Mold Awareness Month Part 4 of 4

As the month is coming to an end and the leaves begin to change as well, we remind ourselves of all the things to prepare for with the upcoming months ahead. Having a fall inspection done should be one of the first things to consider as the winter months will make you eventually turn on your furnace possible blowing up any airborne particles that could be in the basement. You may want to start looking at the foundation of your home as well to make sure water can not enter once the upcoming snow begins to melt. Here are some helpful tips to prepare for the upcoming winter months.

Three Reasons To Have a Fall Mold Inspection
Fall is here, soon temperatures will begin to drop and you will need to turn on your furnace. Here are three reasons to have a professional mold inspection:
1. Prevent Mold Spores From Getting In Your HVAC System
In most homes, the furnace is located in the basement, usually in the storage area. The basement is also one of the most common areas for mold to thrive and grow because it is a dark, moist area. You will know you have mold issues if you smell a musty, earthy odour. This past summer, many homes were flooded and if they were not dried properly, the prevalence of mold issues is highly likely.
If mold is prevalent in the basement, one of the major concerns is to prevent air borne spores from spreading throughout the rest of the home. In other words, turning on your furnace when there is mold in the basement could spread the spores throughout the home contaminating more areas.
The number one reason to get a Fall mold inspection is to prevent the spread of mold into other areas of your home when you turn on your furnace. If the mold inspector finds mold in the basement, then potential cross contamination can be prevented with a remediation plan.
2. Better Health
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:
  1. The sudden onset of allergic symptoms involving the respiratory system such as cough, congestion, sinusinfection, asthma, and bronchitis.
  2. Unexplained headaches, decrease in attention span or memory, difficulty concentrating, or dizziness.
  3. Other physical symptoms of mold could include skin rash, itchy eyes, fatigue, and a general unwell feeling that disappears when leaving the house.
Many of the symptoms above would be diagnosed as cold or flu symptoms by a Doctor. As our toxic mold survivor interviews show, this is a common occurrence simply because most Doctors are not trained to identify sickness caused by mold.
If you experience these symptoms soon after turning on your furnace, then you likely have mold spores circulating in your home.
To verify that you have mold issues, you can check the furnace for black, gray-brown, gray-green, or white-and-orange spots. The insulation, condensers, cooling coils, and drip pans of furnaces and air conditioners, as well as the ducts are all potential areas where mold growth can occur. If you get mold in your HVAC system, you can get your ducts cleaned by a professional. Duct cleaning is only recommended, however, if the core problem causing the mold issues and the primary source of the mold contamination is properly cleaned.
3. Peace of Mind
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 done.
Bottom line, if you suspect that you have any mold concerns, particularly in your basement, 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.

Another thing to watch for in the upcoming months, once freezing starts you will want to watch for Ice Damming on the sides of your home, this is a very common occurrence once the weather starts to change it begins to freeze and then thaw and then freeze again causing many hazards for your walk-ways, driveway and other areas depending on where your eavestroughs are pointing. Keeping them clear of ice can potentially keep your home safe from water leaking in the side of the home.

HOW IS AN ICE DAM CAUSED?
According to the Ice Dam Company ice dams result from the escape of heat into the attic which eventually builds up and melts snow on the roof. The ice dam is the ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof which prevents melting snow from draining as it should. The water that backs up behind the ice dam can leak into the home and cause damage to walls, floors, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. This graphic, courtesy of the Ice Dam Company, provides you with visual warning signs to look for.
Pictured below is an image of a house we inspected. Apparently this home was just renovated, but the builder failed to insulate the attic properly and the end result was a significant ice dam, which ultimately will cause problems for this homeowner. Ice dams are preventable!

