Rain and Water Damage – Will I get Mold?

 

With heavy rainfall comes a tremendous amount of moisture.  Leaks and condensation increase, temperatures and warm drying daylight decrease.

These are optimal conditions for mold growth, both interior and exterior. As exterior mold spores explode in number some of them are bound to settle in our indoor environments. Here’s an overview from the EPA on Mold growth in the home.

So what can you do to reduce to likelihood mold will take hold?

I have some tips to minimize the conditions conducive to mold growth and maximize you and your family’s health.

Mold needs 3 conditions for optimal growth:

  • The Right temperature. Some mold species can grow at low (below 50 degrees F) and other species at high (above 90 degrees F), but most common mold species that grow indoors grow ideally at 55-85 degrees F. Unfortunately this is the optimal temperature for human comfort. So it is unlikely you can keep your home at a temperature that is inhospitable for mold growth. So we will not concentrate on that.
  • An organic food source. Different species of mold like to eat different things, but they all need something organic to munch on. Many mold species love cellulose, i.e. wood and paper. These are the natural composters and when it rains these species start to eat up all the fallen branches and leaves in the forest, as well as our yards emitting millions of spores that make their way into our homes. Inside our homes molds like to eat wood. This is what “dry rot” is, fungi usually consisting of 2 species, Ascospores and Basidiospores. Other species like to eat paper, such as cardboard boxes, books, and paper backed wallboard, such as sheetrock.  Pennicillium/Aspergillus and Stachybotrys (colloquially known as toxic black mold) are often found on wet or moist paper. Cladosporium, the species most often found growing on windowsills and in bathrooms, can eat a variety of Biofilms (household dust consisting of epithelial cells (dead skin cells) insect parts, pet dander, natural fibers such as cotton and linen, etc.).   Some mold food sources we cannot easily remove from our home such as framing lumber and wallboard, but others we can, such as cardboard boxes.
  • This is the big one and the one I will be giving tips on below. Mold needs moisture. There is a common saying in our business: “Mold is the symptom, moisture is the problem”. Mold growth either needs liquid water or high humidity. Liquid water can come from condensation on windowsills and in bathrooms, or from leaks, either internal or external. Without liquid water mold will not become active unless the humidity is high, usually 60-80% RH depending on the species. When the humidity is high enough, mold can become active and grow by absorbing moisture directly from the air.

Here are some tips to reduce both food sources and moisture in your home and thus reduce the likelihood and amount of mold that may grow inside your home:

Let’s start outside. When it rains water can easily enter what we call the “Building Envelope”. It is very important to make sure your site drainage system is clear from debris and working properly to move rain water away from your home, foundation, and crawlspace.

  • Clean the roof of any leave or other debris.
  • Clear gutters
  • Make sure downspouts are in good repair, not clogged, and properly attached any extensions or the site drainage system.
  • Make sure all property drains are clear of debris and flowing freely.

Check the “Building Envelope” for possible sites of water intrusion, i.e. leaks.

  • Window and doorframes are spots where water can intrude. Check all door and window frame caulking for cracks and gaps and repair where necessary.
  • Inspect the sealant around roof penetrations. Repair where necessary.
  • Check building siding for cracks, peeling paint, holes, etc. Anywhere water may be able to get in.

After a heavy rain walk around the entire house and look for standing water, and clogged drains. Look inside the crawlspace and make sure there is no hidden flooding. Carefully check the inside of the house, take a close look at the ceilings, around windows and doors, and walls for small leaks. Because all big leaks start out as small leaks! Check under sinks and around tubs and toilets to make sure there are no plumbing leaks adding moisture to the interior of your home.

Assuming there are no leaks and your drainage system is working well, what other sources of moisture can address?

Inside a home the occupants can produce a tremendous amount of moisture. On average each human occupant expires (breathes) and perspires (sweats) about 2 POUNDS of water into the air a day. Pets can also add to this moisture source. During the winter we often close out windows, as it is cold out, and most residential heating systems have no way of bringing in fresh air or ventilating out moist, stale interior air. Thus interior humidity can often increase to levels above 60%, which is ideal for mold growth.

