Hot Environmental Topics

Expert Mold Advice

Aug 11, 2020 9:30:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in mold, mold remediation, mold consultant, professional mold remediation, mold professional, mold expert

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Expert mold advice, that is what you would want if you had a mold question - right?  Everybody wants the best available advice, but is it possible to get expert mold advice?   Finding a true mold professional is like finding a needle in a haystack.    It’s hard and rarely accomplished.  You can blame lack of government regulations as a source of the scarcity of mold professionals.  You see New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware have zero mold regulations, so every "Chuck in a Truck" can say they know mold.

Call for Mold Questions.

On a fairly consistent basis (almost daily to be fair) we get calls from people all over the country  that have questions about mold, or need us to interpret mold testing that a professional they hired cannot explain.   Fact, if you hire a professional, they should be able to provide professional advice in writing and be able to understand test results.   If your expert has a Gmail account, works out of their home or says they are licensed, I would say these are three common threads we find from people who have complaints with a mold company. 

expert mold advice

 

No mold regulations, means no licensing, no required competency or required training and testing, so what is stopping someone from changing careers,  say from selling cell phones to doing mold consulting.   True story I met someone with just that background at an event down the shore, suffice to say what they knew about mold was very little.  Or should I say, what they knew about mold was mostly inaccurate. Did you know the salt air and the pressure treated wood that are prevalent in coastal areas inhibits mold growth?  Well, either did he and he told me not to tell people that its bad for business, he said fear of mold sells.   Sorry, I can't make this stuff up.   

As an environmental consultant that consults on mold, you need to inform clients and provide recommendations on risk and courses of action.   You do not sell fear.   Mold is harmful to human health, that is established, I have had people not be able to inhabit a home, or office where mold growth was present.  I also have people who live in an environment where mold is present and levels in the air are in concentrations where I know health issues were triggered in other people, although the current occupants had no apparent ill health effects from the mold.   This is actually not uncommon as we all have our sensitivities to gluten, lactose and mold, so what might be harmful to one person may not be to another.  That is not to say mold is a selling feature of a property, it certainly is not but mold has to be looked at objectively.   

How to pick a mold company?

  1. Look for a company that at least 10 years of experience, 20 is better.
  2. Google their address, make sure they work out of an office, not a home.
  3. Check the ago of their web site address:  https://www.iplocation.net/domain-age     The longer a domain has been in operation, means the longer the company has been operating.   
  4. Ensure everything provided to you is in writing, meaning scope of work, what they will do, how they will test and what the test results will mean.  Look we all know an A grade is better than a C, and an F is the worst, well translate that into mold test results. 

At Curren Environmental we have built a base of knowledge on mold consulting and mold remediation over a 20 year period.   We meet all criteria listed above.

 

Mold expert

 

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Bank Owned Homes & Mold

Jun 19, 2020 8:45:00 AM / by david sulock posted in mold, mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold contractor, Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold survey, mold assessments, mold consultant

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The recession of 2008 can still be felt today in the form of foreclosed properties that have been flipped.    These flipped homes look nothing like the home when it was bank owned.   Flipped homes certainly hold appeal for homeowners who want move in conditions homes.  The photo below shows a house that went through renovations.

flipped home-1

This is a photo of the same home same area pre renovation.   Note the mold on the wood furniture on the left hand side of the photo.

mold in home before flip (002)

Bank owned houses due to no occupancy, have wildly ranging temperatures and humidity fluctuations.  In short, the house gets hot and humid in warmer months, which allows mold to grow.  We have done homes where we come across mold on walls, trim, furniture, attics, basements and crawl spaces due to the house not being heated and cooled.  These homes also may be like this for years.  This certainly makes for homes that are in desperate need of rehabilitation, the question you have to ask is was the mold addressed?

Almost certainly mold in attics and crawl spaces are typically not addressed as these are not areas where the flipper will get bang for their buck or even look for repairs.

Basements typically get partially redone because it creates a living space that was not present before.  The problem is mold that has grown during the foreclosure process gets covered over by clean sheetrock, concealing the mold.  We have seen cracks in foundation walls covered by fresh sheetrock.

Basement mold

 

Basements in bank owned homes typically will have some levels of mold growth.  Again, when these homes are not occupied, there is a high possibility of mold growth.  

Why Mold Test a Flipped Home?

