The Facts about Mold: For Everyone
What is mold?
The term “mold” is a colloquial term for a group of filamentous fungi that are common on food or wet materials. This includes the green Penicillium species that produces penicillin, and fungi that spoil our bread, fruit, cheese and crops. Most of these are Ascomycetes that produce a lot of spores.
The majority of the molds that grow on damp building materials are found in the soil and are adapted to grow on a wide variety of materials. Outdoors, molds live in the soil, on plants, and on dead or decaying matter. There are thousands of species of mold and they can be any color. Different mold species are adapted to different moisture conditions ranging from very wet to just damp. Many times, mold can be detected by a musty odor. Live spores act like seeds, forming new mold growths (colonies) under the right conditions. All of us are exposed to a variety of fungal spores daily in the air we breathe, both outdoors and indoors.
How mold gets into a house or building
Mold and fungal spores occur naturally outdoors, where fungi are the earth’s most important recyclers. Indoors, mold needs moisture to grow; it becomes a problem only where there is water damage, elevated and prolonged humidity, or dampness. Common sources of excessive indoor moisture that can lead to mold problems include:
- flooding from surface waters (i.e., overflowing rivers) or from severe storms;
- roof leaks from damaged or missing roofing materials, ice dams or blocked gutters;
- storm-driven rain through window frames, exterior walls or door assemblies;
- leaking pipes, sewer back-ups or overflows;
- damp basements or crawl spaces due to a high water table or poorly managed rainwater drainage; and
- condensation on cold surfaces.
How to prevent mold growth
The key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth is to control excessive moisture and condensation. Keeping susceptible areas in the home clean and dry is critical. In general, mold will not grow indoors without water, dampness or excessive moisture.Three main factors contribute to condensation of water on building surfaces:
- Relative Humidity: Condensation occurs when the air is saturated with water and it cannot hold any more moisture. For example, steam generated from bathroom showers or from cooking can fill up the air with moisture, which will then condense into drops of water on cooler surfaces, such as mirrors and windows. Where possible, localized sources of humidity, such as clothes dryers, should be directly vented to the outdoors. To lower indoor humidity during warm, humid weather, air conditioners and/or dehumidifiers should be used. In chronically damp areas such as basements or crawlspaces, it is often recommended that dehumidifiers be used to maintain humidity levels below 60 percent.
- Temperature: Warm air holds more moisture than cold air. Condensation occurs when warm humid air comes into contact with a cold surface and the moisture condenses into water. This can often be seen on single-pane windows, where water condenses and then runs down, causing the wood frames and sills to rot and the wall under the windows to blister. Condensation can occur on exterior walls, particularly north-facing walls, if they are not properly insulated. Other chronically cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes, should be covered with insulation to help prevent condensation.
- Poor Ventilation: Indoor humidity can build up if there is not enough ventilation and exchange of indoor and outdoor air. Where there is little or no air movement, such as behind dressers and cabinets, surfaces can remain cooler than surrounding areas, which can lead to increased condensation and mold growth. It is recommended that the area be ventilated and the occupants use exhaust fans (vented to the outdoors) to remove moisture from high-humidity areas, particularly in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas. Furniture should be moved slightly away from walls so that air can freely pass behind it. Air should be allowed to circulate between rooms and regularly ventilate to remove humid air. Fans should be used as needed.
Other things that can be done are to clean and repair gutters regularly, make sure the ground slopes down and away from the home’s foundation and keep air conditioner drip pans and drain lines clean. In addition, in air conditioned buildings in hot and humid climates, vinyl wall coverings on the interior sides of exterior walls should not be used, as these materials can trap moisture, resulting in mold growth underneath them.
In the case of floods or leaking pipes, any standing water should be promptly removed and water-damaged materials should either be dried out and cleaned, or removed and replaced. Porous materials that are wet for more than 48 hours are likely to produce mold growth and should be discarded. In instances where the water damage is extensive, it is recommended that professional help, such as a commercial restoration company, be consulted. That is where we can help. Call SERVPRO of Mandarin with all of your mold concerns.
Fire Prevention Tips- Make a Checklist
A safety checklist is a must for being prepared for a fire.
SERVPRO of Mandarin would like to advise you to take personal responsibility and prepare long before a fire threatens your home and your family’s safety.
Sit down with your family and review this fire safety checklist:
- Install and maintain a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector in every bedroom, outside of every sleep area and on every level of the home, including the basement, and remember to change the battery at least once a year.
- Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. This way, when one sounds, they all do.
- Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
- Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner if they don’t respond properly.
- Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and understands what to do when they hear it.