icedam

WHY DO ICE DAMS CAUSE MOLD?
The key problem caused by ice dams is the water and moisture that leaks into the home. Mold thrives on moisture and grows because it feeds on the materials that most homes are made of: wood, drywall, wallpaper, carpet, ceiling tiles, etc. The final component required for mold growth is a temperature of 5 degrees to 38 degrees. As long as these three ingredients are present, mold will form and continue to grow provided it has food to feed on. This is the reason that the structural integrity of a home is compromised–mold is essentially feeding on the home.
As mentioned earlier, ice dams are caused by heat escaping into the attic. Temperature, as you know, is one of the key ingredients required for mold growth. Heat in the attic, which leads to ice dams is caused by everyday activities in the household, such as cooking, laundry, showering, washing dishes, etc. Normally, these activities should not cause problems, ie. excessive condensation and heat in the attic. However, problems will occur if the attic is not properly insulated. One of the major causes of condensation in the attic is the lack of proper ventilation in the kitchen and bathroom required to vent vapour out of the home. Another major reason excess heat may build up in the attic is a direct result of builder negligence that vent bathroom and dryer vents into attics, crawl spaces, or over hangs, and not onto the roof. This poor building practice will cause problems because moisture and heat will build up in the attic. The Ice Dam Company provides an excellent visual of why black mold begins forming in an attic…click here to view.
Here are some general tips to prevent ice dams.
1. Make sure you have proper ventilation in the attic. Keep your soffit vent clear and open. Have a roofing professional check your roof and calculate the proper ventilation requirements. A well ventilated cold roof prevents ice dams.
2. If you have gutters on the house – keep them clean and free from leaf debris.
3. Ensure that your bathroom exhaust is vented through the roof and insulated if necessary.
4. Ductwork in the attic should be well insulated and sealed from leaks.
5. Air bypass – where warm air leaks through small cracks and openings – should be sealed. Check attic access ports in closets and can lights in the ceiling as potential areas of concern.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE CONDENSATION ISSUES IN MY ATTIC?
In addition to the visual external clues of ice dams, here are some tips to help you determine if you have condensation issues.
1. Check your attic for visual mold.
2. Check all penetrations in your ceilings such as light fixtures and make sure there is no excessive gaps between the fixtures and ceiling.
3. Make certain all drywall is finished properly with no gaps or cracks for moisture to migrate through.
4. Look for visible stains such as mold on the surfaces of the ceiling, walls of the living areas, floors, carpets, attic plywood sheathing, attic sidewalls, floor joist, wet insulation.
5. Check for moisture or high relative humidity over 65% and higher.
6. Smelling unusual musty or moldy odors is an indication that you may have a problem. High relative humidity or moisture may be the culprit.
If you are concerned that you may have ice damming issues, we recommend that you hire a professional to assess the situation
We are here to help, so please do not hesitate to contact us. A mold inspection is a cost effective solution to determining if you have to worry about ice damming, and the potential moisture and mold issues it causes. Peace of Mind, just a phone call away! Toll Free: 1-888-909-MOLD (6653)

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.

Further Research Linking Mold With Asthma

Further Research Linking Mold With Asthma
Yet another study has been published that links the presence of mold with asthma.
The study by Dr. Richard Sharpe of the University of Exeter Medical School in the UK, found that increased levels of the fungal species Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium can pose a significant health risk to people with asthma. The study further concludes that these fungi will worsen symptoms in children and adults.
Cladosporium, Alternaria, Aspergillus, and Penicillium species were found to be present in higher concentrations in homes of asthmatic participants. Exposure to Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Cladosporium species were found to be associated with increased risk of reporting asthma symptoms by a limited number of studies. The presence of Cladosporium, Alternaria, Aspergillus, and Penicillium species increased the exacerbation of current asthma symptoms by 36% to 48% compared with those exposed to lower concentrations of these fungi, as shown by using random-effect estimates. Studies were of medium quality and showed medium-high heterogeneity, but evidence concerning the specific role of fungal species was limited. (Indoor fungal diversity and asthma: A meta-analysis and systematic review of risk factors)
These conclusions were based on findings gathered by systematically reviewing 17 studies that were done in 8 different countries.
During an interview by Dr. Marie Benz of www.medicalresearch.com, Dr. Sharpe emphasizes the following:
1. Dampness and fungal contamination in the home has been consistently shown to increase the risk of asthma and the severity of its symptoms.
2. Majority of the evidence reviewed focuses on the exacerbation of asthma symptoms, and few assess their role in the development of asthma.
3. So far Aspergillus and Penicillium species have already been linked to an increase in the risk of asthma development in children, but we know little about the effects of the other species we considered.
4. Dampness is one of the major factors affecting the growth of mold inside homes – a problem which has been on the rise as aging houses are sealed and retrofitted with new energy efficient technology. We currently know very little about how people’s living habits can contribute to indoor air quality, and ultimately affect their health. This study highlights the need for homes to have adequate heating, ventilation and home maintenance – all factors that will help to reduce the presence of mold and its effects on asthma symptoms.
If you have questions, call us toll free, 1-888-909-6653 or use the form below.

Asthma In School Children Caused By Mold!

