Recent Mold Remediation Posts
6 Ways To Prevent Mold From Invading Your Home
Mold is all around us, and in every breath we take. It is a fungus that plays an essential role in the natural process of decay. Mold is also necessary for creating things like penicillin, cheese, and decomposing the piles of fallen leaves and dead trees in the forest.
It can grow year-round in almost every environment. Mold spores spread quickly in the air and can grow anywhere there is moisture and organic matter for it to "digest."
Outdoors, mold likes shady, damp places or anywhere vegetation is decomposing. Mold colonies thrive indoors where humidity levels are high, like basements, bathrooms, crawlspaces, and poorly ventilated areas. Carpet, clothing, food, paper, drywall, ceiling tiles, and wood are common surfaces mold likes to grow in people's homes.
It is impossible to eradicate mold from your home completely. However, it is crucial to keep the mold levels low to prevent it from growing and becoming a problem in your home.
SERVPRO is the industry leader in mold remediation. No matter how large or small, our technicians are trained to handle any kind of mold problem. However, we would rather help you prevent mold from becoming a problem in your home. Here are some easy things you can do this fall to avoid a mold issue.
Proper ventilation is key
Many of our daily activities can encourage mold to grow in our homes. Anything from cooking dinner or taking a shower to washing a load of laundry can cause moisture to build up in your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry rooms.
Make sure all the high-moisture areas in your home have proper ventilation. Appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers and stoves should have vents to move moist air to the outside. Install exhaust fans in the bathrooms and make sure to run them every time you shower.
Air conditioners and dehumidifiers help with moisture control, especially in humid climates. However, have them inspected and cleaned regularly to make sure they don't contribute to the moisture problem.
Open the windows when you cook or wash dishes to circulate drier air through your home, especially on days with low humidity.
Energy-efficient homes are excellent at reducing your heating and cooling costs, but they may be holding moisture inside your home by preventing airflow. Before the emphasis on energy-efficiency, homes were "leaky," allowing air to move through the walls more easily. This helped prevent mold from growing because damp surfaces like wood and insulation dried easier.
Now that homes are designed to be more air-tight, it is essential to have proper ventilation to control the indoor humidity levels. Keep doors between rooms open and move the furniture away from walls and corners to let air move more freely around your home.
Use mold-resistant products in your home
If you are building a new home or renovating an old one, choose mold-resistant products, especially when it comes to materials like wood, insulation, drywall, carpet, and sheetrock. These building materials have a fungicide treatment that kills all types of fungus as it tries to grow on the surface.
Mold resistant drywall contains fiberglass facing instead of a paper facing. Therefore, there is no organic material in this type of drywall for mold to feed on. Even though fiberglass facing could still allow mold to grow, the chances of this happening are significantly reduced.
Mold resistant paint will not kill mold, but it will prevent mold from growing behind walls for up to five years. There are many options on the market to suit a variety of budgets and specific needs.
Rugs and carpets can harbor colonies of mold in the fibers or under the surface. Mold-resistant carpets use acrylic fibers that are more resistant to fungus growth. The disadvantage of mold-resistant carpets is that the material tends to wear out faster than traditional rugs and carpets. But, if you or your family have allergies or strong reactions to mold, or if you live in a particularly damp environment, mold-resistant carpets may be a worthwhile investment.
If you notice areas that are often damp or prone to mold growth, consider applying a mold-resistant sealant. It is a protective fungicide coating that can be applied to a variety of surfaces, including wood, brick, and stucco. The sealant will prevent mold from growing even in humid conditions.
Monitor humidity levels
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends keeping indoor humidity levels between 30 and 60 percent to prevent mold growth and other moisture-related problems. Purchase a "hygrometer" moisture meter from your local hardware store and install it in a "problem area" in your home.
There are also tell-tale signs of excessive moisture in your home. The most common symptoms are condensation buildup on windows, walls, and pipes, and musty odors. Make sure to turn off any humidifiers and dry the surfaces immediately if you notice condensation. Try to identify the source of the moisture (an air vent that is not working, poor air movement, etc.) to address the root cause and avoid a mold problem. If this is a common problem, invest in a dehumidifier.
Air conditioner size matters
Make sure your air conditioning unit is the right size for your house and climate. An air conditioner that is too large will cool the home too fast and won't remove enough moisture from the air. If you live in a very humid climate (like Tennessee), consider adding a dehumidifier to the central air conditioning system. Another option is to use portable dehumidifiers in chronically damp areas of your home.