So what can we do about Mold Growth?

  • Monitor interior humidity. Small, portable humidity monitors are available for around $10-15 and can be placed around the home. If RH (relative humidity) is consistently above 65%, action should be taken. Ideally, interior RH should be between 45-55% RH. Below 40% RH mucous membranes start to dry out and can cause occupant discomfort.
  • Open windows when practicable to help flush out moisture and other interior contaminants. Even 1 hour a day can make a big difference, although 3-4 hours is recommended.
  • Run ventilation fans in bathrooms and kitchens to help exhaust excess humidity from cooking and bathing. Run fans in bathrooms for at least 20 minutes after bathing. Timer switches can be installed on most bathroom exhaust fans and are highly recommended.
  • Wipe excess condensation from windowsills. Inspect windowsills often. Do not keep curtains closed as this can trap moist, cool air and promote excessive condensation.

The above tips can help reduce moisture sources, what can do we do about reducing mold food sources?

  • Do not keep books, papers, or cardboard boxes in moist areas such as attics, garages, basements or crawlspaces. Attic and crawlspaces should not be used as storage areas, but if you must store items in a garage or basement, we recommend sealed plastic bins.
  • Keep areas mold likes to grow clean and dry. This means cleaning dust (biofilms) from windowsills, baseboards, and doorframes. Vacuum carpet regularly with a HEPA vacuum. The recommendation is to vacuum and sweep one day per week PER OCCUPANT, including pets!
  • Check behind drapes and furniture for hidden condensation and biofilms. Allow airflow to reach these areas by opening drapes often and moving furniture a few inches from walls, especially exterior walls that can become colder and promote condensation.

Also, trust your nose, that musty smell is a sure indication of active mold growth. That musty smell is caused by microbial VOC’s, airborne chemicals that are a metabolic by-product of mold digestion.

If you think you have a hidden source of mold, call a professional Certified Microbial Investigator for a full mold inspection.  Excessive interior mold can cause structural damage to your home and its contents, as well as allergic and respiratory reactions in some occupants. Take heed and be diligent, and you can survive this hopefully wet winter relatively mold-free.

Be Alert: Signs of Toxic Molds Residing in your Home

At the end of the day, after work or school, we always look forward to coming home again. Our minds and hearts are attached to our homes because of the sense of belonging, comfort, and safety that it provides. Feeling safe is the state of not being exposed to danger or risk, and that is how our homes should feel, right?  So, let me ask you, are you sure you are safe within your home?

You may feel that there’s nothing lurking within the corners of the rooms of your home.  However, if you are setting aside the fact that there could be molds in your house, then you are getting further away from the sense of safety that your home should provide. Molds are not something you should overlook.

Molds usually appear on damp building materials and may look like stains.  They can come in various colors and sizes. You may have seen some sort of spot growing in the interior of your house, and that is not something that should be ignored.

Molds can create a lot of nuisance and danger for you and your loved ones. It can give your family nasal and sinus congestion, coughs, headaches, asthma, skin irritations, and much more.

If your home is attacked by molds, you have to do something about it. Here are some signs that your house may have been infected by molds:

  1. Allergic reactions. If you notice that your allergies tend to react and even get worse while you’re at home, chances are there are molds growing in your house. Some allergic reactions to mold could be sore eyes, sneezing, and nasal congestion.
  2. Mold odors. A musty or moldy smell can be a great indicator that there are molds in your home. If you can smell mold, then you probably have mold. You should thoroughly inspect your home before it gets worse.
  3. Visible signs of molds. When you see greenish black spots of molds, then it’s obvious. Take action immediately.
  4. Water issues. If you have experienced water leakages, condensation, or past floods in your house, mold growth is likely to have occurred. If there are water stains or discoloration of the walls due to a moisture problem, there is most likely mold growing behind the material.

