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Mold Removal vs. Mold Remediation

Feb 16, 2021 9:00:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in mold remediation, mold inspections, mold consultant, professional mold remediation, black mold

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If we didn’t have mold, the leaves, mulch and grass clipping would never decompose, so mold is an essential part of our ecosystem.   Since minuet concentrations of mold spores can be expected to be found almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors, removing all mold from a home or business is just not impossible.  Since mold is only regulated in 11 states, you will see many businesses advertise “mold removal” and may even guarantee to remove all mold, which is really just not possible.

Visible mold is a sure sign that there is a mold problem. When we say mold is everywhere, it’s not visible to the naked eye. Your ultimate objective of addressing mold is fixing the source that fueled the mold growth and  then removing (remediating) the mold. In truth, you are going to aim to getting mold levels back to normal, natural levels (background, nothing visible, no odors).

Ever buy anything from Amazon?   Probably, they grew from an online book seller in the 1990's to a superstore, movie studio and video channel to name a few things.   An underlining mantra at Amazon is when a problem is found, they will "walk backwards" to find the cause so it can be fixed and the problem will not reoccur.   Mold remediation requires you to "walk backwards as well to diagnosis the cause and prevent it from reoccurring.

Clearly you want to remediate the mold in the photos, but you also want to fix the cause.

     2018-11-01 08-58-41-jpg-1        image1

Understanding what caused the mold is the key to the remediation of mold. Case in point, the photo below is an excellent example of selective mold growth.  Look at the ceiling, some beams have a light brown wood color (no mold growth) and some are a greyish color (mold growth).  Mold Remediation is needed for sure but you have to also fix the cause.  I am not going to explain the cause, but we see it a lot, it always gets addressed during remediation.

mold on basement ceiling

New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware do not regulate mold businesses, so hiring a competent ethical company that understands the science behind mold and mold growth is harder than it should be.  Curren Environmental is a full service environmental company and has been for over 20 years experience with mold.  Let’s explain what you can expect to address your mold problem either in your home or business. Even though every project has some unique attributes there is a foundation that you follow to successfully address the mold.

  • Step 1: Mold inspection with emphasis on the cause of mold. You have to find the cause so it can be fixed and the mold will not return.
  • Step 2: Develop remedial plan and make repairs to cause of mold. You need a plan to ensure you address the mold issue thoroughly. Most likely the person inspecting the mold will not be remediating so you need a clear set of steps (instructions) for the mold remediation crew.
  • Step 3: Mold Containment of work area from non work area. As bad as any area with mold is, mold spores will get airborne when demolition or movement of mold impacted items from the space. You need to be able to maintain clean areas outside the mold work area.
  • Step 4: Air Filtration of area to contain spores. We use industrial grade air filtration to clean the air during remediation to prevent cross contamination.
  • Step 5: Clean and save items as possible, wrap fixtures in space if present.  Trust us the mold on the treadmill in your basement can be cleaned and saved.  That box of old magazines, probable not. 
  • Step 6: Physical remediation, hep vacuum to clean mold growth, fungicide application and apply fungistatic coating of remaining porous surfaces this prevents future growth and comes with a 10 year warranty. This is the meat and potatoes of the project.
  • Step 7: Final walk through, what should you expect? You should expect any space that had mold remediation to be cleaner than before remediation.  Expect that organic wood surfaces are now treated with a fungistatic coating. You may have also found other sources/drivers of the mold during the remediation and this would need to be expressed to the client. (Finding hidden water leaks or termite damage is not out of the ordinary.)

Mold remediation atticattic treated with anti mold coating - fungistatic coating

You have mold because you have moisture and possible from more than one source. We have completed thousands of mold inspections and mold remediation.  Our crew is trained to find problems and provide solutions.

mold remediation vs mold removal

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Mold Inspection & Testing. What to know before you have work performed.

Dec 17, 2020 11:45:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in mold, professional mold remediation

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Mold Inspection & Testing. What to know before you have work performed.

When purchasing a property, for due diligence a home inspection is meant to uncover defects or areas in need of repair, a mold inspection however, is performed to evaluate for mold, either the  entire dwelling or an area of concern such as a basements, crawl spaces, attics, living rooms, etc.

Everyone thinks that they are a mold expert and, in truth, few people know tons about mold. Since most states don’t have licensing for mold inspections, it is simple for someone to proclaim themselves as an expert and do mold related work such as testing and remediations.