Keep water away from your foundation
Make sure the landscaping and ground around your house slopes away from the foundation of your home. Otherwise, water can collect and seep into the basement or crawlspace, creating a dark, damp environment for mold to thrive. As your home and the soil settles, the slope will change. Rebuild the soil each spring to make sure it slopes away from the foundation. Experts recommend building a slope of 1 inch high per foot in length.
Make sure the gutter system is clean and in good condition. The downspouts should move water at least five feet away from the foundation to prevent water from pooling around your house.
If gutters and a slope are not enough to keep water away from the foundation, your lawn may require a dry well. Dry wells are holes in the ground filled with gravel. They help water to return to the ground without pooling or flooding on the surface.
Contact SERVPRO to clean mold
Small mold patches are easy to clean off hard surfaces with heavy-duty cleaning products, but it is essential to identify the cause and resolve the underlying problem. Whether it's a small area, major mold issue, or anything in between, SERVPRO professionals are equipped to identify the source and cause of the mold problem. Then they will properly clean the area and restore your home to its original, healthy condition.
Because mold spores travel by air, it is important to use the right equipment when cleaning mold to avoid allowing it to spread to other areas of your home. SERVPRO technicians use technology like negative air chambers to contain the mold and high-quality air filtration systems with "air scrubbers" and HEPA vacuums to prevent the mold spores from spreading while they clean and disinfect the area.
Mold Remediation In Schools And Commercial Buildings
Mold doesn't just grow on the food left in the breakroom refrigerator too long. A damp environment leads to mold growth if not addressed quickly. Pipe leaks, unvented shower areas, and other moisture sources inside the building or stormwater leaking in are common culprits for indoor humidity.
Even excessive moisture in the air can lead to mold problems if you don't control it with air conditioning. It can grow on most organic surfaces where moisture and oxygen are available.
Besides causing significant disruptions to your business or school, mold can pose serious health concerns for people. SERVPRO is equipped to resolve all kinds of mold problems in commercial buildings and schools.
What Is Mold?
Mold (sometimes called mildew) can be found indoors and outdoors, in all climates, and at any time throughout the year. It is a fungus that forms and grows on any type of damp or decaying organic matter. There are many different species of mold that come in different colors.
Mold survives by relying on organic matter for nutrition. Outdoors, this includes fallen leaves and decaying plants. Indoors, mold looks for carbon sources for food, like drywall and other building materials.
The most common cause for mold growing indoors is excess moisture. Office buildings and schools usually have moderate temperatures, nutrition sources, and dark, damp areas that are ideal for mold to grow.
Mold grows by releasing microscopic spores into the air. The spores float until they land and settle in a moist area that has a source for nutrients. Once the spores find those places, they form new mold colonies. The heating and air conditioning systems inside commercial buildings and schools may help spores spread quickly. The ducts themselves can even be ideal areas for mold to grow.
What Is "Mold Remediation"?
SERVPRO technicians understand the science behind how mold grows and spreads. Mold remediation focuses primarily on getting (or keeping) mold levels back to the healthy, naturally occurring levels.
Every situation of mold damage is unique and requires a custom solution. The general SERVPRO mold remediation process is as follows:
Inspection and damage assessment: A team of SERVPRO agents inspects the building for mold damage using a variety of technologies to detect unhealthy levels of mold and hidden water sources.
Containment: SERVPRO agents use a multi-pronged process to contain and prevent the spread of mold. Depending on the situation, this step may involve advanced containment procedures like negative air chambers to keep the mold spores from spreading during the cleanup process. All the heating and cooling systems are usually turned off during the containment process to prevent mold spores from spreading through the air ducts.
Filtration: Cleaning the air of excess mold spores is an essential part of the remediation process. SERVPRO uses specialized filtration equipment to trap microscopic mold spores in the air. "Air scrubbers" and HEPA vacuums prevent mold from spreading and growing.
Removing the mold and invested materials: The mold remediation process depends mainly on how much and what types of molds are growing, and the types of surfaces on which the mold grows. SERVPRO technicians remove all the mold-infested materials like carpeting and drywall from the building. Next, the agents use antimicrobial and antifungal treatments to kill existing mold colonies and prevent new colonies from growing.
Cleaning Belongings: Mold can also grow on furniture, curtains, clothing, decorative items, and other belongings. SERVPRO professionals use a variety of techniques and chemicals to clean and sanitize the affected belongings. This also helps remove the musty, moldy smells from the building and items.
