Protection & Mold Prevention – How Mold Removal Works, Part 3

Now that we’ve covered the basics of mold identification and remediation, and the steps you need to take if you notice mold growth, it’s time to talk about protection: protecting yourself and other residents, as well as protecting the building itself.

Personal Mold Protection


When inspecting or even handling mold-covered surfaces yourself, there are a number of ways to protect yourself from immediate exposure to mold. We’ve already talked about this, but it’s worth going into more detail:
  • Protect your skin. Wear a protective, airtight suit. If you don’t have one and the expense of getting one is too high, wear any old clothes that cover your whole body, and then throw them in the trash after you’re done. No skin should be left exposed except where necessary – usually this includes parts of the face. Gloves are also essential!
  • Protect your lungs. the minimum recommended protection when dealing with mold is an N95 mask, but if you have a respirator with separate filter cartridges, you should ensure that you use a fine-grade P100 filter. Provided that the mask is a snug fit, this filter will block 99.9% of particles that are 3 microns or more in diameter.
  • Protect your eyes. The cheaper respirator and face protection products don’t cover eye protection. In that case, wear any plastic goggles that are a snug, airtight fit.

One other thing that many people miss with mold infestation is that there might also be bacteria present, and that bacteria may be releasing endotoxins everywhere. Endotoxins are typically pyrogenic, meaning they’ll cause a fever or another type of inflammatory reaction.

If you notice any such symptoms after inspecting the seldom-visited crawlspaces, go and see a doctor as soon as possible.

After a remediation is complete, and the building’s been fixed, it’s time to repopulate the premises with – you guessed it – stuff!

But now the problem is – all of that stuff is probably ripe with either dust, mold spores or dead mold itself. Maybe even a hefty amount of moisture, as well, depending on where it’s been sitting; a basement, for example.

Keep in mind that toxicity-wise, your body doesn’t necessarily care if the mold is alive or dead. It’s still bad.

Mold-proofing Your Stuff: Furniture and Clothes


After your stuff has been exposed to mold spores, it can later serve as a “fresh” source for new mold to spring from (given the right conditions). Cleaning porous and wearable materials can seem like a difficult job, but have no worries.

For clothes, the solution is washing it all with Borax, or other alternatives which aren’t aggressive on the textile colors. Car seats and furniture can be thoroughly vacuumed just for good measure. Your vacuum cleaner should be equipped with a HEPA filter, since the issue here is not just the odour, but mold spores as well.

Protecting the Building


Protecting the building itself is an extra expense, and really depends on the extent of the moisture problem as well as your budget. In this case we recommend consulting a professional mold remediation company before wasting money on unnecessary operations.

If needed, there are several ways to protect the building materials and surfaces using biodide and antimicrobial products. Some of these agents require very specific handling when used indoors so be sure to read the instructions carefully:

  1. ULV fogging machines – the cold Ultra Low Volume foggers can be used to disperse any completely liquid disinfectant with ease. The disinfectants commonly associated with protection from mold are Concrobium and Anabec products.
  2. Directly applied disinfectant – although bleach might be efficient for clothes, it’s a different story altogether when used on some surfaces, its active substance doesn’t penetrate into wood, so any hyphae that goes deeper into the wood will still be there ready to sprout new mold. On these surfaces use something like MoldStat Plus or Fiberlock Shockwave disinfectant.
  3. Some have suggested using lime (the same lime used for soil amelioration) for controlling odours in crawl spaces. Although lime is used for this purpose, among other uses, it is not a stable long-term solution for mold prevention. Which leads us to our next common issue…

Why You Should Often Check for Mold


Moisture problems are a recurring issue, especially in humid areas of the country. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be raining, as water can find its way into dry materials like wood or drywall paper simply from the day/night fluctuations of temperature and humidity.

Leaky pipes, broken roofs, lack of humidity control and ventilation – all of these can cause damp spots, and without water there can be no saprophytic decay. Luckily, with regular checkups, and even “nosing” around for musty odours, you can keep everything in top condition by reacting on-time and while there’s still a chance for a quick fix.

Like bacteria, mold grows at an almost exponential rate in its preferred conditions – what starts out slow may soon turn into another big remediation, so stay safe and maintain your properties.

It’s a low effort solution over a longer period of time, and without a doubt the best thing you can do to protect your home from a large-scale infestation.

