What should I expect during my MoldEase initial inspection?
So you’ve ran across a concern in your house, and you’ve made the right step to schedule a free initial inspection and have us out to your home or property. Here’s what what to expect during one of our inspections and how to prepare for it.
The first step is to prepare your home properly so that we can perform the most thorough inspection possible. This is going to begin by first being sure that all windows and doors of the property have been properly shut for a minimum of 24 hours. The better sealed off the interior of the property is before the inspection the more obvious any abnormal conditions can be identified.
Second, you will want to set your Central Air Conditioning system thermostat to run as you usually would to be comfortable at that time of the day for a minimum of 4 hours prior to the inspection. We prefer if you could try to leave it set anywhere between 74 to 78 degrees. This is to properly identify any humidity control issues that your ac system may not be handling correctly.
Also, let’s be sure that any furry friends in the home that may be nervous or too eager to help be placed somewhere comfortable.
And the last thing to be prepared for, is that we may need to inspect in some areas that typically other visitors or service people don’t really get into. Remember that we will be inspecting for something that may be living in dark and random spaces. So, we may need to get into sections of the home such as closets, under beds and furniture, and possibly even your attic.
Our specialist will typically be in touch with you before the inspection via text or phone call when they are on the way with an estimated time of arrival.
Once they have arrived, the specialists will be applying some protective shoe covers and a face mask prior to entering your home, which has always been our standard protocol. This is done to protect the specialist from breathing in or tracking any possible contamination out of the home with them, as they do visit multiple homes per day.
Our inspection should only take approximately 20 to 30 minutes to complete depending on the size of the home and what issue you may be dealing with.
Now during the inspection itself, our specialist is going to most likely be using some different types of specialized instrumentation such as: a thermal imagery camera and moisture meter to check for any hidden water issues, a thermal-hydrometer to check for any elevated humidity levels in the home, and/or a digital particle counter to check for any elevated particles in the air that could be a sign of a contamination as they visually inspect the property. They will be checking the environment of the home to see if there are any visual signs of a contamination and/or conditions that could be condoning of mold growth.
So if there is something that brought concern to you, for example some spotting or discoloration that you thought maybe resembled mold, or a musty odor in a particular area of home, feel free to point out these areas to the specialist at any time.
Based on what is found during their investigation, they will make recommendations on what may be needed to further identify, remedy, or prevent any possible mold issues. These recommendations may consist of referring a licensed mold assessor, mold verification testing,
or providing an immediate estimate to resolve the problem. And if everything seems to be ok, then you are all set! Its as simple as that!
Is mold a problem in your home?
Is mold really a problem in your home, and should you really be concerned?
Well, what you have to understand is that mold is only on this earth to do one thing, and that’s to eat and decompose organic materials. Or in other words materials that came from once living things like paper, wood, cotton, and leather. Unfortunately for all of us, most of the building materials and contents of your home are exactly that.
Now, If mold is growing inside your home it can pose a couple of different issues. Such as possible health effects, directly due the growing or spreading of the mold, and it can literally rot and damage materials and personal items and even effect the overall investment of your home. This is why you can commonly see mold coverage included in homeowner’s insurance policies, and in some cases it’s even required.
Also, this is not to say that just because you have a rotting piece of fruit on your counter, or a small area of mold growing in the corner of your shower that you are in any kind of danger or need professional help to fix the issue by any means. (By the way, yes that is mold growing in your shower. Not just mildew) There are and always will be many minor issues that can be easy addressed.
However, if you are seeing signs a potentially larger problem it’s always very important first to identify what may be the cause of it, and this is typically going to involve moisture or water probably somewhere it wouldn’t typically be. You’ll also want to do some investigating to see what it’s going to take to have it resolved and this could involve needing some professional help to properly identify the problem and make sure its properly addressed so that it doesn’t get worse.
In regard to health effects, mold growing in your home can lead to elevated mold levels in the air. You should be aware that no elevated amounts of mold in your home is going to be good for your respiratory and/or immune system.
EPA.gov even states that mold has the potential to cause health problems. And mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. https://www.epa.gov/mold/mold-and-health
We also feel it’s important to say that although sometimes it is absolutely necessary, a majority of mold remediation don’t always have to be big elaborate and destructive projects. You just have to be sure to eliminate any conditions that cause the mold in the first place, and then make sure that the proper plan is put in place to eliminate the growth and contamination thoroughly.
So yes mold can be a problem in your home. You just have to be able to identify whether it is a true issue that may require help, or if it can be easily cleaned. As we always like to say ‘If you’re in doubt, have someone check it out!’ and contact a reputable and certified mold professional.
