Mold awareness month part 2 of 4

Mold awareness month part 2 of 4

Welcome back to our 2nd edition for mold awareness month 2015. If you missed the first issue you can read it here. In this article we would like to discuss what you should look for when buying or renting a home. Looking for these things before you buy or move into a new environment can definitely help you with your own health and the health of anyone you may have in your home.  Are you thinking about buying a home in the near future?

The busiest time in real estate sales tends to be during the spring and summer. If you are in the market for a new home, you should be aware of mold. Since mold remediation is costly, it is much better to thoroughly investigate a home before buying and inheriting a moldy mess.
Here are three clues that you should look for when you are investigating a home purchase.
WHAT’S THAT SMELL?
A bad musty smell is not a good sign because it could indicate mold growth.
Earthy, musty, mildew and even urine like smells are often an indicator of Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOC). Which are gaseous by-products produced during fungal metabolism. MVOC’S are an indicator of active and past mold growth.
WHAT’S GROWING ON THE WALLS?
If you see signs of growth on the walls, ceilings, corners of the basement, then you should be concerned. A small mold growth can easily turn into a large mold growth. It is probably a good idea to find out if the home has had any past moisture issues and if, in fact, they have been fixed.
WHY AM I SNEEZING AND WHEEZING?
Our founder, James C. Watson, is particularly susceptible to mold and in some cases can even sense that there is a mold problem when he walks into a home or office building because he begins to wheeze and can also have difficulty breathing. Keep in mind Watson’s sensitivities can sometimes be caused by smoke and or chemicals, etc. The only way to verify a mold problem is through proper inspection and testing. If you know that you are susceptible to mold and have respiratory problems when you do a walk-through, then there is a good chance that there are mold issues.
These are just three clues you should look for.  However, keep in mind, just because you do not find evidence of any of the above does not mean that there is not mold present.
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?)
Since a home purchase is such a life changing event, once you have narrowed down the potential homes you are considering, it is a wise decision to invest in a mold inspection because home inspectors lack mold expertise.
Since extensive mold in a home can make it virtually unlivable, paying for a specialized mold inspection will save you thousands of dollars and your health.

If the first half of this article doesn’t apply to you because you are a renter, you may be looking at moving into a new apartment, house, condo or basement suite… Some of the same key things to look for will obviously apply to you but you should also consider your rights as a tenant as well,
In the past we have written articles about what to do if you have mold in your apartment this article also had a part two added to it for newer information and some new regulations that Canadians have rights to as tenants.

There are many things that you can do in your home or apartment to prevent mold that doesn’t necessarily need a company like got mold? to come in and remove.

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

 

Thank you for reading part two for mold awareness month. Please help us share this information with your friends and family. You never know who you could help. Stay tuned for part 3 of 4.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact us anytime at 1-888-909-6653

PDAP Mould Remediation Guidelines For Private Claimants and First Nations Residents

