Recent Mold Remediation Posts
National Moldy Cheese Day
October 9th is National Moldy Cheese Day. While an old hunk of cheese sitting around in your refrigerator that has red or brown-tinged mold on it is typically contaminated with bacteria, and is not good for consumption, grey, blue, or green colored moldy cheeses like Roquefort, Brie, bleu and gorgonzola to name a few can be quite tastey. If you have never tried a moldy cheese, your local deli may have a cheesemonger. A cheesemonger is a person who specializes in cheeses, butter, and other dairy products. A cheesemonger can provide expert advice on artisan cheeses for recipes, banquets and sources for restaurants.
While mold on cheese may be a good thing, mold in your home or business is not. Mold is considered a lifeform and it can be found anywhere. During the spring and summer months it is not uncommon for your local weather forecaster to include counts of allergens in the air like pollen and mold. People who suffer from allergies to mold and other outdoor fungi feel their allergies are worse in the late summer than in spring.
The mold spores that are in the air can deposit themselves on just about any surface and grow whenever water or moisture is present. And it doesn’t take a lot of moisture for mold spores to grow. Even condensation on windowsills is enough moisture for mold spores to grow. Therefore, to prevent mold in your home or business it’s important to keep humidity levels at a reasonable level and address any leaks from things like plumbing, roofs, windows etc. as soon as possible.
If you find a mold problem in your home or business we have IICRC certified experts in mold to help you find the source of your problem and safely remove the mold from the building.
In our last blog we talked about what mold needs to grow. Knowing what mold needs to grow, we can talk about what to do to prevent it. We can talk about lots of specifics, but the big overlying issue is to cut off mold’s water source.
- Keep humidity levels below 60 percent. This can be accomplished by running air conditioning, running exhaust fans in humid places like bathrooms, and of course running a dehumidifier when necessary. Good air flow is also important to control humidity and possible condensation on places like windows. Be mindful of furniture placement near or over vents and registers, open drapes and blinds to avoid humidity or condensation being trapped behind them and reduce clutter that may hinder air flow.
- Watch for water intruding into places it should not be and address any leaks from plumbing, roofing, appliances, hot water heaters, or even a flooded basement from a failed sump pump immediately. Any time you have water somewhere it should not be, you are inviting mold.
What Mold Needs to Grow
In our last blog we talked about the fact that mold can be found almost everywhere and how it spreads. Today we’ll talk about what mold needs to grow. For the most part, mold needs basically the same things that plants need to grow. It needs:
- Water or moisture
The specifics of these things vary slightly for mold. For example, mold does not need a certain amount of water or rainfall. Mold does just fine with condensation, a small amount of moisture, or even a high level of humidity (moisture) in the air. In addition, instead of soil, mold feeds on any organic material. Examples of organic materials in our homes and businesses would be wood, textiles, and paper. The mold hyphae produces an enzyme that breaks down the organic material into a digestible food source.
As for warmth, mold doesn’t require much. It thrives anywhere between 32 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That said, temperatures below freezing do not kill mold. Instead the mold spores go dormant unless or until the temperature goes above freezing. And while mold can thrive in any temperature above freezing and up to 120 degrees, it does best between 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. The chances of mold growth are greatly heightened between those temperatures.
Where plants and mold differ is in their need for sunlight. While plants need sunlight, mold can not grow under ultraviolet light.
In our next blog we will talk about things you can do to help prevent mold.
Mold: Where Can You Find It & How Does it Spread
Mold can be found almost everywhere. Mold can be found year-round both indoors and outdoors. The key is to prevent it from growing and/or reproducing or spreading.
So how does mold reproduce or spread? Molds reproduce or spread by releasing spores. Mold spores are kind of like a mature dandelion that has gone to seed and gone white. When disturbed, mold spores can travel through the air, in water, or on animals, much like when you blow on a mature dandelion and the seeds go floating through the air to land in a new spot and start to grow there. So, if you discover a mold problem in your home or business, it’s important not to disturb it. Instead, call our professionals for advice and/or assistance in cleaning it up.
We all know what a dandelion seed needs to grow once it is released; soil, sunshine, and water. In our next blog post, we will talk about what mold spores need to grow.
What is Mold & Why is it a Problem
What is mold? According to Wikipedia, “a mold is a fungus that grows in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. In contrast, fungi that can adopt a single-celled growth habit are called yeasts.” For many of us, that probably still doesn’t mean a whole lot. Most of us probably just want to know why we should care about mold.