Why Product Reviews Can Be Misleading


Whether you’re buying masks, filters, cleaning chemicals or anything else to aid you in your battle against mold, you’re likely to be searching for these products online.

It’s extremely important not to just look at the product reviews, how many stars it has, what consumers comment on Amazon or wherever you’re looking. Here’s a couple of reasons for that.

Firstly, you might be looking at non-specific products like filters that behave exactly as advertised, but not blocking some gases that may be volatile compounds, emitted from the mold or bacteria themselves, or the damaged building material such as wood.

Second, when looking to protect your items and the building from a re-emerging infestation, note that it can take quite some time for recurring mold to become visible if the product/method was inefficient.

So if you’re reading reviews online about a product or service that advertises prevention, know that the people leaving the reviews might not have waited long enough to be sure enough of the effectiveness.

Saprophytic mold, feeding on things like wood or drywall paper, can take a month to visibly grow or even stay dormant until the right season comes – usually a combination of high humidity and moderate temperatures. This same mold can take 72 hours to grow in a petri dish in ideal lab conditions.

With that food for thought, feel free to write with any questions you might have or call us for consultations at Mold Solutions. We’ll do our best to try and help you out!


Mold Remediation, Preparation & Treatment – How Mold Removal Works, Part 2

In the previous post, we talked about how to perform a thorough search for mold, what the prerequisites for mold growth are, and provided a quick overview of the mold removal procedure.

Here’s what you can expect to learn from part 2 of this series:

How to Handle Different Mold Growth Situations?


When you’re buying a property, be sure to do a thorough check on the presence of mold. Document everything you see, take photos and video material to an expert or bring one along for inspection. The last thing you want is to put an extra expense on your back for both mold removal and furniture handling, after an already exhausting move-in.

You also want to avoid checking all the nooks and crannies of the location without protective equipment. You never know what you’re going to find, so just be careful, protect yourself or call an expert for a thorough check.

Another scenario that can prove costly, if you don’t think about health up front, is when renting or buying office spaces. Subjecting workers and visitors to toxic mold spores could cost you more than paying for mold remediation if you had known about the infestation from the get-go.

Find the afflicted areas beforehand, negotiate the price down if possible, or arrange that the previous owner deals with the problem first, and fix any moisture issues before signing anything consequential.

Common Types of Mold


It’s interesting to note that there are over 100 000 different types of mold, but only a few species are responsible for the majority of problems we’re trying to deal with.

There are also subtle differences between mildew and mold, but both are considered a type of fungus that we coexist with and are able to cause allergic reactions in humans, in certain cases.

You don’t need to be afraid of all types of mold, though. Some mold is actually very useful and an integral part of entire industries. There are molds used in cheese-making, synthesis and extraction of antibiotics (penicillin), and other uses like soy fermentation and enzyme production.

Only a few types of mold require professional handling, but you need to know how to identify these. You can find out more about the different types of “bad” mold in this article, which brings us to our next dilemma…

DIY Solutions For Mold Problems?


When can you solve the problem yourself, and how to do it?

In short, you don’t have to call in the cavalry for every type of mold growth. Bathrooms – showers, in particular – tend to be fertile ground for a type of mold that’s able to feed on soap scum and organic matter, and is mostly considered non-toxic.

If it’s not black or brown mold, you can remove it with easily-obtainable chemicals like grout cleaners and even white vinegar might do the trick. Vinegar usually doesn’t kill off and remove everything so you’re better off with the purpose-made products.

Be aware that even dead mold may cause allergic reactions in some people, so killing mold is one thing, but removing it to stay on the safe side is a much better proposition if you can afford to do it.

It shouldn’t take long to remove smaller patches of common bathroom mold. It takes up to 20 minutes for most mold removal products to do their job, just spray the afflicted areas. One thing to note is that some of the fumes released from these products can be irritating and unpleasant, so leave the bathroom window open after applying the product.

Wear rubber gloves for protection, not because of the mold, but because the chemicals you’d be using can be quite aggressive on the skin.

When to Call The Professionals


Like we mentioned previously, not every mold growth requires professional handling. Larger problems that have escalated due to long-term exposure to excess moisture require a plan of action and professional handling.

