Air Quality Assessors Blog

rss

Air Quality Assessors Blog


How To Prepare Your Home For Hurricane Season
How To Prepare Your Home For Hurricane Season


Living in a climate like Florida where severe weather is common creates challenges for homeowners. It's important to know how to prepare your home for the 2018 hurricane season! Any effort that you put into storm-proofing your house will help when it comes to the safety of your family and structural integrity of the home.

 

Hurricane Aftermath

There are plenty of issues that can occur with the damage storms bring. Even the best drainage systems and foundations can get overwhelmed with the amount of water brought in with a hurricane. Water getting into the home can weaken drywall, soak insulation and carpet. This creates the perfect conditions for mold to grow. The longer you have standing water in a home, the more potential there is for long-term damage. Furniture, electrical systems, and appliances can get ruined with any amount of water exposure. If you don't have one already, consider buying a generator for when the electricity gets knocked out. Make sure you know how to use beforehand too!

 

How To Prepare

Preparing a home for hurricane season should be a top priority for homeowners in Florida. First, be sure to review any insurance policies that are in place so you're not left in the dark. Does your policy cover damage from a flood that follows a big storm? Storm guard your home by cleaning gutters and placing storm shutters on windows. Re-caulking windows and doors add another layer of protection against water damage. You can also install bolts on entry doors to protect against high wind. Since your roof is the biggest opening within the home, you want to make sure it's secure as possible. It's worth it to spend the extra money to seal your roof deck and fasten hurricane clips to the roof and walls. Remember, any lawn decorations or patio furniture can become airborne during a storm, so place them in a secure spot before the winds pick up.

 

What Lies Ahead

The Atlantic hurricane season begins with the first of June and lasts until November 30. Several forecasts are predicting that there will be anywhere from 13 to 18 tropical storms coming through this year. They're reporting ten of those have the potential to become hurricanes. The average number is around eight named storms per-year, so we are already looking at a potentially busier than average Florida hurricane season in 2018. Some areas are still recovering from the 2017 season, so you can see the importance of preparing your home.

 

Post-Hurricane Steps

The most important thing to do when you're dealing with damage from a hurricane is to get in touch with a professional as soon as possible. There are some simple measures you can take to alleviating a problem such as removing excess water and airing out the area. But, nothing replaces the skill and expertise of professionals. You can learn more about how to detect damage and steps to take by reviewing some information we've written on the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.


The Dangers of DIY Mold Remediation
The Dangers of DIY Mold Remediation


The presence of mold in your home can have lasting negative effects. Not only is it damaging to the structural quality of your home, but also to your health. A lot of homeowners want to fix problems themselves to save time, money, and effort. If you're a motivated self-starter, you might have the instinct to clean the mold yourself. Before you pick up the cleaning products, do a bit of research. Always leave the mold remediation to professionals, or you can create more issues!


Know When There's a Problem 

There are countless situations that can lead to the presence of mold in your home. You could have had a household leak or weather damage that let dampness accumulate. No matter the cause, it's important to remove the mold as soon as possible. You also want to address what brought on the mold issue, to begin with. Given the serious health risks that mold can trigger, it should not be a DIY job. Without the proper equipment, training, and experience, you could end up causing more problems in the long run.

 

Don't Make the Issue Worse

If you don't know what you're doing when it comes to mold removal, you can exacerbate the issue at hand. Mold spores are microscopic, and you can easily spread the infestation where it wasn't present before. You might think that you're saving yourself money by tackling this project yourself, but that's rarely the case. If you aren't careful, you can double the costs by spreading spores to different areas. This will make the job more intensive when you eventually have to call a professional.

 

The Experts Know Best

Mold remediation experts have the latest and greatest equipment and cleaning agents. They know how to tackle every stage of mold situations. Sure, vinegar might take care of a mildew smell lurking in your laundry room, but it would never kill a large colony. Powerful chemicals are extremely dangerous when they're in inexperienced hands. Professionals know how to shield themselves with respirators, goggles, and other articles of protective clothing. A simple dust mask and long sleeve clothing aren't enough to protect your health!

