As the days get colder in the Fall months, here are some tips on your indoor air quality and your health.
September is already more than half gone, the leaves are changing colour, the cool fall nights are upon us. We want to remind you of what to prepare for with the upcoming months ahead when it comes to indoor air quality to keep you safe from potential Fall mold issues.
As the leaves around your home or office building fall, they tend to land in the eaves troughs and clog up the flow. Once the leaves have all fallen, make sure to clean out your eaves to allow proper water flow for the fall rains and of course the snow melting during and after winter. Make sure that all downspouts are at least six feet away from the house, and that they are not clogged.
Now is a great time to have your attic inspected to make sure you have enough insulation and that it is spread evenly with adequate ventilation. Having proper insulation and air flow in your attic will help to prevent ice damming.
Our busiest time of year for mold inquiries is always in the Fall and early Winter months as people start spending more time in their home with the windows closed and the furnace blowing warm air around.
All mold needs water to grow however, some mold is water loving and needs lots of water to stay healthy and some mold is non water loving and needs very little water to be healthy.
Some types of mold produce an odour typically described as musty, earthy, urine like and most commonly, the smell of Grandma’s old basement. As the rain stops falling and the basement or other affected areas start to dry out the water loving mold begins to starve and releases spores into the air in an effort to find better living conditions.
When certain water loving mold types are starving they not only release spores into the air but also a microbial volatile organic compound (MVOC), which excretes an odour. This also works vice versa, when a non water loving mold is fed too much moisture, it will also produce MVOC’s along with an odour.
Having a fall mold inspection should be one of the first things to consider as the cold winter months will require you to turn on your furnace and potentially cause cross contamination of blowing around mold spores that could be in the basement or other areas of the home.
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:
Many of the symptoms above would be diagnosed as cold or flu symptoms by a Doctor. This is a common occurrence simply because most Doctors are not trained to identify sickness caused by mold.
In the 1990s the Mayo Clinic published findings from a study that suggested nearly all chronic sinusitis (inflammation of the membranes of your nose and sinus cavities) is caused by mold, but blamed on bacteria—then mistreated using antibiotics. In fact, according to their study, 96% of the people who suffer from chronic sinusitis are “fungal sensitized,” which means that they have an immune response that is triggered by inhaling fungal organisms.
The incidence of chronic sinusitis has been increasing because most physicians still believe that bacteria and not mold is the cause. As a result, Doctors prescribe antibiotics which do not provide long term relief.
If you suffer from a chronic sinus infection, you may want to have your home inspected for mold as it could be the root cause of the issue.
If you experience these symptoms soon after turning on your furnace, you likely could have mold spores circulating in your home.
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 performed.
Bottom line, if you suspect that you have any mold concerns, 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.