Some of these so called "proclaimed mold experts" provide mold testing  and once the testing is complete the samples are sent or delivered to a laboratory. The laboratory tests the sample for mold spore types and provides multiple pages of the test results with filler material consisting of an explanation of different types of mold. The lab may also use colors to point out mold levels that the lab (not the mold expert) are saying are of concern.   This lab data is typically the complete report that the "mold expert" provides. 

Example sampling

Example of a Mold Report. No analyzation.

We see this on 90% of the mold reports we are provided to peer review or to provide an estimate for remediation.  The problem is the mold expert provides no narrative of what they saw, why they tested, condition of the room, photos of the area or of the area sampled and lastly and really most important what the test results mean.    

The by product of a these type of mold inspections gives you a very vague document, which many "mold experts" have told me they do on purpose.   These people don’t want to give a lot of detail and then be held responsible if its incorrect. In all actuality, you pay for a professional opinion, but do not get one.

You get what you pay for and the quality of work is directly related to the skill set of the inspector, which we have found  can have varying degrees of quality.

Lets be clear, you want a mold inspection because?

Clear project objectives are important from the start of any investigation.

Where a home inspection is meant to uncover defects or areas in need of repair, a mold inspection is performed to evaluate for mold, either an entire dwelling or a specific location.

When evaluating for mold be it visual, or by laboratory analysis, explanation of observations (what was found), if mold was visually detected (why was mold present?) and when testing is performed what would be an acceptable or unacceptable results?

Surface Sampling

Example of Photographing sampling area. 

Case in point when you have a discolored area say on a wall and/or ceiling, that you suspect is mold you can test the area to confirm if it is or is not mold.    Surface sampling is performed by either "tape" sampling  or taking a "swab" of the area. This sample goes to a lab where they look at it under a high powered microscope to see if mold spores are present. This is typically a pass fail test, either you Got Mold or you don’t.   

But you also need to know the following:

  • Why is mold growing?
  • Was the cause of the mold growth fixed or is it still active?
  • What will it take to remediate the mold?  
     
    You won’t have successful mold remediation without questions 1 & 2 being answered.

Air Sampling or Spore Trap Sampling

Air sampling is how you can find mold that is not visible (behind a wall) and it can also tell you if mold found in a basement or other areas is affecting air quality on the first floor.  

When air sampling is performed, it is a sound practice, as a mold inspector, to photo document and provide a narrative description of sampling activities.   The reason the results can be biased depends on sample collection technique, height, location, room conditions, etc.   Results can also be amplified based on room contents. An empty dwelling can have a different reading than one that is occupied with possessions.

Imagine a freshly painted room with new carpets have an elevated air mold spore count. The conclusion likely to be drawn from this is that there is hidden mold, likely behind an outside wall or other area where water events may have occurred.  The painting of the room may have been performed to cover mold damage to the room.

In both air and tape mold samples certain “marker” species of mold can indicate interior water damage (as opposed to an outdoor mold) and subsequent microbial amplification.

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What causes Mold?

Mold is only going to grow in the presence of moisture in a built environment. Any assessment when mold is noted or suspected, needs to determine the source of the water and often times there is more than one source.

Photo Nov 04, 11 38 20 AM-jpg

Water intrusion due to faulty downspouts and landscape grading. 

When should you remediate mold?

Initially any visible mold growth is a driver for remediation, in this case only water staining was noted, no visual mold growth. The EPA agrees that testing is not required when visual presence is noted.

 What is the minimum you want from a mold inspection?

It is critical in any mold inspection to document the condition of the room and reference the contents. This is important because items in a room can affect test results.

When mold is found, the likely cause should be identified.

If the whole room has mold it should stated, if mold is limited to day the lower section of a well, well that needs to be stated. All to often we read a report that says mold was found in the basement.   Our question is where and why?

 

Without regulatory reference values for mold concentrations (no federal guidelines), it is generally accepted that the following conditions should be satisfied:

  1. No hydrophilic mycotoxin producing fungi should be present above the detection limit of one spore (such as Stachybotrys or Chaetomium),
  2. The water-damage indicator mold species (such as Penicillium/Aspergillus) concentrations should not exceed 1000 structures per cubic meter unless room contents (possession) could cause amplification.
  3. If outdoor or background air sampling is performed, you typically want indoor samples to have lower levels than outside and similar types.   Outdoor spore count can vary greatly though out the year.   Comparison of indoor to outdoor mold levels, that each type of mold in the indoor sampling should typically be less than the same type of mold on the outdoor sample (if applicable – 10% differential).

