Improper Clean Up Leads to Mold’s Unwanted Return

Improper Clean Up Leads to Mold’s Unwanted Return
High River residents will never forget the grim sight of flood-stained refuse lining the streets, but although it’s in the landfill, basements are gutted and the attention is now on rebuilding, yet another remediation company is stressing the importance of the job being done right.(Kevin Rushworth, High River Times)
Recently, the High River Times ran a story-Improper Clean Up Leads to Mold’s Unwanted Return-to explain why mold is still a problem, even after an initial clean up.
Rushworth interviewed our founder and President, James C. Watson, and the Managing Partner of Got Mold? Disaster Recovery Services (AB) Inc., James Zolkavich.
According to Watson:
You need to make sure that everything is dry, clean and free of sewage contamination before putting anything back together. If you start putting insulation, vapour barrier and drywall up (before it’s dry), then in a few months or years, there’s going to be major concerns down there.
The key is to ensure that the home is clean and dry. If a rebuild is done and there are still underlying moisture or contamination issues, then mold could come back and haunt you, resulting in further costs to remediate the mold issues.
During the flood restoration process, many companies moved into High River and began offering services and may not have ensured that the job was done correctly and professionally. This is the reason, according to Watson that:
Right now we’re receiving calls from individuals who have issues where they don’t feel their basement has been cleaned up properly.
A specific case was pointed out by Zolkavich who met with a woman who had her home remediated, but is not sure if a proper job was done. According to Zolkavich:
She still has some mold in her basement; there’s still some mud in there from sewer back up, so she has to spend another several thousand dollars to finish up her basement just so it’s done 100 per cent correct.
Both Watson and Zolkavich believe all residents should:
Have a Third Party Verify the work. In short, invest in Third Party Verification. This will save you time and money in the long run.
One of the key steps in Third Party Verification is air quality sampling. In Watson’s words:
There’s mold spores everywhere, indoors and outdoors, but the biggest thing that people should be aware of is having air quality sampling done. The only way to determine a normal fungal ecology is to compare the outdoor air to the indoor air.
Another problem Watson and Zolkavich are encountering is sewage contamination, which is a concern particularly if the homeowner’s insurance already paid a restoration contractor to clean the area.
We’re going in and we’re testing some places where they had reliable, trust worthy or suspected trust worthy insurance restoration contractors come in and do clean ups. We take swab samples for sewage contamination to find out if there’s e.coli and fecal matter on the walls and floors from an improper clean up and those test results are coming back positive for contamination.
Both Watson and Zolkavich understand residents wanting to get back into their homes, but that if it’s not been cleaned properly, there will be more hurt down the road. The key is to get the job done right in the first place to avoid further problems in the future.
Mike Holmes, Canada’s most respected contractor, believes that patience is the key to ensuring the job is done right correctly as well:
Holmes labeled three stages in which problems could and have occurred. The first was the initial flood and the second was the clean up. Finally, there’s the fall out afterwards, he noted. “The fall out is going to be big because a lot of families want to get back to normality and they’re going to push contractors to get this job done so they can get back into their home,” he said. A lot of steps are being missed, Holmes explained, stating that if your house has had mold, an air test is crucial. If mold stretches past ten square feet, residents require a professional mold abatement company. “My biggest concern and we’re going to see this and you’re going to hear about it, are the people who close up too quickly in the wrong conditions,” he said. All moisture levels must be at a maximum of 15 per cent, Holmes said. If dry walling occurs too quickly, mold could grow behind the walls again. “The concrete is going to hold the most moisture and then transfer it through to the wood,” he said. “For every single family who closes up their basement above 15 per cent moisture content, all of it will be coming down again.” After the green light is given for air testing, the moisture levels must be checked, Holmes said. He said it’s crucial to gain proper documentation that remediation companies are performing the correct steps. “As long as you’re part of that and you’re there, odds are you’re going to have a green light and know that your home is safe to start to put back together,” he noted. “You don’t have to stand there and watch the air test guy,” he said. “You want to see the paper work; you want to talk to the people who give you the right information.” Holmes said the large-scale devastation creates two problems; one, people are impatient and secondly, there’s not enough businesses who can come and clean it up. “It’s not just mold, it’s a future of problems and it all stems to one thing, patience,” Holmes said, noting that problems can be alleviated in the building phase. Holmes said everything will be safe if people follow the correct remediation protocol and have documentation that it’s been done correctly. “More than anything, it’s having the patience to do it,” he said.(Holmes stresses importance of patience in High River rebuild)