PDAP Mould Remediation Guidelines For Private Claimants and First Nations Residents
Flooding in Southern Saskatchewan has had on impact on 1000s of residents. The clean up has begun, but of course with any flooding situation, mold is a concern.
According to the Government of Saskatchewan PDAP website:
It is expected that if the proper preventive measures are taken, most flood damages will not lead to the growth of mould. However, if mould is suspected after all reasonable precautionary steps have been taken, the services of a reputable mould remediation company may become necessary. The process will require an air quality test, estimates from contractors and the approval of your PDAP adjustor before the work can begin. You can read more about mould prevention and remediation in Section 3.6.4 of the PDAP Guidelines. (FAQ – Private Claimants – Including First Nations Residents)
Private Claimants can apply for assistance through PDAP. There is a dedicated section on their website devoted to this and can be found here.
When you scroll down to the bottom of their page, you will find a link, PDAP-General Guidelines. This document provides you with general claim guidelines and is very important to review if you intend to seek assistance from PDAP.
With respect to Mould Prevention and Remediation, pages 29, 30, and 31, specifically provide guidelines and information.
According to Section 3.6.4.1 mould prevention is the claimant’s responsibility. PDAP lists the precautionary steps that must be taken to protect the contents and building and assert that if such steps are taken then this should prevent the propagation of mould.
Section 3.6.4.2 states that if mould is still suspected after all the precautionary steps have been taken, the services of a reputable mould remediation company may become necessary. PDAP recommends that the steps listed below must be followed if you intend to contact Got Mold? or other restoration contractors for assistance.
1. The first step in determining if mould is indeed present in a building involves an air quality test. The claimant will need to secure a home inspector or air quality measuring service to perform this test before any remediation efforts begin.
2. If an elevated presence of mould does indeed exist, the claimant will contact a reputable mould remediation company requesting an estimate of costs to perform the recommended remediation steps needed to get clearance.
3. These estimates are to be forwarded to the claimant’s PDAP adjuster who will ensure that the scope of the repairs matches the quoted damage. With the PDAP adjuster’s approval, the mould remediation company may begin their work.
4. Claimant must get itemized invoices from mould remediation companies, outlining materials, labour, travel, mileage, hotels, meals, equipment, overtime hours and any sub-contract work. Failure to provide such documentation may result in limited assistance from PDAP.
5. Once the mould remediators have completed their work, clearance testing needs to be performed by an independent firm (not by the remediators who performed the work as this poses a conflict of interest) to determine if the required remediation was performed adequately. Clearance testing MUST be conducted while the containment materials are still up.
6. Once the clearance has been attained, containment materials may be removed and the repair process can begin.
7. If clearance cannot be given through mould analysis/testing, the contractor should not be paid until clearance can be made by further remediation methods and re-testing (and this at the contractor’s expense, not the client’s expense).
8. The claimant will then submit all applicable itemized invoices to PDAP, along with the favourable clearance test/report.
SUMMARY
If your property was affected by the most recent flooding and you believe that you took all necessary steps to prevent mold and still suspect that mould may be an issue, then PDAP can provide assistance. The Government of Saskatchewan has provided lots of information for potential claimants who want to get mould remediation done on their property, but it is important to follow the steps and procedures they stipulate. The links below should be reviewed if you intend to contact PDAP about a potential mold remediation claim:
PDAP Private Claims Process
FAQ – Private Claimants – Including First Nations Residents
PDAP-General Guidelines (Pages 29, 30, and 31 provide mould prevention and remediation guidelines)
Got Mold? Disaster Recovery Services, Inc. has been specializing in mold remediation since 2009 and has many happy clients. All of the steps listed above, we strongly recommend as well. Got Mold? prides itself on getting the job done right the first time and follows an 8-step process on all of our projects. When you are seeking the assistance of a mold remediation contractor, be sure to get YES answers to these 10 critical questions and be sure to compare apples to apples when you are making your final decision. If you have further questions or need assistance, do not hesitate to contact us. Peace of Mind is just a phone call away!

How Do I Prevent Mold In My Basement After a Flood?

How Do I Prevent Mold In My Basement After a Flood?
This past summer, our crews have been very busy helping flood affected residents in Southern Saskatchewan. Recently, I came across an article by Mike Holmes, recognized as Canada’s most trusted contractor, that provides some excellent advice on how you should deal with a flooded basement and how you can prevent mold.
RESOLVE THE SOURCE OF FLOODING
One of the most important considerations is to determine why your basement flooded. In short, determine the cause.
In many instances, homes flood because of backed up drains, leaky pipes, human error (ie. leaving a tap on and forgetting), sewer back ups, malfunctioning sump pumps, or the lack of a sump pump.
However, Holmes questions the value of fixing a re-finished basement if you live in a flood zone, where mother nature is the cause:
We’re getting more extreme weather, which in some cases means more precipitation. If you live on flood plains, in a floodway or near a river or stream, the risk of repeated flooding in your home is high. Ask yourself: How many basements do you want to pay for?
Excellent question!
BEGIN THE CLEAN UP IMMEDIATELY TO PREVENT MOULD/MOLD GROWTH
Holmes provides excellent advice:
If water is getting into your home, deal with it immediately because there’s the potential for mould growth — especially if your basement is finished.
According to Holmes, mold will begin to grow within 24 hours, so it is important that you get the clean up started immediately. In addition, Holmes is highly critical of the practice of using bleach and recommends that only professionals be hired because mould is a safety hazard:
Most people would just use bleach to clean mould, but that’s wrong. Any surface with over 10 square feet of mould should be cleaned only by licensed professionals. Mould is a huge safety hazard. If you don’t clean it properly, mould spores can become airborne, contaminate other areas and end up in your lungs. That’s why you hire only qualified professionals for the cleanup and rebuild.
With respect to clean up, Holmes recommends a complete gut of a flooded basement because he thinks the long term benefit of doing this far outweighs the extra costs in the short term. For instance, the standard practice is to remove only one foot of drywall above the flood line. Holmes does not recommend this because moisture can creep up behind the surface, so he recommends that all drywall be removed.
In addition, Holmes recommends the replacement of your electrical panel if it was submerged under water, and recommends that all flooring, including the sub-floor be removed. Insulation should be removed as well because it absorbs moisture. Finally, he states that caution should be taken with flood water because it could contain sewage waste.
Since water is such a destructive force, Holmes also recommends that the structural integrity of the home be investigated as well.
ENSURE THE BASEMENT IS COMPLETELY DRY BEFORE ANY REBUILD BEGINS
The most important piece of advice Holmes provides is the fact that he recommends that the basement must be completely dry before any rebuild begins. The key is to measure the humidity level and ensure that the air is cleaned properly. Third party air quality tests are recommended to ensure that the air quality is safe as well.
In short, patience is the key. Proper basement clean up takes time. Trying to fast track the process without properly ensuring that the basement is completely dry will create future moisture concerns which could lead to mold problems which will basically negate any rebuild done.