Many house flippers tend to look over the mold growth in basements, one because they are not aware it is mold growth and two, they are unaware of any water issues.  It is Curren's recommendation to always do  Mold Testing in basements of those homes that are being flipped, especially if they were once not occupied and a Foreclosure, sheriff sale, tax sale or bank sale property. There are times when basements are finished or re-finished and the mold growth is covered up, but not specifically remediated.  Meaning, mold will continue to grow and fester in these areas and will not just disappear.  

Attics are yet another area that are not in the realm of a house flipper.  When an house is not occupied for a period of time, humidity and moisture builds up, especially in an area that has no air flow.  Non-occupied homes do  not always have electricity and whole house attic fans, attic fans and humidistat attic fans will not turn on when necessary.  These situations lead to mold growth in attics.

mold can grow in an attic

Curren Environmental suggests Mold Inspections and testing in homes that have not been occupied for a period of time.  Mold growth will occur within 72 hours in the right environment.  Its not to say that home flippers are hiding the mold, they may just be missing that what they see is mold growth.  They are not mold experts.

Questions?

Call Curren Today

or email at info@currenenvironmental.com

 

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Will mold be an issue in my home sale?

Jun 4, 2020 10:30:00 AM / by david sulock posted in mold remediation, Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold survey, mold consultant, professional mold remediation

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Will finding mold growth hurt my chances of selling my home?   This is a common question we are asked when a home buyer finds mold during a real estate transaction.   Mold is a known health hazard, from inhalation of mold spores to the generation of MVOC and mycotoxins, which are generated by mold growing can adversely affects human health. And although you may be living with the mold without incident, you can guarantee that the new owner will not want mold in their new home

In states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware where the housing stock is older, building materials have had more time to degrade which allows mold to grow.  Heck a 50 year old home has had plenty of time to have plumbing issues.  If purchasing an older home, expect mold during a sale.

attic mold

Finding mold and having to remediate mold is not driven by laws like a leaking oil tank would dictate remediation. Rather remediating a mold problem is going to be on the top of the buyers "To Do List" prior to purchase. Buyers can overlook the worn carpet, older windows and out-dated bathroom, but buyers can not overlook mold that tends to have buyers draw a line in the sand.  For one, buyers have plans for new paint, replacing the windows and carpet but not having to cleanup a mold problem.

basement sheetrock mold

Clearly visible mold is not a desirable feature of a home, we have never seen someone promote the presence of mold to sell a home. Sure we see homes that are being sold as is, which is a clear indication the owner knows there are defects in the home somewhere. But to say you have large walk in closets, newer kitchen and mold in the basement, yep we don't ever come across that statement.

Fretting over the type of mold and hazards associated with mold are a mute point, you won't see someone allergic to nuts try and differentiate the dangers between a peanut, walnut or cashew. 

Level heads prevail when managing a mold issue, you have to address mold on a molecular level.   You have mold growth in a home because the environment was conducive for the mold to grow.   Arguing that only a little water seeps into the basement after a heavy rain will not get a buyer to stop crowing about wanting the mold fixed. 

A competent mold company that is looking out for everyone's best interest is harder to find than you would expect, this is directly related to the fact that there are no mold regulations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Delaware.  Without mold regulations, you have no licensing, without mold licensing you have no competence hurdle for someone to perform mold work.   Any "Chuck in a Truck" will proclaim to be your mold expert.

At Curren we have completed 1000's of mold inspections and remediation and while each one is similar (they have mold) there are nuances to the project.  See the photo below, mold was caused by a disconnected dryer vent which exhausted moist air in the ceiling.  

mold in ceiling

We have seen a few things when it comes to mold.  We have a team of experienced inspectors and our crews are trained from the top down to do your mold job right.  This starts with finding the cause, fixing the sources and removing the mold.

mold inspections mold remediation

Mold Questions? Click Here

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What is proper mold remediation?

Apr 8, 2020 10:23:00 AM / by david sulock posted in mold remediation, professional mold remediation

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Mold remediation is the process where you remove the mold as well as the source of the mold growth. The most important part of any mold remediation is knowing what caused the mold, since mold can come back if the driver of the mold is not stopped.

 

FLIR0313

You can complete mold inspections with infra red cameras (photo above), that are calibrated for moisture.  This inspection tools can help you pinpoint problem areas behind walls and other materials. 