- Know where your fire extinguisher is mounted, and make sure everyone in the family knows how to use it.
- Designate two escape routes from each bedroom and practice them regularly.
- Teach everyone the "Stop, Drop, and Roll" technique in case clothing catches on fire.
- Avoid storing old mattresses in the home or garage.
- Teach kids that matches, lighters and candles are tools, not toys. If you suspect that a child is playing with fire, check under beds and in closets for telltale signs like burned matches. Matches and lighters should be stored in a secure drawer or cabinet.
All It Takes is One Spark
All it takes is one spark that ignites into a flame to change your life in an instant. Any fire can be devastating. The most important thing after a fire is the safety of your family and pets. Once everyone is safe and secure, it’s time to work a plan for what to do after fire damages your home and property. SERVPRO has created this checklist of safety precautions and more to begin recovery after fire damage.
What to Do After a Fire
Call your insurance company immediately after a fire. Following ironing the details with your insurance company, contact SERVPRO so the fire damage cleanup process can begin quickly. Make sure to notify your mortgage company of the fire as well. If you’re not sure that the home is structurally safe, have it inspected by a certified structural engineer or building inspector before going near.
- Take pictures of all exterior damage, noting broken windows or entrances that are no longer secure.
- Make arrangements to board-up broken windows and secure the property during the cleanup and restoration process.
- Shut off propane tank systems and make an appointment for it to be inspected for safety.
- Do not attempt to reconnect utilities on your own.
- Be aware that rodents, snakes, or other animals may have entered your home.
Inside the home:
- Don’t flip on electrical switches in any room with standing water from firefighting efforts.
- Don’t enter any room if you hear popping or see sparking.
- Turn off the power at the main electrical panel.
- Try not to touch anything covered with soot; it’s easy to transfer it to other areas of the home, making the cleaning process more difficult.
- Wear closed-toe shoes or boots, long sleeves, long pants and gloves to protect against soot and any other contaminants as you go through the home.
- Try to locate important papers and other documents that you’ll need.
- Handle burned money as little as possible. You can take its remains to a Regional Federal Reserve Bank for replacement.
- Begin taking inventory of the building damage and all damaged items.
- Begin saving receipts for any expenses incurred after the fire. These may be needed when filing insurance claims.
Fire Damage Cleanup and Remediation
We have the expertise as well as the right products and equipment to safely and effectively clean and restore a home after a fire. Fire damage includes more than just items burned. There will be soot, smoke and water damage as well.
A professional cleaning team will assess the damage to flooring, drywall, cabinets, furniture and more before developing a plan for thorough cleanup. Additionally, mold growth may be a concern after rooms and items have been saturated with water during the fire-fighting efforts.
Items that may need to be cleaned for soot and smoke removal include but are not limited to:
- Carpets and area rugs
- Flooring: hardwood, tile and vinyl
- Woodwork and other hard surfaces like counter tops and cabinetry
- Electronics and appliances
- Furniture and upholstery
- Draperies, linens and clothing
- Books, artwork, papers and documents
Tornadoes...What you need to know
Often times we think and prepare for hurricanes, but what about tornadoes. Are you ready for a storm like that ?
Tornadoes are known to cause widespread damage throughout the United States, especially in the Southern Plains and South East. But how much do we truly know about these destructive entities that tear through our homes and businesses?
Here are a couple of quick facts about tornadoes:
- The average tornado travels Southwest to Northeast but have been known to move in any direction.
- Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3pm and 9pm but can occur at any time.
- T. Theodore Fujita devised the F0-F5 Scale for tornadoes in 1971.
- In 2006 the National Weather Service unveiled the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF Scale).
- A tornado normally appears transparent until it picks dust and mud from the ground.
- The USA averages around 1,200 tornadoes every year, more than any other country.
- In the southern hemisphere tornadoes usually rotate in a clockwise direction. In the northern hemisphere tornadoes usually rotate in a counterclockwise direction.
Signs of Danger
- Dark, green tinted sky
- Large hail
- Low-lying rotating cloud
- Loud roar similar to a freight train
We are in the peak of tornado season here in Alabama and encourage everyone to be weather aware. Have a family plan in the event of a tornado warning. Know where your safe areas are wherever you are.
Floods Come In All Shapes ans Sizes
Flooding can come from all types of sources. Broken pipes, sprinkler systems, hurricanes and more. Floods are the most common, widespread disasters in the United States. Whether your home or business is near a coastline, along city streets, in the mountains, near a river or even out in the desert -there is always potential for flood damage. Just because you haven't experienced a flood in the past, does not mean you never will. 20% of flood insurance claims come from low-risk or no-risk areas. On average, floods cost $3.5 billion in annual losses in the United States.
