens Leaks:

  • Is there a puddle of water under your fridge? There are a number of reasons why it might be leaking. Follow this list of steps to find a leak from the bottom or the back of your fridge.
  • Sink faucets are usually pretty accessible so it’s relatively easy to find a leak. Here’s a video that walks you through the process. Or maybe it’s not the faucet, it’s the sprayer.
  • If your dishwasher is leaking, it might take a little time and effort to find the leak, but it will be worth it to avoid bigger problems later on. Here are the steps to determine where the leak is coming from.
  • Here are a few more ways to find and fix leaks around the kitchen sink and drain.

Laundry Room Leaks:

  • Washing machines leak from different places and for different reasons, including overloading your machine! Here are the steps you can take to find and fix the leaks and their most likely causes.
  • Utility sinks are sometimes installed in your laundry room and when they leak, they’re fairly straightforward to repair. Here’s a video to show you how.Heating and Cooling System Leaks:
  • Water heaters can leak from several places. Follow these steps to first determine if there is a leak, and then where it’s coming from. Just don’t forget to turn off the electric or gas supply when you work around your water heater!
  • Evaporative coolers are great in dry climates, and if they’re in-window units they’re easy to work on if there’s a leak.
  • Whole-house humidifier and evaporative cooler leaks can go unnoticed for a long time because the system is typically plumbed directly into the supply line. Regular maintenance helps but if you think there’s a leak, check out these steps for a humidifier or an evaporative cooler.

Temporary Leak Fixes:

  • Why do most plumbing disasters happen at 3 am on a Saturday morning, when most plumbers are fast asleep? If the solution to your overnight disaster is something you can’t quite manage on your own, here are some temporary fixes that will get you through a night or a weekend until you can call in a professional.


Outdoor Leaks:

  • Check your in-ground irrigation system each spring before you turn it on, to make sure there’s no damage from frost or freezing during the winter. An irrigation system with a leak as small as 1/32 inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water (and a lot of money) each month.
  • First things first with your irrigation system. Make sure that it’s set properly so you’re not overwatering. Next, to find leaks, check out this video to find and repair your leaks.
  • As frustrating as it might be, sometimes you just can’t find the leak in your irrigation system on your own. Don’t worry though, because the WaterSense program has a list of partners who have passed a certification program focused on water efficiency. They’ll help you lock up that leak.
  • Where is your garden hose leaking? Is it from the faucet or is it actually leaking from the hose? Figure it out and stop the leak with these steps.
  • Is your pool losing water by the bucketful? The first step in finding a pool leak is to determine whether the water loss is actually from a leak or from evaporation (in which case, cover that pool when you’re not using it!). This simple bucket test will help you figure it out.
  • If you’ve determined that your pool definitely has a leak and you’re in a do-it-yourself mood, here’s what you need to know about finding and fixing the leak.
  • If you have a hot tub, keep it covered so you don’t lose water to evaporation. If you think it’s leaking, these instructions will help you find and repair it so you can get back to maximum relaxation enjoyment.
  • If the fountain or pond in your peaceful outdoor retreat is in danger of being ruined because of a leak, there are steps you can take to find and repair it and get your Zen back.

Water Meter and Supply Line Leaks:

  • Here’s an easy way to see if you have a leak in your home: examine your winter water usage. In general, for a family of four, if your water use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month you might have a leak.
  • Pick a time when no one needs to use the water for a while and check your water meter before and after a set time period (15 minutes to a couple of hours). If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak somewhere.
  • Although it could be tough to find, there might be a leak between the water meter and the supply line. Never fear! There are steps you can take to find the leak.

Wrap your pipes in heat.The important feature is the exterior piping. If the cold-water pipes touch the exterior portion of the building, when the water isn’t being used and the temperature is very cold, most likely the pipes will freeze. The only time water won’t freeze is when it’s moving, so it’s is a good idea to leave all the faucets open while you’re away from home for any length of time. The best thing you can do, however, is insulate the whole space.

You may not know what’s right, but you can usually spot what’s wrong. Take a quick look at any visible pipes in your house, just to keep up on what’s going on with them. Homeowners often don’t routinely check; then a puddle of water appears in the basement, damaging their valuables, and they had no inkling that anything was amiss. You can look at the pipes in your basement and have no idea what you’re looking at, but if you see rust, buckling or drops of water, you’ll definitely know something’s wrong.

A stuffed sink can easily spring a leak. Under your kitchen sink, just take a peek every once in a while and see if there are any drips. It’s always a good idea to take a look.

Set back the spigot valve. In some cases, a frost-free hose bib should be installed, especially if the pipe is going through a cement foundation. The hose bib allows you to shut off the water closer to the inside of the home to help prevent freezing.

Radiators need a good level and an open valve. The first thing you have to do is check the pitch of the radiator: it should always be pitched back toward the source of the steam. That way, when that water condenses, it can drain back to the boiler.

A leaky water heater is a dead water heater. The biggest problem is that the lining wears away and you get water dripping from the base. If a lot of water is dripping, call the manufacturer and provide the model number; you may get lucky and find that the product is still under warranty. When you do change the water heater, try to install a pan under it.

Don’t blow a gasket — replace it. If you have water dripping from the shower spout, most of the time the cause is a defective washer or defective seat within its body. As long as you have isolation valves to isolate water to that area, it should be a relatively easy fix. Isolate the water to that shower, disassemble the handles and take out the stem where the washer is; then replace, reinstall and observe it.

Trace the trap leak back to the wall. When you have a leak, often it may be on the back side, where it actually connects to the wall, in which case you’ll have to disassemble the drain work. Oftentimes you can even tighten it with your hands to see whether the leaking stops. If it doesn’t, just use a wrench to tighten it up a little.

Washers and o-rings are much cheaper than a new fixture. If a washer is worn, even though you squeeze it, you may still get a drip if it’s defective. You have to remove what’s defective, put in a new washer, retighten it, put the handle back on and test it out.

Mechanical faucets never last forever. A faucet is a mechanical thing, so eventually it’s going to leak. Some people like the faucet that’s already there, even if it’s older; others prefer to install a new one. There’s a point at which the faucet is so old and corroded that it will be difficult to get parts for it. A lot of the time it’s simply cheaper to install a new one.