 

There are different types of mold, and some are more dangerous than others. The reality is that you don't have years of experience diagnosing and testing for mold issues. This means you can't make a distinction between different types of mold by looking up pictures and information online. Without a mold removal expert, you won't know what you're dealing with. Not only can you misdiagnose, but you can miss hidden mold completely if you aren't experienced. If you disturb black mold and release spores, you could experience symptoms like vomiting, nausea, fatigue, and even bleeding in extreme cases.

  

There are countless reasons why you should hire a mold removal expert. While there are many DIY resources available nowadays, mold removal shouldn't be one of these DIY jobs. Leave the job to the experts who know how to contain and remediate the mold issues in your home. It's the smartest thing for your home, budget, and health.


How Mold Affects Children
How Mold Affects Children

The dangerous effects of mold aren't created equal. Mold has the potential to affect everybody in a negative way regardless of age. Children are especially susceptible to the harmful effects. The toxic substances mold emits, mycotoxins, affect children more than adults due to their developing bodies. When mold grows indoors, tiny spores travel everywhere. These spores have the potential to collect and reproduce in places you can't see. This compromises the overall quality of the air inside of your home.

You definitely don't want to neglect mold remediation if you have children in the home. The health and well being of your child is vital, and every parent should have a concern about long-term effects of mold. Children have the potential to be affected by mold more than adults since their immune system and bodies are still developing. In some cases, mycotoxins cause illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, which has the potential to last throughout their life.


Impaired Development

From birth to adolescence, a child's immune system is developing as it is exposed to different substances. When a young immune system encounters harmful substances like mold, development is often affected. Typical reactions to mold might include respiratory irritation and allergic reactions such as coughing and itchy eyes. However, these issues aren't the only harmful effects that mold can trigger. The presence of mycotoxins has been linked to neurotoxicity in some brains of young people. This can have a negative effect on a child's emotions and behavior, even their performance in school.


Long-Term Effects

Another serious condition called chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis can occur when a child is exposed to mold over a period of time. This is a condition that is similar to pneumonia. Yet, unlike pneumonia, it is not cured with antibiotics. The symptoms of this include muscle aches, night sweats, fever, shortness of breath and cough. Children who already have asthma can easily have an attack triggered by being in the same general area as mold. It is estimated that over 20% of asthma illness in the United States is due to mold exposure or damp conditions in the home. Black mold is especially unsafe for infants and children to be around. The mycotoxins produced by this kind of mold have the ability to impair brain function and cause nervous system disorders. Chronic exposure to black mold increases the risk for hemorrhagic pneumonia in infants, and it is known to be fatal.


Steps to Take

Is your child exhibiting signs of persisting respiratory issues, fatigue, or poor performance in school? Has there been an unexplained rash or skin lesions? You could have mold lurking somewhere in your home, even if the adults in the home aren't exhibiting any unusual symptoms. If you have reason to believe mold is present in your home, mold inspection and remediation is vital to the health of your family. Get in touch with a local mold remediation company to ensure the safety of the children in your home.

Hurricane Irma: The Aftermath
Hurricane Irma: The Aftermath

 

Recovering from the damages of a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma has been devastating! Homeowners in Florida and the surrounding areas are no stranger to these issues. Mold has the potential to leave lasting effects on your possessions and well being. This is true even months after a storm passes. You can see why it's important to think about mold damage in your home. 

 

The Cost

Researchers estimate that Irma has brought property damage around $42 to $65 billion dollars. Residential flood damage is at $25 to $28 billion dollars alone. Irma was only one of the strong storms that brought in flooding and strong wings in this season. No matter the level of damage your home, it's wise to be extra cautious about the signs of mold in your home.

