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Mold Remediation

30Oct 2013

Advanced Mold Diagnostics, LLC is an environmental consulting company located in Broomall, Pennsylvania.

Mold, as unsavory as it is, is a substance that can be found in at least some quantities in most homes. But, mold is never just mold. There are 100,000 and counting different species of mold that occur naturally and many of these can also be found in your home. Some mold varieties are not very trying on our bodies, while others can cause very serious health issues. Here are just a few of the most common types of mold that might be found in your home after a mold inspection.

Penicillium: There are over three hundred different species of Penicillium that you might find in your home.  Most people have been exposed to at least one species of this mold in one way or another, as it is a major component of many common foods and medications. This mold is an allergenic mold, and despite its medical claims to fame, can cause many diseases in humans. This type of mold often grows on building materials when they get wet or the humidity is elevated as well as in soil or on food. It is sometimes found in dust too.

MoldPlate

Cladosporium: This mold is one of the most common molds on the planet. This type of mold is a black or green powdery substance. It is often found on food, dead plants or things that are made out of dead organic materials, (like modern day houses), paint and in fiberglass air ducts. It can cause many issues in humans including skin rashes, pulmonary conditions, asthma, and even nail fungus.

Memnoniella: This is one of the most common types of mold found in homes seeing that it grows on materials that we all have and use in our daily lives. This type grows on cotton, paper, and wood products. It can also develop toxins that are unsafe for both humans and animals.

Stachybotrys: This is a much discussed and misunderstood mold type, which is more commonly known by the name of toxic black mold. This species is what is defined as an indicator species. Knowing that it requires very high water activity in order to grow suggests that there is flooding or a leak in the home that is sustaining it. As you might already know, it is slimy and blackish in color, and is often found within the structure of the home. It grows on walls and ceilings, most often behind them, so it goes unseen and it has been known to cause asthma, headaches, and in extreme cases, cancer.

Stachybotrys_Fig02

Mucor: This mold type can be seen in homes and is most often found in animal waste as well as soil and common household dust. If you have a weak immune system, it is easy to develop a lung infection if you are exposed to this type of mold.

Alternaria: This type of mold is also an allergenic mold. It is usually found outside in soil and on plants. Inhaling this type of mold can cause serious asthmatic reactions as well as hay fever and other allergy related problems.

The only way to know for sure what type of mold is growing in your home is to have your home mold tested. Getting a professional mold inspection will ensure that you know exactly what is going on in your home in regards to mold growth and will guide you on to what the next steps are to remove it. Regardless of what type of mold is growing in your home, it is important that you get it removed so that the health effects, regardless of severity do not affect you or your loved ones.

08Oct 2013

Common Mold Removal Techniques – Advanced Mold Diagnostics

Almost all homes are susceptible to mold. Because we as humans tend to live in cool, moist environments, it is easy for mold to grow on the materials that make up the dwellings in which we live. But, unfortunately, though a common problem, mold is something that you definitely do not want in your home. Mold affects the structure of our homes as well as our health.

So how do you go about mold removal? Well, the first step is to call a professional. The mold that you can actually see may not be all of the mold that is present in the home. Mold may be growing within the inner cavities of your walls, so scrubbing it off the surface may not solve the problem.

moldremoval

Next, it is important to understand the different types of tactics that professionals use to remove mold in your home. The majority of mold remediation contractors use chemicals and stain removers to take care of the problem. It is important to understand a little bit about the chemicals that are being used in your home. Make sure that you ask questions about the effects that these products will have on you and your health. You should request an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) on any mold removal products that will be used in your home. Also make sure that you ask your contractor questions about how these products will react with the mold that is present. If your contractor cannot answer questions like these, you might want to consider finding one who can because some people react adversely to some products.

Another very popular method of removing mold is dry ice blasting. This is a very abrasive procedure that involves literally blasting the affected areas with dry ice particles to remove the mold. It is important that when hiring a contractor that uses this method to do your research. Dry ice blasting is a risky method that if not done correctly, can cause health concerns. Dry ice converts into a gas, carbon dioxide, once it is no longer in its solid state, and too much CO2 can be a problem in addition to the potential of cross-contamination that this method creates. The process of dry ice blasting makes the microscopic particles even smaller, harder to remove spores will travel and create regrowth.

Some technicians prefer to use a common bleach mixture and a nylon brush for scrubbing. This method is a little old fashioned and is only effective on non-porous surfaces. Keep in mind that bleach is not an EPA registered disinfectant to kill mold so again, do your research. Making sure that you have a reputable contractor take care of your mold removal needs is crucial to the permanent mold removal of your home.