FLIR0314

Since "mold = water", the source of the mold should be determined and repaired (water issue). It is possible that the cause of the mold was repaired, but if it was not, then the necessary corrective action is needed. A qualified mold remediation company should be able to ascertain the cause. If they cannot, you are dealing with the wrong mold company. Remember only 11 states have mold regulations, so you are likely dealing with an unlicensed company.mold remediation
 Tough to see in this photo, but if you look through the plastic you see mold.  where as you do not see mold on the white ceiling or the concrete block wall above the plastic.  This mold growth was driven by improper vapor barrier installation.  100% preventable.


For successful mold remediation, you must remove the mold from impacted surfaces. (Mold remediation can entail deconstruction of walls to get access to the mold). Mold removal is typically accomplished via HEPA vacuuming surfaces. If items can not be cleaned than  demolition of items such as sheetrock and/or wood framing that is water damaged or mold impacted on both sides is necessary.
Fungicide application for mold remediation
Application of a broad spectrum fungicide is another step. Fungicide application sterilizes the space, disinfecting the surfaces to address any mold spores that can’t be seen. It also allows porous surfaces to absorb the fungicide, grabbing spores that may have implanted themselves deeper into the surface of the material. This is common of wood surfaces as wood is porous, ensuring that you are rebooting the space.

The final and most important step is applying a fungistatic coating to cleaned organic surfaces in the area of remediation. This coating essentially provides mold proofing in the treated area. The best coatings have 10 year warranties. The coating is not a paint you buy at a home improvement center, but a coating that is designed for a specific purpose which is mold prevention. Coatings with fungistatic agents are commonly applied to new construction to mold proof the space. The application of fungistatic coatings as part of the remediation is also a corrective action that is designed to help the space resist mold in the future.

Mold resistant coating

Mold is a four letter work and most companies say they know mold and in reality they  don't. Mold experts for over 20 years, billions of spores remediated.

Learn More:Mold Remediation

 

 

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Do you Smell Mold?

Mar 28, 2020 3:22:01 PM / by david sulock posted in mold remediation, mold cleanup, Mold Testing, mold inspections, mold consultant, professional mold remediation

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You can smell mold?

Spending more time at home than usual? Many people are in the safety of their homes and our office is getting called regarding musty smells, that people think relates to mold in their home. These calls coincide with rain events and we find a simple equation. People have mold in their homes they didn’t know existed. Many people find mold during a real estate transaction, since that is when a home under goes scrutiny, meaning multiple inspections occur and the wear and tear items that we often ignore are brought to light. I mean do you ever go into your attic or basement and look for mold?


mold inspections

The musty smell you have is most likely mold and it is active mold growth because when mold is consuming organic matter it off gases, hence the smell. Growth can correlate to rain events (not necessarily flooding), temperature changes, and humidity levels. In short moisture above 55% humidity as most molds in the northeastern United states will grow above that range.  Add in the fact that the northeast has an older housing stock and you have a higher probability of mold. Why older homes have mold, simple put the older a home the greater the time frame for mold to grow somewhere in the home. This gives mold the toe hold it needs as mold won’t die when it is dry it just goes dormant. This mold will then grow sporadically (no spore joke intended) over time until the owner complains of a smell, has a health concern or buyer’s inspector finds mold

 

mold inspections

Our calls lately have been from people who are working from home or simple spending more time at home and they either smell musty odors or are having health concerns. These people never had a mold inspection performed so the idea of a mold inspection makes sense.  Our mold inspections typically find mold, which makes sense.  The key to finding mold is understanding why it is there and how the mold can be addressed (mold remediation) and future prevention.  A typical mold survey might find a half dozen reasons why it’s there (yes there is typically more than  one cause for mold growth. We provide the homeowner a DIY  list for everything they are doing wrong and a corrective action plan (mold remediation) outline and costs. All mold remediation has a 10 year warranty against future mold growth, best in the industry.

We also teach several classes on mold so you know you are getting expert advice.
Environmental Education speaking at the Triple Play

 

All our inspector use N-95 masks and have at least five years experience with both mold inspections and remediation.  We inspect and remediate mold so we get to see mold from both sides which gives Curren a full perspective.  Different building materials from pour concrete walls, to cider block walls to wood studs to plaster wall all affect how mold can and will grow.To schedule an inspection call 856-858-9509.mold inspections and remediation

mold testing

Call for Mold Questions.

