Let’s Talk About Something That May Be Lurking In Your House – MOLD & MOISTURE!
Your home is generally a place to spend time with family and friends where you feel safe, enjoy living, eat and sleep. This pretty picture changes dramatically when molds begin to grow – most often due to an abundance of moisture!
About Mold – While for most people house mold is feared and a dirty word, the fact is that mold in some form exists in every house. No matter how clean you are, it is there! Mold is a natural part of the environment in any home. Mold only becomes a problem when it is allowed to grow and spread – especially when fueled my moisture!
Excess moisture can turn your home into a petri dish! According to the EPA, “mold is considered to be the #1 indoor air quality problem in U.S. housing”. Beyond the health hazard of mold, water intrusion can lead to structural rot, cosmetic issues and poor long-term durability. Water can also contribute to other problems, such as pest infestation.
Note – The Myth of “Toxic Black Mold” – “The term “Toxic Black Mold” has absolutely no scientific validation. It is a term made up by the media. Unfortunately, much like a video that goes viral, the term has resonated with both private companies that use it to exemplify potential dangers, and public officials, who seek to regulate the industry.”
Affects of Mold – Mold can cause health problems that range from itching eyes, sneezing and coughing to serious allergic reactions, asthma attacks and even permanent lung damage. Because people do not know what to look for, the health problems are often noticed before the mold.
Mold can lead to respiratory problems for:
b) The elderly
c) Pregnant women
d) People with suppressed immune systems.
e) People who suffer from allergies
f) People who have asthma
Extensive indoor mold infestations can affect otherwise healthy people. If you have observed mold in your house, it is important to have the seriousness of the problem assessed.
What Causes Mold In Your House? – Moisture Is the Problem! If your house is moldy, the real problem is water infiltration and/or prolonged humidity – levels over 60%. Unless you rectify the water and humidity problems, you’re never going to get rid of the mold.
Note — An inexpensive humidity gauge can be purchased at most hardware stores. Most of these stores also carry a pinless moisture meters for measuring the moisture levels of walls.
Types of Mold? – According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “…the most common indoor molds are cladosporium, penicillium, alternaria and aspergillus. Most of the molds are allergenic molds. Some people are going to be sensitive to it, and others are not. On the other hand, Stachybotrys chartarum – often called toxic mold is more rare. This heavy, dense, black mold is most often caused by a long-term moisture problem.”
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to tell what kind of mold you have by looking at it. Mold is colored by what it eats more than what it is; therefore, it is indistinguishable without testing by a professional.
Sources of water infiltration – Often nurturing the growth of mold (Excerpts for the Star.com of Toronto):
1) Basements – Basement water can come from several sources: eavestroughs, foundations, sewers, pipes.
2) Bathrooms – If you spot the ceiling under a bathroom starting to bubble and flake, chances are you’ve got a leak in your bathtub, shower, toilet or sink.
3) Condensation – If you find water on the floor or dripping from your pipes.
4) Downspouts – Blocked downspouts can back up your eavestroughs and these can spill down the walls into the house.
5) Eavestroughs – Generally, the one of the most likely culprits in the event of water leaking into through the basement walls is your eavestroughs and downspouts.
6) Foundation Walls – Concrete walls crack! When a house settles and the concrete hardens, cracks appear and water can enter.
7) Grade and Landscaping – Ensure all landscaping around the perimeter of your house slopes away from the foundation and that no dirt is piled above the level of your first floor.
8) Plumbing – Water pipes can and do leak, seals in fixtures wear out. Sink drains can spring a leak and toilets can shift off their sealing gaskets.
9) Roofing – A roof leak is a big issue, because, not only will it damage any fibreglass insulation in the walls and attic nearby, it’s also the most likely place to get mold. It will also weaken the home’s structure with rot.
10) Sump Pump Failures – Some homes sit on top of underground waterways and have chronic issues with the water constantly flowing around or under their home and it finds its way inside. Other houses are in low-lying areas which may not drain as quickly after a storm. In those cases, a sump pump is a solution.
11) Weeping Tile Failures– Weeping tile is a system of small pebbles and perforated pipe laid along the perimeter of the house at the footings. If your basement is constantly leaking from the bottom of the foundation, it may be the weeping tiles have failed, because they’re blocked with debris or have broken.