You could get away with just fixing the source of moisture, but if there’s mold growth and you can’t identify it with certainty, then you might find out that the problem hasn’t been solved when it affects your own or the health of other residents.

In the case of toxic black mold or brown mold, it’s best to stay safe and call your local mold removal company to let them handle it. For black mold, it’s near impossible to identify without looking under a microscope anyway.

Toxic mold requires much more time, diligence, and better protective equipment that’s also more expensive. There’s no reason for you to make such an expense for what’s supposedly a one-time job, and also lose a weekend or even worse – days off of work.

It’s also a job that’s very physically demanding in times or areas of high temperatures and high humidity. Depending on the age of the building, behind some walls may lie either asbestos or glass wool, both very dangerous materials to handle. Asbestos is a known carcinogen that’s still not completely banned in the US! Glass wool is known to cause respiratory issues and skin irritations.

All in all, professional mold remediation specialists get exposed to lots of hazards in their normal workday which is why their protective equipment has to be top notch. If you’re not sure what grade of particulate filters to use for your respirator, that’s a solid indicator that you don’t have enough experience to do this yourself.

The EPA has a basic guide on what the standard protective equipment for mold remediation should include.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Mold Solutions does offer free consultations, so call if you need anything.

How Professional Mold Remediation Works – Step by Step


The first task is to solve the water problem. Remember, mold only grows where there’s enough water, so the first thing that needs to be done is to cut off any sources of moisture:

  • Fix leaking pipes
  • Replace cracked roof tiles
  • If you live in an overall humid place (relative humidity 50% or more) a dehumidifier might help.

Once there’s no new water seeping into the molded material, we can begin the remediation procedure:

  1. Sealing off the contaminated area or room – this is done to prevent mold spores, dust, and other particulates from spreading all over the building. The room needs to be completely air-tight.
  2. Turning off and sealing off HVAC, heating and furnaces as these will help spread the mold spores as well.
  3. Removing affected materials (tapestry, drywall, wood or OBS, insulation, etc)
  4. Treating the remaining non-removable material (concrete, wooden framing, etc) with a biocide to kill off the mold.
  5. Placing all removed materials in airtight bags.
  6. Cleaning the room
  7. Mold Solutions uses Microbe Guard, a permanent, surface-modifying treatment that, once applied to a product, creates a new surface. This surface is permanently resistant to microbial attack.
  8. Final visual check.

With these steps completed, the owner is free to install replacement materials: insulation, new walls, tapestry or paint, et cetera.

The entire operation can last several days, but this varies on a case-by-case basis and you’ll be given a time estimate based on an initial inspection anyway so be sure to watch for that and plan some away time while work is in progress.

Why Spores Are a Problem?


Without water, mold will die, but the spores will stay. Once exposed to moisture again, the spores will continue spreading mold, which is why spores are quite a serious problem.

A disturbed molded surface or material will release spores into the air, spreading them across the premises. This is why removal must be done with care and remediation (protection) with extra diligence. You can read more about mold protection and prevention here.

When inhaled, mold spores can cause serious health issues, especially with infants, the elderly and anyone who has respiratory problems like asthma, allergies, bronchitis etc.

How to Find The Right Professionals in Your Area


Google is your friend here, so start your search there. Do your part and double-check that online reviews aren’t actually fake.

The company you hire must also have all the necessary licenses and permits. This is easily verifiable.

Mold Solutions is licensed, bonded and insured. The company has been in the business for more than a decade and offers free mold assessments in Seattle, Bellvue, Kirkland and other areas across Washington state.


Diagnosing Your Mold Problem – How Mold Removal Works, Part 1

Finding Mold – Where To Look?

Where To Find Mold? Most To Least Obvious Places To Look


Outside of residences, mold can be found everywhere from dead leaves, branches, and almost every other organic substance. The role of different molds in an ecosystem is to feed on and decompose dead organisms. This is also mostly true for other members of the fungi kingdom, and it’s called saprotrophic nutrition. This is why these organisms are also abundant in plant soil, especially damp forest floors.

Some molds are useful, being used in cheese-making, but more famously in the production of pharmaceuticals. Penicillium is the mold used for the production of the antibiotic penicillin. But other types of mold can be very harmful to humans and our pets if the mold is ingested or its spores find their way into our lungs.