Restoration: Depending on the extent of the mold damage, SERVPRO technicians might need to remove drywall, carpeting, and even subfloors to make sure the mold colonies are eradicated. Once they clean all the mold, the technicians will make any repairs necessary to return the building to its original condition.
How To Prevent Mold In Commercial Buildings And Schools
Because mold is present almost everywhere (both indoors and outdoors), it is impossible to remove all mold. However, it is possible (and essential) to prevent mold from growing beyond healthy levels and spreading inside the building.
It is much easier and cost-effective to eliminate the potential causes for mold growth than to wait until you have a mold problem. Here are some easy ways to prevent mold problems before they start:
Make repairs: Leaky roofs, poorly sealed windows and door frames, broken pipes, and cracked foundations are common problems that can allow mold to grow. Stay on top of building maintenance and repairs so you can catch water damage before the moisture leads to a moldy disaster.
Clean the ducts: The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems can quickly spread mold spores around the building. Reduce the spread of mold spores by having the air ducts regularly cleaned and maintained. This will improve the overall air quality in the school or offices, which will have a positive impact on peoples' health.
Moisture control: In Tennessee, humidity is often high. Damp air makes it easy for mold to grow. Consider installing dehumidifiers around the building, or at least in basements, attics, and other areas prone to moisture and mold. Keep the indoor humidity below 45% to prevent mold from growing quickly.
Make sure shower areas in the locker rooms have proper vents to move moist air outside and install exhaust fans in the cafeteria and food services areas. Make sure the exhaust fans run whenever you are cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
Inspect regularly: Mold can thrive places you may never think to look. Create a routine inspection plan to look for mold, high moisture areas, damp surfaces, stains on the walls or carpeting, and musty smells. These are the early signs of a mold issue that, if addressed early, can be cheaper and easier to resolve.
Bathrooms, locker rooms, and kitchens have a lot of places where mold grows easily. Make sure to inspect bathrooms for water stains, standing water, and leaking pipes. Don't allow water to stand in the refrigerator and air conditioning drip pans. If a lunchroom or break room has a water dispenser, inspect the area around it to catch leaks and spills early.
Clean the floors and carpets: Don't install carpet in areas where moisture might be a constant concern, like around drinking fountains or classroom sinks. Have the floors and carpets professionally cleaned regularly to remove spots, stains, and dirt build-up. This will prolong the life of the flooring and prevent mold spores from building up. However, make sure the flooring dries quickly to prevent mold from growing.
Do you have a SERVPRO Emergency READY Profile for your school or business? Pre-planning for all sorts of disasters will help you recover and return to normal quickly. Whether it's mold remediation, water damage, or a host of other potential disasters, SERVPRO are experts at cleaning and restoration.
Mold Damage: What Happens Next?
When you’ve had water damage due to a plumbing leak, appliance malfunction, roof leak, or flood waters from a storm, you may also end up with mold damage. Mold, a type of fungus, thrives in wet or damp environments. Mold can spread throughout a home in just two days, causing significant damage to your property and belongings. This is why it’s important to call on a professional remediation team, like SERVPRO of Rutherford County as soon as mold has been discovered.
So, you’ve found mold in your home and have called the pros, what’s next? Here’s some things you can expect from a mold remediation process:
But First… A Word About Remediation vs “Removal”
What’s the difference between “mold removal” and “mold remediation,” you ask? While some companies claim to “remove all of the mold” from a mold affected home or business, the experts at SERVPRO understand that mold spores are naturally occurring organisms that float through the air virtually everywhere, both indoors and out.
Claiming complete “removal” is just not possible. Remediation, on the other hand, is a multi-step process of returning mold levels to a normal, natural level.
The Remediation Process - 7 Steps to Returning Your Space to Normal
Step 1: You’ve found mold - make the call. Call the Professionals at SERVPRO of Rutherford County to get the remediation process started. Our representative will have some questions for you that will help get a rough idea of what resources and equipment will be needed for your specific situation.
Step 2: Inspection and repairing water source (if needed) A thorough inspection and assessment of your property will be done by a SERVPRO professionals. They will use a variety of tools and tech to determine the full scale of the problem, as mold can be hidden behind, under, and inside things, out of sight for the naked eye, but easily spotted by a pro with the right equipment. The SERVPRO technician will also be able to determine any hidden water sources that will need to be addressed before remediation can begin.
Step 3: Preventing the spread with compartmentalization. Physical barriers and more advanced mold containment protocols may be used, depending on your situation. Negative air pressure chambering may be used to keep the mold from spreading further.