Mold is part of the restoration industry because mold plays a major role in the decomposition of organic material, including the organic material our homes or businesses are made of. “Organic materials are any type of materials that are found in nature or are made out of items that are found in nature.” Examples of organic materials in our homes and businesses would be wood, textiles, and paper. The mold hyphae produces an enzyme that breaks down the organic material into a digestible food source. Therefore, if we want to keep our homes and the things in them safe from decomposition and rot, it’s important to keep mold at bay and remove and remediate any mold that does begin to grow. Our experts at SERVPRO of Appleton are just the professionals you can count on to help you with your mold issues.
Mold Removal & Containment
Did you know that mold reproduces by means of tiny, lightweight spores that travel through the air? Mold spores can be compared to a mature dandelion that has gone to seed. All you need to do is gently blow on a dandelion that has gone to seed, and the seeds go floating through the air looking for a new place to land and grow. Mold spores act the same way. That’s why a small mold problem in your home or business can easily turn into a large mold problem if not treated properly. Our experts at SERVPRO of Appleton know how to treat your mold problem to prevent it from spreading.
The first thing we do before any work begins is to build what we call a containment. This containment is a sealed off area around the mold problem built out of plastic. It seals the area around the mold problem so that mold spores that are disturbed during the removal process are contained and do not travel to other areas of your home or business.
Mold spores in the air during the removal process are almost inevitable. This means that we will also run a commercial air scrubber within the containment area during and after the removal process. An air scrubber is a portable filtration system that removes particles, gasses, and/or chemicals (including mold spores) from the air within a given area.
Any building materials such as drywall, wood, or insulation, that has been affected by mold, and needs to be removed, is placed in a bag and sealed while still within the containment area before it is removed. In addition, crew members working in the containment area are vacuumed with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) vacuum before exiting the containment area. HEPA vacuums differ from conventional vacuums in that they contain filters that are capable of trapping extremely small, micron-sized particles.
Keep in mind that many mold issues are uncovered during remodel or construction projects. It’s not uncommon in these situations, for the contractor you’ve hired for the construction project, to attempt to mitigate the mold themselves. This can be dangerous because they often don’t understand mold the way we do and don’t follow the necessary steps to prevent contaminating your whole home or business. If you encounter mold during a construction project, stop work immediately and contact the experts at SERVPRO of Appleton for professional advice or assistance. Our mold removal and mitigation process is so precise, that most of the hospitals and medical facilities in the Fox Valley use us when they have a mold issue. And if they trust us with their mold issues, you can too.
Preventing Bathroom Mold
What does mold need to grow? In order for mold to grow, it needs oxygen, moisture, warmth and food. The ideal spot for mold to grow would be a warm place (somewhere between 77 and 86 degrees), with a high amount of humidity or moisture, and organic matter, like cotton, paper or wood for the mold to feed upon. This makes our bathrooms an ideal spot for mold growth. Our bathrooms tend to be warm, they contain things like towels, toilet paper, and woodwork for the mold to feed upon, and they often have high levels of relative humidity from running water and steam from hot showers. So what can you do to prevent mold from growing in your bathroom?
First make sure that your bathroom is properly ventilated. Poor ventilation is one of the most common causes of bathroom mold. Without proper ventilation, steam/moisture in the air from hot showers and running water, settles on bathroom surfaces and makes a perfect environment for mold growth. Every bathroom should have a clean and properly functioning ventilation fan permanently mounted in the ceiling and it should be turned on every time someone showers.Â They are inexpensive and can be purchased at most hardware and home improvement stores. A properly installed and functioning, ventilation fan in your bathroom's ceiling will help move the air out of your bathroom and clear the humidity caused by hot showers and other running water. It is important however to ensure that your ventilation fan has been properly installed and is venting the moist bathroom air outside of your home versus into your attic or some other room. If it improperly vents into another area of your home, you are simply transferring your problem from one location to another. If your bathroom does not have a ventilation fan, instead of showering with the bathroom door closed, as most of us do, an alternative until a ventilation fan can be installed, would be to leave the bathroom door open while showering. This will allow the steam/humidity to dissipate over a larger area reducing its impact. Another alternative during warm weather months, or in warm climates, would be to open a bathroom window while showering or even putting a box fan in the window with the air blowing out of the bathroom versus in. And of course, abstaining from very long, hot showers is always recommended when trying to prevent mold.
Regularly cleaning your bathroom by wiping down all surfaces at least once a week will also help keep mold in check. And when it comes to cleaning/preventing mold, wiping is always the best approach. Molds are fungi that reproduce by releasing spores into the air. Spraying bleach on mold may look like an easy fix. When you spray bleach on mold it looks like it almost instantly disappears. Unfortunately, when you spray bleach on mold, you are releasing the mold spores into the air. Think of it like a mature dandelion that you have just gently blown upon and released the seeds floating into the air on their white dried flowers. The mold spores that you have just released by spraying bleach upon them, float through the air and settle onto new surfaces, where they can begin to grow again if the conditions are right. Wiping with soap and water, or another cleaner, and then throwing away any rags that may contain beginning mold spores is your best bet.