No matter how you remove the mold, it is everyone’s wish to make sure that it stays gone. The professional that you hire should be able to tell you exactly what caused the mold growth in your home and how to prevent future growth. Sometimes the solution is as simple as fixing a leak or using a dehumidifier. Whatever the case may be, it is important that you follow the advice that you receive because the mold may grow back if you don’t, costing you even more money and lost time.

Ensure that you receive proper mold removal by calling a professional today, and doing your research. Keep the mold away by following the after treatment instructions that you receive, and you will live in a comfortable, mold free environment.

30Sep 2013

If there is one thing that we all have in common, it’s breathing. For the most part, this is a thoughtless action that we do for mere survival. And again, for the most part, that works for us, but have you ever thought about what exactly you are breathing in?

Sure, you have probably thought about the air around you, OUTSIDE, but what about the air in your home? I am willing to bet that you haven’t, and believe it or not, there is a chance that the air in your home is equivalent or worse than the air in a bustling city. If there is one thing that we know about air pollution other than the haze it puts on the city skyline, it’s that it is terrible for your health.

So how do you fix this issue? It’s hot outside. You are naturally going to continue to run your AC for comfort.

The solution is simple – get your air ducts cleaned and mold tested. For those of you who do not know, your air ducts are a major part of the heating and air system in your home. They are essentially how the heated or cooled air makes its way to the vents that you have strategically placed throughout your living space, keeping you comfortable regardless of the temperature outside.

Well just like any surface, the surfaces located inside of your air ducts can build up dust, debris, and if they are not properly installed, mold. There is also a chance that different living things that belong in the outdoors have made a new home in your air ducts. And because these ducts are a direct track to your home, the dust, debris, mold, or even waste will make its way into your home – which means you are breathing in all of this unwanted stuff.

indoorairquality, advanced mold

So how do you clean your air ducts? Well, I strongly advise that you do not even come close to attempting this task on your own. Call a professional. While this can sometimes be a pricey service, averaging a starting price around $500, a professional can also determine if your air ducts are properly installed and if your home needs to be mold tested. Air ducts that are clean, and efficiently installed will not only improve the air quality in your home, but will also improve the air flow if obstructions were removed, which means warmer winters and cooler summers.

When calling upon the service of a professional, it is important to keep in mind that you are hiring a contractor. Make sure that you do your research before bringing in anyone to work on your home. Review sites like Angie’s List are a great way to determine the quality and skill sets of your local contractors. Also, study up on the different services that you might be able to get to help keep your ducts clean for longer. There are different sealants and chemicals that many contractors use to prevent mold and buildup within your ducts. And of course, as previously mentioned, mold testing may need to occur in your home to determine if your living conditions are safe.

Improving the indoor air quality of your home doesn’t have to be a difficult process. To ensure the health of you and your family, make sure that you do your research and hire a professional to take a look at your air ducts and start breathing better in no time!

28Mar 2013

No one plans on having a flood impact their home. Whether it’s because of a plumbing issue or the result of Mother Nature, the damage a homeowner absorbs from a flood is usually unexpected. However, knowing what to do when a flood happens will determine the severity of the financial damage.

Before thinking of taking any steps to prevent mold yourself, consider your safety. Don’t use any electrical devices like fans or water pumps near dampened areas. The first step is to call our experts immediately. Mold can begin to grow on different dampened surfaces in just 48 hours. The sooner we can arrive on the scene, the more likely our visit will be for mold prevention rather than mold repair.

If you are able to, remove any completely dry items from the flooded area of your home. This will help prevent mold growth on them. If you can get the carpet dry or into a drying state quickly you can thwart the mold damage. Unfortunately, any rugs or carpets that were flooded and stay wet for days will need to be removed. A soaked rug is the perfect location for mold growth, and the damage is most likely too great for repair, so it is best to just discard these materials.

water damage

A quick response can eliminate the severity of water damage after a flood.

Rooms that were flooded will often see mold growth along the walls or inside the actual structure or the wall. Either way, detection of mold growth on these surfaces will result in the necessity to remove the drywall.

The sooner you call us, the better the chance to mitigate mold growth. However, if mold growth has already started or existed prior to the flood, our mold repair services begin with the removal of all materials that are contaminated. The next step of the process is then ensuring that the entire building is dry. Replacing materials in an environment that is still damp will just cause a homeowner to go back to square one with mold growth.