 

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Mold Remediation with Post-Air Sampling Data

Feb 6, 2020 11:22:00 AM / by Tiffany Byrne posted in mold remediation, Mold Testing, mold assessments

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Mold is the four-letter word of real estate transactions. Finding mold can pause a sale and stop the sale all together.  If mold is visually found and/or confirmed via testing, the odds of the sale failing increases, unless you can get ahead of the problem.

IMG_1015-1
There are many stories of real estate transactions with mold growth, but this one is very interesting.
The story goes that a buyer was interested in a home and the property was an in an estate.  This particular property had been vacant for some time (About 26 months).  The buyers were from out of state and mold was a concern.  During the home inspection, the home inspector took air samples throughout the home. He also found possible mold growth on some wood furniture. Those air samples were mailed to an independent lab, and once the lab finished testing the samples, they sent a report back to the home inspector. The home inspector then sent the lab data to the buyer.   Elevated mold spore count were found indoors as compared to outside levels.   The levels were also higher than you would typically find in a home sand water damage.

 

Tape sample

 

Outside sample
 

 

Tape sample

 

What does mold lab data mean?
First, as part of the story, you need to know that this property was vacant for over 2 years. The heat was on as part of maintenance but the home was not property dehumidified (air conditioned in the warmer months). Mold growth occurs where there are moisture and organic materials. In this case, again there were only visual signs of mold growth on some furniture, but no visual signs on the sheetrock walls, kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets and no signs on the ceilings throughout the home.

What caused mold to grow in a vacant home?
When the humidity is high and the property is not well ventilated, mold growth will occur. These spores can become airborne and move throughout the home. This home had a lot of carpets which contain organic matter (dirt, skin cells, etc.) and carpets hold mold spores.

Curren Environmental completed a mold assessment and found no outside water entry, plumbing leaks, roof leaks, etc. Mold growth was contributable to the home being vacant without consistent heating and air conditioning operating.  Mold Remediation at this property was performed and removed the airborne spore count to levels comparable to outside.  Remediation was performed as follows:

  1. The carpet was removed and tack strips were removed.
  2. All organic furniture that could not be wiped down was disposed of (fabric coating sofas and chairs.
  3. HEPA vacuumed walls and floors in the master bedroom, in-law suite, and 2nd floor.
  4. A broad-spectrum, FDA approved, fungicide was applied to the walls and the flooring in the rooms.
  5. Air scrubbers operated during and after the remediation based on volume of air in the space and goal of completing multiple air exchanges. 

As the story goes, post air testing showed that the elevated spore levels dropped dramatically at the property. Please see below. For this story, no walls were removed, no ceilings were opened nothing was torn down to the pre-construction stage.

 

 

Post remediation Data 1

 

Post Mold Remediation Lab Data 2

 

 
Post remediation Data 1

 

 

The ending, a happy buyer, a happy seller, and a clean home. Not every property that has elevated mold spores needs to have everything torn down and removed.   Mold testing must be assessed facting in history of the space, current conditions and an understanding of mold spores found and what environments these spore thrive.   A mold remediation professional will look at the data, photos provided and any other detailed information before handing over a cost. It is very important to understand that mold is everywhere and there are no “Mold Free” properties.  

Call for Mold Questions.

 

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Black Mold? Mold comes in many different colors...not just black.

Apr 24, 2018 3:02:00 PM / by Tiffany Byrne posted in mold, mold remediation, Mold Testing

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Did you know that Mold comes in many different colors? The color doesn't matter, what matters is if it there is mold growth and if you stopped the water filtration. 

At Curren, some of the most common questions are regarding the color of mold. For example:

  • "Is this mold bad because the mold is black or grey?
  • "What type of mold is black mold?"
  • "Is black mold toxic?"

The most popular used term for describing mold is Black Mold. Technically, there is no mold that is named black mold, many sources attribute the term black mold to the media. In reality there are many different types and colors of mold. Some types of Mold can be harmful (regardless if the mold is black) and can cause health issues.

Molds come in many different colors and can mean many different things. As you can see below, mold may be black, grey, orange, green, brown and even white. Many molds may not be harmful. Black mold may be completely innocuous (not harmful or producing no injury) or it could be problematic. Mold can be difficult to determine on your own. The mold you think you see might just be mildew or dirt. Remember, mold is usually not a problem unless mold spores land on something wet  indoors. Mold evaluation and interpretation is best left to the experts. At Curren, we have over 20 years experience testing mold, air testing and mold remediation.