According to the American Red Cross (ARC), floods cause more damage in the US every year than any other type of disaster.
-Stay away from flood waters. If the water is up above your ankles, "turn around, don't drown."
-If you approach a flooded road while driving, turn around and go the other way. If you get caught on a flooded road and water is rising quickly around you, get out of the car and go the higher ground as fast as you can.
-KEEP CHILDREN OUT OF THE WATER!
Water Can Damage Your Property as Well as Its Value
Water damage is an experience you don't want to deal with whether from a Busted water pipe; busted hot water heater; leaking dishwasher; broken ice maker line; washing machine over flowing torrential rain; flooding; or sewage backup. They all likely lead to the same result: water damage. Water damage can wreak havoc on your home if proper water removal and drying doesn't become a priority after it's discovered. While you likely already know the importance of proper water mitigation following a water loss, there’s still a lot that may surprise you about water damage situations. With that in mind, here are some essentials you should know about water damage remediation:
- The more polluted the water, the worse your situation. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) classifies water into three categories in its S500 Standard: Category 1, Category 2 and Category 3. Category 1 is generally sanitary water, Category 2 is significantly contaminated water, and Category 3 is grossly contaminated water. The category of water on any loss will dictate how it's restored as well as how much can be salvaged.
- Mold can begin to grow within 48 to 72 hours.All it needs to thrive is spores, a food source (i.e. wood, drywall, etc.), the right temperature (i.e. high humidity) and moisture.
Mold needs 5 perfect conditions to grow in 48-72 hours:
- Food source
- Prime temperature
- No/minimal air movement
- No/minimal light
- Fast action is crucial.Whether you're experiencing residential water damage or commercial water damage, to begin processing an insurance claim, your agent needs to know about a water damage situation immediately. The agent needs to know what happened, how it happened, the source of the water, etc. The longer you wait, the worse the situation gets.
Emergency Water Damage Restoration Services
It’s also worth emphasizing how important quick response time is; and that's where SERVPRO can help you in your time of need. SERVPRO will arrive on scene within 1 hour of receiving your call and get to work. Our IICRC certified technicians first inspect the property for safety concerns, develop a structural drying plan, extract all water, set up the appropriate equipment to dry the affected area, etc. Our highly-trained technicians use industry proven water mitigation and drying techniques to efficiently remove moisture from deep within the floor, walls and even the hardest-to-reach areas of the home. It's this fast response time, proven water damage mitigation techniques and cutting edge equipment that help result in lower repair costs and/or limited contents damage.
When your home or business is damaged by water damage, understanding the types of water is essential to clean-up. There are three types of water. Clean water, or category one water is water from a broken pipe, or other water source; rainwater is also considered clean. The term gray water, or category two water, is used to classify water that is slightly contaminated. Clean water can become gray water if left untreated, allowing bacteria to form. Black water, or category three water, is water that has been contaminated by sewage or a natural disaster. This water type should always be handled by licensed, trained professionals. When water damage occurs trust local SERVPRO.
Consider taking the following precautions while waiting for help to arrive, to minimize secondary damage.
Damage from Clean Water:
-Shut off water source if possible.
-Remove as much access water as possible with mops and towels, wiping excess water from wood furniture.
-Turn off circuit breakers in wet areas of your home or business.
-Remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions.
-Move any paintings, art objects, and other items that may be sensitive and move them to an unaffected area.
-Do not leave books, newspapers, or magazines on wet carpets or floors. They may cause staining.
-Do not use your household vacuum to remove water. There is danger of electrical shock.
-Do not turn on ceiling fixtures. Do not enter rooms where ceilings are sagging. It could be dangerous.
Damage from Contaminated Water:
-Avoid all contact with sewage and items contaminated with sewage.
-Do not walk through wet and contaminated areas.
-Do not turn on the HVAC system.
-Do not use house hold fans to try to dry the structure.
-Discard any food and/or products for personal hygiene and cleanliness if exposed to the contaminated areas.
Help My Office is Flooded
Help, my office is flooded !
Water intrusion may be more severe in commercial buildings than in a residential setting and the effects more extensive. Many commercial structures have a larger volume water entering the premises through plumbing supply lines and at a higher water pressure. The quantity of outgoing sewage is greater than a typical residence, as well. Also, commercial buildings tend to be of larger square footage than a home, so entry points for water intrusion through areas like the roof, exterior walls or windows are commensurately greater in number, as well.