Asthma In School Children Caused By Mold!
In about 30 days, summer holidays will be over and our children will be back in school. One of the questions we have been researching is the impact that poor air quality has on the health of children. In fact, February, 2012, Got Mold? posed the question: Should Canadian School Boards be Concerned About Mold?. This question stemmed from the fact that earlier that year, CNN reported that one-third of American schools had poor air quality.
One of the most common health concerns for children is asthma. What causes asthma?
One study based on a survey of more than 10,000 university students, cited that there was a strong correlation between mold and asthma.
Another study of 300 children found a strong correlation that three species of mold–Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus unguis and Penicillium variabile–caused asthma in children. The studies author went on to conclude that: “It’s proof of common sense that you want to take care of mold in the home. It’s just proving that if you don’t do that, your kids are more likely to develop asthma.
December, 2013 the New York City Housing Authority was forced to recognize mold as a health threat and specifically that one of the core causes of asthma was moisture and mold.
It would appear that more research is pointing to the fact that the prevalent and core cause of asthma in children is, indeed, mold.
Research out of Taiwan, provides even more proof that mold causes asthma.
The researchers studied school children aged 6 to 15 years old in 44 schools and concluded that:
Classroom Aspergillus/Penicillium and basidiospores are significantly associated with childhood asthma and asthma with symptoms reduced on holidays or weekends (ASROH). Government health policy should explore environmental interventions for the elimination of fungal spores in classrooms to reduce the prevalence of childhood asthma.
Based on this conclusion, it is fairly clear that parents, teachers, school trustees, and the government needs to take the issue of mold in schools seriously. It is no longer a theory that poor air quality affects the health of school children, it is fairly clear that it does. It is also fair to conclude that the prevalent cause of childhood asthma is mold.
If we want to reduce the number of children with asthma, then the obvious solution is to address the issue of poor air quality in schools. Will this happen? I am hopeful, but in an age of constant government cutbacks and tight budgets, the likelihood of this happening is not very high. The driving force for change in schools will ultimately have to be the parents whose children are impacted by poor air quality.
As a parent, the only way you can determine if your child’s school is causing sickness is to monitor their health during the summer when they are away from school and monitor their health when they are in school.
Here are some questions you may want to consider when your child is back in school.
How do I know if my child is getting sick at school from mold?
Some children are more sensitive than others. But watch out for symptoms that seem to appear only at school – for example, wheezing, hoarseness, cough, runny nose, acid reflux, digestive issues, headache and irritated eyes.
What should I do if I suspect my child is getting sick because of school?
Visit your children’s classrooms and other parts of their schools. Do you see or smell mold or mildew? Are there signs of water leaks on walls, around windows or on the ceiling?
Musty and earthy odors are always an indication that a mold problem is present. Dirty carpet and water damage might also mean mold and bad air quality. Mold grows where there’s moisture.
How do I know if it’s mold?
If you see fuzzy, slimy, or discolored surfaces — especially in damp or wet areas — it’s probably mold. Molds can be green, black, gray, purple or even orange.
What if I see a problem?
Alert your principal or a School Board member. A lot of times, it will take more than one call or e-mail to get a response. Although calls might be quicker, your letters will provide a paper trail. Also, be sure to log all your calls, letters and observations. Inform other parents of the problem.
How can I protect my child?
Educate yourself. Talk to school officials about what they’re doing to control humidity and how quickly they’re fixing leaky roofs and windows. Ask to see copies of investigative reports and work orders for repairs and mold removal. Finally, ensure that your child is maintaining a healthy diet so their immune system is strong.
If you have questions, call us toll free, 1-888-909-6653 or use the form below.

Why Should I Have a Spring Mold and Seepage Inspection?

Why Should I Have a Spring Mold and Seepage Inspection?
I can’t stress enough the importance of inspecting your house on a regular basis. Many people live in an unhealthy environment without even knowing they’re endangering not only themselves, but their pets and kids as well. (Robert Bollinger, President of Budget Waterproofing)
Spring has sprung, so to speak, and one of the major concerns at this time of year is seepage which essentially means that moisture and water from outside the home is getting inside the home. The part of the home that is most susceptible to seepage is the basement because it’s underground, and there’s almost always moisture somewhere nearby. Seepage will usually start because the foundation develops cracks allowing moisture in. If you think you already have a seepage issue, don’t hesitate to contact us, the sooner the situation is addressed, the better.
Here are some tips to prevent water intrusion into your home due to heavy rains and the spring melt off:
1. Clean your eaves-troughs and have them inspected yearly;
2. Make sure your down spouts are not clogged with leaves and debris;
3. Have your down spouts directed away from your house and if possible eight feet or more away from the house;
4. Make sure to build up any low areas in order to slope them away from your foundation, allowing water to travel away from your house; and
5. Install a sump pump!
It is also very important that you know where your water main valve is located just in case you spring a leak in your pipes. Your goal is to prevent excess moisture from entering your home which may occur because of rain and flooding and/or busted pipes from dramatic temperature changes.
The primary reason you want to prevent excess moisture and water from getting in your home is to prevent mold growth.
Mold needs four critical ingredients to grow:
1. Mold spores
2. Mold food which is almost any substance that contains carbon atoms, like wood, paper, and organic fibers.
3. The right temperature of 5 degrees to 38 degrees.
4. Finally, moisture.
Spring is a season that promotes mold growth because it provides the ideal environment for Mold’s Favorite Places in Your Home.
Since mold needs warmth, humidity, and organic matter to grow, it is important that you look for these key signs of growth:
1. Fogged windows;
2. Mold stains on windowsills, at roof line, in tile grout, under carpet and behind wallpaper;
3. Mildew or musty odors;
4. Dampness, condensation or rusting;
5. Worsened allergy symptoms or respiratory conditions.
Mold is a growing concern because some molds are toxic and can cause many health issues.