 

 

Mold Illness

The residual moisture, humidity, and loss of power after a storm offer the perfect conditions for mold to grow. Even the smallest amount of mold exposure can bring symptoms of respiratory issues and skin irritation. For those who have a mold allergy or chronic lung issues, it can bring severe reactions. This is especially true for the elderly. The longer the mold goes unnoticed, the stronger the physical reaction can be. Even healthy people can develop asthma from exposure to these damp environments. Here are some signs you can look out for when it comes to mold exposure in your home and what you can do about it.

 

How To Detect Mold

One of the easiest ways to detect mold in your home is by the smell. If you're noticing a musty, dirty smell in your home, it's a good sign that you have mold somewhere, even if it isn't visible. Are you noticing general respiratory irritation at home but not when you're out of the house? Moisture problems can manifest as water stains on walls and floors, peeling and bubbling of surfaces, or even bowing of walls. You might even notice things like extra condensation on walls, windows, and pipes. These are all sure-fire signs of moisture damage and high humidity, which allows mold to flourish. Mold will grow faster in places where flood water remained stagnant, such as in your basement. Floods are notorious for creating mold in unseen spaces like underneath floorboards and behind walls.

 

What To Do If You Have Mold

The first thing you should do if you notice signs of mold damage in your home is to get in touch with a trusted professional. Crews in Florida are experiencing huge demand in the months after Irma, so the sooner you're able to call, the better. You can control the conditions where mold flourishes. Ensure humidity levels aren't higher than 50% with a dehumidifier. It's a wise idea to fix any structural damage that could further allow water into the home, such as roof leaks. Another way to combat mold is to ventilate areas that are suspect. The faster you act, the better for your home and health.


Yearly Home Inspections
Yearly Home Inspections

A yearly home inspection is vital. This reveals the integrity and safety of your surroundings. There are many instances of daily wear and tear that develop into a larger problem over time. When we ignore problems, they can get much worse in a short amount of time. When you're diligent in inspecting your home, you can stop problems before they occur.

This is true across a spectrum of issues from small wear and tear to long-term damages. Inspections help your peace of mind as a homeowner or renter. They also prevent costly damages from happening in the first place. Regular home inspections are always a worthy investment. Especially when you consider what it will cost to repair damages!


Harmful Materials

Volatile organic compounds or VOC's are present in households. They're found in materials you interact with such as furniture and vinyl flooring. This usually isn't usually an issue if they're present in small amounts. Those who are sensitive to chemicals such as the elderly and children are more apt to the affects VOC's. Inhaling/absorbing these foreign substances through your skin can lead to health problems. Mold is a VOC as it is an organic compound that vaporizes in normal room temperature. Mold is one of the issues that you can avoid with a yearly visit. The spores develop long before you can see them. This is why regular mold inspections are important.


Health Issues

There are long and short-term health issues that can arise with exposure to these substances. Irritation of the nose, eyes, and throat are the most common side effects. Next come headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Some people also experience worsening of pre-existing conditions like asthma. If you're exposed to large amounts over years, your immune system can become damaged. In the worst cases, damage to the central nervous system and even cancer can occur.


Home Inspections

With an inspector, you know what maintenance to invest in for your specific needs. If your property is old, you may even want to consider inspections more than once a year. There are many benefits! You'll have an idea of where you're at in your energy efficiency. Plus, you'll be able to better predict future expenses by keeping up with the state of wear and tear in the home. Schedule your yearly home inspection today to confirm the safety your home. Further, guarantee your families health for the year to come.

Common Household Leaks
Common Household Leaks

As a homeowner or renter, you do everything you can to ensure your surroundings are up to your standards. Everyone wants their house as clean and comfortable as possible! Of course, as your home endures normal wear, there are some issues that are out of your control. One of these issues that are very common in everyday household leaks.

One of the most common leaks that people deal with is a leaking faucet.  Often times, this issue is fixable on your own or by calling a local plumber. Depending on the specific situation at hand, you could find yourself searching for a professional to fix a leak. Leaks whether in your faucet, toilet, roof, or any other pipe in your home, create the perfect opportunity for mold to grow and thrive. You'll know that you have a problem if you notice stains appearing anywhere on your walls, ceiling, or cupboards. 