Also when it comes to mold in bathrooms, consider that caulk and grout are there to block or keep out water and moisture. If you have missing or broken caulk or grout, water and moisture can get behind the tiles and mold can form behind the tiles where it's impossible for you to see or clean. It's important to regularly replace and/or maintain your bathroom caulk and grout.
Lastly, painting your bathroom with a mold resistant paint and/or primer will help you battle mold in your bathroom. As indicated earlier, mold needs a food source of organic matter. Drywall paper can be a source of food for mold. Using a mold-resistant paint on bathroom walls can help stop mold before it starts by sealing off access to a food source.
And as always, if you do develop a problem with mold, SERVPRO of Appleton is here to help.
Preventing Attic Mold
Anatomy of an Ice Dam
Anywhere in your home with moist, warm air is an ideal environment for mold to grow. For some of us, moist, warm air can be found in our attics. And unfortunately, many of us rarely, if ever, go up in our attics, so any problems can go unchecked for long periods of time. It’s important to check your attic periodically for common causes of attic mold.
Anything that introduces water or moisture to your attic can be a problem. Things like:
1) Leaking Roof - Sometimes a roof leak is bad enough that water leaks into the floors below and becomes immediately apparent. However often the leak is small enough to cause attic mold, without being apparent in the living spaces of the home.
2) Dryer Vents, Plumbing Vents, and Kitchen or Bathroom Fans vented in to the attic - This practice can pump warm, moist air into the attic where it can be trapped and begin the cycle of mold growth. It is always best to vent these items outside of the home.
3) Missing or Improperly Installed Insulation - Missing or improper installation of the wrong kind of insulation can cause problems in multiple ways. Moisture from the lower levels of the home can rise and get trapped in the attic. Additionally, it can create moisture or condensation in your attic. Think of your attic like a cold glass of ice water outside on a hot summer day. The water is a much lower temperature than the air around it and condensation develops on the glass. If there is missing or improperly installed insulation, this same principle can apply when your home is air conditioned to 70 degrees, but your attic temperature is 99 degrees. Lastly, missing or improperly installed insulation can lead to number four……
4) Ice Damming – An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into your home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and create a perfect environment for mold growth. It’s important before winter to clean your gutters so that winter’s melting snow and rain can properly drain off your roof. Additionally, improper insulation can contribute to ice damming by allowing warm air from inside your home to escape into the attic.
5) Inadequate Ventilation - It seems counter-intuitive, but the basic ventilation principal for your attic is to keep it as cool as possible during the cold season. Pay attention to your roof after snow storms. If you look at your roof several days after a snow and you see an even distribution covering your roof, that’s a good sign that your attic is properly ventilated. If on the other hand, you see sections where snow has melted, that suggests an area in the attic where warm air has been trapped instead of being properly vented to the exterior. Make sure your soffit vents are clear and free of things like debris, bird’s nests and insulation.
6) Water Heaters or Furnaces installed in the attic - While not a common practice in Wisconsin, sometimes homes without a basement will have water heaters or furnaces in the attic. You may also see this practice in larger homes with several heating and cooling zones, as well as spa style bathrooms with a huge soaking tub, where it is common practice to have designated systems to support these luxuries. Unfortunately, this practice can contribute to adding moisture to your attic and contribute to mold growth if there are any leaks from these items.
"Mold Removal" vs Remediation
“Mold Removal” vs. Remediation
What’s the Difference?
Since microscopic mold spores exist naturally almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors, removing all mold from a home or business is impossible. Some restoration businesses advertise “mold removal” and even guarantee to remove all mold. This is a fallacy.
A qualified restoration company understands the science behind mold and mold growth. SERVPRO Franchise Professionals have the training and expertise to remediate the mold in your home or business. Mold remediation focuses on getting mold levels back to normal, natural levels.
Every mold damage scenario is different and requires a unique solution, but the general mold remediation process stays the same. To learn more about our mold remediation process.
- Step 1: Emergency Contact (920) 832-1110
- Step 2: Inspection and Mold Damage Assessment
- Step 3: Mold Containment
- Step 4: Air Filtration
- Step 5: Removing Mold and Mold-Infested Materials
- Step 6: Cleaning Contents and Belongings
- Step 7: Restoration
Signs of Mold? Call Today (920) 832-1110
When water intrudes into your property, mold growth can start in as little as 48 hours. Consider the following mold facts:
- Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
- Mold spores are microscopic, float along in the air, and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
- Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants and have the potential to cause other health effects.
- Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
- Mold often produces a strong, musty odor, and that odor can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
- Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.