12 Maintenance Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Spring

Maintaining a healthy home goes beyond dusting and vacuuming. When is the last time you checked your smoke alarms? How about the last time you cleaned out your dryer vent? Follow the tips below to make sure your family and home are ready for a happy, clean spring season.

Clean Gutters

Grab a ladder, and check your gutters for debris. Remove as much as you can with your hands (Don’t forget to wear gloves!). Remove any leftover gunk with a garden hose. Take off any nozzle and have a helper turn on the water when you’re ready. Shove the hose into the downspout to power out of gooseneck bends. Make sure your downspouts channel water at least five feet from foundation walls.

Scrub Walls, Baseboards and Outlets

Scrub all the walls — in the bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms and living areas — with a sponge or brush and mild soap and water. This includes baseboards and outlets. Make sure to completely dry outlet covers before replacing.

Replace Filters

Tom DiPace/AP Images

Replace all filters including water, range hood and air vent filters. You should replace these filters every 3-6 months depending on the type of filter you have.

Clean Faucets and Showerheads

Unscrew the faucet aerators, sink sprayers and showerheads, and soak them in equal parts vinegar and water solution. Let them soak for an hour, then rinse with warm water.

Clean Out the Dryer Vent

Sarah Wilson / Getty Images

A clogged dryer vent can be a fire hazard. To clean it, disconnect the vent from the back of the machine and use a dryer vent brush to remove lint. Outside your house, remove the dryer vent cover and use the brush to remove lint from the other end of the vent line. Make sure the vent cover flap moves freely.

Wash Exterior Windows

Hire a window-cleaning service to clean all exterior windows.

Keep Allergens Away

Photos: Christopher Shane/Styling: Elizabeth Demos

Keep dust, mold and pollen at bay by decluttering your home, checking pipes for leaks and keeping the air clean. Follow these 5 steps to an allergy-free home>>

Check Foundation Vents

A house with a crawl space has vents along the foundation walls. The vents provide air circulation that helps prevent excess moisture and mold growth, and they prevent critters from taking up residence underneath your home. The screens collect leaves and other debris from fall and winter. Spring is a great time to clean them out and check for damage. Clean the vents by hand or use a shop vacuum. Repair any damaged screens — critters can get through even the smallest holes.

Clean the Grill

Frank Murray

Your grill has most likely collected dust during fall and winter. Help your grill live a long life with these maintenance tips, whether you have a charcoal or gas grill.

Prep Your Garden

Julie Forney

You can’t have a successful garden without good soil. Follow these tips on how to prepare your soil to help you grow a lush garden.

Test Smoke Alarms

Test smoke alarms and CO detectors, and change out batteries as needed. It’s cheap, only takes a few minutes and can save your family’s lives.

Clean Outdoor Furniture

Emilee Ramsier

Outdoor entertaining season is just around the corner. Learn the best ways to clean all outdoor furniture (recipes included), from plastic to canvas.

https://www.diynetwork.com/made-and-remade/fix-it/12-maintenance-tips-to-get-your-home-ready-for-spring

Builders respond to mold complaints in Parkland homes

Residents living in newly built homes in Parkland are complaining of mold, and at least two big builders have taken steps to fix the problem.

Sowande Johnson, director of development services for Parkland, said WCI Communities Inc. and Standard Pacific of Florida have been approved for permits to complete work that they hope will eliminate the fungus.

A third builder, Toll Brothers, has said it also plans to apply for a permit, Johnson said.

Those companies, along with Lennar Homes, are building hundreds of high-end homes in Parkland, the last available area for large-scale residential construction in Broward County. Johnson said he hasn’t heard of any problems with the Lennar properties.

Johnson said the city has received a few complaints, and he doesn’t have “even the slightest idea” how many homes may be affected.

WCI’s permit application outlines plans to install a dehumidifier, while Standard Pacific is using spray foam insulation. Johnson said it may take a few months to determine whether the proposed fixes will work.

“We’ll have to wait until things heat up [in the summer] to find out if it’s a true solution,” Johnson said. “If not, they’ll have to come back with another solution to remedy the problem.”

Jon Rapaport, division president for WCI, said the Bonita Springs-based builder received a “couple of dozen complaints” but not all of those homeowners had mold.

Still, out of an abundance of caution, WCI made modifications in more than 100 Heron Bay homes at no charge to the owners, he said.

Rapaport attributed the mold to a design issue. WCI sealed openings and made changes to ventilation that lets moisture leave attics. In addition, WCI is offering the dehumidifiers to homeowners, he said.

“We wanted to do the right thing,” Rapaport said. “Now we seem to not have a problem at all.”

WCI, expected to soon merge with Lennar as part of a $643 million deal, has built the vast majority of the nearly 3,000 homes in Heron Bay over the past two decades. The master-planned development, off the Sawgrass Expressway at Coral Ridge Drive, is one of the largest in the region.

Standard Pacific, which builds in the Watercrest at Parkland community, did not respond to requests for comment. In 2015, the company combined with Ryland Homes to form CalAtlantic Group of Irvine, Calif.