Our water extraction methods can vary based on the problem, but dehumidification and air movement are two of the most proven methods of water removal. Removing water completely will usually take two to five days.

It’s important to remember that mold problems can only get worse without detection. Many people will attempt to remove the water in their home themselves and later find out that mold that is invisible to the human eye is still growing. If you notice a musty smell, see mold growth, or even notice that the people in your home are experiencing allergies, give us a call.

Even if you are reading this blog far after the 48-hour period it takes mold to grow, the sooner you can call on our services for mold repair, the better off you will be.

 

27Mar 2013

Every issue identified by our home mold testing services will be linked to water. Mold is a fungus. And like any other living organism, it needs water and something to feed on in order to grow. It’s why your attic and your basement are the two most likely culprits for mold growth.

The attic and the basement are the two areas of a home that are most difficult for a homeowner to keep dry. Most of these rooms will lack exposure to sunlight and air movement. The attic is usually the most seldom used space in a residence, which often prolongs the detection process by a homeowner. Basements on the other hand are being used more and more nowadays, but if they’re not conditioned you can create a haven for mold growth. Regular checks for moisture can help prevent unnecessary financial damage.

Sometimes an external search of a home is great way to spot the source of a water issue. Identifying cracks in the walls or passageways around the windows will be a dead giveaway to the source of your moisture problem. Also, keep in mind that dampened wood, drywall and insulation are all notorious for breeding mold.

Sometimes, the source is harder to identify. For instance, clogged gutters can cause water to penetrate your home. Facing your sprinklers toward your home could be the culprit. Even having copious amounts of wet mulch against your foundation could be the source of a moisture issue, which will become a mold issue.

Mold Testing

Clogged gutters could be the reason for mold growth in your home.

Another common starting space for mold growth is cardboard. When looking around your basement or attic, ensure that any cardboard boxes used for storage are elevated off of the floor. If possible, make the switch to plastic containers and remove all cardboard boxes. The bottoms of cardboard boxes are known for maintaining moisture that leads to the growth of mold.

If you own a dehumidifier, the readings in your attic or basement should always read below 50%. When a reading is higher, it’s time to call on us for home mold testing. When our experts arrive, they will start by identifying how water is reaching your basement or attic. Once the source is identified, the proper actions will be taken to ensure that water is unable to penetrate your home again.

If mold remediation is needed, containment will be used to stop the spread of mold throughout your home. We will also remove any materials that are contaminated and provide a thorough cleaning of any surface that was prone to mold.

Unfortunately, there is no blanket repair process. The severity of the mold growth will always play a role in determining the next best step. Either way, our home mold testing is the best way to determine if you have a problem.

18Nov 2012

Mold for Dummies – Information on mold for the average homeower.

I’ve been writing articles on indoor air quality and mold remediation for quite some time now and realized a basic primer with the facts about mold would be appropriate.
Mold has been around since the beginning of time, but in the news for only a couple of decades. It was a landmark case where Linda Ballard won a lawsuit against her insurance company that really brought it to the public’s attention.
The science community has gone back and forth for years debating the health effects of mold exposure to humans.  There has been much progress made the last five years with opinions coalescing from the experts that mold has the potential to affect one’s health.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, and other prominent organizations all agree that living or working in a building with mold damage results in increased risk of respiratory disease.
Although available in Europe, here in the US there are no State or Federal TLV (threshold limit values) or TWA (time waited averages) for exposure to mold, unlike what we have for chemical exposure. This is primarily due to the fact that each person’s response to mold exposure is different.
There are some guidance documents on mold investigation and mold remediation in print, but there are no laws on the books. A couple of states have attempted legislation to control the industry with disastrous effects. What we’re left with is an industry that is self-governed. There are standards such as the IICRCS520 for mold remediation and the S500 for water damage that experienced professionals utilize. There are industry organizations like the Indoor Air Quality Association (www.IAQA.org) and RIA (www.restorationindustry.org) that promote professionalism and ethics. As the Philadelphia Chapter President for IAQA I run workshops to educated and further the need to operate in an ethical manner in order to serve the needs of our clients (you, the public). As always it’s “buyer beware”. I find that the real professionals are the ones who attend our workshops and the ones who give the industry a black eye are no shows.