 

Black Mold                                          Green Mold

Mold_in_Basement3-424194-edited                             Green_mold

White & Black Mold                           Brown Mold

IMG_5501-877705-edited                           Brown_mold-968330-edited

Grey Mold

Grey_Mold-078065-edited

Please don't hesitate to call us for your mold testing, mold remediation and mold questions.

1-888-301-1050 

 

 

 

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What is Mold and why is it not black or toxic Mold.

Feb 21, 2018 6:00:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in mold, mold remediation, mold cleanup

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What is mold and is mold dangerous?   Two common questions regarding mold.  First let’s start with "What is mold?". Mold is ubiquitous in our environment.  There are few places on earth, where molds are not present.  That said, mold (which is also called fungi) is a broad-spectrum term to describe fungi, mushrooms, rusts, mildew, and yeast. As humans, we simply complex things by using the term “mold”. Any mold is a eukaryotic organism, meaning one that has a defined nucleus.  Molds lack flagella and reproduce by means of spores. Spores are released from the mature mold body and spread by air currents on people, animals, and/or materials that travel from place to place. These spores can remain viable for extended periods of time, which, in short, is as long as it takes for a suitable environment to occur which allows the mold to form new colonies.

What is Black Mold? What is toxic Mold.

The next two most common questions. First, black mold is not a mold it is a color, the term was made up by the media. There is no mold that has the scientific name as black mold. The same goes for toxic mold, we think the name toxic mold came from the mold industry to scare people. Again no mold has the scientific name toxic mold.

bathroom mold-1.jpg


Molds are fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae that spread to form a network or colony called mycelium. When you see visible mold (spotting, staining, discoloration) you are observing a colony of mold. Most all fungi require oxygen to survive and all fungi need an organic food source.   Unlike humans, molds do not ingest their food but rather absorb nutrients by attacking dead organic matter or parasitizing living organisms. In an outdoor environment you can think of molds as nature’s composers as many molds live in the soil and are active in the decomposition of organic matter.

1-888-301-1050
Molds are not strictly confined to the outside, although that is their primary habitat.  Molds can grow indoors in a built environment (built being man made structure).  Molds can grow anywhere if the following four primary conditions are satisfied:

  1. Mold spores must first be present in the area.
  2. Food source such as wood, drywall, the paper part of insulation, skin cell fragments, cardboard, carpet, paper, etc.
  3. Appropriate temperature – this is a variable as molds can grow dormant when the temperature is out of range for required growth and then when the temperature is within range mold will grow.  (Think grass growing in summer and growing dormant in winter)
  4. Water or Moisture – if mold was a building, water/moisture would be the foundation, without it, you will not have molds growing and it is the one of the four conditions that can be controlled. Bottom line, if you have mold you have a moisture issue. 
  5. Moisture sources in a built environment are most commonly brought on from water and/or sewer leaks, moisture intrusion (rain) through walls and foundations.  In practice, moisture issues that fuel mold growth are associated with humidity or as condensation in HVAC systems. In terms of relative humidity, causing mold growth, is more of an intermittent issue that can occur at certain times of the year.   Damp, wet times of the year being more likely as opposed to winter when temperature may remove humidity.

    Both national and international health agencies agree that molds can cause health issues to varying degrees.   To the extent anyone is affected by molds relate to the types of molds, concentration, exposure duration and genetic factors of the individual.   There is no perfect fit that would say a certain person would be affected and this person would not.
Home Inspector-1.jpg

 

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Mold affects humans through the inhalation of spores, which is how mold reproduces, so you should realize that when you see mold, spores are present and you could be at risk.  Molds also produce mycotoxins which are chemicals that are created during certain parts of the mold life cycle.  Mycotoxins having the word “toxic” in the name underlines them as a concern.  Mycotoxins can evoke a toxic response, for example, allergic reactions, respiratory irritation, the exacerbation of asthma symptoms as well as other respiratory reactions to an irritant.  Mycotoxins have this affect because they have very low volatility, meaning they have relatively low concentrations in the air, so contact or ingestion rather than inhalation is often the main route of exposure for these chemicals.
Since molds digest matter, they will naturally off gas.  The off gassing of mold often referred to as the musty odor is scientifically called MVOCs or microbial volatile organic compounds.  Their olfactory presence signifies actively growing mold. Fortunately for humans MVOC's have a very low odor threshold, thus, making them easily detectable by smell. Exposure to fungal MVOC's has been blamed for headaches, nasal irritation, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea.   So, while someone may refer to an odor as musty it signifies the presence of mold and compounds that are airborne that can have detrimental health effects in humans.
Chronic exposure to large airborne concentrations of fungal spores can induce allergy or hypersensitivity in certain individuals. In some cases, chronic exposure to fungal spores can result in a flu-like debilitating disease known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

Mold is confusing and the many unlicensed firms that perform mold work dont help to demystify mold.  At Curren will off a free initial consultation.  Call our office Monday to Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm EST and speak to one of our professionals.  888-301-1050.