Because one thing will always remain true, a serious mold issue will never go away on its own, and it will, most certainly, only continue to get worse over time if it is not addressed.
Does Bleach kill mold? Does bleach household bleach really kill and remove mold?
In our experience it’s always seemed difficult to get a straight answer to this question. That’s because there are just a couple things you first have to understand.
So, the general answer questions is yes, but the real question you need to be asking is where does bleach kill the mold effectively enough so that it doesn’t grow back?
First, the active ingredient in household bleach that kills mold is known as Sodium Hypochlorite. It’s what gives it that potent chlorine smell that you can recognize at a pool or in bathroom cleaners. In its pure form, theres no doubt that it does a very efficient job at killing bacteria, viruses, and fungus. Which mold is a type of fungus. But sodium hypochlorite is also very unstable and corrosive and can easily damage raw metals, coloring in fabrics, and off gases as chlorine gas which can be very dangerous if inhaled. This is why you will often find it very watered down in a typical bottle of household bleach with as much as 95 to 97 percent water making the main ingredient of household bleach just water.
The second point you have to understand is that mold itself has a root system. Very similar to a plant these roots can grow deep down into porous materials, or in other words materials that have many small microscopic holes in them such as drywall, particle boards, and cotton fabrics. If the mold is growing on a smooth non-porous surface, such as ceramic tile or glass, the bleach can do a pretty great job at killing the mold as a whole since everything is sitting right on the surface. However, on porous materials (which your home is mostly made of) the bleach can only react to what is sitting at the surface, not addressing the roots embedded into the material itself. Even worse, the remaining abundance of water left over after the chemical reaction of the sodium hypochlorite can even soak down and feed the root system causing the mold to grow back faster and stronger than before. So unfortunately, you may get the appearance of the mold being cleaned and removed, but with just a bit a time the mold will always return.
Let not forget that some building materials can be too sensitive and simply just can’t handle the corrosiveness of the bleach. So, there are many cases where it will end up causing more damage than the mold itself. Think as if you were to spray bleach on a carpet or couch for example. Yikes!
So the answer is yes bleach will kill mold, but unfortunately only effectively on some smooth surfaces.
It’s much more important to know what the mold is growing on, and the correct way to address it if it located somewhere you probably shouldn’t use bleach.
Why is mold so hard to get rid of?
With mold being so common in the world, why can it be so hard to get rid of?
Many claims are made that it can be killed and clean with just bleach or vinegar alone, but it never seems to work in certain situations. And professional mold remediation can be a very expensive and regulated industry. So why is that?
So it mainly boils down to understanding exactly what mold is.
Mold is a type of fungi, in the same animal kingdom as mushrooms or yeast. It is a microorganism that has one main job on this earth which is to eat, breakdown, and decompose organic materials.
There are three main characteristics of mold that can make it a bit of a bigger challenge to get rid of properly than certain other microorganisms, such as bacteria.
The first is its root system, known as Rhizoids. Similar to a plant, this root system can embed itself deep into porous materials that can be hard to reach in order to kill. And if that material also happens to be an organic material such as gypsum board or wood that the mold would like to eat, it will continue to spread provided it continues to have a source of water. This is what usually leads to the decision of having to remove mold effected building materials as opposed to just cleaning them.
Which brings us to the second point. When mold loses its source of water, it’s spores (similar to the seeds of a plant) can go dormant indefinitely waiting for the moisture to return. So, unlike most bacteria (or even humans!) where if the source of water is eliminated it would die, the mold will just dry up and wait for the water to return. Think of a decomposing tree in the forest, and yes, it is mold that is mostly decomposing that tree.
A third characteristic that makes mold difficult to get rid of is how it spreads. Mold spreads itself through its spores which resemble and are similar in structure to millions of microscopic dandelions. When it is disturbed, or feels it is under attack, it will instantly release thousands of spores into the air as a defense mechanism causing what we refer to as an “elevated mold spore contamination”. Not only can breathing in this high level of spores cause health effects, but it also aids the mold growth in spreading to new areas far away from the original source, provided it can find food and a source of moisture.
So depending on the size and extent of the mold issue, you may find yourself needing to have the correct protection and equipment, and most importantly, the knowledge to be able to remove the mold without causing a bigger issue, or possibly putting yourself at risk of danger.
According to the EPA a good rule of thumb is that if the moldy area is greater than around 10sqft (or a 3ft by 3ft section) then you may want to consider having a mold professional handle the remediation.
Why are mold issues becoming more common?