What is Mold?
The colloquial term mold (or mould) is applied to a large and taxonomically diverse number of fungal species
Molds (and mildew) are fungi. Fungi are not part of the plant or animal kingdom, but have their own kingdom. The fungi kingdom includes such wonderful organisms as the delicious edible mushrooms some of us enjoy, the makers of the “miracle drug” penicillin and the yeast that makes our bread rise and our fine wines ferment. There are also fungi that spoil our bread, our fruit, cheese and sometimes our crops. Biologically, all fungi have defined cell walls, lack chlorophyll and reproduce by means of spores. Approximately 100,000 species of fungi have been identified and can be just about any color. The vast majority of fungi feed on dead or decaying organic matter – they are one of the principle agents responsible for the natural recycling of dead plant and animal life. Different mold species proliferate depending upon the “AW” (water activity) with some species that require very wet while others just damp conditions.

Advanced Mold Diagnostics

How does Mold become a problem inside a structure?

As mold spores perform their assigned task in the ecosystem as the preeminent recyclers they release spores into the air (sporalating). This is a reproductive activity similar to seed dispersal from plants.  Ranging in size from about 1 – 20 microns they are easily carried by air currents inside every time you open a window or a door. We carry them in on our shoes and clothes.
Mold growth occurs inside when mold spores land on a surface with enough moisture to support their growth.
Common sources of excessive indoor moisture that can lead to mold growth and create the need for mold remediation include:

•    Flooding from ground water
•    Plumbing leaks, sewer back-ups or overflows
•    Elevated relative humidity, especially in basements & crawl spaces
•    Roof leaks from missing or improperly installed elements
•    Window leaks resulting from improper flashing or wind driven rain
•    Ice damming (covered in a prior blog article)
•    Condensation when surfaces reach their dew point

How do I prevent mold growth?

The easy answer to prevent and halt microbial growth is to control what it needs to thrive – moisture.

1.    You have to address any obvious water penetrating your structure.

•    If ground water is a problem then keeping your gutters and downspouts clean and clear is a first step. Inspect your property during a rainstorm, taking note where water pools around your foundation.
•    Your grading needs to have a positive pitch away from the foundation.
•    Vegetation should not be too close; it should be 2 – 3 feet away from foundation.
•    Go into your attic and check for leaks during a rain event especially checking around boots where there are penetrations through the roof.
•    Check for proper ventilation in attic. Also covered in another blog article

2.    Buildings must be conditioned.

•    You have to monitor the relative humidity and control it with dehumidification. ASHRAE recommends keeping relative humidity between 30 – 60% to prevent mold growth. We know that there are        drought tolerant species that will proliferate between 50 – 60% therefore we advocate keeping relative humidity under 50% to prevent the need for mold remediation.
•    Insulation is another consideration, but one that requires extensive explanation and delves more into the building sciences then the average property owner wants to get into to. For more information please check my blog for information on how lack of insulation can create condensation that leads to mold growth.

3.    Exhausting excess relative humidity from bathrooms and kitchens can and often is another major fault in design.

•    Bathrooms must have exhaust fans. These fans must exhaust through the roof and not into the attic or the soffit vents.
•    Clothes dryers need to be vented outside. It’s important to insure that the vent is cleaned and checked on a regular basis.
•    Line drying of clothes needs to be employed only when an understanding of relative humidity and monitoring of such is considered.

4.    Wall coverings on exterior walls can be problematic.

•    Vinyl wallpaper on exterior walls act as a vapor and do not allow the structure to breathe, this can create condensation issues that allow for mold to grow.
•    Vapor barriers (anything that has an extremely low permeability    factor). Contrary to some thinking and some TV home improvement shows, there is no place for vapor barriers anywhere in a building in our region.

5.    What do I do to prevent mold growth once I’ve experienced a water incident?

•    If you have a flood or plumbing issue, getting the standing water up quickly and drying out the structure is key. If you can get it completely dry within forty-eight hours you can prevent mold growth and hence the lack of need for mold inspection, mold testing and consequently mold remediation.

If you’re unable to clean up and dry out the structure within the critical forty-eight hour window to prevent mold growth then consult with a certified mold remediation contractor or an environmental consultant.

Craig Camel
Advanced Mold Diagnostics
Advanced Stucco Inspection

07Nov 2012

Anti-microbial coatings are often times utilized inappropriately although, many in the industry believe they are an inherent aspect of mold remediation; they are NOT! Specifics as to how and when the application is called for contribute to the controversial nature of discussion on the topic.