Horsham, Pa.-based Toll Brothers builds in the Parkland Golf & Country Club. A publicist for Toll said officials were not available to comment, but she released a statement from the company.

“Toll Brothers stands behind its homes with a comprehensive warranty and we work with our homeowners and provide them with information on operating their home systems efficiently and within their design criteria,” the statement said.

In 2015, Angela Mesa-Taylor moved into a rented home in Heron Bay’s Osprey Lake subdivison. Soon after, she noticed that she and her children were constantly sick, but she just thought it was her young twins bringing home coughs and colds from their play dates.

Then her housekeeper pointed to mold on the ceiling in the master bathroom. Another bathroom had the same problem, she said.

Mesa-Taylor said the builder, WCI, tried to address her concerns, but the mold persisted. Meanwhile, she said she heard similar complaints from neighbors.

Within days of discovering the mold, Mesa-Taylor said she moved her children out of the home and continued to press WCI for answers. Not satisfied with the results, she filed suit last summer in Broward County Circuit Court. The complaint was amended in November.

“Every fix was not a fix,” said Mesa-Taylor, 38. “It seemed to be very, very temporary and superficial.”

The suit, which seeks damages in excess of $15,000, alleges that the mold was caused by design and construction defects and led to chronic health problems.

An attorney for the builder declined to discuss the case. Rapaport, the WCI division president, said he can’t comment on pending litigation.

Scott Gelfand, Mesa-Taylor’s Coral Springs lawyer, said he has spoken to more than 100 owners complaining of mold in Heron Bay homes built within the last several years. Some may be reluctant to discuss the problem publicly because they’re worried about property values, but homes that are properly remediated tend to sell for full market value, he said.

Johnson, the development services director for Parkland, said he suspects mold is occurring in other homes across Florida. But Truly Burton, executive vice president of the Builders Association of South Florida, said she isn’t aware of an ongoing problem statewide.

David Cobb, a former homebuilder and now a regional director for the Metrostudy research firm, agrees that mold is common in a humid climate and often is the result of workmanship issues.

But Cobb also cited another cause: improper home maintenance. He said homeowners should inspect homes annually, caulking around windows and doors and painting every few years to keep mold at bay.

“People who buy new homes say, ‘It’s new, so I don’t have to do anything to it,’ and that is totally incorrect,” Cobb said.

Article Source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/real-estate/fl-parkland-homes-mold-20170113-story.html

California Plants in danger of Mold

PALO ALTO (KPIX) — A deadly water mold called Phytophthora (literally, “plant-destroyer”) is threatening to wipe out native California plants.

Local plants have no immunity to the fungus-like organism, which may have hitch-hiked into the state from other countries on infected plants or pots.

Non-profit Grassroots Ecology is battling Phytophthora at their nursery, which provides plants to the Mid-Peninsula Open Space District and the Valley Water District for wildland-restoration projects. Their first line of defense: no one gets to enter the nursery until they’ve cleaned their shoes.

“Alcohol kills the pathogens,” Deanna Giuliano, with Grassroots Ecology, said.

In addition to shoe-cleaning, the nursery in the Palo Alto hills, has taken all plants off the ground to avoid splash contamination and pasteurizes the soil. Hoses and tools are kept off the ground, as well.

“I feel like all these new protocols are helping. I’ve seen a difference in the plants, they look healthier,” Giuliano remarked.

Those protocols are driving up prices. The cost of native plants coming from nurseries like Giuliano’s has doubled.

“Each of the plants in this shade house will eventually be replanted in the wild by the Open Space Preserve but not one of the plants will leave here without first being tested,” Giuliano said.

These efforts aren’t cheap or easy but they’re essential in conquering Phytophthora, according to Cindy Roessler, with the Mid-Peninsula Opens Space District.

“If we go out and put in new native plants in a preserve and they’re diseased, those plants will die but there is also a chance that their roots will spread the disease from those plants into the natural areas around them,” Roessler said.

sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/09/23/california-native-plants-threat-deadly-mold/

Invasive Mold can cause aspergillosis

inhaling mold spores and mold in my homeEarly diagnosis, effective therapy vital for treatment of deadly invasive mold

