Are you ready for the winter?

Are you ready for the winter?

Winter is just around the corner. With the first few snowflakes that landed this morning and melting as it hit the ground we start thinking about the last minute fixes and things we needed to get done before the winter hits. Are you and your home ready for the cold weather? Have you done any upgrades during the summer that will allow your home to hold in more heat? Upgraded from a chimney vented furnace to an energy efficient? These type of upgrades are great however, they may cause higher humidity and in turn condensation at any cold spots such as where the drywall meets the ceiling. Getting the exterior of the home ready for the cold winds, snow and ice is critical for keeping Old Man Winter out and keeping it warm and toasty inside.

Windows and Doors

  • Check and replace if necessary all the weatherstripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss, condensation and frost build up.
  • Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity. If you believe it is mold infested and has wicked into your walls contact a professional for a mold inspection – Thermal Imaging  may be necessary and the best time to detect heat loss in your home is when it is cold outside.
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
  • Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.

 

Lawn, Garden, and Deck

  • Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem. In some cases it could be the cities responsibility to do this and all you usually have to do is report it. .
  • Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. The dirt grade — around the exterior of your home — should slope away from the house. Add clay and or extra dirt to lower areas, as necessary.
  • Clean and dry patio furniture. Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from water damage or rusting.
  • Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. Because terra cotta pots can swell and crack, lay them on their sides in a wood carton or better yet a plastic tote.
  • Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.
  • Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts. Have your sprinklers professionally blown out.
  • Inspect decks for splintering, decay, or insect damage and treat, if needed, to prevent further deterioration over the winter.
  • Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
  • Inspect outdoor lighting around the property. Good illumination will help minimize the chance of accidents on icy walkways at night.
  • Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.

 

Tools and Machinery

  • Bring all your seasonal tools inside and spray them with a coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust. Pam cooking oils work great for this.
  • Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.
  • Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
  • Sharpen ice chopper and inspect snow shovels to make sure they’re ready for another season of work. There is nothing worse then finding out your shovel is broken when you need it most!
  • Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway. If you rent – make sure your landlord is okay with you using salt on your walkways and always make sure to keep the salt off the grass to keep the lawn nice and green in the spring.

 

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

  • Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
  • Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality. The filter should be replaced every month for best efficiency.
  • Clean any humidifiers and replace the evaporator pad.
  • Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
  • Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order. You should replace the batteries regularly just to be safe!
  • Install foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce outside airflow.
  • Flush a hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.
  • Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant such as spray foam to plug up any leaks.
  • Check and make sure the insulation in the attic is not being compromised by mice, bats or other rodents. This is a lot more common then you think!

 

Gutters, Roof, and Drains

  • Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  • Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate, using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
  • Rake up leaves and debris from the yard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
  • Check all vents and openings and make sure they are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.

 

For a mold inspection to ensure the air quality of your home is safe call us today! Peace of mind is just a phone call away! 1-888-909-6653 a friendly knowledgeable representative is always available for information and advise.

Mold Prevention & Information

Mold Prevention & Information

Mold is an important part of nature. It’s almost impossible to not be around mold at least once in your lifetime as mold surrounds us in our homes, offices, and outdoor environment. Outdoor mold is responsible for breaking down dead organic matter, such as fallen leaves and tree branches. However the difference is, you never want mold to grow inside your home. Keeping that in mind, every house has mold regardless of how new, how old or how clean you keep it. It’s virtually impossible to have a mold free home, even if you live in a plastic bubble there is probably a chance that a spore got in there!

There are many types of mold, but none of them can grow without moisture. One of the objectives of mold remediation professionals is to determine what type of mold is present in a property. This is important because it will help the professional and the property owner determine the relative health risk that the mold poses and how best to remediate it. Unfortunately, not all molds are the same, in fact there are over 1.5 millions species of mold in the world. However, only about 100,000 have been identified.

Mold is a fungus, as are mushrooms and yeast, and has a biologicial function as nature’s recycler consuming dead organic matter. Understanding it’s biological importance is essential to understanding why it poses health hazards. For the purposes of mold inspections and remediation, one of our goals is to identify whether or not the mold is allergenic, pathogenic, or toxigenic.

Toxic molds produce mycotoxins that will make anyone sick. Possible reactions include immune suppression and cancer. Mycotoxins are chemical toxins present within or on the surface of the mold spore, which can be inhaled, ingested, or touched. An example of this is aflatoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens known to mankind. Aflatoxin grows on peanuts and grains, and on some other foods.

In order to determine the exact species of mold, mold inspectors will usually recommend that a tape or swab sample is taken. Sometimes, air quality tests may also be recommend because air borne mold spores are not visible to the eye; such a test will enable the inspector to report back on the concentration of indoor spores. Samples are then sent to accredited laboratories who analyze them to determine the exact species. Over the years, we have received many lab reports that have identified these five most common indoor molds.

In fact, tiny mold spores are floating through the air around you right now; you just can’t see them. The spores are harmless until they land on a damp surface and begin to grow. That’s when mold colonies form and expand, damaging your indoor air quality and causing your asthma and allergies to flare up.

Use these mold prevention tips to keep that fuzzy, slimy stuff at bay.