12) Basement Windows – Basement windows can leak if they are old and rotten or if the caulking at grade has failed. A common cause of basement leaking are window wells.
13) Sewer backups – Sewer backups are the worst of all leaks. A big storm simply overwhelms the system with a tsunami of rain water. If it’s not a storm, it’s usually a blockage emanating from the house.
Water damage to your home could be more costly than you think — Whatever the source of the water, the EPA cautions “that if damp or wet building materials or furnishings are not cleaned and dried within 24 to 48 hours, the moisture can lead to mold growth. So if it takes a couple of days to notice that leaky faucet or the rainwater that seeped into the basement, mold probably exists”.
When is a mold inspection needed? – According to MoldManUSA – an inspection and removal service, there are 8 signs that you may need a mold inspection:
1. You are experiencing allergic symptoms, such as stuffy head, headaches, scratchy throat, runny nose and not sure why.
2. You think you see mold but are not totally sure it is mold.
3. You smell a musty odor but don’t see any obvious mold.
4. There have been plumbing leaks or water issues in your home or office.
5. You want or need air testing after mold removal has been done by you or a professional to check whether mold levels have normalized.
6.You are a buyer or seller in a real estate transaction and need evidence whether airborne mold levels are not normalized.
7. You a landlord or tenant and need evidence whether there is a mold problem.
8. You are looking for a general assessment of your indoor air quality to make sure your family is breathing high quality clean air in your home.
In addition to an inspection for mold, an assessment for the sources for water infiltration is essential. The inspector should go over the house from top to bottom with a moisture sensor, and show you exactly where water was infiltrating the framing of the house and causing mold.
Home Advisor suggests, “If you suspect the presence of mold but aren’t sure or know you have mold but don’t know what kind or how much, you should immediately call a professional to consult your situation and the best approach to removal. These professionals, also known as certified Industrial Hygienists (IH), will charge an average of $300 to $500 to test your property and home for mold levels.”
Home Advisor further notes, “If you ignore the mold [and water] problem in your home, it will grow. The more mold there is, the more costly the removal, so address your mold problem as soon as you suspect you have one…”
Note — In some situations small sections of the wall and ceilings may need to be removed to determine the extent of the mold. It is essential to have the mold completely remediated by a professional utilizing approved equipment.
Mold Remediation (Removal) & the Cost – Mold remediation can be very dirty, tedious, and sometimes even dangerous. It is essential to wear the proper protective equipment – including a quality, well-maintained respirator. If you are not educated on the proper mold removal and remediation guidelines as provided by OSHA and other state and federal regulatory committees it is best left to professionals.
Note — Don’t forget to find a safe place for your pets during the remediation process!
The cost of remediation can vary significantly per the size and extent of the mold. Generally, initial inspections are free enabling the company to provide an estimate. According to HouseLogic, “When you find mold growing in your home, sound the alarm and get rid of it fast. Delay can mean extensive and costly remediation and repairs. On average, professional mold remediation costs $500 to $6,000 — but the price can soar into the tens of thousands if the problem is severe.”
Note – Don’t Fall for a Quick Fix or Gimmicks: Ozone generators, chemicals and other mold-killing (or covering) measures can be more toxic than the mold itself. They don’t actually kill the mold at its source. Remember that mold has to be completely removed, the moisture problem fixed, and the wet materials either dried or replaced. Any other mold killing services are a waste of money.
Does Home Insurance Cover Mold Remediation? – Maybe! It is important to immediately contact your agent and/or insurer upon the detection of mold. You will also want to be able to explain to them the source of the moisture contributing to the growth of the mold. Don’t presume your homeowners insurance will pay to fix your mold problems. Insurance typically pays if the problem results from an emergency already covered on your policy, like a burst pipe, but not if mold resulted from deferred maintenance, persistent moisture, seepage, or from floodwaters (unless you have flood insurance).
Conclusions – Mold in homes can be a costly and dangerous problem, particularly when infestations of so-called toxic black mold occur. The symptoms and health effects of mold exposure and toxic mold poisoning cover a wide range of health problems Understanding how to detect mold and the negative health indicators can help keep you and your family safe by having a professional inspection and the appropriate remediation.
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