What is mold?
-Mold is a type of fungus. There are thousands of varieties of mold, but they all survive by digesting organic matter, and reproduce by forming spores. These spores break off from an existing colony and land on other surfaces, forming new colonies. Mold needs both food and water to survive; since molds can digest most things, limiting its access to water is the most important variable in controlling indoor growth. Sometimes the source of water that initiated a mold issue is known to a home owner, such as a burst pipe or a leaking roof. Too often we see that the repairs have been made to stop the leak, but the water was allowed to infiltrate porous materials in the home, allowing mold to begin growing. This is why it is very important to let us help you thoroughly remove all water, as soon as possible, after a flood or other water disaster. It is much better to prevent the mold in the first place. Often, the water source is more difficult to identify. It may be a small leak in a pipe, uncontrolled humidity in the air, or slow seepage through foundation walls. Our trained professionals will help you assess the source and address the problem so that mold will not return to your space.
How does mold affect my home?
-All molds are dangerous to your home. According to the Journal of Property Management, a single square inch of drywall can contain between one and ten million mold spores. Because molds literally consume the materials they grow on, serious and permanent damage to those materials is guaranteed if mold is allowed to continue growing and producing new colonies.
How can I tell if my home has the kind of mold that can make my family sick?
-If you suspect that someone in your home is ill due to an environmental factor, it is best to visit your doctor. Many of the health effects and symptoms of mold exposure are still being studied. The Environmental Protection Agency has this to say: “ Some molds, such as Aspergillus versicolor and Stachybotrys atra (chartarum), are known to produce potent toxins under certain circumstances. Although some mycotoxins are well known to affect humans and have been shown to be responsible for human health effects, for many mycotoxins, little information is available, and in some cases research is ongoing. For example, some strains of Stachybotrys atra can produce one or more potent toxins. Molds can produce toxic substances called mycotoxins…More than 200 mycotoxins have been identified from common molds, and many more remain to be identified. Some of the molds that are known to produce mycotoxins are commonly found in moisture-damaged buildings. Exposure pathways for mycotoxins can include inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact…When moisture problems occur and mold growth results, building occupants may begin to report odors and a variety of health problems, such as headaches, breathing difficulties, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and aggravation of asthma symptoms; all of these symptoms could potentially be associated with mold exposure.
All molds have the potential to cause health effects. Molds produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, toxins that may cause reactions in humans. The types and severity of symptoms depend, in part, on the types of mold present, the extent of an individual’s exposure, the ages of the individuals, and their existing sensitivities or allergies.” Why does it seem that mold is a bigger problem now than in the past? -In an effort to build increasingly energy efficient buildings, we have been sealing up our homes more and more tightly. This saves money on heating and cooling and lessens our energy consumption. The downside though is that our homes have less breathability than ever before. We are trapping in molds and other contaminates that may be harmful to us.
What exactly is mold remediation?
-By definition, mold remediation is the removal of mold from an environment. There are several phases to execute the removal correctly. Perhaps the most critical of these is containment. Because mold reproduces by means of airborne spores, it is extremely important to isolate areas containing mold from surrounding spaces. We will set up containment systems and machines which extract spores from the air and trap them in filters that we dispose of. If this step is not done correctly, any disturbance of a colony of mold can aerate thousands of spores, which will spread to previously uninfected areas of your home. We will also address the source of moisture in your home. Mold needs moisture to grow, so discovering its source and eliminating it is essential to avoid recontamination. The cleaning, removal, and/or encapsulating of the mold will vary, depending on the particular materials involved and the extent of the damage. Our professionals will explain every aspect of your particular situation.
Doesn’t bleach kill mold? Can’t I just use that?
-It is absolutely true that sodium hypochlorite (the active ingredient in household bleach) will kill most molds. Unfortunately, the solution is rarely that simple. On nonporous surfaces, such as ceramic tile or glass, household bleach will usually kill mold. This is an excellent way for homeowners to remove mold from tiled tub enclosures, shower curtains, etc. However, when mold has infiltrated porous materials such as drywall, carpet padding, or wood, the problem becomes a bit more complex. For one, chlorine discolors most materials and so may be contraindicated for that reason. For another, household bleach contains mostly water. Applying water to a porous surface may actually make the problem worse by giving the mold more damp material to spread to. Furthermore, the chlorine in the bleach often removes the color from the mold, making it appear to be gone, but it hasn’t actually been killed and will reappear. Lastly, and most importantly, mold on porous surfaces actually penetrates deeper into the surface than the bleach can reach to kill it effectively. We often see jobs where a homeowner had attempted to clean up a mold problem, and unwittingly made it worse. Agitating the mold, while attempting to mitigate it, can cause spores to aerate and form new colonies in previously unaffected areas. The only real solution is full remediation (removal) of mold.
Are there a lot of harsh chemicals involved in mold remediation?
-There is a trend now for some remediation companies to market themselves as being “green” or “environmentally friendly”. There are also some companies which manufacture their own lines of proprietary cleaning agents, which promise to work better other products. The fact is that, done correctly, mold remediation is a pretty environmentally sound process. Because the focus is on removal of mold, and not necessarily on killing mold, noxious chemical compounds are not usually necessary. Our goal is to make your indoor air quality better by removing mold, not worse by introducing a lot of potentially hazardous chemicals.
If I have discovered a mold issue in my home or business, what is the first step I should take?
-People often ask us what to do first? Do I have testing performed to assess the type of mold in my space? Do I call my insurance company? Where do I begin the process? The first step is to give us a call. We will assess your situation, help determine if testing is necessary, and advocate for you through the, often daunting, process of filing an insurance claim.