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

What Causes Mold in an Attic?

What Causes Mold in an Attic?
The Link Between Ice Damming, Condensation, and Mold
Spring is finally here and temperatures are beginning to warm up. Because of the long, cold, and snowy winter, one of the key concerns we are encountering is ice damming.
One of the major problems caused by ice damming is condensation in the attic. Condensation is the result of the mixture of hot and cold air, which causes water in the air to cool and collect. In most cases, this will show up as frost in the attic.
The major concern with moisture in the attic is that it can lead to mold which could impact your health and the structural integrity of the home.
According to Calgary based Epic Roofing and Exteriors, there are four key causes of condensation:
1. Lack of air flow in the attic.
2. Insufficient insulation around ducts; this is the common reason you will notice water entering through a bathroom or exhaust fan.
3. Water or snow entering through gooseneck flashing on the roof.
4. Snow covered vents do not allow the attic to exhaust effectively.
You may have condensations issues if you notice these following signs:
1. Staining on your ceiling.
2. Condensation on your interior walls/ceiling.
3. Water entering in through a bathroom fan or kitchen/microwave hood.
If you have noticed any of these condensation signs, then the best course of action is to locate the leak and determine the cause, which may require the assistance of a professional.
How Do I Know If I Have Mold?
Once the cause is identified, then the next step is to determine if you have a mold problem. Mold is nature’s recycler and will only grow and proliferate when moisture is present. Condensation in an attic, heat and humidity from household activities (cooking, showering, etc.), and the fact that the attic provides an excellent food source for mold, provides the ideal conditions. All mold needs to grow is 24 to 48 hours and as long as the proper conditions exist, it will continue to proliferate.
The best method to determine if you have mold is to contact a professional for a mold inspection and air quality test. During the inspection, tape or swab samples of suspected mold may also be taken and sent to a micro-biology lab. Once the type of mold and spore count is determined, the Professional Remediator will provide you with a scope of work on the best way to remediate the mold.
Dry Ice Blasting: The Best Attic Mold Remediation Solution
With respect to attic mold, one of the best methods to deal with it is with Dry Ice Blasting.
The key ingredient required to dry ice blast is dry ice pellets which are created by taking liquid carbon dioxide from a pressurized storage tank and expanding it at ambient pressure to produce snow which is compressed to make hard pellets.
Dry Ice Blasting is a process in which a blasting gun fires dry ice particles, about the size of rice, at extremely high speeds to impact and clean the surface. The particles are accelerated by compressed air. When the dry ice hits the surface, it goes from a solid state to a gas state without passing through a liquid phase and cleans the surface.
Dry ice blast cleaning is a favored method of cleaning mold from an attic because it is so effective and efficient. The video below demonstrates this.
We are here to help, so please do not hesitate to contact us. Peace of Mind, just a phone call away! Toll Free: 1-888-909-MOLD (6653)

Why Do Ice Dams Cause Mold?

Why Do Ice Dams Cause Mold?
Recently got mold?™ was called by a customer that is experiencing mold caused by an ice dam. The long winter in Saskatchewan and Alberta and snow accumulation on roofs is leading to significant ice damming problems which ultimately could lead to mold issues. Pictured below is a home in Calgary that will have ice damming issues…notice the icicles!

Calgary Home With Ice Dam

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)

Three Key Reasons You Should Consider Thermal Imaging

Three Key Reasons You Should Consider Thermal Imaging
Earlier this week, we discussed the problem of water stains and identifying the cause of the problem.
One method to identify potential causes of water leaks and moisture intrusion is to have a professional conduct a thermal imaging inspection.
Thermal Imaging, also known as Infrared Thermagrophy, are visual displays of the amount of infrared energy emitted, transmitted, and reflected by an object. Thermal imaging involves the use of high tech cameras that create pictures of heat rather than light. When used in a situation where there is suspected water intrusion, these cameras help find areas that are not clearly visible to the naked eye.
According to our founder, James C. Watson, thermal imaging is important for three specific reasons:

DETECTING INSUFFICIENT OR IMPROPERLY INSTALLED INSULATION
Thermal imaging can detect hot/cold spots in the wall where insulation has slouched over time, was incorrectly installed, or where insulation was never installed to begin with. This information is critical when trying to reduce your heating costs in winter and cooling costs in summer.
In addition, Watson points out that new home buyers should invest in a thermal imaging audit to determine if the insulation has been installed properly. The reason is simple: once the drywall is in place, it is not possible to see whether or not the insulation is properly installed.
MOISTURE INTRUSION / MOLD GROWTH

Thermal imaging will not detect mold, but will detect temperature variations behind a wall to assist in finding cold spots that may indicate a potential moisture or water intrusion issue. Once an area of potential concern is found, moisture meters can then be used to confirm if there is in fact moisture behind a wall. If a moisture problem is detected, then it is important to act quickly to fix the problem to prevent mold!
Detecting where moisture has entered your home will allow for quick repairs in order to stop mold from growing and causing health hazards. Thermal imaging can detect moist areas, allowing the home owner to repair certain areas instead of removing all materials and doing a major overhaul. This will reduce the cost of the repair significantly.
Identifying and removing moisture also stops your structural materials from rotting, which will maintain your home’s structural integrity, keeping your home safe for those who live in it.
LOOSE OR DAMAGED ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS
Loose, damaged, or dirty connections can result in heating. As the connection degrades over time, the circuit breaker can start to trip under little apparent load, circuit breakers can fail, or worst of all, a fire can occur. Utilizing thermal imaging to inspect the various electrical connections in your home will allow you to detect these problems and remedy the fault before any damage has occurred.
In summary, thermal imaging is essential if you are considering buying a home and is well worth investing in for your existing home because thermographic imaging cameras are able to detect serious problems the naked eye can’t see, such as: plumbing leaks; air duct; leaks; moisture intrusion; inadequate or non-existent insulation; heating and cooling losses; abnormal heat from an appliance or electrical system; unwanted animals; and poor construction. All of these problems can cause extensive damage to your home.

Why Should I Be Concerned About Snow On My Roof?

Why Should I Be Concerned About Snow On My Roof?
There are two key reasons you should be concerned about snow on your roof.
First and foremost, the primary reason you should keep snow off of your roof is this prevents ice dams. In fact, ice dams can not form without snow. To learn more about ice dams, check out this article: “Why Do Ice Dams Cause Mold Problems?

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Second, snow removal is important because you want to keep excess weight off your roof. One square-foot of snow that is one-inch deep weighs about a pound. This means that if your roof has 12 inches of snow on it then you will have thousands of pounds of stress on your roof. Keep in mind, this does not even factor in ice dams that may form as a result of having snow on your roof. One cubic feet of ice weighs about 57 pounds, meaning a typical ice dam could weigh thousands of pounds. For this reason, it is important to try to minimize stress on your roof to minimize leaking and potential cave-ins.

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Currently, Got Mold? is fielding many calls from concerned homeowners worried about ice damning issues. Luckily, insurance covers this problem. However, before an insurance company will step in to deal with water damage issues, they will request that the cause of the problem, i.e. snow on the roof, is cleared. Unfortunately, currently in Saskatoon, there is a three week wait time for most snow removal services. For this reason, Got Mold is pleased to announce that we just set up a separate snow removal division that will come to your home and remove the snow from your roof. If you are concerned about ice dam problems and have snow on your roof, give us a call. We offer a cost effective solution to your snow removal needs and can also help you minimize water damage problems and mold from becoming a long term problem.

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