New guidelines focus on new treatments, early diagnosis of fungal infection

The updated guidelines focus on the diagnosis and treatment of the major forms of aspergillosis: allergic, chronic and invasive, the latter which kills 40 percent to 80 percent of those with widespread infection. An airborne invasive mold, aspergillus often is found in air conditioning units, compost piles and damp or flood-damaged homes or buildings. While generally harmless, it can cause an allergic reaction or chronic lung problems in some people and serious, invasive disease in vulnerable patients. Those at highest risk are people whose immune systems are suppressed, such as those undergoing stem cell and lung and other organ transplants. The infection also can affect those with severe influenza or who are on long-term steroids, or patients in the intensive care unit. “Invasive mold (aspergillosis) often is overlooked, but early diagnosis and treatment are key,” said Thomas Patterson, MD, lead author of the guidelines and chief of the Division of Infectious Disease and professor of medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio. “These are complicated infections with a number of treatment options. Patients really benefit from a multidisciplinary approach, including the expertise of an infectious disease specialist.” Updating the 2008 guidelines, the new guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of aspergillosis highlight the increased evidence for antifungal therapy recommendations as well as diagnostic tests. The improved use of diagnostic tools has enhanced the ability to identify the infection early, the guidelines note. These include blood tests, cultures and computed tomography (CT) imaging. Because some of the methods are invasive — such as taking a culture directly from the lungs — physicians often are reluctant to proceed. Because the infection is so deadly, physicians should be aggressive in diagnosing patients suspected of having the infection, Dr. Patterson notes. Additionally, new more-effective and better-tolerated antifungal medications, or versions of existing medications (e.g. extended release) have improved care, including isavuconazole and posaconazole. In some cases, combination therapy with voriconazole and an echinocandin is recommended for certain patients at highest risk. Because invasive molds like aspergillis are s so deadly, the guidelines recommend some patients at highest risk be treated with antifungals to prevent infection, including those with neutropenia and graft versus host disease (GVHD). Another prevention strategy is the use of special filtration systems for hospitalized immunosuppressed patients. Invasive aspergillosis affects about 200,000 people worldwide, Dr. Patterson said. The allergic form is most common and affects more than 4 million people worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those with asthma and cystic fibrosis are at highest risk of developing allergic aspergillosis. The other major form is chronic pulmonary aspergillosis, which can affect healthy people, and occurs in about 400,000 people worldwide, the CDC notes. While requiring treatment, the allergic and chronic forms of aspergillosis typically aren’t deadly. AT A GLANCEinvasive mold cause respiratory problems

  • A deadly fungal infection, invasive aspergillosis should be diagnosed early to improve care, according to new guidelines from IDSA. New and improved therapies are expanding treatment options.
  • Immunocompromised patients are at highest risk for invasive aspergillosis. The mortality rate in those patients is 40 percent or higher.
  • Aspergillus is a mold that is in the air we breathe, particularly in air conditioning units and flood-damaged areas.
  • In addition to the invasive form, aspergillus can cause chronic and allergic forms of disease.

https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/aspergillosis/ https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/aspergillosis/

Fungi are part of our outdoor environment

20141127_120103_resizedFungi (or mold) fruiting bodies typically grow outdoors.  This common mold or shelf fungi (or bracket fungus) will eat the old stump by digesting the wood and add natural features unique to this outdoor garden.

These pictures were taken and submitted by a Fun Guy client.  – Thank You!

 

Wikipedia | Bracket fungi, or shelf fungi, are among the many groups of fungi that comprise the  Read more > >

 

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Mold in Breast Implants

Embedded image permalinkMore than 300,000 women get breast implants every year in the U.S. A Shalimar, Florida, woman has a warning for them.

She says her implants nearly killed her. You may have seen some of the articles popping up on Facebook and various websites, linking mold in saline implants to a host of health problems. Anne Ziegenhorn says they are frighteningly accurate.

If Ziegenhorn had known the price she’d pay for beauty, she would have run the other way. She said, “It’s not a story a multi-billion dollar industry wants to get out.”

Anne keeps a video on her phone of the saline breast implants covered with mold, that were removed from her body after a two-year nightmare.

“I felt like that was it, I was gonna die, and the doctors were gonna let me die,” Ziegenhorn said.

It started in 2011. The woman who was a picture of health suddenly started gaining weight, losing her vision and experiencing burning, unrelenting pain. She had sores all over her body. Her thinking was so cloudy she thought she might have Alzheimer’s. She was misdiagnosed with everything from lupus to arthritis to thyroid problems. She said, “Silicone sickness in and of itself is one entity. And then you add the mold to it that we had, and then you’ve got two illnesses going on.”

The diagnosis that Anne believes saved her life came from Dr. Susan Kolb, author of “The naked truth about breast implants.” Dr. Kolb said.

My experience in doing this for 30 years is that eventually everybody will become ill from their breast implants, unless they die sooner from something else.

Dr. Kolb says she’s seeing lots of women with mold in their saline implants, often from defective valves. She says some patients also have detoxification problems, that make them particularly sensitive to the silicone shells of the implants. She says in 25-30 percent of the population, the reactions are debilitating. The doctor is not anti-implants, she has them herself. But she believes for safety, women need to get their implants replaced every eight to fifteen years. Amanda Gilcrease is a patient who had her implants removed. She said, “All the neurological symptoms… the burning, numbing, stabbing, shooting, electrical shocking pains throughout my body went away immediately.”

Through Dr. Kolb, Anne Ziegenhorn met other women suffering the same frightening symptoms. They formed “The Implant Truth Survivors Committee” to educate women and doctors, and to force the FDA to listen. She said, “I literally willed myself to live and willed myself to get this message out here This is my purpose, this is why I’m here.”

Channel 3 called the FDA to see if they’re getting any reports of illnesses from mold in saline implants or from the silicone shells. Their spokesperson said he’s not familiar with any such reports. The agency does say that most women will eventually need to have their implants replaced.

Reference: http://www.news3lv.com/content/news/story/Florida-woman-finds-mold-in-breast-implants/XjSS-AV_6kyspkB1fmrTIA.cspx