Important Post-Flooding Advice To Avoid Health Hazards

Important Post-Flooding Advice To Avoid Health Hazards
We need water to live, it brings us life. At the same time, water can be a destructive force which is a particular concern during times of flooding.
More than two weeks has past since the flooding began in Regina, Southern Saskatchewan, and parts of Alberta. Got Mold? has helped and is currently helping many flood affected residents. In the words of one of our happy customers:
I had to cut my holiday short this July (2014) because I got an emergency call that the sewage was pouring into my basement. Pouring it was because of the heavy rains in southeast Saskatchewan this summer! Well it finally stopped and I had made contact with the company Got Mold who said they would come in as soon as they can. Within a day or two my basement started to smell and look a lot better! Their staff are excellent, very professional, and able to handle these offending and hazardous materials in a very safe and sanitary manner. I would recommend Got Mold Saskatoon to anyone at any time. Thank you very much for such wonderful work. (Brenda from Regina)
The primary concern of Water Damage Restoration professionals, like Got Mold?, is not only to help bring your life back to normal, but to ensure that you stay healthy. In the areas we have surveyed and are working in, the water damage is extensive. Consequently, it is important to act quickly because mold, fungi and disease-causing bacteria thrive in water-logged environments.
There are three primary concerns caused by water damage: structural; mold and it’s impact on health; and the threat of hazardous bacteria.
1. STRUCTURAL
Indications that your home may be conducive to mold growth include the following: obvious water damage; condensation on windows; musty odors; water stains; new or increased allergy symptoms; cracked or peeling paint, loose drywall tape and/or wall paper; rusty metal (a sign of high humidity); and drawers or doors that stick.
Mold can literally eat the structure it is feeding on. In an earlier article, we mentioned that a home is an all you can eat buffet for mold because today’s building materials are the perfect food for mold: organic, dead material including wood, drywall, fabric, and paper.
In short, left unchecked, mold will degrade the structural integrity of your property and ultimately reduce its long term value if it is not dealt with.
2. HEALTH
Unfortunately, the problems caused by mold are not just cosmetic. We have written extensively on the health concerns caused by mold which are linked to Cancer, MS, Parkinson’s, Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, Depression, Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, Mycotoxicosis, Asthma…Mold is Scary!
According to mycotoxin expert Dr. Harriet Ammann, exposure to indoor molds can damage the systems of your body in the following ways:
  • Vascular: blood vessel fragility, hemorrhage from tissues or lungs
  • Digestive: diarrhea, vomiting, hemorrhage, liver damage, fibrosis and necrosis
  • Respiratory: trouble breathing, bleeding from lungs
  • Neurological: tremors, loss of coordination, headaches, depression, multiple sclerosis
  • Skin: rashes, burning, sloughing, photosensitivity
  • Urinary: kidney toxicity
  • Reproductive: infertility, changes in reproductive cycles
  • Immune: Immunosuppression
  • As documented by our interviews with toxic mold survivors, long term and chronic exposure to mold has caused mycotoxicosis, literally poisoning their bodies. Furthermore, as pointed out by Michael Pinto, even a little exposure to mold can cause health issues. Bottom line, mold is a serious concern and you need to be aware of this.
    Mold is not the only health consideration, the other major issue caused by flooding is the threat of…
    3. HAZARDOUS BACTERIA
    Water provides the perfect environment for harmful bacteria to multiply. When you experience water damage, the longer you wait to begin dealing with the concern, the worse it can get. The more time water sits increases the risk of bio-hazard, meaning category 1 water can turn into category 2 water and eventually category 3 water, which is the most toxic.
    ACT IMMEDIATELY!
    To prevent the onset of mold and reduce the risk of bio-hazard, you need to act fast and begin the clean up process immediately. Ideally, you should hire a PROFESSIONAL restoration contractor and not just your contractor buddy and start the claims process with your insurance company.
    During times of crisis, and particularly because restoration contractors get over-whelmed with too many requests, many victims of flooding tend to take matters into their own hands. If you are forced to do this, then here are some key tips to keep in mind while you are waiting for your restoration professional to arrive:
  • Have the area cleared by emergency workers if you have standing water in an area where fuse boxes and/or electrical circuitry is submerged before attempting to pump out the water.
  • Turn off your gas line.
  • Wear an N95 or N100 respirator mask, available at most hardware and medical supply stores.
  • Wear rubber boots and puncture-resistant gloves. Ideally, don a polypropylene coverall.
  • Be sure to carefully dry any belongings you want to try to save.
  • Items that should be thrown out, particularly if they have been underwater include the following: carpet, carpet padding, and rugs; upholstered furniture; computers, microwaves, window A/C units, or any appliances that have fans; papers and books; and food items, including canned foods if they were in contact with flood waters.
  • We strongly advise against doing your own tear out primarily because you do not want to release potentially harmful mold or asbestos in the atmosphere. This will just make the situation worse and create more costly problems, particularly if asbestos is present and not properly abated.
    When you do meet with your restoration professional don’t be afraid to ask them how they intend to deal with your water damage restoration project. Professionals will:
  • Know how to assess the category of water and extent of damage;
  • Provide you with a scope of work that will assess structural issues based on the class of damage;
  • Outline what contents need to be removed;
  • How to deal with and remove excess water;
  • Provide you with a drying and monitoring strategy using air movers and dehumidifers; and
  • A sanitizing plan to ensure a healthy environment.
  • The primary purpose of water damage restoration is to restore the property to pre-loss condition. Once all the work is complete, hire a Third Party Environmental Consultant to perform post-remediation tests, particularly, if any mold, category 2 or 3 water was present. This final step will provide further peace of mind that the water damage restoration contractor did a professional and competent job. Once a PASS is documented on the clearance test, then confidently rebuild your property during the reconstruction phase and if you so choose, hire your friend, the contractor!
    If you have questions, call us toll free, 1-888-909-6653 or use the form below.