Prevent Standing Water

Rooms with standing water are the most likely places for mold to start growing. Use these tips to keep standing water at a minimum:

  • Clean up spills quickly: Wet carpet, upholstery and blankets could harbor mold growth if you don’t act quickly to dry them. In 24 to 48 hours, damp materials become breeding grounds for mold.
  • Fix leaks without delay: If you see mold growing under the sink, behind the toilet or in the attic, it means you have a plumbing or roof leak. Clean up the mold and fix the leak to prevent the mold from coming back. Plumbing and roof leaks can go unnoticed for a very long time, so be sure to check hard-to-reach place regularly.
  • Wipe down the tub or shower: Mold growth is common in the bathroom where standing water abounds. To prevent mold growth on tub and shower tiles, wipe down wet surfaces with your towel after drying yourself. Hang the towel to dry instead of throwing it in the hamper right away to prevent mold growth on the fabric.
  • Check the slope around the home’s foundation: Your property should slope outward so rain water drains away from the foundation, not toward it. If this isn’t the case, water could collect around the foundation or enter the basement and lead to high amounts of mold growth.
  • Watch out for condensation: Condensation is most likely to occur in winter. When cold surfaces “sweat,” they become a potential location for indoor mold to grow. If moisture beads on windows, pipes or walls, act quickly to dry these wet surfaces. Then, find the source of the problem, which is most likely high humidity. Increasing ventilation, covering cold surfaces with insulation and increasing the indoor temperature are specific ways to combat condensation.

Reduce Indoor Relative 

Humidity Mold can grow indoors any time of year if the relative humidity is too high. For better mold prevention, strive to keep indoor relative humidity at around 50 percent in the summer and closer to 30 percent in the winter. To reduce indoor humidity, follow these tips:

  • Run the air conditioner in the summer: As you know, the A/C removes heat from indoor air, but it performs another function as well: removing excess humidity. This is the key to feeling cool and dry rather than cold and clammy when the air conditioner runs. A dedicated dehumidifier also removes moisture from the air. You can run this appliance separately from the air conditioner for a more comfortable, less humid interior on mild summer days.
  • Vent moisture-producing appliances properly: The clothes dryer is the most common moisture-producing appliance found in the average home. Sometimes, the dryer is improperly vented to the attic or crawlspace. Warm, humid air accumulates in these areas and encourages mold growth, which can destroy insulation and compromise your home’s structural integrity. To prevent these situations, simply make sure the dryer vents to the exterior.
  • Use exhaust fans year round: Showering and cooking are two daily activities that produce a lot of humidity. A good mold prevention tip is to run the bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to draw excess humidity outside when performing these tasks.

Mold prevention is very important for maintaining good indoor air quality. If you think you have a mold problem, please got mold? Disaster Recovery Services to learn about our mold clean up and mold remediation services.

National Dog Day – Thank you to the Mold Dogs!

National Dog Day – Thank you to the Mold Dogs!

Air sampling and related mould inspection techniques are expensive and laboratory analysis of the samples can take up to three weeks (depending on the particular test) before the results are known.

Traditional air sampling cannot pinpoint the source of mould; it merely confirms the presence of mould in the overall space where the sample was taken. The dog, on the other hand, is trained to alert to the exact location of the mold. In situations involving isolated contamination sites the Mold Dog is most often accurate within 1-2 metres of the actual source of contamination.

This means that costly air sampling can be limited to the contaminated areas and at the same time samples can be taken at the suspected contaminated site thus ensuring a higher degree of accuracy in the air samples themselves. If destructive (bulk) sampling is preferred, then the Mold Dog provides assurance that destructive testing will not be a ‘hit-or-miss’ proposition.

Another important benefit of pinpointing mould sources is that the cost of remediation (repairs) can be reduced dramatically by repairing only those areas which are actually contaminated.

(As a rough rule of thumb, a dog can inspect an average 2 storey house (2000 sq. ft.) in approximately 2 hours.)

Dogs have been used for years by military and law enforcement agencies to detect bombs and drugs, among other things. In Europe, dogs have been used to detect mold for over 20 years.

Mold frequently grows in hidden places, inside wall cavities, underneath floors and in inaccessible areas and is often not visible until the problem is more advanced. When moisture builds up from leaky pipes, roofs, basements or high humidity, conditions are ideal for mould growth. Moulds are easily disturbed and their spores can become airborne causing a possible threat to the building or the health of the occupants. Exposure to some types of molds can cause serious health effects such as respiratory infection, asthma attacks, skin rashes, eye infections, ear infections, nosebleeds and headaches. In rare cases toxic mould can cause cancer and even death.

Certified Mold Dogs detect and pinpoint exact areas of mold, which leads to lower remediation costs for homeowners and insurers.

A mold dog can get to places faster than people, and can detect mold in places that people can’t reach. Human inspectors might be in a building for four hours performing Indoor Air Quality tests and sampling and even using thermal imaging cameras before finding the mold where as a mold dog can sniff it out and represents the newest tool for consumers in North America to detect and more importantly, pinpoint mold in structures, thus lowering remediation costs.

We’ve been asked many times if its safe to expose dogs to such environments, but its been proven by vets that dogs don’t react quite as badly as humans do when being exposed to mold and spores. The reality of it is, it’s about as safe as using the dogs for bomb sniffing. Dogs are trained to be cautious and aware of the surroundings. They can identify the areas and notify the humans faster then getting test results, resulting in a faster response time. The only thing they can’t do is supply you the quote for the work.