Below are some helpful facts about mold, and how it can effect you and your loved ones. Simply click on a question below to reveal the answer.
Who needs a mold inspection?
If you or anyone in your home has become chronically ill with allergies, asthma, sinusitis, or even depression, and doctors have been unable to find a cause or a cure, a good place to look is in your home.
Has there been a recent "water event," such as a plumbing leak, roof leak, window leak, storm damage, flood or major spill that was not completely dried within 24 hours? Are there signs of water damage on a wall, floor or ceiling? Is there a musty smell anywhere in the house? Is the basement finished and/or furnished with organic materials (drywall, wood, carpeting, upholstery, etc.)?
Often, the only clue many people have is that someone is sick and can’t seem to get better. A comprehensive mold and moisture survey by a 1-800-GOT-MOLD? professional can reveal not only whether your home has a mold problem, but also exactly where it is.
Our unique combination of Mold Dogs with infrared thermal imaging, laser particle counters and laboratory testing enables us to pinpoint mold problems that older conventional methods can only guess at.
Our favorite phrase is "In Dog We Trust." We trust our dogs to find hidden mold, but then we verify their findings with scientific tools before any invasive work is ever done. Then we can, if you choose, stay on as your consultant to write the remediation plan, supervise the remediation contractor and perform clearance testing to confirm the repairs were done properly.
What is mold?
Molds are living organisms, microscopic in size, and grow similar to plants feeding on decaying or dead organic material. Molds are present on most surfaces around us and also serve helpful purposes, but it can be harmful if allowed to grow out of control indoors.
Molds produce billions of spores their version of seeds which are carried on air currents, enabling them to grow in other locations and reproduce. These spores give each type of mold its distinct color and appearance. About 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) spores can fit comfortably into one square inch.
What are the most common symptoms of exposure to mold?
Nose irritations - runny nose
Nasal and sinus congestion.
Aggravation of asthma.
Eye irritation watery and red eyes
Why is mold a bigger problem today than 20 years ago?
New construction methods and materials were developed to comply with Title 24 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations (1978), focusing on energy conservation. The new building methods and construction materials do not allow buildings to ventilate, or breathe as freely as before. The result is that moisture can become trapped, providing the basis for mold growth. When a house is built on a concrete slab, the concrete emits moisture depending upon surrounding conditions. Concrete slabs are porous, allowing moisture present in the soil beneath the slab to migrate into the living area above. Even homes in dry areas like Arizona can develop mold problems in wall cavities and crawl spaces caused by temperature and humidity differences. Air conditioning, improperly vented bathroom exhausts or clogged dryer vents can be the culprit. Legal issues attributed to mold are now in the news more than ever before. Owners selling or renting properties are being held responsible for not informing tenants as to possible mold problems. Mold can grow from minor water problems as simple as wet indoor plant baskets or wet laundry hung indoors to larger problems such as plumbing failures and roof leaks. As a result, the responsibility for keeping track of potential mold growth problems becomes more important than ever before.
Is mold dangerous, and who is at risk when exposed to mold?
Molds, their spores and the gases they produce, known as Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs), are unlikely to cause serious illnesses in the normal home setting with healthy individuals. Although allergies to mold are quite common, serious infections are rare. Most reported cases of disease or serious medical problems attributed to mold are found in occupational settings where exposures are very high and chronic, or where the occupant has a severely compromised immune system. When elevated mold growth is present in the home, allergy, upper respiratory symptoms and irritation of the upper airway, sinuses, and mucous membranes are not uncommon. These symptoms will usually disappear when the mold growth and the moisture conditions causing the mold growth are removed. Each individual’s response when exposed to mold varies according to his or her age, gender, state of health, genetic makeup and the duration of exposure. Most people have no symptoms at all or experience irritant symptoms such as stuffy nose and irritated eyes.
What does mold smell like?
When a musty smell is present, mold growth may be present. A musty smell by itself however, does not automatically indicate the presence of mold growth or a hazardous condition. The presence of moisture on organic surfaces in a home, especially carpeting, will give off a wide range of musty odors from a variety of organic sources including pets, dander, bacteria and other forms of biological decay. There are certain molds that give off identifiable odors to a trained expert, but most musty odors in a home are from a combination of sources.
What does mold look like?
Mold growth is usually present as mottled colonies or irregular surface discolorations having a fuzzy texture. The color of the mold growth is most often the direct result of the chemicals and pigments within the spores themselves. Mold spores are smaller than the smallest sand grains and as many as 10,000,000 (ten million) could fit on the head of a pen. Spores occur in various color and shapes.
Which types of mold do we need to be concerned about? What about 'Toxic Mold'?
All molds are capable of producing allergens and Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs) such as benzene, methyl chloride and acetone. When present in high concentrations, molds can produce airway and mucous membrane irritation. Some molds are capable of producing toxigenic compounds known as Mycotoxins, however serious health effects as a direct result of exposure to Mycotoxins are rare, partly due to a lack of medical research in this area. Although there has been significant media hype and hysteria regarding the black mold Stachybotrys Charturum, there is no medical proof that this mold is more dangerous than any other mold. However, in practice, there is no good mold, except in cheese. The fact is, a narrow range of molds typically are found in elevated concentrations when damp conditions exist indoors. These most commonly include Aspergillus and Penicillium types (genera). Most current data suggests that elevated mold growth or airborne spores of any kind is an undesirable condition.
What is the role of mold in nature?
Mold is nature’s recycler. In nature, molds, mushrooms and other fungi are responsible for the decay of organic material, such as wood, leaves, flowers, or animal tissue. When mold is found inside homes, it does exactly the same - it starts to devour the material on which it is living. If left untreated, it will slowly eat away the organic and construction materials in your home. In other words, mold leads to rot.