Step 4: Clearing the Air. Special air filtration units will be set in place. These devices, referred to as “air scrubbers,” pull mold spores from the air and help prevent the spread of mold during the rest of the process.
Step 5: Clean up and clear out. This is the step in which things will vary greatly depending on your particular mold situation. In some cases, mold-infested materials that are porous (such as drywall and carpeting) will need to be removed. The SERVPRO professionals will use specialized antimicrobial treatments that are appropriate for the surfaces at hand.
Step 6: Getting the contents clean and smelling fresh. The SERVPRO professionals will clean the contents of your space. Any furniture, curtains, clothing, decorative items, etc that was affected by the mold will be cleaned and sanitized. If needed, the space will also be deodorized using specialized fogging deodorization equipment.
Step 7: Restoring your space. The mold is now back to naturally occurring levels, the odor is gone, and the contents of your space are clean and sanitized. Now, the restoration begins. If any drywall, subflooring, or other building materials were affected and removed, this is when they get replaced. New carpet will be installed, walls and ceilings will be repaired, refinished, and repainted as needed, and any other restoration that needs to be done to restore your home or business to it’s pre-mold state will be done.
From this step-by-step layout you can see, from the time you call the SERVPRO of Rutherford County mold remediation specialists until your restoration is complete, we will take care of everything, keeping you in the loop on what’s being done. If you suspect you have a mold problem in your home or business, call SERVPRO of Rutherford County right away so we can get to work preventing further mold damages and cleaning up what has been affected.
Mold Damage? Your Questions Answered.
Have you had a damaging water event that affected your home? Is there an area in your home that stays damp due to a slow leak or condensation? Do you have a suspicious smell in the area where your home got wet? If you have had water damage that wasn’t remediated by professionals (or the source was not identified), it’s likely that you also have mold damage in your home.
If water has flooded in to your home, whether through broken pipes, slow leaks, appliance failure, roof leaks, or flood waters from a storm, mold can begin to grow in as little as 48 hours.
What exactly is mold, and what should you do if you find you have mold damage? We have answers for you. Read on to learn more.
Understanding What Mold Is and Why It is Problematic
- Molds are a type of fungus that are found pretty much everywhere. It’s actually unknown how many types of mold species exist, but experts estimate between tens of thousands to more than three hundred thousand. Some of the most common molds that are found indoors are cladosporium, penicillium, alternaria, and aspergillus.
- Mold spores are the fungus’ way of reproducing. These are microscopic particles, and float through the air, much like pollen, and are extremely hardy; they can withstand extreme drought and cold. Mold spores find their way in to your home through open windows or doors, heating or air conditioning systems, and even on your clothing, shoes, or pets.
- While mold spores can float around in practically any conditions, mold thrives in moist environments, and will reproduce rapidly when wet. It grows especially quickly when wet and warm conditions are present.
- Mold gives off a strong, telltale odor that can smell different from person to person and from one mold species to another. The odor could generally be described as “musty” “old” “like dirt” or “like rot.”
- Indoor humidity levels that are consistently above 50% can support mold growth. Try to keep indoor humidity at about 45% for your comfort and inhibiting mold growth.
- Be aware that before any mold remediation can take place, the source of the moisture needs to be identified and addressed, or the mold may return.
A Note About Black Mold
A specific species of mold has made the news often termed “toxic mold” or “black mold” scientifically known as stachybotrys chartarum. These news reports can be distressing and sometimes confusing. The fact of the matter is that ALL mold should be treated with caution and care, regardless of the type of color. The best thing to do is stay out of the space and call the professionals.
Mold Damage - Do’s and Don’ts
Mold can quickly cause significant damage to your home. SERVPRO of Rutherford County has specialized training and equipment to handle mold problems, but until a specialist arrives, some safety precautions should be taken:
- DO stay out of any mold affected areas of your home. It is especially important to keep children and the elderly away. In fact it may be necessary to temporarily relocate until remediation is complete.
- DO turn off any fans and air conditioning/heating systems - cycling the air through the whole home can carry mold spores to new places.
- DO call SERVPRO of Rutherford County as soon as you notice a problem.
- DON’T touch the mold affected items or move any furniture/items in the area of the mold.
- DON’T attempt to dry out a mold affected area yourself.
- DON’T attempt to clean the mold yourself, do not spray bleach or other disinfectants on the mold.
If you suspect you have a mold problem in your property, contact SERVPRO of Rutherford County, your local fire, water, and mold cleanup and restoration experts.