 


 

Professional maintenance is priceless. If you've ever dealt with mold or leaking roof, you'll know that there are many reasons why having the right professionals on your side is priceless. First, nobody wants to waste expensive energy or watch their water bill climb due to a leaking pipe! It's akin to watching pennies drip down the drain. Second, many people underestimate the harmful effects that mold can have their families and themselves. Breathing in these particles over time can bring about many health problems. Some are major, and some replicate a common cold, but either way, it can be dangerous. 

From harsh weather to aging homes and clogged gutters, factors that go into a roof leak are plentiful. Roof repair is an expensive investment, but when you consider factors like your electric bill, curb appeal, and infrastructure of your home, it's one that will always make sense. A professional building damage assessor is able to use modern technology such as infrared camera evaluation and moisture mapping, giving you peace of mind ensuring every square inch of your home is inspected. 

Although it can be intimidating to hire a professional for leak repair, especially if it's your first time dealing with this type of problem, you'll find that a weight lifts off of your shoulders as you make strides towards improving the quality of your home. With today's technology, you won't have to take drastic, invasive measures to test and improve your issues with excess moisture in your home.


Mold Killers On The Market
Mold Killers On The Market

Mold Killers on the Market

 

Any sign of mold in your home can seriously impact your day-to-day life. It can appear in your shower, countertops, tile floors, drywall or cause serious damage to your roof, windows, pipes and even the air. But we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to live with this! So what are we here to talk about? MOLD PRODUCTS!

 

Sometimes it feels like there are so many solutions out there. Products that claim to get rid of mold, mildew, and clean your air. Luckily, we have outlined some of these home remedies and are highlighting them to show you what is in the market making these claims. These examples come with the disclaimer so please don't confuse these solutions for problematic mold that is airborne or is causing damage to your home. In this case, we 100% recommend you call a professional to assess the situation and identify the source.

 

Mold Armor 

 

This brand offers an array of mold removal products. Mold Armor uses a powerful bleached-based formula that claims to kill mold without scrubbing on multiple surfaces including interior walls, bathroom surfaces or exterior areas such as brick, vinyl siding or concrete.

 

How to use:

Simply spray on to the desired surface, let stand 10 minutes and rinse off.

 

Our thoughts:

Using bleach as an attempt to remove mold, won't always work. Beach opaques mold which turns it white instead of getting rid of it. Using bleach on porous surfaces such as wood and concrete can permanently damage those surfaces and may eat away at them worse than mold would. Also, this product has a strong chemical base which can be dangerous when inhaled or used in closed areas.

 

Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover

 

With a heavier focus on interior areas, Tilex uses a Clorox bleach formula to kill mold, mildew and other bacteria found on any nonporous surface such as showers, counters, sinks, bathtubs or tiles. This spray also claims to remove tough mold stains commonly found in the home.

 

How to use:

Spray on surface affected by mold or mildew, let stand for five minutes and rinse off.

 

Our thoughts:

Again, bleach does not always solve the problem. Our advice would be to use an anti-bacterial soap to clean nonporous surfaces. Why? It's in the name! ANTIBACTERIAL. Mold is a bacteria.

 

 

Concrobium Mold Control 

 

This product claims to serve as a green approach to mold removal. Concrobium is a product that aims to prevent and eliminate mold without harmful chemicals or bleach. On the bottle, it mentions it can be used for general interior maintenance, damage repairs, and construction or renovation projects.  

 

How to use:

Apply a thin layer of the solution to the desired surface and allow it to dry thoroughly. Once the surface is dry, wipe clean and use again for any residual staining. For mold prevention, leave a thin layer on the surface.

Our thoughts:

We like that this product contains no harmful chemicals and also claims to encapsulate mold spores. Even though it may get growing mold spores under control, It almost sounds too good to be true. we would probably classify this as more of a cleaning product rather than a mold killer. 