Air Contamination Becomes Growing Concern in High River, Alberta

Air Contamination Becomes Growing Concern in High River, Alberta
As more and more concerns begin to surface in terms of how safe remediation processes really are, one big concern that is coming into play is air contamination. After the recent devastation, homes that were left for long periods of time sitting in stagnant water are now at risk of mold contamination, which can also lead to serious air contamination.(Kassidy Christensen, Reporter for the High River Times)
Recently, the High River Times aired a story-Air contamination becomes growing concern during remediation and recovery process-to explain the potential air quality hazards created during the clean up process.
Christensen interviewed our founder and President, James C. Watson, because of his expertise and the work that our teams are doing in High River. According to Watson:
Basically what happens is when people go into the basements of course they want to get everything out right away,…but they’re not taking any precautions as to whether there is asbestos or mold contamination….If there was a large mold contamination and it’s been disturbed, that mold will give off a mycotoxin. That’s when you run into musty odour, earthy urine-like odours….[With respect to asbestos] it is a very tiny fibre that has a fish hook resemblance, so when it gets into the lung, it locks itself in and doesn’t come out then causes an infection and the next thing you know cancers start to grow. With asbestos, we all know that it’s lethal, and usually takes around 20 years to set in before someone actually gets sick from it.
Before re-occupying a home after clean up and to avoid potential health complications from poor air quality caused by mold and asbestos, Watson recommends air quality tests be done:
When reoccupying the home, what people should be doing is contacting a professional company to come out and do an assessment to test the air for mold and asbestos fibres then send that off to a lab and get that information.
An air quality test will determine if there are asbestos or mold concerns. This is important because if mold spores or asbestos fibres have been disturbed, they will settle in other parts of the home. As stated by Watson:
(In the future) every time someone starts the vacuum or walk across the carpet the spores go back into the air, then you’re breathing it in, and the problem is you can’t see the spores that can cause future problems.
Air quality tests for mold are important because they will compare the spore count inside of the house with the spore count outside of the house. For instance, when one house was tested, outdoor mold spore contamination was at a level of roughly 3,800 spores/m3, and in comparison, indoor levels of the contaminated home reached roughly 107,500 spores/m3. Such a high spore count is not healthy.
With respect to asbestos, any home built before 1990 should be tested for air borne asbestos fibres. Friable fibres in the air are a serious hazard to one’s health. To learn more about why asbestos is hazardous, watch the video below prepared by WorkSafe BC.

According to Watson, the results of the air quality test will give the property owner the right information to determine if it is safe to re-occupy the house. If the results prove there is evidence of mold or asbestos, then Watson recommends that professionals be hired to abate the issues because reputable restoration companies use specific procedures to prevent cross contamination and specialized equipment to clean the air.
In addition, Watson believes that the key to preventing future mold issues is to ensure that the home is completely dried out before any reconstruction begins. This is vitally important because if moisture is trapped between insulation and drywall, mold will grow again. In the words of Watson, “drywall is a buffet for mold.” Not only will future mold growth causes health concerns, but it will also impact the structural integrity of the property.
We just want to make sure that the air quality is safe when reoccupying the home. And if it has already been reoccupied, then lets put that stamp of approval on it
Well stated Mr. Watson. If you are planning to re-occupy your home and want to ensure that the air quality is safe, contact us. In addition, if you recently had your home remediated for mold and/or abated for asbestos and want to ensure that the contractor you hired did a proper job, contact us for Post-Remediation Verification, to ensure that the work was done right.

After Flood Clean Up, Post-Remediation Verification is Essential!

After Flood Clean Up, Post-Remediation Verification is Essential!
The purpose of post-remediation is to protect you, the consumer, and is designed to give you “peace of mind” that the mold remediation job was done properly. When you have a mold problem, you will have air borne spores; one of the measures to determine how bad your mold problem is to compare the spore count outside of the house with the inside of your house. The main goal of mold remediation is to remove all contaminated moldy materials and to clean the air so that there is not a dramatic disparity between the outside and inside spore count. The only way you can determine if the mold remediation professional has done a proper job is to hire a Third Party to perform a post-remediation verification. (Why Is Post-Remediation Verification So Important?)
Currently Got Mold? has teams working in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Alberta, we have worked on projects in Calgary and currently have deployed most of our teams to High River.
One of the main purposes of disaster restoration is to ensure that the fungal ecology of the indoor environment is normal. In lay man’s terms, our goal is to ensure that your indoor environment is healthy. With this in mind, when your home or business is flooded and particularly if the water is category 3, then it is very important that contaminated materials are disposed of. In addition, it is absolutely essential that all water is pumped out and professional restoration companies are hired to deploy their specialized equipment to dry out the area. In addition, it is also important to realize that water is a very powerful force and is the key ingredient required by mold to thrive.
The restoration company you hire should adhere to industry standards and guidelines and it is recommended that you only choose firms that are IICRC Certified. This is important because this certification means that the firm has attended specific training related to ensuring that your mold remediation project is done professionally.
As the consumer trying to get your home fixed, you can demand that your insurance company use the firm that you choose to work with and have a strong level of confidence with. It is YOUR RIGHT TO CHOOSE and because of this, it is important that you understand what type of restoration company you are working with.
With any disaster, many fly-by-night operators set up shop, many of which do not have the experience or credentials to perform this type of work. You can determine the level of experience simply by getting answers to these TEN KEY QUESTIONS and be sure to “compare apples to apples” when you get quotes, because you definitely get what you pay for.
As the property owner, you need to hold your restoration company accountable for their work. For this reason you should INSIST that your insurance cover the cost of a Third Party Post-Remediation Verification. This is so important because this report will verify that the remediation was done properly and the fungal ecology of the indoor environment is healthy. Any restoration company that insists on checking their own work by doing their own post-remediation verification should not be trusted because this is a clear conflict of interest.
One of the key points I want to get across is that after all of the mold remediation is complete, you should not begin rebuilding until the post-remediation verification report has been completed. Rebuilding before the verification could create added costs, particularly if the Third Party that you hire to do the post-remediation verification determines that the indoor fungal ecology is not healthy and further mold remediation is required.(Why Is Post-Remediation Verification So Important?)
To gain further knowledge on post-remediation verification, please watch the videos below. In the first video, our founder, James C. Watson, takes you on a post-remediation walk through. The second video is a short discussion by James on why post-remediation verification is so important.