    Regina, Saskatchewan Flood Update

    Regina, Saskatchewan Flood Update
    Currently Got Mold? has an experienced team of disaster recovery specialists in Regina. Our Senior Project Managers, Team Leaders, and workers from Saskatoon are working side by side with new employees that we have hired in Regina to meet the unprecedented demand for our services.
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    Regina, Saskatchewan Flood Update

    In fact, so many properties have been impacted by the flood that we have been inundated with requests for our water restoration services, many more than we anticipated. In less than 10 days, our staff has doubled because of the volume of work we are taking on. Our goal is to help as many residents as we can.
    The safety of our workers is very important. All of our staff are required to wear protective gear and most importantly respirators to protect their lungs. One of the key safety protocols we follow is a Fit Test to ensure that the respirator fits our new employee properly. Pictured below is one of our new workers experiencing the fit test procedure.
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    Regina, Saskatchewan Flood Update

    One of the key concerns for any property owner is to determine if their insurance will cover the water restoration service. If you have insurance, but are not sure, then give us a call because we can help guide you through the process.
    If your home or business is flooded, call us and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. The early stages of water damage restoration is particularly important because the objective is to remove excess water and begin the drying process to reduce the level of moisture. Ultimately, our goal is to mitigate the proliferation of mold which will begin to flourish within 24 to 48 hours if nothing is done. Since we are are an IICRC certified firm, we have the knowledge to ensure that your property is dried and cleaned up properly.
    We are anticipating many more calls for help and are constantly seeking new disaster recovery workers, so please contact us if you or someone you know needs a job.
    If you have questions, call us toll free, 1-888-909-6653 or use the form below.

    REGINA FLOOD NEWS