 

Pro-Lab Mold Test Kit 

 

While this product is not a “mold killer”, a home mold testing kit claims it can help you identify potential harmful and toxic mold spores. Pro-lab offers three types of testing: indoor air quality, AC/heating air test, and surface mold sampling. There is an optional mail-in lab analysis that can tell you the type of mold for an extra $40 fee.

 

How to use:

We won’t bore you with the exhaustive instructions, but each kit comes with all of your testing supplies and a detailed step-by-step guide. The entire process could take about an hour.

 

 

Our thoughts: 

If your mold issue is unexplained growth, it's best to consult with a professional and we'll tell you why. Even though this test may tell you whether or not you have mold in your home, this test still doesn't tell you where the mold is coming from. A lot of surface mold leads to a source of hidden mold which a lot of times is more severe than what meets the eye. If you're using this test to cut cost and you find you have mold, you're missing vital steps in the mold detection process including consulting, support with questions, expertise, and a post-remediation clearance test to ensure the mold is completely removed. After sampling and sending in the results, the cost difference is not that large and with professional mold testing, you get a professional with years of experience and more assurance.

 

 

Until we use these products and conduct the proper before and after testing, we will not be able to fully judge whether or not they work. A case study with a record of results is what is needed to really judge the effectiveness of each product. Remember, these products are only designed to rectify mold to a certain extent. We would always advise consulting with a professional, like Air Quality Assessors, to determine what type of mold you are dealing with to prevent any further damages.

 


Mold Awareness Month
Mold Awareness Month


What is Mold Awareness Month

 

Mold Awareness Month is a national month that recognizes the importance of getting to know and understand the impacts of mold. There are many things you want to keep in mind when you first learn about mold and that is the dangers, the signs, and how to handle it.

 

Mold can be very dangerous to your health and symptoms of black mold range from feeling a little stuffed up and drowsy all the way to being so sick you can’t get out of bed. Based on the severity of the mold and the length of time exposed, mold can cause liver failure, cancer, and even death.

 

The signs of mold (also known as mould) vary greatly, but if you follow these few guidelines, you will be able to see the obvious signs. First, use your nose. If you can smell an old, musty, thick, and dirt smell, you may be smelling mold. If you see black-ish spots or brown stains on your walls, in corners, or on your ceiling, you may have found a mold problem. Also, pay attention to how you feel. How you feel on a daily basis can say a lot about your surroundings. If you feel sick at home, you may have a “sick home”. If you feel sick at work, the building you work in could have major issues. The key is, is to be aware of your surroundings.

 

Colors and types of mold

 

Back mold is what people think of when they think of mold, but the reality is, mold comes in many different colors. The main colors you would see are green, gray, brown, and white. Mold comes in many forms, colors, and types and they're all different. White mold (like white vs black blog) is difficult to recognize as mold and is often looked over as nothing to be concerned about, but of course, this is not always the case. To determine whether or not the mold you are seeing is dangerous or not, get it tested by a professional.

 

Types of mold that are bad & molds to worry about


Not all “molds” should be treated the same. One major confusion is that mold and mildew are the same. Mildew is not something to be severely concerned about because it isn’t dangerous to your health in small quantities. You typically see mildew in bathrooms, particularly between shower tiles and on the ceiling. Regular cleaning with an antibacterial soap can prevent mildew from getting out of control. Food mold is also not a big deal IF you don’t eat it.

 

The mold removal process is a process that only a licensed professional should conduct. It requires testing, taping off affected areas, and air cleansing machinery. There are specific bags you need to dispose of affected materials, protective safety gear, and other very specific precautions that need to be taken in order to not spread mold spores and properly remove all traces of mold. 


Water Damage | How to Spot It
Water Damage | How to Spot It

 

Water damage is an occurrence caused by many different factors which include one we've been hearing about a lot in the news; hurricanes. Other natural disasters that cause major water damage are heavy rainfall, tsunamis, and storm surges. You would have to be really unlucky to experience all of them, or even one, but there are more common causes of water damage that typically happen more frequently inside of homes including leaks, plumbing issues, HVAC systems, household appliances, and issues caused by clogged gutters.