Water intrusion in commercial buildings can damage high-value equipment like computers and also building services such as HVAC, lighting, elevators and security equipment. Common long-term consequences of water damage like the growth of toxic mold may be even more problematic than in a home due to the larger occupancy of a business or other commercial enterprise. When a greater number of people with a wider range of sensitivity are exposed to mold and bacteria spores, health impacts may be significantly magnified, perhaps leading to an enforced closure of the facility until the situation is fully remediated.
Typical issues from water intrusion in the commercial environment include:
- Water from roof leaks penetrating through ceilings. Chronic leakage through the roof may proceed unnoticed for long periods, hidden by suspended ceiling panels or in electrical or HVAC service areas above.
- Ruptures of water supply lines typically release clean (white) water. Sewage backups or leaks in drain pipes release toxic (black) water that may be a biohazard and require evacuation of the premises.
- Flooding from external sources can result from heavy rains, storms such as hurricanes, rapid snow melt or local overflowing lakes or rivers.
- Moisture intrusion through the building envelope is typically more subtle. Humid outdoor air may be drawn in through structural cracks and gaps. Over a period, chronic dampness forms in spaces like wall voids, unventilated attics and service areas, spawning hidden mold growth that persists unseen.
Tile and Grout Cleaning
SERVPRO is known for our excellent tile and grout cleaning. Running any business can be a very demanding job. Sometimes owners get so caught up in the day-to-day running of the business that they forget about some other very important things, such as a spectacularly clean floor. There are huge benefits to having your tile and ground cleaned. If you have never experienced professional tile and grout cleaning, then you are in for a treat.
- Benefit #1: The largest benefit to investing in this service, is that it will change the look of your whole business.
- Benefit #2: The floor will look brand new, and your customers will take notice.
- Benefit #3: When your tile, and grout is clean, it changes the whole atmosphere of your business.
- Benefit #4: When you properly clean your tile and grout you show your employees, and customers, how much you care about their safety and health because clean floors means that you properly removed the dirt and buildup from them and made your overall building much healthier.
The floors will be cleaned, and then the grout would be sealed so that the dirt doesn't easily creep back into the grout. It is well worth the investment. Having your floors cleaned is an investment that will pay out over, and over again.
With proper maintenance, your floors will never get back to the dull, dirty look that they had before the cleaning. With the noticeable change of your tile and grout, the confidence in the way you do business may change forever. Your confidence is not the only thing that will increase, your customer’s confidence will increase also.
For more information on having your tile, and grout professionally cleaned, please contact us. We would be delighted to help you give your business a new look that you, and your customers will feel great about.
Messy Wet Insulation
Mold In the Aftermath of Storm Damage
Mold is a big deal and its removal is critical. It can be spotted in a variety of ways. Sometimes it discolors your ceiling or walls, or it shows up as black spots on areas throughout the home, or as rot on damp wood. If the insulation is replaced or thoroughly dry, it can’t harbor mold. But it’s easy to be confused about whether water-damaged insulation is safe to keep in place. A qualified mitigation company can use certain tools, such as a moisture meter, to detect whether the insulation within a wall is wet. Homeowners may have to resort to opening a wall to visually inspect the damage.
Insulation Is Made of Various Materials
Insulation is not just a cashmere lining for your home. It comes in a variety of different materials and is installed various ways.
For instance, there is fiberglass, cellulose, foam board, cotton, or spray foam. Each type of insulation must be treated differently after water damage. Some of these materials are organic and they make a fine breeding ground for mold.
There is also the risk of toxins in water-damaged insulation. Flood waters can carry potential toxins that remain in the insulation after the water recedes. It’s the nature of insulation that it retains moisture for a long time after the flood is gone.
Assessing and repairing water damage should take priority for homeowners who’ve been hit by a flood or storm. It’s not just a matter of aesthetics, though the odors and discolored walls and wallpaper are certainly unpleasant; it’s important to your family’s health and safety that the insulation is handled by expert hands.
Is the Insulation Worth Keeping?
We help the homeowner to analyze a multitude of issues concerning repair, salvage, construction, disposal, insurance and restoration. As for the question of replacement: Does water-damaged insulation necessarily need to be removed, with new materials installed throughout the home? This is not a question to be taken lightly. We can help you decide whether to remove and replace insulation after we’ve begun the job of assessing damage and drying out the entire structure.
Cleanup and restoration after water damage is a comprehensive job. It requires skills, tools and experience in a variety of disciplines. Few companies have the resources of SERVPRO of Mandarin Please Call us at 904-246-6118