Advanced Mold Diagnostics

As previously discussed the key to mold prevention is controlling moisture.  Monitor and keep indoor relative humidity below 60 percent, ideally between 30-50 percent.  Keep all rooms ventilated and conditioned.  Ensure that there is no excess moisture penetration or accumulation and whenever possible prevent excess condensation through the use of dehumidification.  If microbial contamination does occur, addressing the source of water penetration is vital.  Once this has been addressed remediation may need to occur using a certified mold remediation contractor if mold growth has occurred (and can occur within 24-48 hours once moisture and some building materials, which act as a potential source of mold food, meet).

As you know from reading my blog and visiting my website, mold is not as bad as the media and some of my colleagues make it out to be. Mold affects different people in different ways.  For the majority of us it’s nothing more than an allergen that we may or may not react to. Some people are more sensitive and susceptible to the potential adverse effects of mold growth.  Of course if someone has a compromised immune system mold can be life threatening.  Once a client makes it clear that he or she falls into the sensitive category, a mold remediation contractor should always consider approaching an already sensitive topic (anti-microbial coatings) with even more caution. Sensitized individuals can react to coatings in the same way that they react to other chemicals.

Too often my consultants and I find ourselves looking at a project where mold clean-up has supposedly occurred. What we often find is mold remediation contractors not using the proper cleaning protocols and relying on the coating to do their work for them. Just this week alone, I saw one residential project where they sprayed (applied) just enough product to conceal the visible mold growth, yet not enough to be effective. The other project was a commercial building where the moisture had not been addressed and it had a very heavy application that left the surface looking normal to the untrained eye. The building materials were water damaged to the point that the moisture meter went right through the wall when I attempted to take a reading.

As I professional with decades of experience, I have done my research and have application experience in the field with regards to the use of any anti-microbial coatings. In fact, as the Philadelphia Chapter Director of the Indoor Air Quality Association I’ve run workshops on the use and misuse of these coatings.

I would suggest that anyone considering mold remediation research their own interaction or potential reaction to all chemicals that may be considered.  In the same way that mold has different effects on different people; different products have different effects on humans and other animals.

Craig Camel

Advanced Mold Diagnostics

Advanced Stucco Inspection

 

11Oct 2012

The New York City Department of Health Guidelines have become moderately antiquated (written almost 20 years ago), yet still represent one of the more widely referenced outlines for mold remediation.  The document originally focused primarily on Stachybotrys atra (today called Stachybotrys chartarum).  In 2000 the original guidelines were revisited and updated to include all fungi.

stachy

 

The panel that authored the original guidelines explicitly stated that it was intended for building engineers and management, but available for general distribution.  Although there are important facts outlined in the guidelines, the public has extracted convenient sections of the document and applied certain practices out of context.  As with any outline or guidelines, the document has its limitations and its scope is not omniscient.  For example, the NYC Dept. of Health Guidelines does not call for the use of exhaust fans.  Even though it may not always be a necessary precaution, ventilation and/or negative pressurization will help prevent cross-contamination, even in small isolated areas with microbial growth (Level I).

Utilized correctly the guidelines represent one of many available resources for mold remediation.  As with any do-it-yourself projects, untrained individuals should proceed with caution and follow directions in their entirety.  We should also always consider the dated resources we consult, and be careful to look further than a quick and convenient solution to mold growth.  Environmental consultants and mold remediation professionals have spent years developing protocols that incorporate a very detailed, specific, comprehensive, and labor-intensive approach to addressing microbial growth.  Mold testing before and after remediation should also be considered.

If you decide to consult only one, now slightly outdated resource for mold remediation amidst a multitude of available resources, do yourself a favor and read the entire document carefully.  The guidelines are based primarily on the area (or number of square feet) affected by microbial growth.  Although I might think I am only addressing a small area, the actual area of involvement is often difficult to determine before removing gypsum wall board, or other porous building materials.

So what’s the bottom line?  Proceed with caution and do your homework.  There are many products and ‘professionals’ attempting to take advantage of people unwilling to read before they spend.  Even after researching mold remediation, microbial growth, and appropriate practices we need to be vigilant and realize that mold remediation contractors would not be in business if all we needed to do was buy a do-it-yourself mold testing kit and a bottle of mold-be-gone at the corner store.

There are situations where mold can be addressed without the help of professionals, but significant amounts of time, energy, and money can be saved with a few phone calls and some basic research.

More often than not prevention is the key.  Seek a professional’s opinion.  Moisture is crucial in preventing mold growth and finding that moisture can be obvious or require a more trained eye and a detailed investigation.

 

Craig Camel

Advanced Mold Diagnostics

Advanced Stucco Inspection

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