Water damage in Florida is typically an ongoing issue especially during the hurricane and heavy rain seasons. There are several parts in Florida that have a greater chance of experiencing floods and water damage with the main reason being living near large bodies of water. The main areas in Florida that are likely to flood are:


  • South Florida
  • Tampa
  • Miami
  • Fort Myers
  • Sarasota

 

Flooding in and of itself is difficult to deal with, but when you consider everything else that comes along with water damage (mold growth) the stress of it all begins to rise. Because of mold growth, water damage over time can affect your health and can become very dangerous. Black mold infestation is one of the consequences of not taking the proper actions when water damage occurs that can increase health risks to many individuals. People suffering from asthma and allergies are typically affected the most as well as infants, children and the elderly. They can experience respiratory problems, eye and skin irritation, and many other long-term affects down the line. Black mold is especially dangerous within your home because flood waters are contaminated from sewage and can bring on more severe problems.

Luckily, there is one major sign of water damage you can look out for: brown stains on your ceilings and walls. This a key sign of roof leaks caused by rainfall. If there are streaky stains on your walls in the bathroom, this could be a sign of a burst pipe. Streaky stains on the walls of your home can also be caused by overflowing gutters or appliances. Floorboards can show signs of water damage too. If your floorboards have discoloration or changes in texture, this is a clear indication of water coming from somewhere. Some signs to look for in your floorboards include:

 

  • Warping caused by changes in humidity levels and temperature
  • Unevenness between the individual boards 
  • Soft spots in the wood which are signs of rotting wood

 

Believe it or not, you can use your ears to detect water damage. If you can hear dripping or rushing water, you may have a problem. If you hear a noise similar water dripping, look for things in your home that have changed appearance. Another sense you can use is your sense of smell, for instance by smelling musky/rotten mold.

As always we want to reiterate how important it is that you look over your insurance coverage to see if flood damage is covered. When your property is damaged, please don't wait to take action! It's also a great idea to have a plan-of-action in place in case you do experience water damage. Do your research now on water damage companies in your area and let them know they're part of your emergency plan. Lastly, do not worry because, in the end, everything will get better and be okay.

 

References:  Lowes


 


Black Mold vs. White Mold
Black Mold vs. White Mold

 

Mold comes in many different forms, shapes, sizes, smells, colors, you name it, the differences are endless. The most speculated types of mold are white mold and black mold with the black mold being the most common. A frequently asked question that sometimes goes unanswered is, what are the differences between white mold and black mold?

 

 

First, we’re going to give you the rundown on black mold. Black mold, technically termed Stachybotrys chartarum, is both dangerous and toxic to both humans and pets. The way black mold forms is by feeding off natural food sources including wood and dust in moist areas. The CDC offers a large collection of information on black mold and common questions asked. The most common places in homes and buildings black mold forms are under sinks, in basements, inside walls, and around windows and AC units. Often times, some molds can look just like black mold but actually are very dark green, gray, and brown and just assumed to be black mold. Depending on whether or not people living in homes with black mold are experiencing symptoms and how severe the infestation is, will determine if you need to leave completely, or just avoid areas where black mold is found. We suggest airing on the side of caution and removing yourself and pets from homes and buildings where black mold is found.

 

Industry professionals have long debated the categorization of white mold. White mold can be considered the beginning stage of many different types of mold. To simplify this, white mold can be a young black mold or a growing Stachybotrys chartarum. White mold is also an adult type of mold. Generally, white mold is identified as what you see growing on food and plants at the beginning stages before it turns into a different color but is also prevalent in homes and buildings. Just like black mold, people should consider white mold dangerous and get it tested as soon as possible. If it is mold at the beginning stages, it is best to catch it before it spreads and releases spores into the air.

 

To conclude the differences between black mold and white mold is mold is mold and it should be treated the same. Take the same precautions with white mold, as you would with black mold. Always air on the side of caution when dealing with the mold of any color. Be sure to reach out to mold professionals in your area when you find mold whether it be white, black, blue, gray, or green.