Your home is where your family should feel safe. If you’ve noticed the above-mentioned signs of mold growth in your house, please do not ignore it.  Ignoring it might cause you bigger problems in the future.

If you want to be sure of your homes safety, contact Fun Guy Inspection and Consulting Inc.  They will provide a thorough inspection of your home and you can have peace of mind.

Visit https://funguyinspections.com/ or call (866) 674-7541 now.

Debunking some toxic mold myths

In 2000, a new “toxic mold” panic swept the country, and after 16 years of untold lawsuits and billions of dollars spent, major myths still plague and unnecessarily panic association boards, managers and homeowners. The myths all too often cause exaggerated repairs, unduly frightened residents, and conflict. In this and the next column, I will address thirteen pervasive toxic mold myths.

1. Mold is new. Mold, one of the earliest and simplest life forms, has existed for thousands of years. Almost 100 years ago, mold was the basis of the discovery of penicillin. Mold is ever-present, as is dust or pollen.

2. The scientific and medical communities confirm mold’s many dangers. In 2004, the National Institute of Medicine published its comprehensive study on indoor mold exposure, called “Damp Indoor Spaces and Health.” A central finding was: “Scientific evidence links mold … in homes and buildings to asthma symptoms in some people with the chronic disorder, as well as to coughing, wheezing, and upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people… However, the available evidence does not support an association between … mold and the wide range of other health complaints that have been ascribed.”

 That sounds like mold is as dangerous as dust or pollen to people with severe asthma. The announcement containing this finding is easily located by a web search, but it did not receive much press play – stories of frightened people living in tents are more interesting.

3. One must determine the kind of mold present. Mold consultants and plaintiff attorneys often describe some molds as worse than others. The most famous mold is stachybotrys chartarum, a mold producing infinitesimal quantities of a substance similar to botulism poison. However, the amount is so small they call it a “mycotoxin.” It sounds frightening, but the scientific community long ago debunked the myth that this or any mold was somehow poisonous to breathe. For example, read the National Institute of Health Fact Sheet on Mold, found at www.niehs.nih.gov.

4. California is protected by the Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001. The act instructed the Department of Public Health to develop permissible exposure limits of the various mold strains. However, in 2005, and again in 2008, the DPH reported the task could not be completed with the scientific information available. Consequently, there is presently no official standard as to how many mold spores of any given variety are “unhealthy.”

5. Always start with a mold test. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends against mold testing. There is no standard as to how many mold spores are “unhealthy,” and indoor air sampling tests are extremely vulnerable to events in the home, which can change the results. A recent shower, window opening or carpet cleaning are some of the many factors that can completely change test outcomes.

Mold tests, to put it bluntly, primarily frighten the occupants and create a “need” for the expense of a mold consultant, and a second test after the area is cleaned. Since the health authorities have not confirmed any particular strain is more dangerous, and since there is no official standard as to how many airborne spores are unhealthy, there is rarely a good reason to spend the money on such a test.

 

Prevent water damage and mold this winter

 

Prevent water damage and mold growth

 

Leaves, sticks, and debris can become a problem for your rain gutters.  Rain gutters typically allow the removal of water away from your home or building.  In this instance, the blockage within the rain gutter allowed water to Prevent water damage by inspecting the rain gutters in your homeoverflow and deposit near the front door of the unit.  If left untended, the backup within the gutter would allow the water to impact the structure and possibly cause water damage inside the home.  Water damage and mold growth inside your home can be prevented by regular maintenance of the rain gutters during this El Nino rainy season.

 

 

 

Do your best to observe the signs of a failing rain gutter and prevent water damage:

  • Loose or detached down spouts
  • Bent or broken sections of the main gutter
  • Excessive debris (including leaves and dirt)
  • Improper slope and grading of the gutters
  • Overflowing water

Prevent water damage by inspecting the rain gutters in your home and cleaning out leaves and debris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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