Where does mold grow?
Mold grows anywhere and everywhere: Outdoors naturally on dead plants, leaves, soils, wood: Indoors even in the newest and cleanest houses - we can find all the necessary ingredients for mold to grow. A majority of environmental professionals agree that indoor mold spore concentrations on average are normally lower than concentrations outdoors, provided we have good healthy living conditions indoors. Mold concentrations in a clean home can range from 10 to 5,000 spores per square inch on horizontal surfaces, and can range from 200 to 5000 spores per cubic meter in the air. When severe mold contamination is present, indoor mold spore concentrations often exceed 100,000 spores per cubic meter of air.
What does mold need to grow?
A. Food: Mold needs an organic source of food, such as: wood, fabric, leather, gypsum, fireboard, drywall, stucco, insulation material, ceiling tiles, paint textiles, dirt, dust, paper adhesives.
B. Water: Mold needs the correct amount of surface moisture, and sustained relative humidity of 50% to 80%, depending on the specific type of mold.
Why does mold appear to grow on non-organic surfaces?
Mold found on these surfaces is actually living off organic debris such as dust, oil films, dirt, skin cells, etc deposited on the surface.
When and where do we come in contact with mold?
Mold is, in a word, everywhere. We come in contact with mold every single day of our lives. Most contact takes place unnoticed. We routinely inhale naturally occurring molds outdoors, or mold found indoors as a result of outdoor infiltration of spores. Often, indoor exposure to mold is the result of our own living habits or on common household items such as moldy food, potted plants, or damp clothing and towels. Only if mold is found in highly visible or accessible areas are we likely to notice.
When does mold grow indoors?
Mold growth can occur indoors whenever excess moisture accumulates and is not dried within 24 to 48 hours. Extensive mold growth is likely following a major water leak, such as a burst pipe, sewer backflow, tub overflow, or after putting out a fire. However, minor events can also cause significant mold growth if not properly addressed.
What are the potential sources of moisture in and around my home?
There are many different indoor and outdoor sources and causes for minor indoor water leaks. Exterior:
Leaking faucets or sprinkler valves.
Water ponding next to the home.
Roof or chimney leaks.
Water, vegetation or debris accumulating on roof.
Vegetation next to or growing on the home.
Sprinkler heads too close to the side of the house.
Absence of rain gutters, or downspouts not draining away from the house.
Accumulation of dirt and debris on window ledges.
Window and door leaks.
Damaged or leaky siding; improper drainage of siding
Damp garage, basement.
Damp or poorly ventilated crawl space
Sewer backed up
Soil sloping towards house
Leaking faucets or water valves.
Inadequately sealed toilet.
Insufficient caulking around tub and shower.
Storage of garbage under the sink.
Steam from cooking and dishwasher.
Leaking water valves or lines under sink or water conditioning units
Leaking air conditioning condensate lines
Inadequate bathroom ventilation
Bathroom exhaust fan venting into attic space
Potted plants, especially when in wicker baskets.
Accumulation of dirt and dust on window ledges and panes.
Wet clothes drying indoors.
Clothes dryer vented indoors.
Dirty (HVAC) heating and air-conditioning ducts.
Spilled liquids on carpeted surfaces.
Poor carpet cleaning job (excess moisture left behind).
Condensation in attic.
Dampness in closets, especially on the ground floor next to exterior walls, or adjacent to bathrooms
High humidity levels in any room
How long does it take for mold to grow?
The time varies for each different type of mold, but some types can start growing within 24 hours of a water event. In most cases the growth may not become visible for several days.
Can my own household activities cause mold growth?
The answer is yes. Inattention to routine cleaning and maintenance of heating, air conditioning, and water utilities in and around your home can all contribute to elevated moisture and mold growth. The following are the most common causes of household mold growth caused by inadequate cleaning or maintenance:
Dirty HVAC system
Dryer vented indoors
Wet clothes drying indoors
Garbage stored under the kitchen sink
Inadequate bathroom ventilation, or bathroom exhaust vented into attic
Moisture from dishwasher
Steam from cooking, baths, and showers
Loose or missing caulking around bathtubs and shower
Moisture from incomplete carpet cleaning
Chronic plumbing leaks
The use of carpeting in bathrooms or kitchens
Infrequent cleaning of carpeting and window ledges
Any excessive humidity
How should I respond to a flood in my home?
ACT IMMEDIATELY! The quicker cleanup and drying takes place, the less mold damage will occur. Naturally, the smaller the damage is, the less costly it will be to clean and repair. Make sure all of the following are dried immediately:
Wet contents and clothing (discard all wet cardboard boxes)
Wet carpet padding and carpeting
The underside and back of cabinets
If the flooding is extensive, immediately call a professional restoration company
What is the best way to remove mold-contaminated materials?
Although small and localized areas of mold growth can safely be removed by the homeowner, it is important that all affected materials be removed and the source of the moisture fixed. This usually requires hiring a qualified restoration or remediation professional. Make sure that the room area is sealed off from the rest of the home to contain spores and dust migration. Use plastic barriers and high capacity fans equipped with HEPA filters commonly referred to as negative air machines to exhaust air outside of the home. The handling or disturbance of mold contaminated materials should only be performed when you are wearing a properly fitted dust mask or respirator. Homeowners can purchase dust masks which are rated by NIOSH as N-95 or 95% efficient. Gloves and goggles are also strongly recommended. Any clothing exposed to spore-laden dust should be immediately washed after use.
Where can I get more information on mold?
There are literally thousands of web sites offering information, and sometimes disinformation, about mold. The most reliable information can often be found on web sites of government agencies and recognized scientific professional organizations. Please see this list of other resources.
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