Mold questions?  Learn more about mold frequently asked questions. 

 

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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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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

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Mold Found in Attic

May 13, 2020 11:45:00 AM / by david sulock posted in mold survey, professional mold remediation

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Mold likes to grow where people don't like to be.  Attics are a common place where we find mold during inspections.  Home sellers are often surprised to find out that they have mold in their attic.   Attics are not heated nor air conditioned, which means both humidity levels and temperature fluctuations are very varied and due to these conditions mold will find a home to grow.

All photos you will see on this page are from the same attic, each area of mold grew because of different environmental variables.

mold found in attic

The mold you see in this photo was caused by the bathroom vent leaking moist air onto the wood sheeting.

 

attic mold

The mold in this photo was from natural humidity over the years.

How do you correct attic mold.  First you need to identify the moisture source and correct the issue.  Attic mold may be caused by insufficient ventilation or air leaks from finished spaces.  Some bathrooms will vent moist air into the space creating an environment for mold growth.

 

Remediating mold rarely ever requires replacement of the wood surface but rather thorough cleaning of the wood, application of a fungicide and lastly a preventive coating that warranties that the wood will not allow mold growth.

 

20200507_141154

This photo shows an attic that has been remediated.  The white coating you see is fungistatic, meaning it inhibits mold growth.  These coating provide the owner a warranty that mold will not grow on the treated surface.

attic mold remediation

 

Curren environmental has over 20 years experience with mold, we have remediated thousands of properties over the years.

If you have a mold question or requested mold remediation Curren can help with an appropriate solution.

Call for Mold Questions.

 

 

 

 

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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

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Why do I have mold?  Will mold come back after remediation?

Nov 25, 2019 10:51:00 AM / by David C Sulock posted in mold assessments, mold consultant, professional mold remediation

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"Why do I have mold?", is a common question we get from people who discover mold in their homes.   The short answer is that 95% of the time it is a moisture or a water problem.   Yes, mold can come back after remediation if you do not fix what caused the mold.  It can also come back if the mold was not properly remediated (wiping with bleach is not mold remediation).

Thousands of mold inspections and remediations have allowed a broad evaluation of mold growth patterns.  You can't be a good mold inspector if you are not accomplished in mold remediation.  Getting down and dirty remediating mold allows you to witness first hand how mold growth has occurred.  Remediating often times requires you to open up walls to get at the mold growth and you obtain a perspective as to how/why mold grows. 

Photo Oct 09, 9 43 30 AM-1   2018.10.26 12.06.31.535-2

Photo Nov 02, 12 47 54 PM

For instance, wood studs allow mold to grow more aggressively than metal studs when you have a wet area.   Floating concrete slabs can enhance mold growth on ceilings. When there are areas of termite damage you should expect to find mold growth as termites like a moist environment, like mold.   Did you know that your beloved mulch beds around your home can aid in humidity in a basement and crawlspace? Thus, creating an ideal environment for mold growth.  Also, the dehumidifier bucket that you got sick of emptying (filled with water every 2 days) now sits unplugged in the basement, ruining your line of defense in controlling moisture and keeping mold at bay. These factors as well as a host of other environmental and degrading building in fracture are the common culprits that cause mold to grow in a home.

(For example, lack of drainage and added mulch beds led to mold growth)

Curren Environmental does mold remediation to homes that have had mold remediation previously and the mold grew back, meaning remediation was not successful.  This happens due to top lack of following proper mold remediation protocols, using inferiors products to prevent mold growth from reoccurring and lastly removing the moisture source (many times there are more than one source) identification.  (Curren had one project where there for four sources of moisture that fueled the mold growth.)

Mold growth is typically found in homes when the property is being sold.  It may not be bothering the seller, but it may affect the buyer.  Everyone has different intolerance and tolerances to mold growth, one of the reasons there are no federal regulations governing mold growth. Mold growth can be a huge real estate deal breaker. If it wasn't it would be on the sale sheet, showing the moisture or water issue and where the area of mold growth. 

No, mold growth will not be on the sale sheet.  It is best to remediate the mold growth before the property is on the market, removing the issue in its entirety. 

Questions on mold remediation? Follow this link or call Curren Environmental today. 

Call Curren Today

 

 

 

 

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