Why are mold issues becoming a more common problem in peoples homes today, as compared to in the past? Mold has always been around, So what happened?
Well, what you have to really look at is another big change that has happened to our homes and buildings in the last couple of decades or so, especially regarding newly built and remodeled homes. And that is how everything is being made to be more energy efficient.
It started once Congress established the Department of Energy in 1977, meant to diversify energy resources and promote the conservation of wasted electricity.
So, what does that have to do with mold? Well, the way much of this energy efficiency was achieved in modern homes was by tightening down the exterior barriers of buildings (also known as the building exterior envelope) and adding forms of insulation, essentially doing a better job of sealing off and separating the indoor environment from outside. This includes installing tighter windows, doors, sealed HVAC ductwork, and synthetic vapor barriers to keep water and/or water vapor from entering the home. Often applied to basements, crawl spaces, and attics.
And in terms of energy efficiency, it worked great, and even became a big part of changes to current building codes. However, what was meant to do a good job of keeping water, water vapor, and unwanted temperatures outside ended up also doing a great job of keeping unwanted water and moisture inside the home, if it ends up getting in accidentally or isn’t maintained properly. We almost like to think of it as if we’ve made our homes into giant sealed off petri dishes for things to grow in.
In regard to the mold itself, mother nature has always had great ways of mitigating and controlling mold through natural sources; such as UV light from the sun, natural plant enzymes, and even other molds and bacteria that eat it away. However, as we make our homes “tighter” for energy efficiency purposes we are also sealing off and keeping these natural mitigation sources, that the earth provides us, out of our homes. Now leaving much of the maintenance and responsibility of all of this to us.
Most of this newfound responsibility is going to boil down to two main things. One is making sure that any leaks or issues that lead to water or wet materials in the home get repaired and properly dried quickly. Do not let anything in your home stay wet or damp for any period longer than 2 to 3 days.
The second is making sure that all indoor living spaces, especially air-conditioned spaces, maintain a relative humidity level well below 60%RH by means of either a properly sized and operating HVAC unit or a dehumidifier. And yes, you can even use consistent fresh air ventilation like opening up the windows.
And remember that achieving or maintaining both of these may require the help of a professional if you are not having any luck on your own.
When should you get a mold inspection?
So you think you might be seeing signs of a possible mold issue in your home and your just not sure if you need to schedule a professional to check it out. I mean, how do you even know you’re really dealing with mold, and not something else?
Here’s what we believe are the top 3 signs you’ll want to be looking for to see if it may be worth getting a professional mold inspection performed.
First off, you have to understand that any and every mold issue is going to involve water or excess moisture in some way. So, the first thing you should be checking for is any type of standing water or damp materials inside your home. Especially where you wouldn’t expect to find it. Be sure to check to make sure you don’t find any plumbing leaks or water intrusion from outside. Wet organic materials that don’t dry within 48 hours are usually going to spark some sort of mold growth. Don’t forget to check areas like under your sinks and around hot water heaters, all water connected appliances, or also in discolored areas like water spots in the ceiling. If you’re finding wetness or dampness in these places its best to leave it alone and call for some assistance, especially if its accompanied with some spotting or discoloration.
The second thing you should be checking for is small round spotting in areas that are nowhere near any sources of water. Believe it or not, a high amount of humidity alone in a closed-up home for extended periods of time can cause certain types of mold contaminations. These types of mold generally like to grow in dark places, so be sure to check for spotting (light or dark in color) on the contents and walls of places that don’t have much light or windows such as closets, basements, and inside cabinetry. Also be sure to check on the underside or backside of furniture and wall décor. If you are finding spotting, especially in more than one place, you most likely have an active contamination. So you’re definitely going to want to have a professional inspection performed to check for the extent of the contamination, and more importantly, to find what is causing the contamination in first place.
And last but not least, the third thing you should be paying attention to is yourself and/or other occupants of the home. In some rare occasions there are some hidden mold issues that may not show themselves so visibly.
It can present itself as a randomly emerging musty smell, or in some cases a health symptom like say a re-occurring runny nose or a headache. Now in these cases we always recommend first bringing these symptoms to the attention of a healthcare professional, and only recommend a home mold inspection as a last resort. But if these symptoms persist and you are not finding any answers, it might be time to have an experienced professional come out to check your indoor environment.
And on a last note, remember that any mold professional that you have out should be providing you information on all three parts of a true inspection which are:
1) Properly identifying if there is a true mold issue.
2) A plan on how to resolve the issue if there is one.
3) Identifying and correcting what caused the problem in the first place!