Surfaces, Areas, Materials, and Susceptible Devices


Within residences, mold can be found “eating away” at any material that satisfies all of its nutritional requirements, as long as there is enough moisture.

Materials and places to check:

  • Timber construction – especially structurally important timber like trusses
  • Drywall – look for signs of moisture
  • Cardboard – check boxes sitting in the basement or the attic
  • Plywood and OSB panels
  • Mortar in broken or cracked walls
  • Certain types of paint can be more likely to grow mold (oil-based paints have more organic matter)
  • Even PVC, polypropylene and other tubing or piping can provide a home to mold if situated in a moist place or if leaks occur.

Check under your kitchen sink for leaks and signs of mold. Do the same for bathroom pipes – check the drain pipe that leads from the toilet tank to the bowl from all sides, and also regularly clean the tank itself.

Other common places with enough moisture and suitable growth substrate include cabinets and carpets. In fact, moisture and dust are enough for mold to grow on practically any surface in your home.

Also, your air conditioning system collects all sorts of nasty stuff that provides fertile ground for mold growth, and air humidifiers are especially susceptible if not maintained properly.

It can often happen that residents don’t even know about mold growth until the mold spores become airborne and respiratory symptoms arise: cough, sneezing, scratchy throat or eyes, and even more serious allergic reactions.

Any surface, furniture piece or device that has the potential to collect significant amounts of dust must be cleaned regularly with anti-microbial protection in order to prevent mold growth, but also other microbes and even insects from gathering.

When Dust Enters The Equation


It’s important to remind that dust is a very heterogeneous mixture, but quite complete if looking at the variety of organic and mineral components that mold can feed upon.

Dust carries everything from dead skin and animal dander, to flour used in the kitchen, insect waste, and of course regular dirt coming from outside. In short, dust is usually the depositor of the organic part of the substrate where mold thrives.

But all of these components aren’t enough to promote a thriving patch of mold. This is where moisture comes into play.

Watch out For Moisture!


Water is the key! In fact, moisture is the first thing that should activate a rotating red light in your head, as it’s a prerequisite for any type of mold growth. This is why bathrooms, kitchens, humid basements and closets are so susceptible to mold growth.

Other sources of moisture could be a crack on the roof or a wall where the rain can splash and settle in, and of course, leaking pipes (both open and walled). Once water finds its way in or onto a surface, that surface is susceptible to mold growth, especially if it hardly ever gets to dry out completely.

Poor indoor ventilation is a boosting factor for mold growth as stale humid air will inhibit or slow down the process of drying. Bathrooms are especially susceptible to this, which is why they usually have pre-built ventilation systems. Unfortunately, ventilation shafts and ducts require maintenance, otherwise, the same vents can be responsible for spreading all sorts of allergens.

Be aware that mold can also grow under a surface, so it might remain hidden after an initial visual inspection. So if you see paint peeling off a wall, first ask yourself if it’s peeling because of moisture, and if there’s bad stuff underneath, invisible to the naked eye.

An Introduction to Mold Removal Procedures


The goal of mold remediation is not only to remove the mold-infested areas but fix the issues that led to mold buildup in the first place and outline a set of suggestions and actions to be taken in order to prevent the mold from reappearing.

The basic procedure of mold remediation consists of the following:

  1. Identifying the extent of the infestation
  2. Isolating the affected area
  3. Removal and cleanup of furniture and items
  4. Dust cleansing with a HEPA vacuum
  5. Anti-microbial remediation
  6. Prevention treatment

This is a basic overview of the whole procedure. The details of each step and preceding conditions are described in part 2 of this guide.

There are different scenarios in which a mold inspection and remediation can occur. It’s one thing to think about mold when you’ve found it in your own home, but what if you’re in the process of moving and buying property for yourself or to host your company?

Read on to find out more.


Brown Mold in Seattle?

What Do You Know About Brown Mold?

BrownMold-MoldSolutionsNWThere is a lot of discussion about black mold and its dangers, but there isn’t a lot said about brown mold, and although it’s a fairly common type of mold many people may not have even heard the term.

Brown hairy mold, or Stemonitis, is called that because it has a brown furry appearance. Although it’s not typically as toxic as black mold, it can still affect the health of people who have weak immune systems, respiratory problems and allergies. Its existence should not be ignored.