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Why do I have Mold?

Sep 30, 2017 9:36:24 AM / by david sulock posted in mold, mold remediation, mold cleanup, mold contractor, Mold Testing

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                                                   Why is mold so prevalent?

Mold is a four letter word and strikes an emotional cord in people when spoken and encountered. Health concerns are a major factor on people’s perspective of mold. Mold is ubiquitous in our environment and to have a mold free environment is practically impossible. That said, if you see growth (often described as discoloration), you have mold that is or was actively growing and spreading. In short there is an environment that is allowing the mold to grow, which is a preventable situation. Here are some of the environmental and situational causes of mold growth.

mold prevention5

 

Aging Housing Stock. (Deferred Maintenance)

As the homes in the United States get older, the repair and maintenance needs for these homes are on the rise. Older homes are in need of much more care. Gutters clog, caulk dries out, foundations settle and cracks appear, soil erodes away from foundations, dehumidifiers break and don’t get replaced, sump pumps die, exhaust fans break. Homes that have been missing general upkeep have been labeled deferred maintenance abodes.

When gutters are filled with debris water cannot flow from the roof and away from the dwelling perimeter. Water can pour over lengths of horizontal gutters placing water close to the structures foundations and allowing moisture to enter subterranean spaces.

Downspout

 

Caulk around windows dry out and holes appear. Rain events can allow water to enter through worn caulk and enter the building structure.

Over time, foundations can settle and cracks can form. Hydrostatic pressure is strong (ever get pushed down by a wave at the beach?). Water from rain events or melting snow can enter these cracks and crevices; again allowing moisture to enter the space.

All perimeter foundations should have what’s called in industry parlance as “positive drainage”. Meaning the exterior grade around a foundation should slope away from the foundation, thus diverting water from the foundation.

mold prevention4

 

Dehumidifiers can be called the devil’s machine, how many times are you going to trek down the basement and empty the dehumidifier? Until you simple stop doing it (leaving a full tank) and just simple turning off the unit. Dehumidifiers don’t have to break, they just have to stop capturing moisture and discharging it. Eighty percent (80%) of residential single family units that have mold below grade (basements and crawlspaces) had a dehumidifier present, but it was not operating.

Set dehumidifiers to 55 and plug a hose into the unit and drain it directly to a sump or sink. You do not need the unit set to 60 or 65 like the one in the photo

IMG_3323

 

Sump pumps are the workhorse of a high water table and wet basements. They are your last line of defense to keeping storm events out of your home. These electric pumps will eventually clog and burn out and some simply die from years of unappreciated faithful service.

Mold Prevention1

Sump sumps? Cover the crock, water evaporates and adds to over all moisture.

humidifier set up

.Exhaust fans are loud and who wants to exhaust anything anyway from a bathroom? These fans just make you cold and in an attic, it just makes a lot of noise. But these locations when fans operate, help control environmental conditions that can hinder mold growth.

Bathroom mold

All these seemingly minute items can allow a conducive environment for mold to grow. Truth be told most mold impacted areas did not get moldy over night, most have had a slow steady mold buildup for years and the older the home the more time mold has to grow. The environmental disaster event, where a dwelling is flooded, roof leaks, plumbing line breaks, do happen but they are the minority on average. Attics, crawl spaces, basements by nature of their unconditioned environment are hot beds for mold growth.

 

attic mold

 

Aging Population.

As long time homeowners get older, they age out of skill sets required for homeowner maintenance. As general mobility decrease so does the ability to climb a ladder or walk downstairs. Some people just throw in the towel knowing that the fight they had with mother nature was lost and water will get in and it eventually dries out so why bother?

First Time Homeowners.

Much has been said about younger generations, and not always in the most flattering light. There are no courses you get about home maintenance when you sign a mortgage, more people buy books about rearing kids than about how to take care of a home. Television is no help, the home improvement shows don’t show you how-to-do mundane tasks, they show you backyard retreats you can build, bathroom and kitchen makeovers. All sexy cool stuff, that doesn’t help with home maintenance when it comes to mold.