Where is Brown Mold Found?

WetnessFromLeaks-MoldSolutions NWLike other molds, brown mold thrives in damp dark places. Wherever there’s a leak or repeated wetness that seldom dries out, that’s where you’ll find it.

A common place for growth can be found in one of the wettest places in our homes – the bathroom. Water gets under the floor tiles, where it remains damp, and before you know it you have mold growth. By the time you see it on the tiles, there is probably a lot of damage done to the sub-flooring. This is one very good reason why carpeting in bathrooms is not a good idea.

Kitchens are another common breeding place for brown mold. If your refrigerator or your dishwasher has a leak that goes unnoticed, mold growth will begin.

One family had a dishwasher that had an undetected leak. Brown spots began appearing from the underside of the linoleum tiles before the homeowners knew there was a problem. Once the dishwasher was removed and the tile lifted, they were able to see the sub-floor was full of mold, rotted and needed to be replaced.

Signs of Mold Growth

Being able to see the growth is not the only way to detect a mold problem.

  • Mold gives off a musty odor – you may be able to smell it whenever you are in the area of the growth.
  • If you ever see mushrooms growing on the inside of your home, it’s pretty certain that you have hidden mold and very likely damage from rot and insects.

If you have found, or even think you have mold growing in your home or business, it’s important to have it removed correctly and thoroughly. Don’t take a chance of spreading the spores by trying to remove it yourself…call an expert to remediate the problem.

Contact us – Mold isn’t always easy to see, but we know what to look for, where to find it, and what to do when its found.

 

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Is Mold Exposure Dangerous to People With Weakened Immune Systems?

Weakened Immune Systems and Mold

MoldandHealth-MoldSolutionsNWThe answer to that question is a resounding “yes”!

Although continuous exposure to mold growth is hazardous to everyone, the level of risk for people with weakened immune systems is definitely higher than for those who are healthier.

By inhaling or simply touching mold or its spores, allergic reaction may be experienced, and for those who suffer with asthma, mold can increase the asthma attacks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who have weakened immune systems are more likely to get mold infections, which could lead to hospitalization or even death.

Who is at a higher risk of mold infection?

  • People who have cancer.
    • People undergoing chemotherapy.
  • People who have had organ transplants and are on medication that typically weakens the immune system.
    • People who are on antibiotics.
  • People who have aids.
  • People born with weakened immune system issues.

Because mold is a fungus, and reproduces by emitting its tiny spores into the air, another term for mold infection is fungal infection. As the spores are inhaled, they make their way into your lungs which is where most fungal infections begin.

Protecting Yourself From Mold Infection

Obviously, mold exposure can be a real health hazard and is a situation that should not be ignored. There are signs of mold growth that you can recognize:

  • Black Mold - Mold Solutions NWBlack or white spots growing on walls, ceilings, under wall paper or on furniture.
  • A dank musty smell – you can’t always see mold…it can be found lurking under counters, behind furniture, inside the walls, but you can often smell it in areas that it’s growing.
  • Mold can grow just about anywhere there is a lot of moisture or humidity, a nice warm temperature and little sunlight. Some of the most common places it’s located are bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens and basements.

You can control mold in your home by:

  • Making sure you have good ventilation and air flow.
  • Repair leaking plumbing right away.
  • Don’t let condensation from your windows build up on your windowsills…dry them off right away.
  • Keep furniture a few inches away from the walls to encourage good airflow.
  • Always run the exhaust fans in your bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.
  • If there has been flooding, even minor flooding, be sure it is dried thoroughly immediately…mold can begin to grow in about 24-48 hrs.

Symptoms of fungal or mold infection may include: headaches,  difficulty breathing, coughing, fever, skin rashes and congestion. Unfortunately these are symptoms for many other conditions, so oftentimes they get ignored because “they’ll go away soon”. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if you have a weakened immune system, you may want to consider the idea of mold exposure, especially if there have been signs of mold growth in the home.

The first thing you should do is have trained professionals inspect your home for mold, and get their recommendations on how to remediate it. Removing the problem in your home may not be the only solution to get rid of our symptoms, consult with your doctor who may have anti-fungal medication.

If you think you have a mold problem:

Contact us  – Mold isn’t always easy to see, but we know what to look for, where to find it, and what to do when its found.