New Home Construction.

You would think a new home would be a problem free home, well - not for mold. Today’s tighter building envelopes trap moisture indoors allowing mold to grow. New homes tend to have wetter, less dense wood than older homes, primary because the wood comes from new growth forests making the wood young or immature. In short, the wood hasn’t had decades to dry out. In addition, this newer wood often is not kiln dried, which means it did go through a process to fully remove all the moisture, why, because it’s more expensive.

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What do my mold test results mean?

Feb 26, 2015 8:53:00 AM / by david sulock posted in mold remediation, mold cleanup, Mold Testing

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What do my mold test results mean?

A Mold Survey involves mold sampling for the presence or type of mold. Mold sampling is completed in two ways, mold surface sampling and mold air sampling. Mold surface sampling is completed on a surface that is suspected to contain a mold like substance, this type of sampling can be completed by performing acquiring a mold tape lift sample or a mold swab sample. Both methods involve acquiring a sample of the mold like substance and having the sample analyzed by a laboratory. Your results should determine the type and quantity of mold. The interpretation of sample results pertaining to mold concentration has to be evaluated objectively, when mold is found by the analysis as you are sampling an area that has a mold like substance, which can typically represent the suspected highest concentration (worst area), otherwise why would you sample that particular area. The other type of mold sampling is mold air sampling. Mold air sampling is accomplished by running air through a laboratory containing that captures microscopic airborne particle (fungi). The sample container is then analyzed by a laboratory for mold type and mold quantity. The analysis can be studied for both viable molds, meaning the sample is studied to see if the mold spores grow or by non-viable meaning, it what is the overall type and quantity of mold found. Mold non-viable air sampling is more common as it has been established that mold spores alive or dead can be an irritant.

Learn the Facts about Mold

Once you have the laboratory analysis completed, you now have to discuss the results and what they mean. Unlike soil and groundwater samples that all states have specific government established standards, with mold there are No Federal or State Agency established concentration standards (Maximum Exposure Limits- MEL) or threshold level values for airborne indoor mold or for surface sample analysis of mold. Therefore, if you suspect there is a mold problem and have air testing or surface sampling performed, there is no regulatory standard to compare your results against. Without government standards, there is no common industry standards standard. The reason that there are no standards is that setting exposure limits or MELs would be difficult for a variety of technical reasons, which include limitations in both mold surface sampling and mold air sampling techniques, individual variability in sensitivity to microbial exposure among the human population, occurrence of different types of biological and chemical pollutants in indoor environment and limited data on the exposure-response relationship in humans. In essence, it is difficult to say who will be affected by mold spores and at what concentrations it would take to affect different people.
mold testing
Due to the lack of set government standards, the environmental consulting industry follows general principals when evaluating mold test results. On a basic level when evaluating mold air sampling data, the mold levels should be higher outside than inside. The idea behind this approach is that there are always more molds outside in the soil, mulch, plants, decomposition of organic matter, ect. outside. Aside from an indoor and outdoor comparative evaluation, you evaluate the test results for specific types of mold. This evaluation includes looking for common outdoor molds as well as molds that are more commonly found on moist building materials. Evaluation of these molds goes a step deeper by looking for so-called opportunistic molds (marker fungi), which are frequently found on long-term water damaged building materials. The presence of these molds can point to a long-term moisture issue. These opportunistic fungi include Aspergillus and Penicillium species, Acremonium spp., Sporobolomyces spp., Stachybotrys, chartarum, Memnoniella echinata, Tritirachium oryzae, Ulocladium botrytis, U. chartarum, Cladosporium spp., and Chaetomium spp. These are molds that are not typically recovered in the outside air, so when they are found outside, they are in generally low levels. Conversely when they are found indoors these molds typically point to an indoor water issue. The higher the indoor concentration of these fungi the more likely a long term water issue is present.

In summary mold testing and the interpretation of the analytical results involves the evaluation of individual types of mold you find and determining why they are present.

Finding the type of mold, while interesting it does not explain why it is present. Therefore, every mold survey and mold inspection should not just confirm the presence of mold but also why the mold present is, what created the environment for the mold to grow. The backend of mold testing and mold sampling project include an inspection for the physical presence of mold as well as for water damage.

More common mold questions and answerts can be found at: /Mold-Frequently-Asked-Questions

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